I don't know whether the following fits into the character of IgoUgo, but when writing a travel journal, I thought that any memorable experience, and not just tips on things to do, places to stay, and food to eat, is worth putting down on paper. It seems that in my last trip to Europe, I found memorable experiences just getting to places. We took the train grand vitesse (the fast train) from Paris to Geneva. At any other time, the European train runs like clockwork, and Paris to Geneva may just be a necessary and forgettable train trip. However, while we were still in Paris, the train conductors went on strike. On one particular bad day, 80% of all trains were grounded at Gare de Lyon. That spelled trouble, as we were heading to Geneva and then onto Cinque Terre to join my brother and his wife for a tour of Italy. So we went to the Gare de Lyon to scope out the territory.
After an interminable wait as everyone is at the train station trying to change their itinerary, we finally got tickets from Paris to Geneva. We asked the cashier what were happening with the conductors, to which he shrugged and told us to show up and accept whatever happen. We did the next day, and to our delight, the Paris-Geneva train was shown as running. We boarded the train, and waited. Five minutes after the train was set to depart, an announcement informed us that the conductor was on strike, and it may take one hour or one day before this particular train can take off. They advise us to wait, but because the train was stuffy, we deboarded and waited on the platform, where groups have formed to discuss our options, which seemed at that time to be non-existent. We were starting to get really depressed, when all of a sudden a round of applause went off at the end of the platform nearest to the ticket booth. A man was walking towards us with a bag on his shoulder. He turned out to be--the conductor. While walking, he said that he had been in the bathroom the last twenty minutes with "stomach problems." I don't know how many people bought it, but we were immensely thankful. I can just marvel about the efficiency of the well-oiled European train system, when five minutes delay was already interpreted to constitute a strike. And we have what? Amtrak?