Sunday, December 19, 2010
Home At Last!
On Friday, I began my journey from Apeldoorn to Paris at 11am and got home after 11pm - I was lucky to get here at all! I managed to get the bus to the station and the train to Schiphol with no incident, and it was at Schiphol that the fun began.

I had a fairly substantial lunch, which turned out to be very wise, and then I went to the Thalys lounge to ask if the trains were running OK - as there were no signs at all about trains and there were huge queues at the booking office and information desks. The woman behind the desk in the lounge told me that the last train to Paris had been delayed 15 minutes, which I later realised cannot possibly have been true. So I went down to the platform and waited there - there were only a few trains coming and going, and half an hour after my train was scheduled to depart, they told us it would not be running. Then somewhat later, they told us the next train would not be running. At that point, all trains back to Apeldoorn were cancelled as well, so I decided to get on the next train going south, because there would almost certainly be no hotel rooms that I could get to at Schiphol. That also proved to be a wise decision.

After some time I managed to get on a train to Rotterdam, although I had to stand all the way amongst hundreds of people. Once arrived at Rotterdam, I saw a Thalys there, and it said "Bruxelles - Paris", so I decided to go to the Thalys platform and wait there for a while in case it really was going to depart. About half an hour later, that train drew up to the platform, and then the real fun began. Hundreds of people waited outside that train for nearly two hours until they finally opened the train doors and let us in! No information about whether it was going to depart or not, but there was a driver - in his nice warm cabin, and he said he was expecting to depart at 7pm, so we all waited. We were finally allowed to get in at 7:30pm, and miraculously I got a seat. There was no food or drink, but they managed to get some drinks carts at Brussels, and at least I could have some water and a glass of wine. We finally pulled into Paris at nearly 11pm.

I had ordered a taxi to be waiting, which was the third wise thing I did, because I actually got one. When I walked up to the taxi desk, there were lots of people there screaming, so I was a bit worried, but a driver took one look at me brandishing my Thalys taxi slip and said "this way, Madam". He was parked right out the front, which was great, and I was home not long after 11pm. Funny thing was, it only cost 20 euros for the taxi, and normally one pays a lot extra as a booking fee for the Thalys taxis. I almost think he wasn't really one, just a driver who happened to be there and wanted a fare that was not screaming.

Yesterday I went out to the Post Office and the supermarket, but apart from that I haven't been out of the house since. My knees were killing me yesterday, although they are a lot better today, but it's also been snowing heavily, and now it is horribly windy. I slept a lot yesterday, but had to finish off some work today, so that I can have a clear conscience for the holidays.

At least I got home without major incident, others have not been so lucky, my Italian colleague Giulia has been stranded at Schiphol for two days, she has only got home a few hours ago. Apparently, Schiphol airport ordered everyone to leave the premises if their planes were cancelled, and they were in fact ejected outside by the police, straight into the snow. No trains anywhere, no hotel rooms, no help of any sort, including our work travel agent who was totally unobtainable. Fortunately she had the number of a colleague who lives near Amsterdam and he was able to help her get to his place, along with some other colleagues who were stranded there, and that's where they spent the last two nights. The police barred entry to the airport in the morning yesterday and today, as well. I can't help contrasting this with the pictures I see on the television of people sleeping at CDG with blankets provided by the airport and being given hot drinks and water - I don't understand how Schiphol can just drive people out into the snow! It's a nasty start to the Christmas holidays, and could be life-threatening as well.

Now I am keeping my fingers crossed for my Wednesday flight to Cyprus, let's hope there is no more snow and the backlog gets cleared up. Now it has stopped snowing, but there is a horrible wind blowing, so much that I have closed all the windows, which I normally have open a crack. I just hope tomorrow is not too bad, as I have to go out to work and clear up a whole lot of admin things.
posted by Ally at 8:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