Thursday, January 12, 2017

Europe Adventure: Day Twenty, Part One- Train ride from Paris, France to Zermatt, Switzerland

On Sunday, April 24th we woke up at 4am so we could meet our early train.We showered, finished packing, and got ready to go. We had zone bars but then when we were checking out they gave us some Pain au Chocolat to take along with us for a morning snack later. 
We got a taxi to the Gare Lyon train station. 
Everywhere we had been in Paris had a tremendous amount of security. There were armed guards at all of the big places, we were scanned before we were allowed on the boats. So we were really shocked when we saw how little there was at the train station. 
We walked right in and to the area to wait for our trains. There was no ticket men between the waiting area and the trains the way there were at Paddington in London. 
There was no security. 
I became really nervous during this time period because there was one man that looked to be in his twenties that was sitting near us... he got up and ran over to the other side of the station. I then noticed him coming down off of one of the trains and go over by another one where I noticed he was just standing by it and it looked like he was touching it. 
Then he got on another train and then a few minutes later back off of it again. 
He ran up to many of the trains and then I saw him run out of the exit. 
That made me extremely nervous. 
At the same time there was a man that kept approaching us for money and food and so we had to be really diligent in watching our things. 
I prayed that when it was time for our train that it would be one that hadn't been approached by the man that had left and.. it wasn't. I was so grateful. 
We got on the train and I realized that I have heard so many people say they love train travel so much and yet it was just stressing me out. I think that if I only had a backpack it wouldn't have but we had so much luggage and apparently I'm not the most trusting person so I hated leaving it near the doors while finding a place to sit away from it. 

Our train went to Bellegarde first. That was about a two and a half hour train ride. 
The scenery was very pretty. 
Then we had about a half an hour to the station in Geneva. 
This was a very stressful day for me that had me in tears a few times and so, so grateful at other times. Story time!
When we got on the train in Paris I wasn't sure where to put the luggage at first. 
We found a little room by the door and so we walked into there to leave it. The door closed with us in the room. It was a metal door and we couldn't find anyway to open it from the inside. We freaked out a bit more than we probably should have and it makes me laugh now but we were banging on the door. Finally someone opened it and showed us the button that we had missed. Ha. 
No one spoke any English at all so our limited French didn't help much at this point. 
We got to Bellegarde and got off the train. We couldn't see any other platforms except the one right next to us and there was no train there and we only had minutes between trains. 
We got in really late so we were afraid we had missed it. 
I saw a worker and approached to ask him if he spoke English to ask for help. He shook his head and seemed very annoyed with me. I tried to explain what we needed as well as I could but he waved me away. I walked away and we tried to ask a few people but no one could speak to us. 
I was so stressed and at this point thinking he was the worst.. but then I was humbled because he noticed us still standing and came over. He spoke to us but we couldn't understand him. He pointed to a spot that we hadn't noticed before on the other side of a building. Then he called on his radio and told the train to wait for us. He then took my luggage and started walking really fast down the ramp and through a building while we followed him. 
The train waited for us.
Let that sink in because we were told before and since that Swiss trains never wait. 
We thanked him, thanked the woman waiting on the next train to help us on, and found our seats. As soon as the doors shut behind us, the train left. 
When we arrived at Geneva we had to go through customs. The guys waved us through without checking our passports or anything and we found ourselves in a long hallway with signs for many terminals and we had no idea where to go. At this point the stress hit me and I started getting tears welling up in my eyes. My mom went and found a man that was speaking with some others while I prayed we could figure out where to go. 
It was another little miracle. He not only spoke English quite well but he was the nicest guy in the world.He took us up to our platform but the train was pulling away as we got there. 
I was so crushed because I thought we were out of luck but he told us that our tickets would be good for the next one as well. We spoke with him for awhile and then a woman from England heard us speaking English came over and chatted with us. 
We bought some sandwiches and drinks at the station to take on with us since we now had some extra time. When the next train arrived at 11:30 we thanked him and said goodbye. 
We got on this next train and there was hardly anyone in the car. We got a good spot for our luggage and confirmed with the next girl that got on that we were indeed on the train we needed to be on.

This train had some great scenery as we made our way around Lake Geneva. 

This train seemed so much nicer than the ones we had been on so far. We had a lot of room , there weren't many other passengers, and the seats were so comfortable. 

We got out our foccacia bread sandwiches and had an hour of bliss on this train. 
The food was delicious. We chatted and relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the cozy seats, and the relaxed atmosphere of the train after so many stressful hours. 

The ticket guy came through. 
We showed him our tickets and he shook his head. 
He told us we needed to get out. 
At first I was so freaked out and confused but then he was able to explain that we had 2nd class tickets and we were sitting in 1st class. Woops.
He told us we could pay the extra or move to the next car back. 
We felt dumb but were glad we were able to experience it anyway. 
Our luggage felt safe there so we left it where it was and went back into the next car back. 

It was really funny. 
The next train stop we got off and it was another little miracle. 
EVERYTHING was labeled in German so I could understand it better. I only know a little French but I took German for a few years and while I am no longer fluent I can usually understand it well. 
We got off of our train and were on our way to the next platform. 
Everything was labeled so much better as well so this was a really easy switch. 

We were now on our train that would take us to Zermatt. 
A huge group of 200 Americans got onboard a little bit after us. They were SO loud and outgoing but very friendly. 
The scenery was incredible. My pictures can not do it justice. 

The higher we got, the more beautiful it became. 
The river was a really stunning crystal bluish green. 

When we arrived in Zermatt we exited the train station. 
We could have walked to our hotel but because we had so much luggage we decided to get a little taxi. 
Cars aren't allowed here so they just have little electric powered taxis. 
It took us right to the front door of our hotel. 

We were so happy to be done with trains for the day and to be in Zermatt!


The Kings said...

Trains=stress! But so grateful for the special people who helped at the stations! And so grateful that we were able to arrive at our destination ok. What a beautiful ride it was to see all the magnificent scenery along the way. It was breath-taking!

cheryl said...

Yes! It is still something I am glad we experienced now that it is over.