Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Three places to vacation (1)

The flight took me to Charles de Gaulle Airport. When I had made plans for this trip, I didn't realize that you can get right on the TGV to Nantes without having to first manage an extremely cumbersome circuitous way to reach the TGV at the Gare de Montparnasse. Instead I found out from my brother that the TGV went straight from Charles de Gaulle to Nantes without any ado. Or so I thought.

I should have been able to make a seat reservation just before entering the train. What I had not taken into account was the fact that the day I arrived was Ascension Day, a holiday in France, that happened to take everyone living in Paris to a long weekend into the country. The queue for reservations snaked around for, it seems, miles. When I got to the counter, the next two trains going to Nantes were full. That meant that the earliest train I was able to catch would leave at 18:30 o'clock. So I had an unwanted 6 hours of time to kill at the airport. Maybe the circuitous route via RER train and Metro to Montparnasse had not been the worst choice.

I learned the tune that sounded before each announcement really well (Too-tit-ataw). I also noticed people with inordinate amounts of luggage. I walked up and down and up down and up and down. I found the toilet about half a mile away. Toilets are important facilites in all airports and train stations. The cost of divesting of your drink is nearly as high as what you paid investing in it.

A tall black woman from Nigeria on crutches was occupying a bench for an inordinate amount of time and was told she couldn't stay there. Soon one of the airport officials summoned a uniformed helper to usher her to another spot. He carried everything for her. I watched all that. Then I sat at a high counter with places to plug in your laptop. Of course I didn't have a laptop. I would have liked having one. But maybe not. It would have meant too much to carry. Men in suits did their last-minute communication with whatever world they were excaping.

I took my bag and suitcase a few steps and sat down and watched the throngs of weekend-vacationers. Then I read a few pages of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I was fortunate that I had bought that because it made the time go by fairly fast. I ate a bite of my sandwich. At some point I noticed a bearded man going through the trash looking for food. Where did he come from? How could a homeless man find his way to this place? Maybe he had been inspired by the movie "Airport". I mean Charles de Gaulle is really hard to reach on foot. Even by car it takes quite bit of knowledge of the mazes around the modern glass and metal structure.

Because I would not make it to Ile d'Yeu on that day, I had to let my brother know about the change in plans. Since I had not brought my cell phone (too expensive), I had to find a pay-phone. The pay-phones at the airport have the option of using coins or a phone card. A phone-card is easier because you don't have to have handfulls of coins on hand. I bought the card for 10 Euros at the book-store. I called my brother to tell him that I would be there the next day.

Finally it was time to board the train. Too-tit-ataw, the announccement reminded everyone that you had to "decompostez votre billet". Without decomposting you could not step on the train. I did all that, and off the TGV went with me to Nantes. As in Monopoly I had passed "go". I was in business.


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