7 March 2011

Off to a flying start. Day One: FAIL!

An early morning wakeup call followed a very restless nights sleep. I woke almost every hour to check the time and make sure I had not overslept. After quickly pulling on some clothes and gathering my things, I walked out the door of my London flat for the last time.

With little time to spare, I quickly made my way to the rail station, and the train pulled up just as I walked onto the platform. I had a feeling it was going to be a good day. I was wrong...

I arrived at the Eurostar terminal with plenty of time to spare. The train left on time, and I settled in for the short journey under the North Sea to France. Even managing a quick nap.

The journey seemed quicker than the two and a half hours it took. By 10:30am I was standing in Paris Gare du Nord. A quick check of my onward ticket suggested my train left at 11:15. The problem was there did not seem to be any trains at 11:15am, let alone any trains to Marseille. Another check of the ticket showed the train departed Gare de Lyon. Shit.

I approached a information desk, and the kind woman advised me that was not a problem, I just had to go down the stairs and take a left. I hoisted my backpack up and set off. But I could find no reference to Gare de Lyon at all... I asked another staff member, and all they could say was "not here! back up". So I went back up the stairs and asked someone else. Same information. Down the stairs, to the left. Hmmm... I tried one final information counter who told me that I had to get on the metro for two stops to get there. A quick check of my watch; 30 minutes until my train departed...

I quickly bought a ticket for the metro and made my way down the escalator. Standing at the platform a woman tapped me on the shoulder and spoke to me in French. I threw my hands up to show I did not understand, she just pointed at my backpack. I turned around to see the zip was open... double shit.

My mind froze. My laptop, camera, mp3 player... EVERYTHING was in there. I dropped my bag and started to search through. I knew straight away that my kindle was gone. Thankfully most of my other things seemed to be in place. The metro pulled up. I knew the kindle was not coming back. I got on the train.

There was only one way to describe how I felt. Absolutely gutted. But most will agree I am a fairly logical person. So I thought it through - what now? Find out what is missing and report it to the police. Only one small problem; I had 15 minutes to get my ass on that train. I decided that was my priority right now, the rest I can deal with later.

So I jumped off at Gare du Nord, bag in hand - there was no way I was putting it on my back now! I scrambled up the escalator, through the confusing maze that was the station, and found my train. I spent the next 15 minutes digging around to see if anything else was missing, and trying to find my insurance details.

The next 10 minutes were spent listening to bad music while on hold with the insurance company, only to speak to them for a total of five minutes and be told that there was nothing they could do until I filed a report with the police.

I took my seat on the train, and finally had a second to breathe. I suddenly felt very alone. I missed all the people I had just left behind. Was this a big mistake? What was I doing? I realise it was only a kindle, but when someone steals from you as blatantly as that - it makes you feel slightly vulnerable. Unsafe. And with so many miles ahead of me the doubts started to creep in.

I am not a superstitious person at all. But I have done quite a lot travel and nothing like this has ever happened to me before. And after all that travel, something happens on the very first day of my largest trip yet. In the first morning. Bad luck? Maybe. Or a sign of things to come? A bad omen?

Sitting on the train for the last hour or so, looking out the window at the beautiful French countryside, the sun shining, my MP3 player turned up to 10; I gained some perspective. It was a combination of bad luck and carelessness. I learned a hard lesson on day one of my trip. Yes, it is gutting, but I will continue, if a little more cautious, and I will have an amazing time!

I will write of the rest of the days events in a later post. But the day did drastically improve after meeting my couch-surf hosts - awesome people!


  1. That's terrible! I had a similar thing happen to me at the beginning of a trip in France....I know how shaky and uneasy it makes you feel. Good luck with the rest of your trip -- I hope that bout of bad luck was the last!

  2. Look at it this way, you got the bad bit out of the way first, now it's all uphill from here. Get yourself a padlock for it buddy.

  3. Oh man. I saw this on FB and I just felt sick. I hate people who steal anyways, but to know you have had something stolen, you can't connect with police and just knowing you have so much further to go.. yeah. I'd probably cry. :/ But I'm glad things got drastically better!


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