First-world problems

Well, I’m in room 2 of Hotel de L’Europe at 44 Boulevard de la République, St-Malo, 35400, France, listening to Gloryhammer’s Tales from the Kingdom of Fife. I’m tired, for which there are good reasons, and pissed off, for which there are less good reasons (in green).

I took the 7am ferry from Brodick to Ardreossan, leaving my better half’s birthday weekend early. (Thanks for the lift, darling!) The ferry didn’t serve chips and beans on this sailing, so I had to make do with hash browns, beans and mushrooms. The train from Brodick to Paisley was uneventful, but the bus from Paisley to Glasgow airport was annoying. Its contactless card terminal wasn’t working, and the driver couldn’t give change from a £10 note. (I had just enough UK coins to pay for my ticket.)

I arrived at Glasgow airport with enough time to board my plain if security went smoothly. So tell me, how much do you hate people who don’t prepare their stuff (get laptops out of bags, take off coats, bag up liquids etc) before getting to the security stations? Waiting for morons to get their shit together isn’t my idea of fun. Nor is setting off the metal-detector, being made to take off my shoes, when bending my legs is painful due to yesterday’s exertions on Goat Fell. Being made to take off my knee supports caused much pain. I hobbled out of security in much anxiety that I’d miss my flight.

But no! My Glasgow to Paris flight was delayed by 45 minutes, thus jeopardising my travel from Paris to St Malo. (To reduce costs, my ticket to Rennes was only valid for a certain time.) I spent most of the delay trying to find out how I should proceed if I needed to buy replacement tickets. (Napier was closed today, so I couldn’t reach the colleagues who book travel.) Thanks to Robert at Key Travel for his advice.

Once I’d finally reached Paris and escaped the hordes going to EuroDismal to be fleeced by Mucky Rat, the RER B train took me and many others swiftly to Denfert-Rochereau in the centre of Paris. My next train was due to leave Paris Montparnasse in about an hour’s time. I thought it would take me longer to find the right Métro line and then get there than to walk the mile to Montparnasse, so I walked through Parisian rain muttering imprecations at all things Parisian/French, especially the lack of vegan food. (This had been exemplified magnificently by the conference food choices: meat or fish.)

At Montparnasse station I discovered the delight of platforms not being announced until supposedly 20 minutes before departure (in reality 5 minutes), leading to bands of weary travellers standing around the main information boards, blocking passage through the station.

charging (1) small USB battery, (2) sleep-phones battery and large USB battery, (3) emergency jPhone, (4) laptop, which is charging main jPhone and something else

I’ve now had my first experience of TGVs. I’m not impressed. No powerpoints. No on-train wifi. Hardly any cellphone connection en route. Toilets that don’t flush properly and so are minging. It was reminiscent of when I used to commute from Edinburgh to Bishopbriggs, part of Glasgow’s post-industrial hinter-waste-land.

Even better, the TGV stopped outside Rennes to wait for a clear platform, so I missed my onward train to St Malo. Fortunately, that ticket didn’t specify the time I was to travel, and so I could take a train an hour later. My hotel at St Malo was only 400m from the station, so I staggered in and was greeted by a friendly reception person. My room is basic but fine, but only has one power-point. But that’s infinitely better than the TGV! It also has a madly complex and costly wifi offering, so I’m using my phone 3G connection to surf. That’s still better than the occasional E connection I got on the TGV.

So I’m here. All I need to do now is go to the conference registration at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Over and out!



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