I recently experienced some complications getting to and comming back from Spain. Travelling in the past has always been very smooth for me. I do my research before hand, make sure I know where I am going, which connections to take etc..
But this year, boy o boy! Did shit go wrong.
The 22th of July I travelled towards Spain. During the 5-6 hour trip from Paris to Figueres, a message sounded through the speakers, in Spanish and French (languages I do not speak). I vaguely understood something about switching at Perpignan, because we couldn’t go further with the train. I went up to some of the personnel and asked what was going on. They said we had to get off at Perpignan, and take a bus there, which they would arrange for us. I texted my brother to let him know I’ll be later, because he was supposed to pick me up at the train station.
A while later, another message came through the speakers. I didn’t understand it so I asked the people next to me, which were an American woman and her daughter doing a world trip. It appeared the mother understood and spoke some French and Spanish. While she was explaining how we now had to get onto another train, some other American and Australian people gathered near us to listen what they had to do.
So basically, I followed those people around, because we ended up having to take 3 different local trains. All directed in French or Spanish. At the same time my brother texted me that we were probably having to switch because of the Spanish wildfires, others mentioned the same thing. And soon enough, we were stuck in an abandoned train station and town… We had to wait for the “ok” to go on with the train. We waited and waited and I got increasingly stressed. My brother was texting me how all the roads were blocked, and also before that , during a switch of trains called me yelling: make sure you get here, I can’t get through with my car… I told the Americans around me what he was saying, also to update them about the situation, and the woman and girl offered me to stay with them at their hotel. Also the other Americans (which were high school students on a trip) said I could come with them to Barcelona if Figueres would be closed due to the wildfires. When we looked out of our train, through the glasses of the station, we saw the fire. People were starting to make jokes about how it looks as if we are part of a disaster movie.
My mom and dad started to call me, worried. While I was calling, the train suddenly made this loud noise. It startled me, but it was just to get everyone back into the train because we got the “ok” to move on. My dad also called my brother to be careful, because people got closed in in a car during the fire and died.
Anyway, as we got the “ok” signal, everyone on the train started to clap and I closed my ears because it was like my eardrum was going to explode
I was worried about what I would have to do: will my brother make it? Will I have to go with the people to the hotel? What if he can’t get to me tomorrow either? We finally arrived at the station in Figueres and headed towards the taxi’s. We couldn’t find one, and the American lady called “Pam” called her hotel to come and pick us up. But no one came, and she thought they didn’t understand her. In the meanwhile, my brother already texted me he was coming, and the traffic was gone. I told him I was at another station, because they dropped us at Figueres Adif instead of Figueres Vilafant. He said he thought he knew where it was, and suddenly within 2 minutes he was there. I was very relieved. We also gave the American people a ride to their hotel. I am sure they were relieved as well.
So my tips are:
-stay as calm as possible, don’t let doom thoughts overshadow your mind. Keep it practical and do what you can. If stress increases, slowly take deep breaths in and out. -if you don’t speak the language, or are unsure about what to do, ask those around you or the personnel. Follow people who know what to do, go with those who also are going to your destination so that you do not end up alone and confused. -Make sure you have a fully recharged cellphone. I recommend a simple old fashion cellphone with long battery life. I have the Samsung e1120 , battery can last up to 10 days. Take your recharger with you, and note the most important numbers on a paper. You never know if something happens and you can’t use your phone. -Take cash with you (for emergencies such as having to take a cab)
The journey back
I thought the worst was over, and that from now one things would go smooth. Guess again… We departed more than an hour before I had to get on my train back home. But the station I had to go to was not on the GPS! We couldn’t find it. My brother started to drive and drive, and it was already 10 AM (I had to get the train at 10:20). Again I started to get really stressed. What if I had to travel back in the back of my brothers car. I was sitting on top of all his camping gear which is highly uncomfortable, especially considering the fact he had to drive 17 hours to get back home… Suddenly we saw taxi’s. I jumped out, asked them if they could bring me to the station in time, they said yes and there I went again. In the taxi I started to wonder if I got the right bag with me, my one bag is similar to my laptop bag, but it includes my money, cellphone, tickets etc… Thankfully I had the right bag with me. I got there in time, almost wanting to kiss the floor taxi was really expensive! For 8 minutes drive it was 16 euro.
