the arrival: loss, losers, and a whole lot of lugging


Here we are, safely and comfortably settled in Saarbrucken. It’s day 2 of our trip. Or is it day 3? Well, it’s Monday night. I know that much. I guess that does make it day 3. It’s just that we’ve only had one actual night of sleeping in a room with walls and, you know, a bed.

Ah, beds. How we do take them for granted. Until the point where we’ve spent 24 hours or so sitting in various car, plane and train seats, or floors, not to mention walking and standing…

The trip here was…long. Not terrible. But well…long.

Day 1: Leaving home

We left home around 2:00 p.m., drove to the airport and checked in without incident. We were very happy to find out that the flight was underbooked, so we got to sit in a row with a free seat. It was fabulous news considering Phoebe would otherwise have been only in our very crowded laps.

The flight was good, though it involved too little sleep. I tend to forget how chaotic and noisy flights are, what with the beverage and meal service and people getting up and moving around. And with the lights on. It was almost as if people weren’t scheduling their activities around Phoebe’s bed time. Could that be possible?

Phoebe was very good overall, though too interested in what was going on. There was a bit of crying here and there, but not for too long overall. She was almost asleep when dinner was delivered. And then she perked right up and wanted my cantaloupe. I tried covering up my food to keep it from calling to Phoebe, but eventually worried the flight attendants would think this meant I was finished and snatch up my tray before I could eat. So eventually, John held Phoebe while I ate. Which Phoebe did not like. (Translation: she cried.) I shoveled the food in, some sort of lentil-ish loaf and mashed potatoes (the “special” dinner), and what was left of my cantaloupe, to a soundtrack of Phoebe’s various sad and angry vocal stylings. But then Phoebe settled in John’s arms before I finished eating, and eventually fell asleep. She slept well enough that we could transfer her to my arms at some point.

The flight was long, but seemed too short once Phoebe finally fell asleep, around 9:00 p.m. by our time. Meaning about 4 hours before our scheduled arrival in Paris. And then the lights came back on and the chaos started up again about an hour before landing, what with breakfast service and all.And then, before we knew it, we were on the descent.

Day 2: arrival in Paris (and departure)
So there we were on the ground at Paris, CDG. And we gathered up our big piles of stuff and eventually got off the plane. There were quite a lot of other babies and small children on the flight, and it was funny to see that most of those other families were also slow getting off the plane. And we headed out of the plane, and expected to see our stroller, which we’d checked at the gate. It wasn’t there. Neither were any of the many other gate-checked strollers. We hung around for a bit, with the gathering small crowd of baby-toting people, until we finally got the news that all the strollers had all been sent to baggage claim, as everybody “had already left.” Everybody, I thought, except for all the people travelling with small children!

So, we headed off to clear immigration and customs, joining the end of the line with the rest of the baby people. And I was crankily muttering to John that it defeated the purpose of checking strollers at the gate when they have the stroller sent off to baggage claim. And John said something like: “If that’s the worst thing that happens on this trip, it will be a pretty good trip.”

An excellent point.

But it turns out this was not the worst thing that happened to our stroller. We don’t actually know what happened to our stroller. Everybody else got their stroller. Ours didn’t appear. Apparently, the very cranky agent at the desk in Boston misdirected our stroller. I didn’t notice when she handed me my receipt that she’d written LAX (that’s LA) and some other possibly non-existent flight number, rather than CDG and our flight number. And sadly, we didn’t even have a name tag on the stroller. When I asked the agent if I could put my name on it, she just said, “I’ll take it now.” I complied. That was all she said to me, before she scribbled on a tag, and handed me the receipt, all the while ranting to a coworker about the crappy day she was having. I slunk off without even reading the tag. Was it spite?

So, our stroller is probably gone. It was a very nice stroller. Nicer than American Airlines (losers) will be willing to reimburse us for, according to the lost baggage agent. They offered us a loaner, some poor other soul’s lost stroller, from all appearances. But that sad little thing wouldn’t even open. I thought we’d be better off without it. We can apparently get reimbursed for up to 50 U.S. dollars for a new stroller. There was the possibility that they would be able to find the stroller, and get it to us.

