Sunday, January 02, 2011

Oh Travelling Day, how I detest thee!

Travelling days form a significant part of one's experience when travelling both from a time and an experiential perspective but that doesn't mean that one has to like them. Today we caught two metro's, the TGV and then two buses and between each of these there was the inevitable travelling bugbears. The dragging of suit cases that one can barely lift up and down stairs, wondering where to catch the next transport. Are we going the right way? where do we buy/collect/validate tickets? All, of course, in a foreign language. Nonetheless we made it with everyone intact although we came close to sacrificing Caron to the travelling gods.

But before I get into that I have recount the tale of Kim and the turnstile. Getting baggage through a turnstile is not that easy, one has to do some fancy manipulation of the handle so it doesn't wind up on the other side of the turnstile from oneself. Due to some mishap, Kim ended up between the turnstile and the doors which isn't a very big space and if one is wearing thick jackets and handbags and a backpack it is positively cramped; anyway, there she was, stuck, with no way out and unable to turn around, bend down or even climb up. Very frustrating for her, we eventually took all her bags from her and she quite inelegantly shoehorned her way under the turnstile door. Her beautiful new Zara jacket meeting the cold hard reality of the metro floor.

Once we got to the TGV station we had to convert our Internet bookings into actual tickets, easy, peasy one would think. The first two ticket offices we went to AND queued for were the wrong ones and we found ourselves outside yet two more without any inkling which was the one to use. We solved this by despatching Carl into one and Caron into the other while I acted as the runner. Besides the ticket offices there were automated ticket vending machines which should have worked. After several wrong avenues in the menu structure I hit on the correct one and printed one set of tickets, unfortunately, it refused to print the second ticket so we were left standing in the double queue in any case. Sometimes technology really just doesn't work when one needs it. Tickets done we boarded the train only to find people in our seats but Caron soon dispatched then like a good Charon should.

The trip itself was very peaceful and pretty, we watched the country side go by and Kirsten, Carl and myself took it in turns to chortle at some episodes of "The Big Bang Theory". Things got a little more interesting when we arrived in Moitiers because we had been planning on taking the bus or a taxi but the taxi office was closed and the location of the bus station was less than obvious. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I stumbled on the bus station and there was a bus about to leave at 16:45, it was 16:40 at the time so it was a run to get everyone on the bus and while they were putting their bags on, I went to purchase tickets. I got back, climbed on board and was just about to relax when I realised that Caron was nowhere to be seen. Climbed back off to find her standing patiently at the luggage bay which was open but the bus driver had told her not to put her luggage on for some reason so she was just standing there, at the front of the queue, ok, maybe not so patiently, waiting. As she turned around to talk to me, the bus driver closed the luggage doors which came down on top of Caron and hooked between her head and her backpack, forcing her down. We were shouting at the bus driver who took way too long to respond before another guy and myself shoved the door back up. I chucked Caron's luggage on and accompanied my little dark cloud up and onto the bus. She was fine but a little shaken by the accident and thinking that we might be leaving her behind so I left her to stew for a while and by the time we arrived in Les Menuires, she was fine again.

Finally, the last bus trip. Same routine again, find out where to catch it, check it really is going to the place we need it to, wait for the next us in the -7C temperature before squeezing like sardines onto the bus. The bus dropped us off at the right place and a short walk later we had finally arrived but our day was not yet done.

Once we had checked in Carl and I went hunting for takeaways and groceries respectively while the ladies took all the kids down to get skis and boots. By the time I arrived back, everyone had their skis and boots organised and we just had to collect the chicken and chips which turned out to be probably the best value for money we will ever find in France.

Some wine, supper and then it was time to turn in. The only outstanding thing that still needs to be done is buy the ski passes and pay for internet access which we'll do tomorrow morning at 08:30.

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