Archive for the ‘EuroTrip’ Category

On Trains

June 30, 2009

TrainΒ© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

I’m convinced trains are the greatest form of transportations. You get on and your good to go. You can read, sleep, listen to music, write, do almost anything really and all you need to worry about is getting off. There are also the large windows and the varying landscapes passing you by. It’s not only a great way to see a country, but also relaxing and conducive to thought. The only trouble with trains is, getting to them.

When my plane landed in Paris I had absolutely no clue about where to go. All I knew was that I had a ticket for a train that left in an hour, a train that was nowhere insight. It was about six in the morning and the airport was mostly empty. It’s a gorgeous airport by the way, Paris CDG, even as we were taxiing it looked great through my percentile of a window. It’s modern, in a clean minimalist way, and uses a lot of glass, concrete, and wood, and is slightly under lit. It reminded me a bit of the AGO. I found an information booth and perhaps the most bored employee I have ever seen.

Asking for directions in English, in a foreign country, is always at least a little awkward. You don’t want to sound as if you assume the other person speaks English, when in fact you are assuming that they speak English. The result is that you start off speaking slowly in a slightly hesitant manner, anxiously looking for a sign of understanding. If such a sign presents itself, you go into regular speaking mode, using sign language to fill in the blanks. So in this manner I asked for directions to the train station and received a yawn in response. Then a puzzled look came over the woman’s face as I handed her my confirmation printout, pointing at the train portion of it. In the end the directions I received were “turn right and walk for five minutes”. A fifteen minute walk and I was at the train station.

After talking with three different people and waiting in three lines, I had my train ticket. Here is where I learned lesson number two, arriving early for trains is pointless. Unlike flights, trains, along with their track number (or letter), are only displayed a few minutes before departure. For those of us inexperienced with train travel this results in wandering the station, looking for a train that will be displayed long after your patience runs out. Knowing this, I ordered a coffee, and waited for my train to arrive.


On Planes

June 29, 2009

Light PlaneΒ© Eugen Sakhnenko 2009

Tomorrow I leave for London. I write this in a sea of possessions that my girlfriend and I are earnestly attempting to fit into out backpacks. I’ve spent about a week in France now. Half of that time was in the small southern town of Saint-Etienne, the other half was in Nice on the French Riviera, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The truth is I’ve never flown alone before, so lets start there.

I picked my plane seat when I booked my ticket, I wanted the window seat, that’s what I choose. Turns out when you sit in the first row after an emergency door you get a whole lot of plastic wall and about one-tenth of a window. That’s the first lesson I learned, you don’t choose the window seat, the window seat chooses you. I was glad to have nice people sitting next to me, a girl starting university and her mother.

They were headed for Romania and spent half the flight flipping through celebrity-tabloids deciding who was ugly and who was alright. We did end up talking quite a bit and even teamed up for a Sudoku puzzle. Who new the hours I spent doing Sudokus while working at a market research agency would be a useful social skill. The cool thing about flying Air France, they give you menus come meal time.

You only have two choices for the main course, but that’s twice as many as any other flight I’ve ever been on and thus a plus in my book. I ordered green-curry chicken, it was pretty great. I also had a Heineken which is extra tasty and refreshing thousands of feet in the air. The other great thing about this flight was that I got to see both sunrise and sunset, that pretty much sums it up.

This seems like a good place to stop, plus I have to go make some lunch.