Posts Tagged ‘travel’

On Trains

June 30, 2009

Train© 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.