We left Paris today and got back to London but not without going on one hell of a ride.
We got to the Eurostar train station in Paris around 5PM which was around an hour before our train was set to leave. When we got to the automatic check in the machine rejected our tickets. I couldn’t understand why until an employee there arrived to help us and explained to us the problem. Our train had left over an hour earlier!
I am not one to make a lot of mistakes, I am usually the extremely reliable guy who plays it really safe and always tries to arrive earlier than the recommended time. Somehow, for some fucked up reason, I read our London arrival time as our Paris departure time. I can’t understand how that happened, looking at my non refundable non exchangeable ticket now I can’t imagine how I mixed up the departure and arrival times. Its right up on my list of dumbest things I have done in my life. We had missed our train out of Paris and that was just the beginning of our adventure.
There was another train leaving to London in around 2 hours so we headed to the really long
cue queue to buy tickets and waited. While in line I tried calling NBK on 801801 to try and move money onto my credit card. I didn’t know how much I had left on the card and I didn’t know how much the tickets would cost so I figured I would play it safe and move some more money onto my visa. I spent 15 minutes trying to call Kuwait without any luck when suddenly I got through and got a hold of the NBK operator and explained to her that I wanted to move money onto my card. After 10 minutes of trying the NBK operator told me there was a problem with the NBK automated system and I should call back in 15 minutes.
We got up to the ticket counter and we asked for 2 one way tickets out of Paris. The employee told us we could get on the next train, price was 236 Euros per person which amounted to a total of 472 for the two of us. That was more than DOUBLE what I had paid for 3 weeks ago for our two way tickets! We didn’t have any other option so we asked for the tickets but when we tried paying for them both my credit card and Nat’s got rejected. Our cards were maxed out, it just wasn’t our luck.
Now you are probably thinking why didn’t I just withdraw money from an ATM machine and pay for the tickets with cash? Well the problem is when I travel I don’t keep a lot of money in my ATM card account so that just in case I get mugged at an ATM machine I can only withdraw a certain amount of money (I watch a lot of movies). It’s never been a problem before because I always use my credit card for my purchases and if I needed more money than whats available on my ATM card I just transfer more onto it.
So here was the situation, my Macbook had no battery and I didn’t have the charger so I couldn’t connect to a wifi network at the train station. There was also no Internet cafe at the station but even if there was I didn’t want to access my bank account from a public computer. I couldn’t get a hold of NBK, the answering machine never came on it just kept ringing and no one was picking up. Since I couldn’t connect to my NBK account I couldn’t use my credit card and I couldn’t withdraw any money so I was pretty much fucked.
I decided to call my sister and have her log into my NBK account and transfer money, problem was she wasn’t at home and the line kept breaking up. I then started calling my friends one by one to see if they were near an Internet connection including Bader, Marzouq and Khalid but no one was near a computer. It was just freaking frustrating. I had the money to buy the fucking tickets to get the hell out of Paris but I just couldn’t get that money onto my ATM or credit card! Time was running out by now and I needed to buy the tickets.
We decided to leave the station and head out around town looking for a place to get Internet access. After around 30 minutes of exploring and asking people we finally found an Internet cafe. I asked the guy if I could connect with my macbook but he told me it wouldn’t be possible. I looked at his computers, they had Windows XP on it… I had no clue if there were any trojans or softwares that would read and store my bank account info and passwords on the machines but I didn’t have an option, I was desperate and I just needed Internet. In literally 2 minutes I had logged into my bank account, transferred money onto my ATM and credit card and was out of the cafe. Thats all I needed, 2 fucking minutes of Internet to change the direction of my life.
We ran back to the train station with 45 minutes to spare but now we were back in the
cue queue to buy tickets. 30 minutes later we purchased the tickets. The employee told us something about how our seats would be pull down seats but we didn’t care we just wanted to get on the train. We checked in, passed through passport and security check which luckily was empty and ran towards our train. If we had just been 1 minute late we would have missed the train again.
When we finally got on the train and the doors shut and we started moving, it was just the most amazing feeling of relief. Our fold down seats were these tiny seats located between the carriage cars (pictures above). They weren’t really that bad, it was kinda cozy sitting in between the carriage cars alone.
I can’t believe how an average day turned into such a mess. First thing I did when I got to my hotel room here in London was log on to the internet and change my NBK online banking password. Also when I get back to Kuwait I am going to take out another credit card and keep it aside just in case of emergencies like today. Finally Nat is going to be taking care of our traveling from now on, I am losing it!