I have come to expect that things will not always go according to plan, especially when traveling. Especially when you fail to plan well! I got a serious lesson in going with the flow of things while traveling in Paris.
In fact, I was on my way out of Paris, flying to Lisbon when due to poor planning, I missed my evening flight. Eager to get to Lisbon in time for a dance instructor training the next morning, I began inquiring about flight options. It turned out that the next flight to Lisbon from this particular airport (Paris-CDG) was midafternoon the next day. This would render me late for the training, and therefore was an unacceptable option.
My next best option, travel to another Paris airport (Paris-Orly) for a flight leaving at 7am the next morning. This sounded like a plan so within an hour or so I was on a bus traveling to Paris-Orly which was an hour away. Keep in mind, it is now close to midnight, I’m getting tired and just want to get a little rest before early morning traveling and 6 hours of training once in Lisbon. After securing my flight for the next morning at Paris-Orly, I eventually found a reasonably prices taxi to the closet hotel about 5 minutes away.
Unfortunately, I was given the news at the hotel that it was fully booked due to a conference in town. It is not too common for me to accept the first NO, but after the second and third NO, I hitched a ride about 15 minutes away to an area that had about 6 hotels right next to each other. I was sure to find a room here, right? I just wanted a few hours of sleep, it was now after 1am in the morning.
The first hotel I went into had a great atmosphere with a front desk clerk who seemed open to helping me even through I didn’t speak French and he spoke very little English. There was even a college-aged, young man studying at the lobby table. I could almost feel my desired sleep coming my way now for sure…. only to be told by the clerk that the hotel was fully booked due to a conference in town.
Okay disappointing, but not the end of the world. This so-call conference overtook the other hotel 15 minutes away, and just by chance had booked this hotel as well. Surely one of the 5 other hotels had one room available. At least this is what I told myself. Money was now NO object, sleep my chief objective.
It is now an hour later. Not only did I visit each hotel and get the same story about “a conference in town,” I also made an unsuccessful attempt at booking a room online to override the booked-room scenario. I was told this might work by a hotel staffer and also given word that all rooms were in fact not actually booked, but many were just being held for various businesspersons whom would be arriving in town for this now infamous conference.
I was told that protocol for the entire area of hotels was to cease all new reservations until further notice was given. This apparently happens several times per year. Nevertheless, I could not see several hundred business persons arriving within the next 3 to 4 hours so why could I not have a room? I would not soon find the answer to this question and hearing about said protocol just made me even more tired.
Desperate for just a couple of hours of shuteye in a safe and comfortable location, I ended up back at the second hotel I visited with the helpful clerk. The clerk is now gone, but there is another young person studying at the lobby table. My uncommon sense began to kick in, as I thought to strike a conversation with the presumed student. I asked what the nightly rate was for a room, “40 euros” he replied. I gave him the quick, two-minute overview of my situation and offered him 50 euros to crash on the floor in his room for what would now be about 3 ½ hours. He quickly agreed and showed me to the room, just as a brave, but broke young college student would/ should (actually, if you are not a GREAT judge of character at minimum, I would not advise taking in a perfect stranger LOL).
The room actually had bunk beds, a full size on the bottom and a twin size on the top. The student insisted that I take the bottom bunk and was getting ready for bed anyway so all was well. He mentioned that he and other students were studying for final examinations, and many had rented out rooms for a couple of night as is the tradition around finals week. Being a 10-year veteran professional within Higher Education myself, and having completed graduate school, I could fully relate to the good-ole struggles of college finals.
Besides the chronic snoring (the kind you only read about in health magazines) from the young man, all was indeed well and I managed to get at least an hour of sleep. I was up, showered and dressed in time for a delicious continental breakfast and a shuttle to the airport. What a night! Lisbon, Portugal I have story to share….