Traveling Hell.

I literally just got off the coach a half hour ago after my trip to Paris. No one be discouraged by the subject—I had an AMAZING time in Paris with my wonderful friends, Sophie, Anneke and Amanda in Sophie’s grandmother’s beautiful home. I’ll get to all that in the next post because I feel I need to blow off some steam.

Before I get to the details, this is very important: my bank cancelled my debit card last week because a website that I used it with was “associated with fraud.” Mom and Dad: Amanda, other American, also had her card cancelled after booking with National Express recently. Her bank was kind enough to reactivate it again. MY bank said they’d transfer money to my savings so I could use my bank card for withdrawals. I thought all was well, right? RIGHT?!

Anyway, trouble begins when I run out of cash in Paris on Day 2 1/2 of our trip. I go to a cash point and it won’t let me withdraw money. My friends are shrugging it off—“No, it’s because it’s a swipe card, no chip, it’s France, etc, we’ll let you borrow some money, pay us back in pounds when we get to Norwich, etc.” I have pounds with me so I get those changed for a small conversion fee and used my credit card for the time being to go up the Eiffel Tower. (Hell yeah!) Thennn we all owed Sophie money cause she put all the train tickets on her card so my Euros went to her and I was left with my credit card. (Yes, I’m aware of the multiple of irresponsible things I did so far. 1) Not enough cash. 2) Not keeping cash with me, yes, I know.)

So anyway, I traveled back to Norwich alone because Sophie went to her other set of grandparents in Bordeoux to meet up with Joanna and Anneke and Amanda stayed an extra day. At the train station en route to Charles de Gaulle, the ticket machine won’t accept my credit card. Nerves kick in and I’m getting afraid.

I see a couple policemen. (They were pretty good-looking, but that’s irrelevant…hehehehe)

"Speak English?"
"Little, yes."
"The machine isn’t accepting my card to pay for a ticket to the airport."
"Why? You have Visa. Oh—American?"
"Yes."
"Swipe?"
"Yes."
"Oh. You need cash."
"I don’t have cash on me."
"No cash?! Oh. Oh—upstairs, left, left, left, window. Help there."

They accepted swipe cards at the ticket window. Phew. Hurdle one, overcome.

So I get to the airport. My plane is departing in two hours according to the ticket. I get to the arrivals board. The plane to London Luton is delayed FOUR HOURS. FOUR HOURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRS. I keep calm. I have a book. It’s signed by James Franco. (Other story, will get to later in the happy Paris blog post.) I literally read 200 pages of this book in the hours that I’m stranded there, while the Internet machine thing eats whatever coins I have left. Lovely right? It gets better. In maybe hour three, a group of military men with semi-automatic weapons start ordering everyone to move back. Someone asked what was going on.

"Bag check. Security."

Apparently, someone abandoned a bag in the middle of the airport. So I’m in a Parisian airport, in midst of a security check, wondering how the hell I’m going to get back to Norwich when my bus tickets are all for earlier times. There’s a loud bang. Everyone gasps. Was there actually a BOMB in there?! No idea, but after being quarantined for 30-40 minutes, we’re finally set free.

I’m allowed through security. They stop me.

"Is this your bag miss?"

At this point in the trip, I’m expecting everything to go wrong. I reluctantly nod as they ask if they can search it, as if I’m really going to say no. I kind of laugh, and she notices. I wasn’t laughing at her, I was laughing at my utter rotten luck. She goes through my entire bag and throws out my face wash/mask. My FACE WASH. (I told you Mom, they wouldn’t let that through security. They’re actually vigilant in Paris.) But that wasn’t the problem. I was half afraid they’d toss my Venus Spa Breeze self-lathering razor too but they didn’t. (Yayyy). You know what the problem is? The logo on my 20 dollar onsale Express Jeans that Nina bought for me before I left. Yeah. The LOGO on my jeans.

So I finally get on the flight. My pilot was a speed demon and I briefly feared for my life as we descended into London. It’s twenty to eleven when I land in London, nearly five hours after I was supposed to. I quickly learn that EasyBus won’t reimburse me for a ticket to London Victoria and I have to buy a new one. Lovely. Oh and the National Express woman gave me awful advice: “Have your ticket to Norwich reimbursed when you get to London Victoria via EasyBus in case you accidentally miss it.”

I get to London Victoria. I search for a help desk. It’s a quarter past midnight. No one’s there. I have to buy a new ticket. It’s not even a direct route to Norwich—I have to change in Stansted. I go to wait at the gate. We’re kicked out of the station because they’re closing. It’s chilly outside. We’re told the 12:30 was cancelled and we have to wait till 1 AM.

At this point, I want to rip my hair out. When the coach FINALLY comes, I go all the way to the back and fall asleep. When the bus brakes, I roll off the bench and bang my knee on the floor. Don’t laugh readers. I know you’re smiling.

I change coaches at Stansted and manage to sleep the whole way to Norwich where the sun is up and the birds are chirping. It was an awful experience if ever there was one, but at least I have a good story to tell.

Sigh. Next post will be happy happy joy joy about Paris. I promise.

Love,

Nadia