Saturday, November 19, 2016

Getting Around

I am normally a good travel planner, but I made some rookie mistakes on this short sojourn to Paris. These were compounded by some unusual issues.

No problem getting from Geneva to Gare de Lyon, where we expected to pick up Line 1 of the Metro to La Defense, a short bus ride or walk from the friends' home where we are staying. Except Line 1 had a problem, and they weren't allowing people to board. Two hour delay they said.

My first mistake was not having a Metro/RER map with me, or having checked alternates online when we were still in Geneva. I would have realized we could have taken the A train. But we were also somewhat concerned the Line 1 shutdown may have signaled a more serious problem, ie the recent terror attacks on Paris. So we went back upstairs to grab a cab for the journey across town.

Less than halfway there, the taxi developed an engine problem, and the driver said we'd need to get out and take another cab. We happened to be near Stalingrad, which is one of the more troubled areas of the city, and I had visions of walking the dark streets, dragging two suitcases, looking for an unoccupied taxi to get us out of there.

Fortunately, the 1st driver was very professional and actually called for the backup cab, who pulled up right behind us on the street. Within a minute we had transferred the luggage, paid the 1st driver, and were on our way again. The 2nd driver was very pleasant; D-L chatted with him the whole rest of the way. We saw a few sights: L'Arc de Triomphe, la Tour Eiffel, and the Pigalle sex district.

Only took us an hour and 45 minutes for a trip that should have been perhaps half that or less by metro and bus. Not to mention rather expensive.

The next day, I was heading to see a client in a suburb northwest of Paris. I thought I had mapped out the train route to Cergy, requiring two different lines and buses on each end. Our host commented that the lines I was looking for did not go from La Defense, so I re-looked online and discovered I needed only one direct train on the A line. Instead of more than an hour, it should take less than 30 minutes.

At the train station, I rushed into a store to buy a bottle of water, only to learn later it was lemon water. Okay, but not great with the pain au chocolate I bought as breakfast.

In Cergy, the client had said to take the 44 or 60 bus, which I could not find (and if I had, I had neglected to print out the name of the bus stop nearest the client's office). So I got a taxi instead, and fortunately he knew where to drop me off.

At Cergy train station for the return trip, I learned my 2nd ticket, which I had bought at La Defense, did not work in the opposite direction. Had to buy another ticket. Skipping the entrance turnstills which only worked with electronic passes, I stuck my ticket in the 1st machine slot available. After it was stamped, I looked up to see that that particular turnstile was closed and sealed off with construction tape. The ticket clerk kindly let me through a side gate.

Probably a sign that we've been traveling too much. Road weary. 

Did I mention I forgot my gloves?