Travel: Your holiday disaster

A rugby club exchange trip to Paris left Larry Moore wishing he'd stayed at home

THREE DAYS before Easter, a new member of the rugby club told us that his old club had some spare places available for an exchange visit with a Parisian rugby team. Half a dozen of us jumped at the chance of the trip. My wife was a lot less impressed and insisted that I take her with us. She reluctantly accepted my explanation that it was "players only".

When the coach arrived to pick us up I could not help noticing how many of the other players had their partners with them.

Later that afternoon the coach broke down some miles from Paris. The first night of the trip was spent in a very smelly coach in a service station with lots of people who we didn't know or like much. Eventually we made it to Paris. After a quick trip around the various tourist sites the driver dropped us all at Notre-Dame to do what we wanted for a couple of hours.

My mates from my own club went off to find a restaurant while I went to visit some work colleagues at our Paris branch. But when I arrived back at Notre-Dame - some 20 minutes late - I discovered that the coach had gone without me.

At first I was sure that it was all a mistake and that they would come back soon. I sat down in the most prominent place I could find and waited. After three hours I finally realised that they were not coming back. Unbeknown to me, one of my rugby mates had told the rest of the party that I was going to meet up with the French side we were visiting at the agreed rendezvous point, the Arc de Triomphe. I did not know of this arrangement.

The British Consulate is always a good place to go when you need help abroad. Hopefully my friends would have left a message there for me. I later found that they had - but I arrived at the consulate just after the "Closed for Easter" sign went up on the door.

Next I went to the French police. They suggested that I telephone the French rugby team or the trip organiser's home in England, but I knew the names and phone numbers of neither.

In desperation, I went to the red light area of Paris. There were bound to be British rugby teams on tour wandering around there, there always are. But, nobody there.

It was time to accept the inevitable and head for home. The ticket clerk at the Gare du Nord told me to change trains at Amiens (I think) to get to Boulogne so I could catch the ferry back to England. I was very tired by this time, but determined not to fall asleep and miss my connection.

I suddenly woke up to hear the train doors slamming. As the train began to pull out I jumped on to the platform, relieved that I had not missed my connection, only to discover that I had got off somewhere completely different. The next train through was not due until seven o'clock the next morning. Wearily I put my head down on a wooden bench in the waiting room. The porter padlocked me in - I don't know why.

Eventually the next day I got back home - only to find that my wife had left me.

Share your holiday nightmares by sending a 600-word account to: Holiday Disasters, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. E-mail: sundaytravel@independent.co.uk.

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