Yesterday, France was on strike. It was a national strike against the proposed change of the minimum age of retirement from 60 years to 62 years. (Whatever, France, it’s 65 in the States. It could be “worse”.)
The worst thing about strikes in France is that when someone else strikes, usually so does the RATP – the Parisian transit system. That resulted in extreme delays and cancelations for metro trains, buses, and intercity trains.
This is especially bad when you have to go to the airport on strike day. Tobias had to fly back to Hamburg. (Luckily, his flight wasn’t canceled, as some were! I’m surprised, though, because if anyone would strike, I would think it would be Air France. However, his flight did end up being delayed by an hour, in the end.)
C’était le bordel
It was a complete mess. Line 1 of the metro wasn’t so bad until we got to Châtelet to transfer to the RER B. We already knew there would be less trains (and therefore, it would also be more crowded) because the info on the RATP website said there would be 1 train out of 5 for the RER B during rush hour. But then we get down to the platform with all his luggage, and there is a sign on the computer screens that normally say the train schedule: NO RER B TRANSFER AT CHÂTELET. Really? Crap. So we had to go back up with his suitcase and take a line 4 train to Gare du Nord, setting us back about 12 minutes. And of course, because of that, the train was packed.
So then we got to Gare du Nord, and instead of going down to the RER platform, we had to go up to the actual train tracks to take the RER from quai 33. We got on the train and felt relieved that we were finally on our way.
But then, just outside of Paris, at the Stade de France stop, just as we were pulling away, the train lurched to a sudden halt.
Someone had pulled the alarm. Maybe it was an accident, but we had to sit there for at least 5 minutes (maybe more?) while we listened to the alarm sound and the driver (or whoever) checked to make sure nothing was wrong. Of course, this delayed not only our train, but also the trains behind us, I’m sure.
Well, we finally made it to the airport. And then it was fine from there. At least we knew of the strike ahead of time, and we had left much earlier than necessary. Good thing we did. It was just crazy.
After Tobi left to go through security, I went outside. I thought, “Maybe the Roissybus will be better than taking the RER back.” Perhaps it would have been, but I realized that it wasn’t when 9 or 10 buses passed by our stop, waving “no” at us when we tried to get them to pull over and pick us up. Though it was annoying to wait so long (I waited 45 minutes), it was at least nice to be out in the open air and sunshine. I just read my book and continued to wait. The bus that finally came was full already, such that I had to stand the entire way back. I was very tired by the time I got back to Paris.
I went to Starbucks on the way home and treated myself to a frappuccino. I drank them a lot last summer when I worked at Sofitel, because there was one just across the street, up one block from the hotel. But drinking my frapuccino and walking back home to my apartment in the sun made me think, finally, “This is summer.”
Hopefully, nobody will be striking on the 30th when I leave France on a train to Hamburg. That’s 5 days from now! Can you believe it?