I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been having such a crazy time at work that I’ve barely had time to organize my thoughts. It’s like the universe has decided I’ve been having too much fun and it’s turning against me. My season as a trip leader in Europe had been going great and I was getting ready for another 30-day loop around Europe. I went to the office to say hi and pick up some train tickets and my manager tells me: “Andrea, we never hear much from you. Well… I guess that’s a good thing.” It all went south from there.
I was happy when my whole group showed up on time, I did my welcome meeting and we were checking in on time for our Eurostar train to Paris. This was going to be a great trip! But then… it turned out my train was leaving early! Early! Since when do train suddenly leave 25 minutes early!!! By the time I found out, we had mere minutes to catch the train and the staff had to reprint all of our tickets. People on walky-talky’s and phones tried to help me out, but they didn’t let the train wait. By the time they’d reprinted all of our tickets, it was just too late.
I was in shock. What had just happened? How could this have happened. As it turns out all the warning systems had failed and so I had to tell my group that we were not going to make it to Paris until the next morning. My office helped me figure out a whole new plan and after some stressful moments we checked in at a hostel in London. I guess we were staying one more night. After a night of no sleep we went to the station at stupid o’clock and it all went smoothly. We arrived in Paris, checked into our hostel and went for a lovely picnic in the park overlooking the Eiffel tower. I could finally get this trip back on track.
After a shortened, but lovely time in Paris, we hopped on a train to Switzerland. We raced through the French countryside, be it with a slight delay. Then the train stops. We’re not at a station. We’re standing there for a while. The while turns into hours. Our train has had an ‘incident with a person’. Someone jumped in front of our train and here I am trying to go through all the scenarios of how this could affect us in my head. Best case: we still make our connection. Worst case: we won’t make it to our final destination today. As time passed I had visions of another night in an unplanned hostel.
I was looking up alternative ways to get to our destination, but they didn’t seem to exist. It looked like we were going to miss the very last possible way to make it. The train staff reassured me that it was going to be fine, but I didn’t believe them. After a while we moved again, but then had to wait for a new driver at the next station. After another half an hour of standing still, they announced that we had to get off the train. This train wasn’t going anywhere anymore. I was about to call in the help troops when I noticed the train behind us was delayed as well and it was going all the way to our destination! It was a miracle!
We ran and got on and soon found out that this wasn’t our lucky break. We made it one station further and then a new announcement said we had to get off the train once again. Nobody knew what was going on. We had to make two transfers to get closer into the right direction, but there was no train to our final destination anymore. I talked to a conductor and mentioned we had 17 people and this man was talking about arranging a bus. On the next train I asked the staff about this bus, but I was rudely sent away. On the last train, a man finally found me to tell me they had arranged a bus because we were a group. All the other passengers going to the same place were listening in and eventually followed us to the bus. We arrived in our hostel at 3AM, but we’d arrived. You have no idea how happy I was that I didn’t need the help troops!
You’d think we’d had the worst of it, but the trip brought a whole bunch of other challenges: two missing passports, stolen money, cancelling bank cards, several doctor visits, homesickness, lost passengers, night train drama, bed bugs… you name it, it probably happened. It was one hell of a trip and I’m exhausted. It certainly doesn’t help when one of your passengers greets you every morning with a ‘you look tired, Andrea’. My next trip is all about walking. At least I can’t miss the train…