easyJet Flight: $33 a Person Too Good to True

Traveling with 6 Giants booking flights 7 months in advance can provide wonderfully priced travel. $33.33 per person for flights Berlin, Germany to Basel, Switzerland is such a great deal that the Giants simply hoped the airline would not go out of business before the trip.

The Giants did not realize that a flight could be cancelled for Thursday, July 5, 2018 and that rather than providing another flight on easyJet or another airline that the clan would be stuck in Berlin. “Sorry we are sold out tomorrow, your only option is to get a refund and find your own travel,” is a harsh message to hear. Candidly, it would have been nicer to hear this from a human rather than online from a “digital airline.” Few people to talk to on the phone (although the charge is .20 pounds a minute) with all roads leading back to the internet.

Giants are doubtful that easyJet will make good on the 279 euro hotel cost or the 639.50 Euro cost for a 7 hour train ride. Good news that the Giants bought travel insurance that covers each of them up to $200 a day for trip interruption. 279+639.59=918.5 Euros 918.5×1.17=$1,075.02 Looks like the Giants should be covered and in the positive on the choice to spend less than $700 on travel insurance.

Excuse Me, Sorry You Can’t Sleep

A great part of train travel can be laying out flat on the opposite vacant seat. This is far better than winning with a whole row of 3 on a plane. The train seats in compartments create a full bed! Huge win when you can get it. During the high season of the summer it is nearly impossible without booking the extra seats which of course doubles the cost of travel.

What might it be like to wake up two travelers from Denmark in Germany at 9:30am who have scored this great find? With beds laid out, shoes off, heat on to make the compartment cozy…

Well,,,,,the Giants know what it might be like.

9:25am Deutsche Bahn Dortmund to Hamburg shows up a few minutes late and the overhead announcement in the station says that the cars have been reassigned.

Boarding the train staff curtly shares that there are no seat reservations and that everyone must find seats where they can. Easy for the groups sizes 1-3. A head start was clearly achieved by those with more than 1 year of high school German. A kind enough English speaking passenger translated into the Giant’s native tongue and the train wide search began. After a full pass through the only seats together were two in one compartment – taken by the two oldest Giant children. And next to that compartment were the two whose sock covered feet are pictured here:

Guten morgen would have been a way to start this conversation upon reflection. Let’s all pretend that it started that way and that the four seatless Giants made life long friends from Denmark and that all will be summering in Greece together next year. Truth is different, including a German woman who left her bag in the compartment looking for a better option returning and graciously finding a single elsewhere (maybe as this is typed she is wondering the halls?!).

As time passes it is clear that the problem is getting worse as more weary travelers go car to car hoping for the luck of waking up the Danes train stop after train stop. Given multiple passes, questioning looks, and sad faces clearly many may be standing including the Father of Giants by the end of this ride.

The staff is ok. Do not fret. They have two full compartments (12 seats) so that all 5 of them have a place to sit. Expressing frustration to Deutsche Bahn staff that were moments earlier fluent in English quickly turns into a lesson in customer service. You know the training videos on how to make your prison guests feel welcome – it is like those.

Giants rating in Friendliness to Tourists for the IC Deutsche Bahn (train):

Giants rating of train:

Picture included to highlight that the traded out train cars were not the very restricted, non-refundable, discounted 1st class accommodations. Plan ahead and save is the Giant way. With that level of planning 1st should still be 1st. For those that might now think, “why didn’t the Giants simply find seating in 2nd class rather than waking the sleepers?” The search for seats was in all three classes of the train.

Many German travelers seemed so accepting of the change, taking it all in stride, that the Giants worry that that today’s adventure will have a sequel or two.

Status Lights Brighten Up Metro Travel

Life is often about the little things. Undergrounds, Subways, and Metros are easier to navigate when the current status is available at a glance. One point for Paris’s Metro over London’s Underground. London has hard to read maps on passenger cars. Paris makes life easy for out of town family travel bloggers by showing status lights in positions riders can see.

