Friday, July 31, 2009

A Comedy of Errors

So it went like this. We woke up around 10am yesterday, we packed, we emailed confirmation with Jason one more time to make sure the situation was settled, and we went to Gare de l'Est (East Train Station) to get our train reservations.

Problem #1: There was no availability for Eurail pass users--the nifty, any 6 days of travel within 2 months in the 4 countries we picked (Benelux, aka Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands; France; Germany; and Italy, which we won't use)--until the 5:40pm train! Badness: we were planning on taking the 2pm train! Okay, fine; we emailed Jason, he said no problem, we put our luggage in storage at the train station (10 euros!), and decided to walk around.

Lovely! We saw a whole lot just walking around. There was the Louvre and the whole Royal Palace, then the Tuileries Gardens (the royal palace's gardens), then the Place de la Concorde which has a genuine Egytpian monolith. From there, we could see: the Royal Palace and gardens behind us, the Eiffel Tower off to the left along with some dome that was covered in gold, and more gardens in front of us ended by the Arc de Triomph. We wandered looking for food and internet, and found the Academy of Music or something like that, and fancy schmany stuff. We ate a rather bad meal in this tacky place running "classics" on VH1 that was billed as the Great American Dream Diner--couldn't make this stuff up. We also hung out for a bit at Starbucks to use their internet, then went back to the train station and had a snack and read.

So, we took the train from Paris to Metz. We went outside and it was a gorgeous train station with this charming garden. We went back inside 15 minutes before our train was due to leave, went to the right platform, got on, and then I hopped off to double-check because the wrong departure time had been listed. Oh, my God, wrong train! I jumped back on and CHARGED Matt, but we didn't make it!

Problem #2: We were on a train to STRASBOURG! (The completely opposite direction!) Damn Matt wanting to be overprepared and being a little panicked at this, only his second day in a non-English-speaking-country. I managed to actually speak French with the conductor, who told us we could get off at the next stop (after 20 minutes) and wait an hour there for a train directly to Luxembourg. We would therefore miss our connecting train to Trier, Germany, and not arrive in Germany until midnight!

OH MY GOD. Matt had a little GAAAAARRRR moment, but it was all good. A German kid from Koln had done the same thing! So we hung out at this tiny, nothing train station in Morhange, France, where this absolutely nuts guy--French, German, Dutch, Austrian???--talked nonsense, but DID lend Matt his phone card, so that Matt could call Beth, Jason's wife, and explain. She basically laughed at him and said no problem. Phew! We talked with the very nice German kid, on his way home from a couple weeks on a quiet beach in Lisbon, and then climbed on an hour later to Luxembourg. We hit the train station, and it's all being redesigned and remodeled, so it looks almost the same as I remember, both inside and in the area just across from the station. Strange, like a dopelganger. We waited for an hour and were very, very cautious getting onto the train for Trier, because we didn't want to mess up again.

So then, we arrived and saw Jason right away waiting for us. We drove back to his house in a small town next to the air force base, we talked for a few hours and met their 7-month-old, I tried a corn dog (not bad, but pigs in a blanket are still better), and went to bed.

Hence, a comedy of errors.

Voila. Three countries in six hours, though, people. That's nice.

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