Saturday, 19 April 2014

Camino Frances - A Rough Start...A Challenge...An Opportunity

Today started out great with breakfast at the airport with Dawn, Nancy, Pierre and we were leaving our picture was taken.

Marc and me (yes I know I am looking good!)

Nice easy flight to Toronto where we had a five hour connection...all was going well except for the fact that Marc had already lost his address contact list and he was having immediate challenges with his new iPod Touch. We were also shocked to see iPads everywhere for traveller's usage including a restaurant where the only way to order was through the iPad...Marc commented that pretty soon he won't be able to communicate or eat at the rate everything is changing.

Flight to Paris smooth as well...except for the lady in the seat ahead of me who reclined her seemed at a 60 degree angle at least...what kind of System Architect designed this?

We breezed through Customs in record time and were at the baggage carousel with a few hundred other people. We didn't have much time to waste as we needed to get to Paris Montparnasse train station to continue the long journey to Saint Jean Pied de Port. 

We waited patiently as the bags started disappearing, joked a bit about our bags not being there, waited some more until there were 5 or 6 of us. Then THE MAN came out and said there were no more bags!!! 

Shock kind of set in...we started talking about completing Camino as is which would have meant 30+ days without a change of clothing...or washing clothes and buying a small towel to cover up while things were drying. Tempting but not too realistic.

Nice lady at the baggage counter told us our bags might come in the next day...same flight from Toronto. After a few... for my ears only good old fashioned every swear word I had ever heard of...we set off to replan.

A day of everything falling into place with 12 Canadian pins handed out then set in.

First to the SNFC train counter where a young guy spent what must have been close to 30 minutes helping us out. Being Easter weekend things did not look promising...we could get part way only tomorrow and then to SJPP on Monday (two lost days). He kept digging and then cooked up a combination where we could get to SJPP tomorrow at 22:38...very late however we were very prepared to sleep on a park bench...not kidding here...oh and we have standing room only for the first 5 hour leg of the train problem! I was ready to ride on the roof of the train like in the movies if necessary!

The SNFC gentleman then asked if we had a room...we were getting ready to sleep in the airport which I did last time and swore I would never do so again. He navigated the System and somehow on Easter weekend found a hotel, close to the airport with shuttle service and full breakfast for 90€. Well over our daily Camino budget however we gladly took it! Three Canadian pins were given...lady who was assisting the young guy said everyone likes Canadians!

I then by some miracle managed to navigate the French phone system on my international cell phone and contacted Tim at the Erracladia B&B in SJPP. He was very gracious in saying these things happen and oh yes he just happened to have a room on Saturday and would keep it open for us!

At this point we were starting to feel better even though we had no idea when we might get our backpacks...or if we would get them. We then approached an information desk and asked how we could get back to the restricted baggage area to get an update on our lost luggage. Nice young lady said no problem and took immediately to the losers lost luggage desk.

To our surprise and amazement the lady there said our bags had been located in Toronto and that they would be on the flight arriving in Paris tomorrow morning!!! Another Canadian lapel pin...could have hugged her but restrained myself. Marc and I had asked two different airline personnel in Toronto whether our bags had been checked through to Paris...both times the answer was immediate...nothing for us to do in Toronto!

On the way back dropped off a pin for the information desk lady...who commented that Canadians were great!

We had purchased Air France shuttle tickets to get to Paris Montparnasse train station...these were only good for we stopped in at the Air France gate and explained our situation to a guy who I think might have been a shuttle driver. He confirmed the tickets were only good for today however offered to phone his Supervisor...who by chance was only a few minutes away. 

God I must look pathetic when explaining our thing we knew he wrote on our tickets that they were good for charge. Three more Canadian lapel pins.

So in the space of a few hours disaster became very we decided to celebrate and eat something special and we went to McDonalds!!! Here we came full circle with the technology world.

Yes giant iPads for ordering!

We met a lady from Singapore who was equally baffled and Marc explained the process we had gone through...which included waiting in line stupidly without having paid for our food! Over a brief lunch we found out she had three children so four more Canadian Lapel pins were handed out.

So am now in my hotel room listening to Marc snoring! What a day...all is looking good now! Our backpacks will be there tomorrow...I am sure of it...has to happen...can't possibly go wrong now! Otherwise back to the 30+ day smelly clothes or hiding behind a small towel while clothes dry Camino!

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