Monday, June 25, 2007

How We Almost Missed the Train to Paris

We had an amazing time in Paris. I'm just getting out from under the enormous amount of laundry brought on by a trip to Disney (all the ice cream dripped shirts, as just one example) to write about all that we experienced there. My first little installment for you, dear readers, is about the experience of simply getting on the train. As with much of the Noel family life, it was a drama. Let the unfolding begin...

We were all set to get to Paris on the Eurostar train from London's Waterloo Station. The whole trip started out a little bumpy though, because although we thought we had left in plenty of time for the train (We only had to be there 30 minutes prior to departure.), we had some hiccups during the checking-in phase of the journey. Apparently, the company had sent our tickets through Royal Mail some time ago, but we had never received them. So, the very kind, but rather annoyed Frenchman behind the counter had to help us get all of it sorted out.

The minutes ticked by. As I watched all the happy families with loads of luggage cruise through electronic check in, I was still waiting for my man behind the counter to figure out exactly what he was going to do with all of us. As he kept writing our tickets out in longhand (I kid you not!), I started to seriously wonder if we were going to make the train!

The train was leaving at 9:37 and it was 9:25 as the service man, longhand tickets in hand and five spazzy people in tow, ran us through the ticket stop and right up to the security check. We had to drop all our goodies onto the x-ray machine because you don't check anything on a train ride, unlike a flight. We also had to unload the baby out of the buggy, fold it, and go through security one by one. That of course meant that we were going to have to reload the buggy with the baby, who lately doesn't want to get into the buggy at all! So, we had to deal with some crying drama as well! Next we had to go through to French passport control. Then we had to take an escalator up to the train. Then we had to find out which carriage we were on. Lastly, we had to load all of our junk onto the train and find our seats. Shoo-eee! as Papaw used to say. I'm tired just from reliving the whole thing!

When we arrived in the carriage, we discovered another family in our seats and realized that Eurostar had double-booked our seats! No problem as of yet, the carriage was not full, but there would be one more stop in Ashford. Hopefully no one there would need the seats we were using. But, yes indeed, when we arrived in Ashford, some others needed our seats. And the seats of the family in front of us. So, apparently, Eurostar had triple-booked the seats! I looked over at the exasperated Brit beside me and he said, and I quote, "Welcome to Great Britain! The service here sucks!" He was hilarious and, being the dad of the the little family whose seats we were double-booked with, ended up being quite a fun part of our trip. We actually even saw them in the Disney Parks later in the week.

I was a bit worried about the "chunnel" part of the journey. I'm a bit of a nervous flier, so being underneath the English Channel in a train with thousands of pounds of water pressing in on the tunnel for any amount of time seemed torturous to me. But luckily, that part of the journey only lasts for around 20 minutes, and because the kids were needing some attention then, I barely even noticed, although I did have some major ear popping!

We arrived safe and sound at La Marnee Vallee. The three children were all decked out in their matching red Mickey Mouse t-shirts and ready to meet the Mouse himself...

Stay tuned for the next installment of our trip!


beth said...

Okay, the chunnel would have freaked me out! I can't wait to hear more of your adventure...and pictures, I need pictures! Three kids in red Mickey shirts--you've got to have a picture of that!

Little Steps Of Faith said...

I just wanted to say if you havne't done the believing God study, I am doing it this summer online, and I have another name my friend was going to work on it with me.
Never got around to it, so if you are interested let me know, and I will send you the address link.