Since winning the Funds for Education Abroad scholarship, my daughter and I have been on traveling around utilizing airplanes from Portugal to Rome. However, recently my daughter came to me and asked if we could experience what it would be like traveling on a train. I did the research and found out that I could purchase Eurail passes. It sounded really exciting, especially since my daughter’s Eurail pass would be free of cost since she was only four years of age. Another perk to the passes was that we could relax on sleeper trains or in comfy seats while enjoying the scenery. I purchased us five day Eurail passes that entitled us to jump on and off as many trains that we wanted to, as long as it was within the five day time period. It also allowed us to travel to Paris France with only an additional reservation and booking fee of about thirteen euros each. Our first train left from the Seville-Santa Justa train station at 9 p. m., and was due to arrive in Madrid by 11:30 p.m., that same night. The Madrid train station court was simply amazing. It housed an indoor garden right in the middle of the station.
Everything went as planned and we arrived on time to board our connection train to Barcelona with lots of time to spare. Our Barcelona to Paris Gare De Lyon arrived behind schedule by only a few minutes, but the ride was a comfy one that was filled with perks like extra wide seating and WiFi on board. The Barcelona train arrived to Paris about twenty minutes behind scheduled, and that is when the nightmare began. Once in Paris, we had only forty-five minutes to transfer over to the Paris Gare de l’Est station in order to get our connecting train that would take us into Stuttgart Germany. We missed the train by twenty-five minutes, and was facing eviction from the train station by 1 a.m., in the morning. My four year old daughter, began complaining about unnecessary issues and demanding unnecessary treats right about that time also. What she didn’t know was that we only had 1 hour to come up with a plan that would prevent us from being stranded in Paris, which isn’t such a bad thing except I didn’t have a clue as to where I was located in order to track down a cheap hotel for only five hours. My anxiety increased when I noticed that security officers started approaching people to inform them that the train station would be closing soon. So I made a grand decision to approach a security guard and inquire if people were allowed to remain inside the train station if they had missed a connecting train. The answer was one that I had expected, but it was delivered in the most polite manner.
Before leaving my presence, the security guard turned to me and in French he asked me if the little one was my daughter and if she was traveling with me. I kindly stated yes. The security officer told me to remain were I was until he could track down an officer that understood English. Before I knew it, there were approximately six to seven security and police officers all gathered around me in a football style huddle speaking French. The main words that I could decipher from their conversation was enfant (infant), American, manque (missed), and etudiant (student). I could understand a couple of the other words enough to determine that the swarm of authority figures were conversing over my situation and how to properly handle it.
After about half an hour, a male officer approached the swarm of other officers that had gathered near me. In English he stated, “We have acquired a hotel room for you directly across the street from the train station.” He went on to say, that the French National Railway company (SNCF) of Paris would be assuming the cost for me and that there should be need for concern. He then went on to suggest I gather my daughter along with my belongings and follow him and three other officers to the hotel were I would be given a key and instructions about getting breakfast served to us before we left the hotel to board the train. The SNCF, reserved a five star hotel for my daughter and I for the night, and when I awoke in the morning to prepare for breakfast, all I could think of was how good it felt to have angels watching over us