Bad Luck, Good Story
We left Amsterdam with the intention to make it to the border of Spain in Hendaye, France or Iruun, Spain after a night train. We made it to the train station early to get seats on a high speed train to Paris from Amsterdam.
After we got to the international ticketing booth we learned you needed to book that train pretty far in advance, however, there was a slower route with a slow train to Brussels, Belgium and then a high speed to Paris. It was a slower route but we were planning on making our night train no problem.
After a 2 hour ride to Brussels we found lunch in the central terminal, we also found everyone was speaking French which is a little more foreign then Dutch to me. We got on the high speed train and found our reserved seats on a packed Thalys train. The train started to move slowly, then as we were going under a train bridge to leave the city the train stopped. No one seemed to be too concerned so Hank and I just continued to chat. After about 15 minutes of waiting the conductor got on the speaker and starting speaking French. Everyone went oooh nooo- a universal sign for something bad just went wrong. We asked the people next to us what he had announced.
She told us that the train had hit someone and there was going to be a two hour delay at the least until the police came. After about 30 minutes of waiting we started to see police, train staff and a doctor walk out in front of our train.
We continued to wait for our train to move and eventually after about two hours the conductor got on the speaker again speaking French. After asking our new translator friends we learned we would be heading back to the Brussels station. After we got into the Brussels station we would get on a new high speed train to Paris.
We got back to the station in Brussels and boarded our new train at the same seats we were sitting before. A majority of the people seemed annoyed, but glad to start moving. After about 10 minutes we heard another announcement and everyone said yesss and got up out of their seats filing towards the food car. We asked someone else what was going on- free food for the train delay.
Before we knew it we were in Paris trying to find a new train to Spain.
After waiting in a hectic line at the Paris North station we learned there was no over night trains available for the night when we got in around 8 PM. The ticket counter did tell us that we could take the train to Barcelona at 7:15 AM the next morning. We signed up for that and had to find a place to stay soon because it was getting dark. I found a great hostel very close to the train station and lucked out with roommates who went to bed much earlier then those in Amsterdam.
I met a fellow traveler who had been in Paris for awhile and knew some nice places to explore. We visited local a bar and I soon realized I should have brushed up on a little French!
In the morning, we found the train station to leave for Barcelona and made it through France surprisingly quickly. Once we got into Barcelona train station we lucked out with a great reservation on a high speed train that was leaving in 15 minutes.
The most fun of travel seems to be when things don’t go quite as planned. Keeping a flexible schedule and a good attitude has helped on our trip immensely.