4M: Metro, Maps, Mishaps & Merriment - My Family Travels
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Travel is a gift.  The experiences that one faces and lives through while traveling, are the most valuable souvenirs one can acquire.  These lessons and treasures can be taken, used, and shared wherever you go.

With limited travel experience, the Metro system in Paris was a big deal and a pretty good place to learn about a complicated transportation system.  The EF tour company provided a Metro map in our packets, but most thought of it as a colorful souvenir to be looked at later.  Who would have thought it would be crucial to pay attention to the names on the Metro walls or the colorful dot-to-dot patterns marked inside the trains.   


Furthermore, the tour group of thirty-six middle and high school students was not planning to independently know how to get from one destination to another without our guide.   At each loading point, the EF Tour guide instructed the group to spread out, quickly enter,  and make sure everyone gets on.  After several attempts at this task, it was obvious as to why it was important to pay attention, watch, and listen for instructions.  If not, you would be left behind in a foreign underground city. 

On the third day of travel, a member of our tour group was held up by the local Paris police for jumping a ticket gate.  This occurred because at times the gates would not open upon entering the billet.  This situation caught the attention of all in our group, and we made sure to carefully time the placement of our billets and wait for the gates to open before passing through.  

As mentioned earlier, you gain valuable knowledge and take it with you as you go.  It was now my billet that got jammed in the slot, and the gate would not open.  I had to back out and try again.  It still would not open, so I tried another gate while members of the group waited patiently for me to pass through.  No gate jumping for this fellow.  I would rather be left in the underground then go to a foreign jail.

While the loyal members of my group waited for the gate to open, the unexpected mishap was developing.  The roar of the train below indicated that we must hurry to get our places on the platform.  With the billet through and the gate opened, my group is now running toward the steps and leans over the staircase edge to hear and see our guide yell to a chaperone with his hand up, “Ho!”  The leader thought he said, “Go.”  The masses quickly board and the doors simultaneously close.  Our next site is our school leader holding a hand over her mouth in great distress while four inexperienced foreign travelers get left behind in the station of Iena. 

Surprisingly, we had paid attention to the names and stations posted on the walls.  We studied the map and could follow some parts of it.  Tip at the moment:  When in Paris, ask a Parisian that can speak English for help.  We put a plan together and boarded the metro that would get us to the RER train station to take us to our final destination of Station Boussy-Saint-Antoine.   Fortunately our guide had gotten off at the next stop and ran through the underground to find us.  We were successfully reunited with our group and merriment could begin.  

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