Monday, May 2, 2011

Catastrophe en vacance! - travel disaster number five

I did have a ‘Days since Luke and Tilly’s last travel disaster’ count-up widget on this page for a while, at Til’s suggestion, but it seems to have disappeared for some reason. I’ll have to see about getting that back ... But for now, prepare to be shocked by the horrors of our latest travel disaster!

When I started writing the last post, Til and I were on the ferry from Dover to Calais. When that arrived we got back on our coach, which took us to Paris. We’d planned to get to our hostel from the Eurolines coach station by taxi, but after shopping for some French-style dinner of baguettes, camembert and such, we consulted the supermarket’s customer service, who told us no taxis went from there.

Luckily they were kind enough to sort out the whole thing on their computer and write us out instructions on how to catch the Metro to our destination. However, we messed up again once we arrived because the map there wasn’t oriented, so we didn’t know which direction from there.

We wandered around in exactly the opposite direction as we were supposed to for some thirty minutes before stopping and considering asking someone. At that moment, a taxi pulled up, and we took it as a sign to just get in and have him take us there. Crazy how off we were.

Finally, though, we got to the hostel and the real travel disaster occurred.

Til had made the booking, so she was talking to the guy at the front desk when he said, ‘I’ll need to see your passport.’

She rummaged around in her bag for a good minute before determining it wasn’t there. She’d lost it, left her travel wallet on the bus, she thought.

 'Weeeellity wellity wellity.'

I teased Til pretty mercilessly initially, and once the whole ordeal was over, mostly because she made me feel so pathetic about losing my wallet in Ireland. But now the tables had turned!

It was about eleven at night at this point, so it was too late to call anyone, but the next morning the Eurolines people said (even though they couldn’t get through to the actual station we arrived at) nothing had been reported and, of course, Til freaked. Being experienced in losing things on transport, I advised her to find a lost property e-form on their website to ensure that her details were in the system, but the site was stuck in an eternal loop so every time you clicked on the link it would take you back to the previous page.

We then called the British Eurolines office and left details there, before heading out with the intention of doing a last-ditch check in person at the station and, if it wasn’t there, going to the embassy.

Once we were at the coach station we lined up in this ridiculous queue which was being served by a single person and which was progressing at the rate of one customer per ten minutes. We would’ve been there all day. I hadn’t eaten yet, and I spotted a sign that said cafe, so I went upstairs to investigate. As I was walking up (it was the part of the station where we had alighted the bus the day before), I thought how funny it would be if I just saw the bus driver there, and then I DID.

I should say this bus driver was pretty eccentric. He kept joking that we’d be arriving in Paris the day after we were supposed to and talking about the bus as if it were a plane, and guilting someone who made us miss our ferry by going to the toilet off the bus instead of on, causing us to miss the ferry. But he was a nice guy.

‘Excuse me, I think I was on your bus yesterday?’ I said when I saw him.

‘You were,’ he said. We’d had a little chat when we got off, so that’s probably why he remembered me. ‘Did you lose your travel wallet?’

RELIEF. Til was going to be so happy. I followed him up to the office. Apparently he’d only found it that morning, after Tilly would’ve called. I followed him to the little office thing and collected it. Man he could talk. He was telling me all about everything – how he was a big Seekers fan and he’d been listening to ‘I am Australian’ when he found it. Just as I was about to part ways with him he asked me to give him the travel wallet so he could give it back to her. So weird haha. I’d wanted to bring it back, holding it above my head triumphant. I think it would’ve had more effect – me disappearing for ten minutes and returning inexplicably with the wallet, but I gave it to him and it worked out ’cause this way I got photos.

Thoughts: ‘Woe is meeee. What the hell is Luke doing?’

 ‘Why is this guy talking to me?’


He detained us for a further twenty minutes talking to us, to the point where we started wondering whether he was trying to hint he wanted a cash reward. Til offered but he declined, thankfully, and eventually left.

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