The what I assume is the annual strike season in Paris is tedious. I respect a good strike but when you do it constantly the impact gets lost a bit to casual observers.
In Paris right now there are train strikes going on which made me very wary on getting to my plane back to the USA. Getting to a flight 2 hours early is my standard and I add more time when the flight is going back to the USA because of those customs. Don’t even get me started on that.
Google maps told me 45 minutes by train and I added a half hour more to be safe. However as per the title of this post that clearly wasn’t enough.
By the grace of Zeus or someone looking out for me in a weird morbid way I woke up way earlier because my back was very sore. I’m on couches all vacation and my first real bed screwed with my lumbar. Fair enough. Since I couldn’t sleep I left for the airport while Google Maps had the same travel time.
Turns out the strike closed down the station near me and I have to walk to another. It was raining. That station wouldn’t run the full distance I had to deboard 2 stations later and navigate a sea of people searching for the same train and getting a lot of different answers. Also all the monitors were off and no staff around because Paris. I ended up on one train full of airport passengers that went the wrong way so I got off, went back, tried again. We are at about 3 hours now into what was meant to be a 40 min direct train.
The next train was correct but jam packed. We didn’t know for sure it was correct until it got to the forked junction too so I’ll chalk that up to something luck. I get to the airport, navigate the standard lines for customs and into the non standard lines for visiting the USA. All told we are close to 4 hours. Another one hour in line and I can walk into my boarding area.
Overall an awkward experience that would have been far more stressful if not for a sore back. As I sit at a half empty gate about to board I think many people were not so “lucky”.
It is always hard to end a trip this way with the added concern and stress it can cause. Ease of getting to and from airports is a metric I use for a good city and Paris has let me down often there. I’ve had easier times getting to Kathmandu airport with no public transportation. Anyway, keep these things in mind when working in famously unreliable transportation systems.