Close Shave: A Travel Study in What Not To Do
“Mom, my ticket isn’t letting me through.” Sophia was not able to go through the turnstile to enter into the Paris metro. It was 7:00 AM this morning, Paris time, and I had lost our pad-time having been caught up in writing my last blog post. I know, not a great plan. Anyway, we had just enough time to get to Paris Gare du Nord, the main train station that Eurostar “Chunnel” train from Paris to London arrives at for the ride back to London. Our plane takes off for Atlanta at 3:30 PM today out of London, so kind of an important ride.
“My ticket isn’t working either, Mom.” Arie confirmed. I bought the metro tickets yesterday thinking that they were good for 24 hours. I told the cashier I needed them for 24 hours. They are not. We are all wearing our backpacks and it’s heavy. We are three females touring Europe and, however bargain oriented, we have shopped and even when the treasures are small, it adds up when you are carrying it all on your back. My pack has gone from 36 to 50 pounds, because I’ve also taken some weight off of Sophia’s pack. Arie is at 26 pounds and Sophia carries 16 pounds at last weigh in, but I cannot confirm that now that she has wooden nesting dolls from Poland and a wooden Polish music box. Time and kid-endurance is not on my side.
I tried my metro ticket too. No go. There is no ticket office either, just a self-serve terminal that I’ve never used. I am quietly panicking. Every minute counts. We must arrive no later than 30 minutes before our Chunnel train leaves to go through immigration. We have a half hour to get there and the machine isn’t taking my credit card. I fight visions in my head of not making my London flight and having exorbitant airline ticket rescheduling fees.
“Do you need help? Is everything okay?” Standing next to me is a twenty-something male couple speaking with American accents. “Yes! I need metro tickets now. I have to get to Paris Nord for my train to get back to London to fly back to Atlanta today. I’ve spent our euro cash and I only have my credit card but the machine isn’t taking it.”
“Don’t worry, we will help you. Relax. It will all work out.” I took a deep breath and their smiles were kindly reassuring.
Connor and Joe calmly helped me get metro tickets with my credit card, which had to be docked for the chip not swiped, then they rode with us on two separate trains to get us to our destination. They didn’t have to, but they knew time was of the essence and wanted to make sure we reached our destination. They are studying abroad and are from the US.
“We love what you are doing, traveling around Europe with your girls, so courageous!” Connor said. They high-fived each of us when it was time to go, and I hugged them them, thanking them for their help when we parted ways.
We got to Paris Gare du Nord, also called Paris Nord train station, just in time. I had to check into Eurostar, fill out boarder security paperwork, get all our bags through security and board the train in 30 minutes time. We made it on the 8:00 am train to London with 5 minutes to spare.
Soooo, lesson learned. Next time, keep about 20-50 euro cash on you, even when you are leaving the country, just for emergencies. Be aware of what your metro ticket covers and how long it lasts. Don’t write a blog post before you are supposed to leave, even if you wake up an hour early to do it. And, for the love of all that is good, certainly arrive one hour early when traveling the Eurostar from Paris to London so you don’t have to yoga breathe and pray that your health store deodorant is working as you rush through the exit process.
Kindness comes in many forms, and what a gift we received today from this kind couple, willing to go out of their way to help us.
The sun is shinning outside as the French countryside whizzes past. The train is quiet and my girls are napping. All is well and will be well.
This verse keeps showing up on my iPad every morning of this trip. The app is set to show a new verse every day and I promise I haven’t adjusted it, but some new glitch makes only this verse show up each day of our trip.
The Lord Himself goes before you, He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be discouraged.