Then… after 5-6 hours on the train I arrive in Paris Gare De Lyon, where I had to take the subway to go to Gare du Nord. No problem! I thought. I done it before + I had my whole route written out on a paper with all connections. I walked into the station, went to the lined RER D (green). And suddenly noticed there was no traffic on that line… I was like: not again! Jezus Christ. Everything had changed and there was some strange French signaling about it. I walked back up. Started to ask random people. One Indian looking guy who told me to go to the tracks I just came from… Then some really dark skinned family who only spoke French, said something about taking the metro there and then changing line. But when I looked at the metro time, it would only arrive at the time I would already have to be in my next train. I decided to go to the information desk. It was closed. GOD DAMNIT. I wanted to take a taxi, but then I thought about traffic in Paris… I only had 30 minutes left (since yes, my train also was 10 minutes late…). I started to look at the exit, and there were exit signs at every freaking side. Suddenly I saw another information desk, woohoo. I jumped through the gates and asked the man how I could get to Paris Gare du Nord. Suddenly the man got a seizure. Lol no, just kidding, that would be too insane . He told me to take the lined 14 to Chatellet les Halles, and then get out and take the line 4 to Gare Du Nord. I hoped my metro ticket was still valid, which it was, and did as he said, asking some people if I was on the right metro, just to be sure… And I was. Thankfully the metro goes super speed, and I was at my train in time.
This was the first time in my entire life that literally everything went wrong… My journey onwards and my journey back home. It was an experience that showed me that you must always be prepared when you undertake long travels, make sure you have plenty of time between connections, and that I can get easily stressed sometimes. Although I kept calm, because what else can you do. If you start to panic it won’t get you anywhere.
When i was waiting in the trainstation, the abandoned one, for our train to get the “ok” signal to go on, I felt like bursting into tears because of the stress inside me. But I didn’t let it out. I thought it would make things worse and people around me would see it. I was thinking to myself: why? Why cry , it is not necessary.So I could hold back my tears. I felt like crying because of the uncertain situation, and being so far from home, from the people I know well, stuck in the middle of a freaking abandonned town and train station… I saw people around me were all with a group or at least two. I started to regret ever going to spain in the first place and thought: I wish I had just stayed home.
And when my brother called me, it also sounded as if it was my fault, while I was struggling to find out what exactly I had to do and where to go.
Also in the metro station, I got kind of sad within me from the stress, wondering wtf I could do.
It did all work out, but this is what I was actually experiencing within myself: a lot of stress and sadness.
My self forgiveness as follows, will not be only about my personal experience, but I will expand it to other reactions in situations of panic.
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to supress my tears because I am afraid to cry before other people
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to supress my tears because I think I dont need to cry and that it is nto necessary, while it was a release signal from my body dealing with the stress hormones I had generated
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to start to panic and loose track of my own self direction as in how to deal with the situation in the best way
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to not realize that I do not require to follow doom thoughts, and can direct myself to do what is best in that specific situation
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to keep thinking about how fucked up the situation is, causing myself more stress
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to panic and within that panic “loose” myself and do things that are not best for myself, nor for all, where I may even compromise another human being because of my panic mode
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to think about the worst case scenario, and by doijng that, making myself feel worried and stressed even more
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to be afraid to ask people for help
i forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to compromise my own safety by allowing my fear to speak to people control me and prevent me from getting the right information, or having others to follow who know the way
When and as an unusual situation comes up, such as having difficulties during travelling, I breath through it and simply do what I can to continue my journey or deal with the situation as best as possible. When I notice stress, I breath it out, I stop doom thoughts and if I feel like crying to release it, I do not hold it back because of fear of others.