Know Your Booking Limits.
I’m quite comfortable making my own reservations for travel within the U.S or Canada. Europe is a different matter. I’m not going to travel literally halfway around the world at considerable expense only to find my itinerary screwed up because I’ve made an amateur’s mistake. I really want my European travel experience to go smoothly.
I rely on Railbookers in London to handle the details for any travel outside of North America. This year that means the twelve days next month when I’m going to be in France. And it turns out that Railbookers spotted a couple of problems that I would have blundered into.
First, to protest proposed cuts in the national rail system, the head of the French railroad workers union says he’s planning to call a 30-day strike starting on March 22. Uh-oh. I’m arriving in Paris on April 19 and my first rail segment would fall within the strike dates. But then came an email from Matthew Foy at Railbookers with some reassuring information: French law prohibits the national rail system from being shut down completely so, if the strike is still in effect when I get to Paris, Matthew said I might experience some some delays, but will almost certainly reach my first stop, the medeval town of Carcassonne.
As mentioned here previously, one of the objectives for this trip is to ride Le Petit Train Jaune (the Little Yellow Train) in the Pyrenees. The other day, in another email from Matthew, I learned that maintenance is being performed on that rail line and it is now operating only about two-thirds of the way to its usual terminus, Latour de Carol. He said we would all be transferred to a bus about two-thirds of the way through the train’s normal route.
However, he continued, because the bus makes a number of local stops, I’ll miss my connecting train in Latour de Carol. Not to worry, though. Matthew had already cancelled my hotel reservation for that night in Sarlat and booked a hotel in Toulouse instead.
Had I booked on my own, I would not have known about the track work. I would have missed my train in Latour de Carol. And I would have been a no-show at the hotel in Sarlat.
Merci, Monsieur Foy. Et bravo!