Paris made sure to not spoil the Giants since the very next train did not have status lights. Part of point lost for Paris Metro.

Hertz Closed Early and Stranded Giants

11:00pm at night in Paris at the Hertz counter that is scheduled to close at 11:30pm and nobody is there. This after a day of a delayed ferry, race car taxi, and a run that allowed a glimpse of a departing train – well worth the read by clicking here.

After a 40 minute unproductive phone call with Hertz (talking to 4 different team members through escalated transfers), and a 30 minute taxi ride to the hotel the Father of Giants realized that the reservation with Enterprise at Versailles for the next morning never was cancelled. What a miracle since all 6 passenger vehicles were triple the booked price and none with automatic (driving stick isn’t normal for the Giants and a refresher course with 6 lane roundabouts isn’t advisable). Morning traffic is Paris is being navigated by a professional while this post is completed.

Oh there is more. Last night when the Giants left the train station for a taxi there was a line of 100 people queued for taxis – Paris is busy and with a train strike things are worse than normal during this high season. The facilitator at the taxi line enquired how many we were and put us right into the first taxi – to do so he took a lady out of it, she was already boarding!

Dover to Paris: Every Moment Matters

Please read slowly to allow the suspense to build properly:

3:40pm

ferry from Dover to Calais is scheduled to depart

4:06pm

set sail and numerous crew members say the voyage is 1.5 hours – meaning the boat should arrive at 6:36pm in Calais

crew also said leaving the boat takes 15 minutes including the bus to the terminal

Google says the taxi ride to the train station is 20-22 minutes

looks like the Giants could get to the station by 7:11pm – 11 minutes late

6:30pm

boat docks – 6 minutes before the crew estimates

6:46pm

fastest taxi ever after it took 15 minutes getting off of the boat and taking the required bus ride to the ferry terminal

the driver acted very nervous for the Giants, biting his nails and visibly sweating – he had a football (soccer ball) logged between the dash and the windshield, but could not take any energy to discuss what clearly he loves

the race track efforts were interrupted by a police van that looked like it would pull over the Taxi and Giants to ruin the trips chances at success

after the police exited the highway the race commenced again before the last two miles were considerably slowed by a semi truck

6:59pm

unloaded

7:00pm

ran in and watched train leave the station – like a movie where the man runs to the station to find he is a moment late to catch his love before she leaves the country

the Giants hoped to turn around to see that the sought after solution would actually be standing behind them

the very helpful and friendly staff and a new taxi driver were there – not as dramatic as a movie, still a solution for the desired ends

7:25pm

tickets exchanged free of charge even though they clearly state they are not exchangeable or eligible for a refund

new train booked, kind of, for Lille Flandres train 9:37pm to Paris-Nord arriving at 11:02pm

more like a permission slip pinned to our shirts from our moms saying we are again allowed to go out for recess with the other kids at school

car rental closes at 11:30pm so a 11:02pm arrival to the station in Paris will be a blessing

7:30pm

started a negotiated taxi ride to Lille Flandres station that is supposed to get us there by 8:54pm

cool setup on the taxi to have seats facing each other

7:25pm

traffic delays as this is authored – wish the Giants luck!

–updated at 9:37pm Giants made the train and only had to fend off one passenger from the seats claimed – passage was approved with no assigned seats so it was catch as catch can — he graciously allowed a Giant to sit in his seat and found another for himself

— updated at 10:00pm at the only stop fended off a persistent man who would have broken up the gang

— updated at 10:27pm world will never know if the permission slip to ride was valid since the ticket checker walked by the Giants twice and never asked to see tickets from the group

— updated at 11:30pm Rental car closed 1/2 hour early – Click here to read about Hertz stranding Giants.

— updated at 12:30am Oh there is more! Last night when the Giants left the train station for a taxi there was a line of 100 people queued for taxis – Paris is busy and with a train strike things are worse than normal during this high season. The facilitator at the taxi line enquired how many we were and put us right into the first taxi – to do so he took a lady out of it, she was already boarding!