Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Crazy trip

So I was in Belgium last week. I had a wonderful time, shared between my family and friends. However, the trip back home wasn't that good. Let me tell you about that - so you will find out what "being unlucky" really means.

I was supposed to take the plane in Amsterdam, because it's cheaper; the plane ticket includes a train ticket to Antwerp, in the north of Belgium, but my parents live further south, next to a city called Namur. So I had to take a train from Namur to Brussels, then another train from Brussels to Amsterdam Schiphol airport (that one was passing by Antwerp), and then the plane. Since I did that trip already and have learnt not to trust train schedules, I had planned to arrive at the airport 3 hours before my plane leaves. So far, so good.

First step: take the train ticket in Namur. It was slightly complicated, since part of the price of my train ticket was already included in the plane ticket. But I did it before without too much trouble. Only this time the guy behind the desk wasn't the most clever person I've met. He had never seen this before, he needed more information, he had to ask three of his colleagues, he did not understand why I should pay part of the ticket but would not let me go without paying either... Altogether, it took me half an hour to get this stupid train ticket and I missed my train. But it was ok, I still was to arrive at the airport over 2 hours early.

So I took another train to Brussels, then I had to wait for the train for Amsterdam. Only it was indicated as "cancelled" on the boards. I go to the information desk, they tell me I should take another train to Malines (which is on the way to Amsterdam) and then change and take the train to Amsterdam. I was lucky there: the train to Malines was to leave a few minutes earlier than the original schedule, so I might have noticed the cancellation too late, but that did not happen. So I do what I'm told: I take the train to Malines, then leave it and board the train to Amsterdam.

Only it doesn't start. We're told there is some problem with the engine, and we should leave with a 15 minutes delay. We eventually leave the station 42 minutes late, and we waste another half hour on the way, I don't know how. I then start worrying: I'm going to be at the airport only 50 minutes before my plane's departure, which is rather short.

So I arrive at the airport. I rush to the check-in desks: huge lines. I try on the self check-in machines: they don't work. Desperate, I run to the business class checking desks, and explain my problem to the attendant guarding them; she complains a bit but lets me through. There is no line there, so I'll be able to check in on time.

But my struggle isn't over. The check-in employee asks for my train ticket, and notices there is a problem with it: the dumb guy in Namur didn't give me the right kind of ticket, and somehow she can't deliver a boarding pass. She makes five or six phone calls and manages to solve this, but meanwhile, more time has passed. By the time I get my boarding pass, boarding has started for 15 minutes, but she tells me there won't be any problem, as my terminal is only 3 minutes away.

She was wrong: my boarding gate was at the very end of the terminal. I run through the security, run in kilometers of halls, run on moving walkways, and finally make it just before boarding closes, all sweating and panting. But I made it, and my luggage as well.

I deserved to board that plane, didn't I ?


  1. Wow, that was close! What a day, and scare! Sounds like in LOST with Hurley.. for luck it didn't crash. Funny how things go alike with me, I went to France on Friday and I had as well some delay problems. My plane was at 2PM. Before that, I ate at Jumbo shopping center in Vantaa, close to the airport, the was a big queue in one restaurant so that I went to another one. I left from there at 1:10PM and got to the airport in 5 minutes but because I had to leave my car there I wanted to find a cheap parking place being anyway quite close. Mission Impossible, all were full or reserved for staff, damn! Finally, at 15minutes walking from the gates, I find a place! Having no big luggage with me and having checked in by the Internet earlier, I'm confident. But the way walking is long and I get there 25min before official take-off time. I go straight to the security where is no waiting queue and it rings (true!) but nothing bad, apparently :) They let me through and I finally see the boarding panel and see my flight with "Last Call". Oh damn! Last time, my boarding gate was at the opposite side of the airport and it took 10 minutes to reach it. But for luck, it was very close an people were still standing checking their passes, YES! That was the plane... In Paris, I had a train from Gare de Lyon leaving for Lyon at 19:00 giving me 3 hours time between the landing and my train. That wasnt too much cause I used a lot of time in the airport finding toilets, then the RER (local train) didn't go on due to the usual Friday eve traffic jam and somebody who fell unconscious. 1.5h in the RER, I couldn't stand anymore! I left before my station and took 2 metros to reach my train, I arrived with only 20 minutes advance and got my train... and arrived 10 minutes late in Lyon due to traffic jam, again... The trip back was longer but without any delay :)

  2. what a marathon to get to that plane!

  3. I think one could make a full blog out of terrible transportation adventures :-D

  4. wowzer! that is a true travel horror story.