Day 1 (and 2): The Happy Traveler
I always pride myself on the fact that I am a good little traveler. Flying halfway across the world has never bothered me. I sleep like a log, eat the pale colored mediocre food they shovel up ‘en masse’, bring oodles of things to make a layover pass by quickly and turn into a machine of productivity.
But so far, this trip has been trying.
As I buzzed out of bed at 6 am yesterday morning, I cheerfully pulled myself together and nearly skipped to DIA. All seemed on schedule, as the flight before mine made their way out. But as I waited for them to board, there was a stall. The stall became a mechanical issue. The issue cancelled the flight—with no other flights leaving for my connection in time.
A flurry of actions got me on another airline altogether, canceling my tgv (train) reservation due to my later Paris arrival and tumbling through terminals chasing down a random set of never ending obstacles…then waiting. ‘Running to wait’ was the name of my day. To explain in further detail would bore both you and I. So I will spare you.
And it wasn’t all bad. These situations really bring to the surface the good in some people. So I attempted to focus on that. One woman at United saw that I would miss my connection, so she put me #1 on standby over 35 people. I got on the earlier flight and sure enough would have missed my connection to Paris otherwise. One woman shared her outlet with me to charge my phone during the half hour layover in an otherwise outlet-less airport (O’Hare). And I was seated next to the two most lyrical, animated elderly couple for my long haul to France.
They were Germans who had been living in the states for twenty years making their annual voyage to see friends and family in Europe. Together they laughed, bickered, drank gin & tonics and reviewed old shoebox letters they hadn’t look at in decades. They were bringing them home to share. They were about as cute as an old cute couple can be, as they grimaced at the service modern airlines provide. ‘Remember when they used real glass salt and pepper shakers? Silver flatware? What are we? A bunch of monkeys in the zoo?’
I enjoyed them immensely.
As I sit here twenty-five minutes from landing, I am hopeful that my day’s journey to northern Italy to meet my man and team Garmin-Cervelo will run smoothly. It will involve finding a shuttle to the Gare de Lyon (major Paris train station), a train to Modane, and a ride or taxi to Bardoneccia.
(…one hour later…)
The shuttle was not to be had for over an hour, so I opted for an expensive taxi to Gare de Lyon. Missed the train to Modane by 7 minutes.
Seven minutes. Damn.
Next train in four more hours, at which point I still have an additional six until my destination with the transfer.
I sit here and write at a bistroin the train station–the quality of which surpasses most average mid-priced restaurants back home, as I nibble on a cheese plate (assortimente de trois fromages) and white asparagus with vinegar (aspages blanc avec vinaigrette). To compare to domestic airport eateries isn’t even possible. So I will just sit here and eat. And be content.
So as not to purely complain (man, I hate being that person), I was able to practice my French with the taxi driver. He found my French very amusing, but was very pleased I was trying. We chatted the whole way. Nevermind, I had my phrasebook in hand.
Turns out he is not a cycling fan. But he loves wine!
I will once again be the happy traveler…when the actual travel part of the trip gets me to where I need to be.
Ah, but I am in Paris. Even a place as miserable as a crowded old train station, the fact that it is French somehow makes it more tolerable.