Friday, September 25, 2009

Day Four - London to Geneva

There's an old adage that says that if you must travel, travel in style. There really is no better way to see the world than from the comfortable seat of a nice, fast train. So bright and early we set off to catch the Eurostar from London to Paris. Watch out good citizens of France, here we come!

The trip on the Eurostar went quite well - Grumbles began to complain of travel sickness again, but thankfully held it in this time. We made it to Paris a mere 15 minutes late, and then set off to make our connection to Geneva. We'd allowed ourselves a comfortable hour and a half to make our connection at another station - what could possibly go wrong?

Murphy and his damnable law decided to creep on in at this point and pay us a visit. Firstly we got stuck in a taxi queue, which sucked up a good 20 minutes. No probs, still an hour and 10 to go. Then the taxi ride itself, through the CRAZY Parisian traffic took another 30 minutes. I'm not sure which was the scariest bit: the 6 lane roundabout merge than almost saw our taxi origami-ed between two trucks bent on going in the opposite direction to us, or the accident caused by our driver when trying to park at the station. Still, we were all intact (physically - my nerves were beginning to ever so slightly fray) and had 40 minutes up our sleeve to find our tickets and then board the train.

What we hadn't counted on was the rabbit warren that was Gare de Lyon. We hauled our suitcases and Grumbles down corridors, up escalators and then down more escalators, following the little arrows that promised billets (tickets) around each corner. When we finally found the ticket concourse, it was diagonally opposite the door we had entered in, and we'd wasted 10 precious minutes running all over the place. Still, the queue for tickets looked relatively small - we had ourselves 30 minutes still - we would be fine. I would simply cross my legs and wait to find a toilet after we had collected our tickets.
I hadn't banked on how long it took for everybody to buy their tickets. We stood in that seemingly never moving queue, becoming more and more nervous as the minutes ticked on by and ever so slowly people would shuffle forward to stand at the ticket desk to haggle away. 20 minutes... 15 minutes... 10 minutes... finally with 7 minutes until departure I was able to lunge forward and bark at the poor woman "Parlez vous anglais?" "Yes" she sighed, and then I thrust our booking confirmation email at her, waited with tapping toes for her to print out our tickets, then snatched them of her hands and raced for the platform. Truly not one of my finest moments. I'm still cringing with shame at my lack of manners.

However, we made the train, and I as soon as it started I raced for the loo. Coming back to my seat I felt much more composed: we were on the train, and the world was good again. This feeling of peace lasted until a loudspeaker message broke the relative silence of the carriage, screeching a stream of urgent French that seemed to last forever. One of the few words I caught was the repeated mention of plastique explosif. After the announcement the whole carriage was full of uproar, with much muttering and gesticulating in French. We lent forward to the charming French man who was sharing our seats, and asked him what was going on.

"Ah!", he said, "It appears that somebody has left some boxes on the train wrapped in plastic, with no information accompanying them. The train stewards suspect it may be a bomb, so they are diverting us to another line so les police, les soldats et les pompiers can meet us."

Police! Soldiers! Firemen! Holy Schmoly! It's the works! When we arrived at the diverted-to station, we were all made to get off and take our luggage with us, crossing the train tracks and assembling in the town square. Soon the good police of France had figured out who the packages belonged to (some poor schmuck tourists who were obviously clueless about normal sorts of luggage, like um suitcases rather then broccoli boxes wrapped in plastic then covered in sticky tape) and we were once more on our way.

However our way was not as quick as we originally thought it would be: instead of a nice 3 hour trip we now had 6 hours ahead of us. Merde!

We started off industriously enough: colouring books, puzzle games, I spy. Heck, we even grinned for the camera:
But it wasn't long before total boredom set in...

... and then some of us succumbed to total exhaustion.

At 9 that evening we arrived in Geneva. Don't even think about popping the champagne and letting off the fireworks: we still had another hour long train ride to Yverdon-les-Bains.

Finally we made it, and after saying a very quick hello to our gracious hosts Bjorn and Leonie we crashed into bed, wondering what adventures tomorrow would bring. I really didn't mind - as long as there were no bloody trains involved!


  1. Oh i'm so glad to hear you're having fun ;)
    We miss you!

  2. Oh, oh. So that's what you've been up to, is it? Having an adventure that wasn't scheduled in the itinerary. Glad to see that you made that train, even though it was a late arrival in Geneva with all the to do going on. Phew!! Hope you're all now recovered and enjoying the next part of your hols.

  3. Anonymous8:28 am

    Oh no, sounds like a nightmare. We had a big cue at Gar de Lyon as well, sorry forgot to tell you about that! We didn't bother with taxis in Paris as a few people warned us about them as well!Enjoy the rest of your travels!



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