Calamity Ends at Sundance

toon: thanks for the pat

The plane's not going. Can I have my pat back?

The Ultimate Strike Fall-back

Email from Grace and Colin Lim. Sent via the Internet on Monday, 26. May:-

Hi Ric,

It's Grace and Colin here from Singapore. We were at the 1st May meeting of the Café Metropole Club. We had a wonderful three days in Paris, visiting museums and soaking in whatever culture and food we could lay our grubby hands on.

We spent the following week in Belgium, Amsterdam and Germany, returning to Paris for a last wonderful - although rather damp - day and night. Colin is working on a travelogue webpage now, if you like we will send you the link when it's done, hopefully sometime this week.

Thanks to our wonderful timing, we tried photo: grace, colin lim to get to the Roissy airport for our flight back home early on the morning of 13th May - 'Black Tuesday' - not realizing at first that there was a strike, and then afterwards not realizing how extensive it was.

Grace and Colin while at the Café Metropole Club.

After several hours of wandering from métro station to RER station to cab stand - and trying futilely to flag down taxis at various streets - we gave up and went for a coffee. We had started out from our hotel in the Marais district and ended up at Châtelet. Luckily we packed light!

We did manage to get a taxi to take us to the airport in the end, at almost noon. Needless to say we didn't get to the airport in time and our flight left without us.

We arrived in the airport to a scene of total chaos - many people had their flights canceled and were all trying to get on the next available flight, which unluckily for us also meant that all the available connections that day for Paris-London were fully booked.

The next British Airways Paris-Singapore direct flight was on Saturday, so we were re-routed to a Paris-London-Singapore flight, leaving the next day, Wednesday. Which left us with a nasty problem - where to spend another night? We didn't want to return to town, but the airport hotels were also fully booked.

Well, you may have guessed it, we ended up going to EuroDisney. Not the parks, but one of the hotels. The next morning, our Disney shuttle bus took two hours for a trip usually lasting a half hour to the airport.

Got there in time - and had an uneventful trip home, whereupon I immediately got sick because of the humidity and sudden weather change. We are having a heat wave in Singapore - on the worst day, 38 deg C. It was a nice excuse to stay home and sleep off the rest of the week!

I only wish I had been more alert myself and asked more questions during the club meeting about strikes!

Ed's note:- No club members have ever admitted to staying out at Disneyland Paris, so I wrote to Grace to ask her what the experience was like. Her response came a day later, on Tuesday, 27. May.

Disneyland Resort at EuroDisney was a little - how do you say - bizarre? Especially after our two weeks' tour in Europe.

After a comfortable bus ride from Roissy we suddenly we found ourselves in the Hotel Cheyenne, designed to look like an old western town, with buildings named Geronimo, Calamity Jane, Soaring Eagle, and Billy the Kid. Our room was in Sundance.

Fortunately the hotel staff - known as 'cast members' - were friendly and helpful and even pointed out to us things we could do for 'free,' i.e. without paying entrance fees to the main park.

Disney Village is open to residents of the Resort but was a slight disappointment as some of the restaurants photo: dodge city, disneyland paris that sounded interesting in the in-house guide were actually still under construction. The shopping was predictable - Disney merchandise of the type made for guests ages 2-10.

Part of the hotel complex at Disneyland Resort.
Photo©Colin Lim

In the end we spent most of our time people-watching and were impressed by how well behaved most of the children - and adults - were in comparison to the kind of crowds we are used to at home.

Particularly, a couple of boys aged about nine who played quietly, tossing a helium Mickey Mouse balloon around apparently for the most part of an evening.

There must have been at least a couple of hundred families at our hotel judging by how crowded the restaurant got at dinner time, but it didn't even seem noisy at all. Peculiar. The only loud, noisy people we came across were, we think, Spanish or Italian.

Best regards
Grace


A Stressful Situation Handled Handily

Bonjour Grace and Colin -

Paris, Sunday, 1. June:- It is, what it amounts to, another heat-wave day in Paris with all café terraces nearly full. Only 'nearly' full, because a million train fans have stuffed themselves on to the Champs-Elysées to see a diesel locomotive pull three of the SNCF's new wagons up and down the avenue.

It is also two days before June's first 'Mardi Noir,' which may turn into a whole week of 'noir' for everything from public transport to museums. Predictions for it are sometimes precise and sometimes a bit fuzzy, and they change between the two daily. Tuesday's transport strikes are said to be renewable.

Even if you had asked me at the club meeting for details about the 'Mardi Noir' on 13. May, I wouldn't have been able to tell you more than the forecasted predictions. For example, only 20 percent of 'local' Air France flights were expected to take off, while all long-distance flights were predicted to be normal. Neither case appeared to be correct.

Polls indicate that a majority of the French are supporting the aims of the protests, and 300,000 demonstrators toon: public transport strike diagram from all over France marched in Paris on Sunday, 25. May - as well as marching in towns all over France. Sunday is not a traditional day for massive demonstrations.

At the same time much smaller groups are protesting against the protestors, and these get their time on the TV-news too.

Technical drawing of typical 'Mardi Noir' strike items.

The month of May must have set some sort of records. A month of continuous marches, strikes and demonstrations - mixed in with three major long weekends - and weather that went from February-like to equal a good July's best days. Poor skiing was available on higher Alps and on the beaches there was cool swimming for weekenders.

It sounds like you did the right thing for the circumstances of a 'Mardi Noir.' As you point out, even Disneyland Paris & Resort can be an unusual experience, and I think this is what you hoped your trip to Europe would be - an unusual experience.

As for Italians and Spanish being somewhat noisy - you shouldn't plan to visit Italy and Spain unless you like countries where nearly everybody is happy to be vocal all the time. Weddings in France can be noisy too.
signature, regards, ric

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