L’arrêt Impromptu

Geneva window

We regretted booking such an early morning flight out of Geneva, particularly because there was only one train we could catch to the airport, and there was quite a tight turnaround between the train’s arrival and our flight’s departure. The walk to the station was bizarre. It was colder than I expected, and the snowfall was heavy.

The Easyjet section of the airport was like a department store on the first day of sales. We’d checked in online, but still needed to print out the tags for our luggage. An eternity passed before we were on our way to a terminal that may as well have been in another country. We arrived with barely a moment to spare as boarding was beginning for our flight. The view out the cabin window was not promising. Do planes still take off in this weather? Moments later an announcement was made by one of the cabin crew in French. The announcement was repeated in English but the French speakers, already having heard it, began to talk amongst themselves, making it extremely difficult to hear. It soon became clear that the airport had been closed until further notice; we would find out more information at 9am. I juggled between reading my novel and an uneasy sleep as flights were cancelled, others re-scheduled hours away. There was no announcement regarding ours, though.

Concerned, we checked the board, in case we had missed an announcement, and sure enough, our flight had been cancelled. The next couple of hours involved a long queue, lots of walking, and seemingly (at the time) bad decision making. We opted not to stay in Geneva at Easyjet’s expense, because I had arranged to meet two friends in Amsterdam that afternoon and I wanted to make every effort to do that. Our only other viable option was rail. Two bullet trains: one to Paris, then one to Amsterdam. The price difference between our cancelled flight and the trains was astonishing, but we stuck to our plan.

We found out that our fellow travelers, who were also meeting us in Amsterdam, had experienced similar troubles and had chosen to stay in Rome until a flight to Amsterdam could be arranged. The idea that they were enjoying a nice hotel at Easyjet’s expense while we were spending the entire morning at the airport and afternoon on an expensive train really upset Bob. We returned to Geneva and around 8 hours after our flight to Amsterdam should have departed, we were aboard a train to Amsterdam, via Paris.

The speed of this ‘bullet’ train was worrying me. It was becoming more and more unlikely that we would reach Paris in time for the connecting train to Amsterdam. I scouted the carriages until I found a train guard who wrote our situation on our ticket, in case any problems arose with our connection in Paris. It was little comfort, but it might just help us.

We arrived in Paris, late, but in one piece. Our connecting train was leaving from another station, and although there was little hope, we still rushed and tried or best to make the connection. Unsuccessful, we waited in another queue and spoke with a lady about exchanging our train ticket for a later service but her reply was unexpected. None of the trains to Amsterdam were running due to the bad weather. We’d have to stay in Paris overnight.

Although it came as quite a shock (earlier in the year we had entertained the idea of stopping in Paris but had decided against it), having to stay a night in Paris was hardly terrible news. The lady made reservations for us at the Ibis, and explained how to get there on the train.

We arrived at our hotel, terribly tired from the long day (we’d been up since around 5am) but also hungry. We found a diner, not far from the hotel, and had our first proper meal for the day, (we’d purchased some pastries before boarding the train). That evening we decided that we’d make the most of our impromptu stop in Paris, even if it meant staying an extra night. We did some last minute research and embraced the new addition to our trip, a brief tour of Paris in the snow.


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