Travel Diaries – Trip, Interrupted

October 7, 2015
French Riviera – Part 3

The day after visiting Monaco, our trip hit a bump in the road.  (Or a bump in the track, if you will.  As in a train track.)

Thanks to a complicate train situation, we got stuck in Nice (if one could get stuck in Nice). Our awesome AirBNB host saved us from being stranded by letting us stay another night. Thank goodness because I wasn’t looking to activate Plan B – spending the night on the rocky beach.

Train troubles

With only 2 out of every 10 trains running, the train system was a bit of a nightmare. Some of it was because of the torrential rain days before which had damaged the track. Some of it was due to a train operator strike, or ‘social movement.’  Classic.

After receiving an email saying our train was cancelled, we spent most of the day rearranging plans. Cancelling bookings, trying to get refunds, and making new bookings.

The crowning moment was an hour-long wait at the train station to speak with an agent. The meeting was brief, gruff, and confusing. He tapped on the keyboard, hastily handwrote a note with a new train time for the next day, then waved us off.

A handwritten note? For a ticket? Is this for real?
We checked our itinerary on the website. It still showed us booked on the cancelled train. What’s the deal?

With no other option but to wait until tomorrow and hope this bizarre note will work as a boarding pass, we stuffed our luggage with our dirty clothes, finished off our bottle of wine, and prepared to leave in the morning.

Strike Two

After a short night we bumble bleary-eyed to the train station, luggage and dodgy ticket in tow.

Looking to sort this ticket thing out for good, we enter the station and head to the office where we’d met an agent yesterday. Instead, we found a locked door and no agent in sight. Turns out now the train station staff were on strike! Maybe they were jealous of the operators having a strike day? Who knows.

The sleek high speed train we’d reserved had been replaced by what’s probably the oldest train in the fleet. The only indication that it was the correct train was a piece of paper taped inside the dingy window reading NICE – MARSEILLE. With no train number on our handwritten ticket, and no agent to ask, we shrug and board the grimy WWII-era beast and hope for the best.

Ticket put to the test

Only 2 stops in and an attendant boards with security to check tickets. The moment of truth – are we good? On the wrong train? About to be fined for what appears to be forged ticket? (We’ve paid! The system is just messed up!). Kicked off at the next station? Kicked off between stations?

We hand over our handwritten ticket along with our old tickets to the attendant. “Our original train was cancelled so we were rebooked, but it doesn’t show in the system…” The attendant shrugs, “it’s OK.”

Thanks for being honey badger, yo – we’re free and clear.

Run, run, Rudolph

Because of the damaged track, our train arrived late into the station. Our connecting train would depart… 2 glorious minutes after our arrival. In a heroic feat of running while dragging our bags haphazardly behind us, we made our connecting train. Cue Chuck Berry’s “Run Rudolph Run” à la Home Alone.

We jumped into the first car we saw which, of course, was not the one we were supposed be in. When other passengers show up to their assigned seats we claimed, we smile grandly but have a glassy look in our eyes. The other passengers find different seats and we chug onward to the magical medieval city of Avignon.

Come with me to Avignon’s world of winding streets… and read about how I fulfill a #lifegoal.  (Don’t you judge me, you!)

I know you’ve got a hellish travel story.  (Seriously I worked at an international airport for, like, 4 years – everyone’s got one.)  Spill the beans!  Hopefully it’s as entertaining as mine!

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