Friday, June 18, 2010

Funny things happen travelling - 2

Funny things happen travelling - 2
Torrey Orton
June 18, 2010

…but wait, there's more.

I forgot about a couple of things along the way.

The case of the disappearing gate
Right near the start we had prize winner for travellers' misdirections. We thought we had it all figured out – how to get from the airport hotel to the right gate for an early flight from Paris to Pau. There's this little, gratuit, robot light rail which runs from the backdoor of the Charles De Gaulle airport hotel sector around most of the main terminals. Gate 2G was our target and clearly listed among the train's stops. We got on with an hour to spare and got off ten minutes later at the designated 2 series gates (A thru G)
That's where the trouble became apparent (it had started when we assumed that our gate was somewhere within the natural ambit of the robot train system). Our objective turned out not to be grouped with 2A thru F. There were arrows to 2G pointing up which lead us up to a bus stop above the terminal and no more 2G. The arrows disappeared and no explanatory placards or helpful; staff replaced them. It took 8 minutes of wandering around to find the bus stop and another 2 to discover that only one bus went to 2G and it came around every 20 mins. We didn't know when it last came thru and time was awasting. We had no boarding cards yet, either.
The next circuit came around in 5 minutes and we got to 2G in time, but no one ever said they'd moved 2G 5 ks away from the rest of 2 into a rehabbed cargo centre on the edge of CDG.

Up ain't up, always
This leads naturally on to another cultural foible – up doesn't always mean up; sometimes it means straight ahead. We had had some learning opportunities with this earlier in the Paris Metro the day before (and subsequently in other airports and train stations – slow learners!). We were getting misled by arrows pointing up which actually meant straight forward, not up, but in circumstances where there was an up to go to which was within view as much as the forward. Under a little time pressure this easily translated into mild local industrial disputes within the travel work team.

Many large black slugs
For something a lot different…back to the mountains. In three of the valleys we walked there was an intrusively prominent flat black slug of substantial proportions which slid out onto the paths, and in the greenery along them. We had never seen one before and as you'll see from the web link, they are not native to Australia, but some infestations have been sighted recently in similarly damp countryside in Victoria (one Victorian website relates a woman showing up at the Ag Dept. or similar with buckets of them collected in small patches of river flat in the Otways). The fourth valley seemed to have none of the black variety, but our Cauterets host suggested that there may have been brownish ones. As the link discloses, the black comes in a number of colour variations. But why the colour change in that valley? Well, wonders of nature?
I'm mildly disappointed to find now that the large black slug is even known commonly as just that, the "large black slug". Worse, I'm not the first person to see one, not by a long way. Not that I really harboured that fantasy, but…just a smidge of discovery desire.

Enjoy, again.

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