Of planes, trains, and metromobiles
I arrived in Nice, close to midnight, only to have to fly out again by 10am.
Not that this was planned, though.
My host in Nice, a lovely lady with a curious old cat that went by Pistache, apologized multiple times for my misfortune in travel. She had prepared a list of things to sea, do, and eat, including the pan bagnat, a kind of salade Nicoise on bread. But with my planned 2-day stay reduced to a night’s sleep, there was little time to try anything.
Leaving her apartment in the morning, still dark, I was surprised the city was already waking up. At a fish market, where surrounding shops, bakers, butchers, were already getting ready for business, I managed to get the sandwich I had gotten my hopes up for, before the sun had even risen. And when the sun did rise, a few minutes later, the square, and the market, was in full swing, and I was digging in to my pan.
Virginia, my host, told me that the temperatures were exceptionally low for the time of year. And it was indeed fresh, at 5 degrees celsius during the night. Yet, at sunrise, a few handful of people were already in the water.
After arriving in Lisbon, leaving Humberto Delgado Airport, perhaps close to 100 Easyjet employees were demonstrating for better treatment by their company. There is not enough worker action in the world, so I warmly supported their efforts. Even when, on the evening on my second day in Lisbon, this meant that I was told that my early morning flight, the next day, was cancelled, due to ‘industrial action’.
More power to the strikers. But, did this put me in a bit of a pickle.
EasyJet pointed me to a webportal (clearly not their first time) for the sole purpose of facilitating cancelled flights. You enter, select the flight that needs attention, and then select either alternative flights, your money back, or a voucher.
I was flying to Nice, and, two days later, onwards to Naples. A voucher or my money back was not an option.
Instead, I was given two alternatives for flights, on the same day. Direct flights, though with TAP. But, upon selection, neither flight turned out to be available. Nor was I given the option of picking an indirect flight.
And neither were there any flights available the next day.
There was a flight two days later, arriving in Nice after my scheduled departure for Naples.
This was starting to become tricky.
Very sadly, international rail travel in Europe is still not very mature. It’s mostly slow and very expensive (from Lisbon to Nice, 6 trains, or one bus and two trains via Paris). The bus connection is an unpleasant option, at 32 hours in very cramped quarters.
But, EasyJet offered, or, probably, is required to offer, flights from any other airport in the same departing country, to any other airport in the destination country.
Porto to Nice was also not available, but Lisbon to Marseille was. But only towards the end of the next day. A train could carry me from the airport in Marseille to Nice, with the expected arrival time in Nice close to midnight.
So then came the next day (I had to switch accommodation), and my flight to Marseille was delayed. Eventually by a good hour.
I had put in some slack between the arrival at the airport in Marseille, and the train leaving, but this was going to cut it a bit close.
And then ‘Marseille airport train station’ turned out to be a 36 minute walk away from the airport. As I came out of the airport, my train was scheduled to leave 40 minutes later.
But there was more; At the train station, all trains turned out to be delayed. And I only was going to have a 15 minute gap between arriving in Marseille, and catching the TGV to Nice to begin with.
Still, I managed to get an earlier, delayed, train, which got me to Marseille’s main train station, with only minutes to spare.
So, I got to Nice, was welcomed by Virginia, and Pistache, with an ice tea. Woke up early, got myself a local delicacy, and walked to the airport in Nice.
To discover my flight to Naples was delayed.