2005-10-01: Au revoir
THE END OF OUR TOUR OF FRANCE
October 1st, Day 8
The train was for late morning so we weren't in any rush. For breakfast we had our normal fill, and then an extra fill that will squirreled away for lunch later on (in a plastic bag, not in pockets in our cheeks). We caught the return train and correctly stamped our tickets this time but had no conductor to show off our success to. We ended up in one station at Paris and went out to get a meal from a nearby store. We were at the base of the biggest building in Paris, one that rivals the height of the Eiffel Tower. It also has one of the nastiest intersections in Paris in front of it, they dismissed the lanes in the middle and just put lights leading into it.
We crossed over this to get lunch at McDonald's. This must have been the busiest McDonald's in the world. Edyta secured a chair in the crush while I stood in line for ages before managing to successfully order my meal. I then returned to eat. As soon as we finished the last bite people were hovering about our little table wanting us to leave so they could get in. Edyta had gone to the toilet but it would be over a quarter of an hour before I saw her again as she waited in line.
Our next stop was Gare du Nord where we had to buy some tickets for the RER train out to the airport. This turned out to be harder than I expected. Again we were faced with automatic ticket machines that only accepted French commands (although the machines in Lille did that too, they were easier to figure out and had no lines in front of them). There were no booths opened anywhere for ticket sellers and we had to get past automated gates to find a train. Eventually we charged through an open exit and spoke to some people in the station who pointed us to where we had to go to get tickets. I went back and then stood in an extremely long line of people who all seemed to have questions in languages the attendants couldn't speak. Luckily the line did move fast. Anyone that tried to "just ask a question" and cut in line must have felt a tonne of negative vibes hit them - as well as being dismissed by the attendants. I secured a ticket and we dashed onto a train. As we sat down one person leaped in, only the have his bag stuck in the closing door. He wrenched it through as the train started to move. The worst part of the ticket escapades was that I could've brought the return tickets on the first day and had I known they didn't have to be for a time I would've, but I figured it would be easy enough to get the tickets quickly in Paris.
Nothing much to tell after that. We found the correct terminal the first time although we did have to be shoved along to our check-in booth. A quick flight back to Heathrow. The bus took us back to Reading where I was lucky enough to discover the train strike had been called off (there was to be one on my first day of work). From Swindon we took our time walking up the hill to the house, no lugging the bag on my shoulder this time. And then we went to sleep, safe in the knowledge that breakfast was in the very same flat as we were and so we could be easily fed in the morning.
And a good night from me.