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Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

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To bring you up to date, Angers was boring, classes were long and difficult, and my exams are now over. Woo.

Now for the fun parts:

I was soooo ready to leave Angers by the time Friday rolled around. I had to get up at 5 am to meet my taxi that would take me to the Angers train station at 6. Our friend Paul, the French student who was essentially hired to assist us throughout the two week period in Angers, was kind enough to call the cab company for me the night before. Jenny was supposed to take the taxi with me because her train left around 6:40, like mine did; however, EasyJet cancelled her flight the day before we were supposed to leave, so I ended up taking the taxi by myself. Unfortunately, the driver, who only spoke French, wasn't informed that Ms. Biette would not be riding, and that it was just me. Paul, I'm guessing, had told the driver that it was Ms. Biette and her guest riding in the taxi, so when the driver asked if I was Ms. Biette, I said no, but then tried to explain why she wasn't there. It was difficult because the only words I know in French are practically useless in situations such as these. "Creme brulee, fromage, and je'taime" can't help me tell the driver that I AM the person who ordered the taxi. Anyway, after much bickering in Franglish, he took my luggage, I got in, and he started off by calling his company and I guess asking if I was the right person. Well, I don't know what they figured out about me, but he drove me to the train station anyway.

Nothing too exciting happened at the train station. I had a bit of a freak out moment in the very beginning because the little electronic kiosk that I was supposed to print my ticket out from would not accept my little AAA debit card as proper identification. (I had preordered my ticket online). So I stepped back from the machine, drew a few sharp breaths, and looked for an information desk. I finally found the right room, and this cute little lady who spoke broken English helped me get my ticket. Then I waited at the train stop, got on the train, and sat for two hours. Yay.

The train arrives IN Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, which was so convenient because I didn't have to navigate my way across Paris. Again. Instead, I had to make a 30 minute hike through the train station, into the airport, and across several terminals before I found the right place to get my tickets and check my baggage. Let me tell you, if you are ever in a situation where you are in Europe and you can take a train or a plane for about the same price, take the train. There is no security check, you can bring whatever liquids you want, and the train stations are never as crowded as airports. Apparently, everyone in Europe decided to fly out of the CDG ariport that day, so it was crowded as HELL. People were flying (by that I mean walking quickly) all over the place. Well, everyone except every person that chose to walk directly in front of me at .0025 miles per hour. After dodging a few small children and shoving old ladies out of my way, I was able to get to the British Airways counter and get all my ducks in a row. By the time I got there, I had about an hour and a half before my flight took off. That was fine and dandy since my gate was really close by. Then I saw the line for security/passports. This is when I began to sweat. Not only did it extend far beyond the entrance to the gates, but it snaked back and forth probably fifteen times before you even got your passport checked. So I hopped in line and waited. And waited. Listened to some annoying Americans complain behind me. Waited. Got more annoyed at an American in front of me who wouldn't get the lead out and move whenever the line moved forward. Waited. Began to sweat more heavily than before. Checked my watch. Waited.... Aaaaaaaaaand FINALLY made it to the front of the line, got my passport stamped, and waited (how shocking!) to go through security. I though I had done everything properly as far as security goes, but something I was wearing set off the alarm as a walked through, so I got patted down. Then they gestured to my bag after it went through the x-ray maching, and some guy had to go through all my things. Turns out I'm an idiot. I left a FULL water bottle in the bottom of my bag. Genius. Luckily the guy was really nice and lenient (don't know if that's such a good thing for airport security?), and he even asked me if I wanted a sip before he threw it away! Ha ha. In America I would have been arrested at gunpoint. Anywho, so I made it onto the plane and flew to London Heathrow airport to catch my connecting flight to Zurich, Switzerland. Heathrow was so crowded with incoming flights that day that we had to circle the airport for about 20 extra minutes before we could get permission to land. This put me in quite the pickle. British Airways suggested that you allow at least 1 hour to connect flights. I now had just over 30 minutes. And I had to go through security. Again. (It's as if they don't trust the French to thoroughly check the passengers. Strange.) So I chose a line (wrong move) and waited some more. Oh, and sweated some more as I watched the digital clock on the wall creep closer to 13:15, which is when my ticket claimed that the gate closed. Of course, I picked THE slowest security line in the entire airport. (At least I left my water bottles, sharp knives and heavy artillery in my suitcase this time). It was 13:14 when I finally was able to grab my bag, laptop, passport and such and run, literally RUN, across the terminal, down the escalator, and through the gates searching for the correct gate. All the while, my crappy flip flops were slapping against the unforgiving floors so loudly that others could here me coming from at least 50 yards in front of me. This was both a curse and a blessing because it was embarrassing as hell, but, at the same time, they all adopted the proper look of a strange mixture of fear and pity at my awkward gallop, open backpack, and armfulls of my belongings, and promptly got out of my way. This was also fortunate because no small children were injured during this process. So anyway, I am flying through the terminal (ha. pun INTENDED) and come to a screeching hault at Gate 17 at roughly 13:18 to find about 15 people still waiting in the line to get on the plane. So, to bring the story to it's happy ending: I sweated, ran, and got all freaked out to stand in line and wait some more... to get on a plane... that was delayed for 35 minutes... after we were already on board. Let me just insert here that I was ricidulously tired, and I hadn't eaten anything that day except for the potato crisps and Coke I received on the other plane. (Take a moment here to let this soak in, and please consider my mood. Lovely, right?).

Once I arrived in Zurich, I was practically falling asleep standing up. The only thing keeping me awake was my growling stomach. I was worried because I thought that, for sure, my luggage had been lost. I didn't think they would have had time to transfer it from the one flight to the other. Thank GOD I walked straight over to the baggage claim. Spotted my bag, and heaved it off of the belt in about .2 minutes. Then I saw Patrick flashing me his big, German grin from the other side of the window where all of the drivers must wait to pick up their family members and such. My mood instantly lifting, I wheeled my monstrosity of a suitcase through the doors and had a big reunion hug. It was so nice to finally see a familiar face! We loaded up his little Ford Focus with my luggage and drove the beautiful 20 minute drive to his house in the south of Germany in a tiny town called Geisslingen. It's about 5 minutes from the Swiss border. The town is occupied by about 900 of the nicest people you would ever meet in your life. This weekend they are having a small town festival, so last night I got to meet a lot of Patrick's friends and family. Patrick's family is sooo nice and welcoming. They all speak at least a little English, so they even try to include me in their dinner conversation when possible. I am LOVING it here! I would be content just staying here for the rest of my trip and not go to London and Dublin. :)

Today, Patrick took me to see an ancient castle that overlooks the valley. It was a little cold and rainy, so I couldn't see as far as I would be ablet to on a sunny day, but the view was still breathtaking. I snapped a couple of photos for your personal enjoyment.

I'll write again soon and let you all know how my week is going.

Until next time!


Posted by drhoades 08:39 Archived in Germany

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I can tell how frantic your train/airport experience was based on the fact that your fifth paragraph is longer than some books I've read. Glad things are picking up. Jealous you'll be in London soon. Spit on a Chelsea fan for me.

by Jordan

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