So, off we stumbled and lugged. Happily, we’d at least brought our new lightweight carrier for Phoebe, so we were able to manage our luggage with Phoebe on my back. We had to get moving to get the train station to make our way to Saarbrucken, Germany.

We took the RER to Gare du Nord, then the Metro to Gare de l’Est, which was where we planned to take the newly opened TGV line, a super-duper fast train, direct to Saarbrucken. Notice how I used the past tense there…planned. Because, you see, all the TGV trains, for the day were sold out. One can purchase tickets in advance. However, I hadn’t. Unbeknownst to me, one can only purchase online at least 5 days in advance. Once I got my act together to buy, our departure was 4 days away.

No big deal, I thought. We’ll buy our tickets at the station.

But.

It turns out that not only were all the fast trains sold out for the day, so were the usual slow routes. What the agent finally arranged for us was to get a 2:00 train, after a 3 hour wait, to Nancy. Followed by a train to Metz. Followed by a train to Forbach. And then a train to Saarbrucken. Count ’em, my friends. 3 changes, 4 trains. Plus 2 suitcases, 2 backpacks, a diaper bag, and one very tired toddler. Anyone care to do the math?

That’s all I have time for now. I’ll write more when I have a chance. For now I’ll say that I’m actually having a great time, in spite of various inconveniences. The first day of the conference was good, and tonight I get to sleep in a bed. Which I should do now, because it’s way, way too late. And because I really appreciate having a bed to sleep in.

phoebe_airport.jpg
Phoebe enjoyed looking at the planes at the airport.

p.s. If you are a relative of mine, and wondering why I haven’t emailed, it’s because I can’t manage to get to my email just now. I managed to check it just fine, but haven’t been able to get back on for the last few hours. I’ll try again tomorrow.

7 thoughts on “the arrival: loss, losers, and a whole lot of lugging

  1. i love traveling by train in europe…it’s such a great way to see the countryside. sounds like it probably wasn’t such a bad detour after all.

  2. you are in a place with two aas in it’s name. y0u know it’s far away when there are two aa letters in a row.

    sounds like it was a pretty decent journey so far.

  3. It is the things not normally expected that make it an adventure. I’m glad you have such a good attitude. Your travel attitude got its start early at two weeks and international flight at 6 months.

    Have a great time. See you soon. Love, Mom

  4. Considering you flew into CDG, you’re lucky that the stroller was the only thing you lost. And that was the fault of the woman in Boston, can’t even blame the French for that one.

    Don’t get me started about the black hole of inefficiency and baggage mishandling that is Charles de Gaulle Airport. When we were in Paris last summer, CDG, Air France, British Airways, or a collusion of the three of them lost luggage for two of our many visitors. Well, except for my friend Katie. They didn’t really “lose” her luggage. No, it was in France. CDG had it, but she was not staying at a hotel, she was staying at our apartment in the 20e. And this fact was just not compatible with their lost baggage delivery system. Numerous calls to British Airways, CDG baggage, and cussing out several people in French did not seem to help them understand that it was possible for her to not be at a hotel, and that the bag could be delivered to a non-hotel.

    The downshot of this is that poor Katie had to spend an entire week in Paris–the hottest damn week Paris had last summer, I might add–wearing the same outfit every day. The upshot, of course, is that British Airways gave her a first class seat on the way home. And luckily this happened before the whole BA security lockdown in August.

    You know, Between that, the BA security lockdown, and the BA folks in Boston, If I ever have to hear the British Airways “please hold” music again, I may have to be institutionalized.

    Wow, planes, trains, metros, and automobiles with luggage and kids, and probably very little A/C. And in France, to top it all off. You all are troopers, I applaud you. And great that you pulled through and stayed up long enough to write about it, you’ll be glad that you did.

    Bonne chance a la reunion!

  5. maja-
    While I share your love of rail travel, this particular detour was more hassle than bonus. We didn’t get much scenic viewing to compensate for the lugging and train-hopping. But it was an adventure, that’s for sure.

    jeanerz-
    Yes, I see you know the angst of lost baggage. We may never see that stroller again. And yeah, I’m glad I wrote this up. My memory is already fading, only 2 weeks later.

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