Monday, June 30, 2008

Goodbye France - I won't be missing you...

My last few days at INSEAD-FBL, and I had the most miserable time last week trying to get away this country. First, I had a visit to Brussels, to say hi to former co-workers. I had to change trains at Gare de Lyon, but the trains were all stopped, nobody knew why, and my Thalys ticket was departing in 1 hr. Another frustrated traveller also taking the Thalys and i tried to get a cab, but couldn't find one, but we found a bus. Then, we arrived at Gare du Nord, too late for our original ticket, and found out, all trains here were stopped too. So - even though we were late, our train was later than we were. Something about fire stopping the train. Ended up talking with the very nice lady who was also stuck on the train, and we ended up chatting on the entire journey. Turns out her seat number was right next to mine... had we not been stuck trying to figure out the trains, we would have sat next to each other anyways!

Then, on the way back, it was so confusing to figure out how to get back to Fontainebleau. Each The map shows a RER line R from Gare du Lyon to FBL, but there's no line R. Each time I got different advice on where to go from 3 different people! I was stuck inside Gare Du Lyon for about an hr trying to figure out how to get back, until I figured out I had to take a surface train, not the RER. Or maybe it was an RER that rain on the regular mainline tracks. In any case, I think I made it back on the last train from CDG to Fontainebleau.

THen the following day, at CDG, I was supposed to board a Swiss Air flight to Geneva out of terminal 1 (as per the CDG website) at 3pm. Except - Swiss air doesn't exist anymore, since it's a Air France codeshare, and departs from Terminal 2! (no way I would have known this) So - had to walk REALLY far to terminal 2 with all my bags. THen, arriving at terminal 2, there's 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 2E, 2F, and 2G! And no indication where is the one for Air France. Needless to say - I missed my original flight, which departed from 2B. I was told to go to 2G to get my tickets redone. Did so, paid EUR244, and was told to run back to 2G (about a 20 min walk, normally) and that the plane was waiting for me. Arrived there, and saw the ticket I was given was for a flight that departed in 5 mins. Obviously, I wasn't going to make it, and the AF guys certainly didn't check me in. So, again had to run back to 2G to get it re-ticketed again, for a 8pm flight. At least it worked this time....... until I got to the gate, when the airport workers decided to go on strike., which meant I didn't leave until almost 10pm.

THis is soo typical of my experience in France, it's amazing the place even works. From a transportation point of view, it's almost as bad as a developing country! Can't wait to be back in Singapore..

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