Cancelled trains and skipping hearts

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Europe » United Kingdom
October 15th 2010
Published: October 18th 2010
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It was all under control yesterday (14 Oct) - I had my new rucksack, was ready to pack, and had just a few final things to sort out. But then a few things seemed to spiral slightly out of control, and I hadn't even left the UK. Where did it all go wrong?

Firstly, my rucksack - after days of deliberation, endless researching, and getting one of the few models in the UK shipped home, it was too small. I guess 60 litres was a bit optimistic. Maybe I should have thought about this beforehand? No? Cue mad-dash to Bristol to get a replacement. New bag in hand, things were still in control, although slightly delayed. The following day (15 Oct), was the final shopping trip to buy the last few things, and things were still in control - I had a new wardrobe by 11am, new contact lenses by midday, and was home in time for Neighbours. Time to sort out insurance, print my train tickets, and then sit down for a relaxing evening. Things were still in control.

And it was then that I found out. Apparently some French workers were striking. Hardly a surprise really, and you don't expect these things to get in the way at all. Not when I've been planning this trip for months and months anyway. But it's French train staff are striking? And my sleeper train to Bologna has been cancelled? And all trains to Italy have been cancelled? Until further notice? Which could be for another fortnight? And if it's not vital, I should maybe not bother trying to go to Italy?

So it's the first leg of the trip, and I'm already being forced into looking at flights. Not a coup. Not A revolution. Not a natural disaster. But a French industrial action. This wasn't what I'd planed. It doesn't quite sink in at first. And then it slowly does, and my heart speeds up and skips beats at the same time, and my limbs turn to jelly. The staff at RailEurope offer me a refund and their apologies. And that's it. Best laid plans eh?

Thankfully, after bringing myself round, Google steps into the frame, and with it, Eurolines - the glorious long distance bus company. I guess bus drivers aren't as militant as train drivers and the services are still running. What's better, they have spaces, and they can get me from Paris to Milan tomorrow night (albeit in a cramped and long 15 hours). Luckily the booking office isn't striking either and I'm booked on the 22.45 coach to Milan, for 15 hours of fun, and a 'reclining' seat instead of a sleeper carriage. Still, I'll be on my way. And that seems the most important thing for now. And quite unlikely an hour ago.

But it's now 9pm. My head's still a mess. My limbs are still jelly.

And I have a lot to do before 9.15 tomorrow...


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