Monday, June 16, 2014


A rare sight -- an empty train platform in Paris.
Philippe came to collect the apartment keys, to say goodbye, and to hail us a taxi, but, instead of the smile we expected, he looked unhappy.   There is a greve, a train strike, he said, and we may not be going anywhere today.  His son had made it from Marseille, but the news reporter said no trains would be heading east toward Colmar today.  If he hadn't had another reservation for the apartment, he would insist we stay another night.

David and I didn't know enough about the French train system to panic. Yet.  We thought  surely our reservations, made three months before, would entitle us to some alternative transportation.  After all, it was Saturday and we had little hope of getting a hotel reservation in Paris.  Besides, our hostess in Colmar, the Alsace region of France some two and a half hours away by fast train, was expecting us around 3:30.  She spoke only French, so how on earth would we explain the delay, or worse, a cancellation?  For that matter, where would we get a phone to call her in the first place?
These men may not look intimidating, but they weren't about to let anyone open the office.
We didn't get that queasy feeling until we arrived at Gare de l'Est, walked to the French train station office, the SNCF, and found it closed.  So much for pleading our case with the officials.  Without anyone to talk to, and with a departure board that was virtually empty with no sign that our train route had ever even existed, David and I got downright nervous.  We began to hate Napoleon III, the guy whose apartment we'd so enjoyed at the Louvre the day before.  He'd introduced strikes to the French people some two hundred years ago, and just look what happened as a result!
                                                         To be continued.

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