dimanche 18 avril 2010
A month ago, when I was planning my April trip up to Strasbourg, I consulted the SNCF reservation site to find...
Nothing.
No trains scheduled. Why? Strike of course!

I reserved direct flights from Marseille to Strasbourg, to and back, for about 230€.
Not bad right? Only a bit more than the train tickets would have cost, plus much shorter travel time (though do have to go through security, and the train stations are easier to get to, both from our apartment in Marseille and my studio here in Strasbourg, than the airports).

But what the heck? Instead of waking up at 5 am on a Sunday to go to the train station, I could sleep in, eat a croissant, drink a capuccino, calmly pack, go to lunch with his family, then Alain could drop me off at the airport early afternoon, 1:15 min flight instead of 7 hours by train, arrive in Strasbourg around 6 pm, take the shuttle to centre ville, and voila!

Of course, the only thing I didn't count on was a dang volcanic ERUPTION.
Good grief.
I didn't think much of it (travel wise or anything wise, I've been rather cutoff from regular life lately) until I was browsing MSN.fr Saturday afternoon and came across:

Panic! Thousands of travelers stranded across Europe! Airports closed in North of France! Travelers try to get spots on trains but few trains running due to month long SNCF Strike!
Rush to rent cars but holiday travel makes things even worse!!

Oh drat, I can see where this is going....

Quick check Air France website, not much in the way of actual information. Try calling the hotline several times, but never manage to get through. Check my flight status and it says that the flight is still scheduled. Check the Marseille and Strasbourg airport websites. The Marseille website doesn't have much to say, but the Strasbourg website says Flights interrupted until Monday morning 8 am.

Have a class Monday morning (could skip), another class Monday afternoon (would rather be there but not essential), and a test Tuesday morning (absolutely must be there or else I fail my year.)
There was a flight scheduled for Monday morning, Marseille -> Strasbourg, but there is no telling whether the airport shutdown will be lifted, and how many passengers will be trying to cram on one flight.

Alain came home after my panicked call to his parent's house (where he was working on his motorcycle) and said "Well, we'll just have to drive. All night if we have to. Then I'll drive back. I'm not going to let you drive all the way up there by yourself."
We started to quickly prepare, I had only barely begun packing, and I checked the SNCF website, just in case.

Still no trains from Marseille. Alain's father suggested that we check the trains from Lyon, and by golly! There was my regular Lyon-Strasbourg train. I quick made a reservation, not knowing how many other people would be thinking the same thing.

Only thing left was to get to Lyon.
We woke up at 4, finished getting ready, and left a little before 5. Before we left, I checked again whether there was any news. My flight status was still on schedule and the Strasbourg airport said "Interrupted" until Monday morning. Well, take our chances.

Alain drove for an hour, then I drove for awhile while he slept. We arrived at Lyon Part Dieu around 8:30 (only got lost once in Lyon). If the train was canceled, due to the strike, we would have to hop back in the car and drive all the way up to Strasbourg, which is at least 7 hours of pure driving, not counting rest stops and holiday traffic.

My train arrived, I got on, kissed my wonderful husband goodbye, and took a nap while he drove back to Marseille (that is, if he managed to find his way out of Lyon).

All the while still not knowing whether all of this was in vain. Approaching Strasbourg, sky a little hazy but not rain of ashes/blood/frogs end-of-the-world stuff.

Arrived in my studio, logged on, checked my email and found an email sent at 6:30 am saying that my flight was canceled.

So glad we decided to go ahead with the car/train solution! Otherwise we would have woken up Sunday morning, checked email, realized that there were no planes, then would have had to hightail it up to Lyon, at which point there would be not too many seats nor trains left, and maybe even drive all the way to Strasbourg. (airport now closed until 3 pm Monday).

Wonder how many of my classmates are going to be stuck.
I am planning on taking the plane back in a little over a week. Will have to monitor airport status between now and then.

Traveling in France:
Always Have A Backup Plan

3 commentaires:

Dedene a dit…

What a mess! You're so lucky you had the car alternative. I lived through the Mt. St. Helen's eruption in the early 80s and the ash stuck around all summer. Europe is not out of this mess yet.

Starman a dit…

I know what you mean about backup plans. We're having a hell of a time finding an apartment in Frankfurt that costs less than €2000, and that's for a 20m2 studio. At least, you had options.

Mwa a dit…

I think travelling anywhere just now, you need a backup plan. But especially in France, I suppose. Glad you got there.

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