Having been gripped by the travel bug as a teenager, at this point in my life I am a seasoned traveler and have no intention of jetting off to foreign lands in the blink of an eye.
Most of the time my trips go without major problems, everything goes largely according to plan and everyone is having a good time. But of course mishaps always happen when you venture out of the organized holiday and take things into your own hands.
I’ve encountered several over the years and found that the trick is to keep calm and move on.
At the time of writing I am in France, having traveled around Spain for a few weeks before heading north by train.
I chose the French diversion to have a better flight option while also allowing myself to explore a new city.
The Spanish portion of the trip was perfect – everything from the accommodation to the different locations was better than expected. But when we left for France, things took a different turn.
After booking tickets for the high-speed TGV, the journey should have been smooth, but after waiting an hour for the train to arrive in the sweltering heat of Barcelona, the journey got off to a rocky start.
I joined other passengers on the platform and tried to stop harried staff who studiously ignored us
But eventually it arrived and we breathed a sigh of relief, grudgingly admitting that the 75 minute delay would mean we would miss our connecting train at Nimes – but that would be something we would worry about when we got there.
So we settled in for the first few hours of the first part of the journey – but after two hours of travel our carriage felt deflated and hot to the touch and when the train pulled up at Narbonne there was a flurry of activity as staff started hurrying through the train.
While in Spain I always get by as my language skills are decent enough. However, in France I had no idea what was going on as I could only rely on my Leaving Cert French.
After a few minutes the train engine died and to find out what was going on I joined other passengers on the platform and tried to stop harried staff who studiously ignored us.
When I finally put together some information, which was provided in French, Spanish and English, I found that the air conditioning on board had caught fire and we had to wait for firefighters and engineers to fix it – inquiring how long this takes were met with a disinterested Gallic shrug.
I couldn’t sit on the train forever so we took a chance and after noticing that a train to Marseille was leaving ‘immediately’ on the other side of the station we hastily grabbed our stuff and ran up the steps in the 36C heat up and down only to reach the platform when the doors are closed.
But things happen for a reason, and we soon discovered that the train we were meant to board was actually going in a completely different direction. Ten minutes later the right train arrived, and although the cramped commuter train was in stark contrast to the plush, high-speed TGV, we applauded our quick wits as we set off again.
Or so we thought – as the minutes ticked by we found we couldn’t leave until the police arrived to arrest a man who was sitting next to me under the watchful eye of a warder. I wasn’t exactly sure what offense he was guilty of, but he didn’t fight back when a team of armed police officers came to escort him off the train.
Such drama – a fire and an arrest and we weren’t even halfway there – would we go now? Apparently not, (without explanation) the doors didn’t close for another 40 minutes. But finally, just when we had given up hope, it started again. At the next station there was then an announcement for the passengers to voluntarily leave the train as it was overcrowded – of course we didn’t – and finally arrived at our destination (many hours overdue).
There is no point in getting angry or attacking the staff as they rarely help
It was an eventful trip, to say the least.
But I’ve had similar experiences in the past with canceled flights or trains, finding me on a very different trip (or destination) than planned, luggage stolen or lost (once when I was a teenager my suitcase landed in Santiago, Chile, rather than Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and accommodations that were far below (or non-existent) expectations.
However, I have learned to keep a cool head – there is no point in getting angry or attacking the staff as they rarely help and can waste valuable vacation time.
In my experience, finding an alternative route, keeping receipts for reimbursement of expenses for alternative travel (or spare clothes bought while waiting for lost luggage) and avoiding angry queues waiting to complain (save that for an official letter at a later date). , is the best way to minimize interruptions.
So, if the problem is minor and there’s nothing you can do to change it, the best way to salvage your trip, if possible, is to choose another option, then put your feet up and grab a glass of something chilled and enjoy the vacation. Good Trip.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/the-french-conniption-derailed-plans-gallic-shrugs-and-stuffy-stations-yes-my-tgv-trip-was-infuriating-but-cest-la-vie-41868292.html The French connection? Derailed plans, Gallic shrugs and stuffy train stations – yes, my TGV journey was annoying, but c’est la vie