As a regular traveller I like to have my trip plans and associated bookings nailed down well as far in advance as possible. For this weekend, I booked and paid for flights and accommodation in the first week of March, some eight weeks prior to travel. One of those bookings was for a hotel night at the Ibis Porte Dorée, located next to the metro station of the same name, and less than five minutes walk from the Foire du Trône. My plan was to travel from Dublin to Paris after work, take the train into the city, dump my backpack in my hotel room, and wander across to the fair. I didn't expect to get there much before 10:30pm, but that wasn't a problem as it was due to remain open until 1:00am the next morning.
On the morning of April 27th, the day before my stay, I received an e-mail from the aforementioned hotel telling me that due to a software error my booking had been transferred to the Novotel Creteil, a hotel located some distance outside Paris and around twenty minutes walk from the nearest metro station. This change meant that there was not a hope of me leaving my bag at the hotel; a quick estimate using train timetables and Google Earth indicated that attempting to do so would add about ninety minutes onto my arrival time if and only if everything went to plan.
There is no questions that mistakes happen, and I'm not particularly annoyed at the hotel for having to move me, even at such short notice. However, I'm really astonished that management felt it acceptable to move a confirmed booking from a city hotel next to a metro station to somewhere out in the sticks that wasn't convenient for public transport. Additionally, I'm surprised that they felt e-mail was sufficient for the information given the time period involved; not all foreign tourists travel with their laptop attached by umbilical cord. The correct thing to do would have been to phone me with options; Paris is not a city devoid of hotel accommodation, and I'm absolutely certain that something could have been found close to my original location if management had wanted to be helpful.
Foire du Trône
28th April 2012
There was an interesting addition to the Foire du Trône this evening which I've never seen before at a fair (or for that matter an amusement park). In addition to having my backpack thoroughly searched, I was subjected to an airport style pat down search that was bordering on the invasive. I found out subsequently that there had been a problem at the fairground the previous evening caused by local gangs, and security staff had decided to take precautions. My inability to speak more than the odd word of badly accented French failed to excuse me from this check. Vive la France!
Once through the entrance gate, I met up with some fellow enthusiasts who had come to the fair by car, giving me both at boot to leave my bag in and a lift to my hotel afterwards. This neatly recovered the evening that management at the Ibis Porte Dorée had done their very best to destroy.
The crowd at the Foire was surprisingly light for a Saturday evening, with no wait time on any rides. Being an unapologetic coaster counter my first stop was on the La Pomme (Pouget Groupe) (#1742), a new addition to the travelling circuit in this country and quite nice looking compared to some versions of the genre. The drop on this model passes through a canvas square that taller riders brush against, perhaps a reminder that this style of coaster really isn't geared at adults. One of the perks of a pay per ride system, however, is that arbitrary and unnecessary maximum height restrictions simply do not occur, unlikely many similar coasters in fixed amusement parks.
Quick repeat rides on Speedy Gonzales, Infernal Toboggan led me over to Crazy Mouse, which I discovered tonight was actually a slight variant of the ubiquitous Reverchon design, with an extra dip just prior to the brake run. It was also running particularly quickly, making me wonder if the ride was actually a prototype version with a few quirks not found in the later models.
Having ridden it several times, I decided to watch from the sidelines as Talhat concussed himself on King. I used the time to try to figure out the inordinately complicated procedure of ordering food from a fully staffed sandwich stall on a French fairground on a quiet evening with no other customers in sight. The technique, for the uninitiated, appears to involve five steps:
Place your order with the first member of staff.
Go over to a second member of staff, hand them your money, and retrieve token.
Stand in front of the counter with a token in your outstretched hand for at least thirty seconds.
Smile politely at the high velocity French from the staff member (number three) who finally decides that it might be worth accepting the aforementioned token from you.
Retrieve your order from the fourth member of staff.
The main attraction for me tonight was Jet, which fourteen years ago this month was my second roller coaster ride. Looking down the first drop from the top reminded me clearly of just how scary I'd found it on my first ride, though it is fair to say that that sense of fear has worn off just a tiny bit over the years. While I'm well aware of the calibre of Schwarzkopf machinery, it was still surprising to note just how well this ride has aged; tonight it felt just as smooth and thrilling as it would have done on the day it left the factory. It was certainly the perfect way to end my day.