Have you ever felt lost in a strange, new world? We felt that way ten years ago as we embarked on our journey to language school in France. About halfway across the ocean, Joe, my husband, became very ill. He spent most of the remainder of the flight in the restroom. He could not stop puking. I am usually the one who gets motion sickness; I had taken some medicine. It was a very rough flight.
Once we reached Paris, our trip was far from over. We had to take a train from Paris to Albertville. We did not speak a word of French. If the people in Paris spoke English, they surely were acting like they did not. We had purchased our train tickets online. The only catch was that they were all in French. We thought we were taking the fast train, the TGV, all the way to Albertville, but we found out that was not the case.
We could not find an elevator. So, we had to take all of our luggage up the escalator. We had eight large trunks and our carry-on luggage. I went up the escalator first. Joe sent the trunks up the escalator, and I was pulling them off once they got to the top. Joe sent my backpack up, and he was right behind it with the remaining two trunks, his briefcase, and his backpack. When my backpack got to the top, I accidentally dropped it. It fell back down the escalator and got wrapped around Joe's feet. The only thing that kept him from falling backward was the mass of humanity behind him on the escalator.
We took the TGV from Paris to Lyon. Somehow we found our way to the train station. Joe was still looking rather green from the rough flight. We were trying to find our train car. There were numbers painted on the outside, but they were numbered 1, 2, 1, 2, all the way down the line. There was an automated number above each door, but we did not see those. We showed our ticket to someone. They motioned that we should just get on because the train was leaving. We had eight big trunks plus our carry-on bags. We just barely got the luggage inside the train before it took off. We stowed the luggage in the entryway; then, we fell into some very comfortable seats as the train picked up speed. A little later, the conductor came through collecting tickets. Unbeknownst to us, we had somehow ended up in the first class car, OOPS! The poor man did not speak any English, and we did not understand a word that he was saying. He finally just threw his hands in the air and kept going. I guess we did not take anyone else's seat, or they would have thrown us out on our ears. The fast train did not help Joe feel any better.
The TGV stopped in Lyon. We unloaded all of our luggage. At the Lyon Train station, we had to go downstairs before we could go back upstairs to the area where the slower trains were. Getting all of those trunks down the stairs and back up the stairs was quite a sight. I went down the steps to the first landing and stayed with the first load of luggage. Joe ran up and down the stairs until we got all of the trunks to the next landing. Joe looked around and found a man's ticket that looked exactly like our tickets. That man had his skis over his shoulder and said that we could follow him. He stood as far away from us as he could once we got to our train. But, he was kind enough to wait for us to get all of our luggage.
From Lyon to Albertville, we were on a slower train. It stopped in every town. I was trying to read the names of the French towns as we would pass the signs. There were two teenage girls sitting behind us laughing at the American who was slaughtering the French language. At each place that we stopped, more passengers with skis boarded the train. With our eight trunks, we had successfully taken up most of the luggage space. We kept hearing, “Texas!” said in a disgusted voice as people looked at our baggage tags when they were trying to find a place for their luggage.
We finally arrived in Albertville. Someone from the language school met us at the train station. That is a trip we will never forget!
If you have a funny travel story that you would like to share with us, please e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the name of each family member, your field of service, and a picture of your family if possible.
Until next week, keep your sunny side up!