Sunday, 26 September 2010

Enough already

I really don't like long-haul flights, especially back to back, but I have no interest in staying in Singapore when I could be at my real destination of France so; 11 hours + 5 hours at Singapore + 13 hours and then travel from CDG to Versailles (in stages). Auggh! No matter how good the service on the plane there is no compensation for the torture of sitting upright in a seat for more than 10 hours at a time. Get up and stretch, you say? Not much of an option these days as the planes are all full and the aisles clogged with people waiting for the toilets. There's no space to bend so I was reduced to making tiny movements with my calves and ankles during the flights. The woman sitting next to me farted odiferously at regular intervals-I wanted to throw up.The frequent turbulance (even at 37,000 ft) did not help.

No one wanted to talk to me on either flight. They sat beside me with 'cones of slience' switched on. After watching 5 movies I couldn't bear watching another one so I listened to my MP3 player instead. Sleep was impossible to Singapore so I shouted myself a massage and shower at Changi. It's a good service but very expensive. I needed it because I was facing another 13 hours of sporadic moderate turbulance. The internet service is also good so I dropped a line onto my Facebook Page to update everyone.

On arrival at CDG, as on my first visit, no sign of customs checks, really. Not even an arrivals card to fill in, just long waiting queues. Outside the terminal I tried to work out how to get to Versailles. There's nothing direct so I needed to catch a bus to a major train station in Paris, but which one? I asked a bus ticket seller but he had no idea, probably both gare de Lyon and gare de Montparnasse, he suggested. Oh both? The bus driver wasn't helpful either, he thought maybe both? No matter, he was going to both but I'd need to make a decision.

I had plenty of time to do that. The traffic in and out of Paris is so apalling now that it took me nearly 3 hours to get to Montparnasse (luckily I guessed the right gare). I then couldn't find anywhere to buy a simple one-way ticket to Versailles as it's not on a main line. I asked and was told where to go. I went and stood in line for 40 more minutes of heavy luggage wielding. There were hardly any tellers on duty. The lines of waiting customers were enormous. Eventually as I asked for a ticket I was told no, not here, this is only for other tickets. I must go somewhere else. I found somewhere else and purchased a ticket, train leaving in 4 minutes, great, I thought.

As I put my ticket into the machine and pushed my way through the metal barrier pincers the machine stopped me halfway and refused to budge. My legs were trapped in the middle, my suitcase was trapped ahead of me, my laptop and camerabag fell off my shoulders behind me and no one cared to help. I was pissed off, especially as the machine had swallowed my ticket. After painfully extricating myself and my belongings I marched over to the ticket seller and told him what had happened. He looked a little amused (I was definitely NOT) and eventually came out, having made me wait for him to dress up in a fancy official jacket and cap.

After identifying the offending machine he unlocked it and retrieved my ticket but now I wasn't allowed to go through the machines. I had to go through a door. I discovered this door only opens one way so I had to wait until a passenger wanted to come through to my side. Needless to say- I had missed my train with all this.

Next task, identify your platform, time of next train to the destination you want and it's a good idea to check the names of the stations you will pass through too as a double check. Done, on, arrived at Versailles Chantiers (you must take care which Versailles line you are on). I was so exhaused, my back and hips completely done in from struggling with luggage for so many hours I thought, stuff it, time for a taxi to the hotel.

My room is number 11 and just to polish me off I had to haul all my luggage up an old spiral staircase until the proprietor took pity on me and hauled it the rest of the way. I'm suprised you didn't hear my shuddering sigh as I closed my room door behind me.


Alison said...

Oh Frances, I did hear your shuddering! I could feel your exhaustion from here!

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