I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but the thought of re-living a recent business trip has been putting me off! Well, I'm biting the bullet today to tell the tale.
What started off as a simple same-day trip to Paris to present a pitch proposal to a client became reminiscent of a scene from Trains Planes and Automobiles! The notes which follow represent the summary of our experience:
Having left home at 4.30am I met Dean and Justin in St Pancras in plenty of time to board our Eurostar train to Paris at 6.50. With a taxi to collect us at the other end everything was set...
After a short delay we left St Pancras at 7.30am, destined for Paris. Further delays due to engineering works en route meant that we finally arrived at Gare du Nord about 40mins late. We took a 30min taxi ride to our clients office where we waited eagerly in reception to be collected.
As we began our pitch presentation (stood at the front of the room looking out towards the windows) we watched as a blizzard of snow came down, swirling around in the atrium outside.
By the time we finished our pitch the streets were covered in a blanket of cotton wool! The roads outside were gridlocked, so it came as no real surprise when not one of the three taxis we tried to book actually turned up. With the snow falling fast we made the decision to walk to the train station at the end of the road, only to find out they were cancelled when we got there. Speaking in our best pigeon french we find out that the mayor of Paris has suspended all taxis and buses! The airport's even closed too! Not looking good!
We (rather stupidly in hindsight) decided to walk towards Paris centre and perhaps "flag down" a taxi on the way. All suited and booted we stomp through the snow-filled streets for more than 30mins. Roads still in total gridlock as everyone driving a Mercedes (or any other rear wheel drive car for that matter) just slide helplessly around the roads! Justin was playing the hero, helping old ladies across the road and even giving a push to stranded cars along the way. No offers of a lift mind you! Ungrateful so and so's! Finally, with the help of Dean's iPhone (well google maps and gps as it happens) we find a metro station, all is good it would seem...that is until they cancelled the Metro too!
We decide to hit the streets again and walk a further 40 mins across town. By this time my so called trendy footwear had stopped serving their role to protect my feet and begin taking in water. Hilarious for Dean and Justin of course who had the benefit of dry feet, that is until they step into deep puddles and end up in the same predicament. My shoes by this point are like weights attached to the bottom of my feet and I can no longer feel my toes!
We incentivise ourselves on making it to Gare du Nord with the thought of a whiskey or two when we get to the station.
At last the station is in sight...but wait a minute...thats Gare du l'Est! By this point we're all laughing, almost uncontrollably!
Finally we make it to the right station, but it's absolutely packed with people, all trying to get on the last Eurostar out of Paris. We have time for a quick snack before boarding the last train home.
I have since found out that the freak weather we experienced was the worst snowfall in Paris since 1989 and more than 4 inches of snow fell in just 3 short hours.
So, to all those who say that international travel is glamourous... I really would disagree!