It always seems like every year, somewhere, there’s a snowpocalypse. I’ve been lucky enough to not be wherever it is for most years, but of course this is turning out to be the year of exceptions. Snowpocalypse 2013 hit, and it hit us hard.
To start things off, Sarah’s friend from school Brittany was visiting us, and it was her first time in France. So of course we want to show her everything! The week started out great, with some actual nice weather, and even some sun (I can’t remember the last time I had seen the sun before that). Naturally, our next step after Lille was to take Brittany to Paris. Because you can’t come to France and not see Paris!
The plan was for me to go to Paris on Monday night (originally Tuesday morning, but I changed at the last minute THANK GOD) in preparation for a couple of informational interviews on Tuesday, and then meet Sarah and Brittany in the city on Tuesday afternoon. Brittany was going to come by bus, which would leave Lille at 8:30AM and get in at 11:30AM. Sarah had to work, so she was going to take a train around 4PM and get in around 5PM. The most I’ll say at this point is that our plans changed slightly.
Because of the snow, both of my interviews started late and over half of the employees could not get to work, so the people I was interviewing with were, in addition to already being late, totally stressed out by the idea of having to figure out how to pick up the work of the people who couldn’t come in, while dealing with the fact that everyone would most likely need to leave around noon or 1PM in order to make it back home. At this point, the train and metro stations were physically closed, which I had never heard of before in my life. I knew that sometimes the high-speed trains and metros would stop running due to weather, but I had never seen the stations actually closed. My interviews finished much later than expected, but the train I needed to get into the city was not running. At all. The only thing I could do was wait, and text Sarah, who was back in Lille (Seeing as she was only visiting for a short time, Brittany did not have a phone that worked in Europe). Sarah told me that Brittany’s bus had left half an hour late, but that she was on her way to Paris. Our plan was to meet at the café at the Musée d’Orsay at noon, but that clearly was not going to happen with my current train situation.
I finally made it to Paris about 2 hours later, and texted Sarah to let her know. She let me know that Brittany’s bus had stopped on the side of the road, and was not moving due to the snow. Luckily, we were going to be staying with Sarah’s other friend Russell, who is spending the year getting his master’s degree in Linguistics from La Sorbonne, and who luckily I had met once before. He very generously welcomed me to his apartment, while we waited for an update on Brittany. In the meantime, Sarah let us know that there were no trains leaving Lille for the rest of the day, so she would not be making it.
LONG STORY SHORT: Sarah never made it to Paris. The train stations in Lille were closed all of Tuesday and most of Wednesday. Brittany did make it into Paris, but not until 11:30AM on Wednesday, TWENTY-SEVEN HOURS AFTER SHE LEFT LILLE. Her bus was stranded on the side of the road the entire night, less than half of the way to Paris. Paramedics and the French Red Cross came by to check on passengers and hand out blankets and food. The weather conditions made the national news, and the President of the SNCF (the French railroad system) reserved hundreds of hotel rooms for the thousands of people who could not leave Paris, and even arranged for sleeper cars to house passengers at the train stations. It was absolute pandemonium. I didn’t make it home until Thursday morning, and since I had not planned to be in Paris that long, I did not have a change of clothes. Gross. Luckily, we had Russell, who was an absolutely amazing last-minute host. Russell, if you’re reading this (doubtful): You are a lifesaver and I love you. If you ever find yourself in the north of France again (although I’m sure it would be against your will) you’ve got a place to stay!
My main question still remains the same though: Is it really that hard to just have decent weather?! I mean, come on.