2010-05-12

Cross-country

Wake-up early in the morning, groggy breakfast, pack the bags. Bundle in the car for the ride to Aix. Train is late, but we have plenty of time. It’s just a twelve-minute ride to Marseille St Charles, but well there it turns out our connection is cancelled. What now?

Crowd rushing to get on replacement train to MontpellierQueue to the information desk. The clerk behind has a little English flag on her name badge, but speaks English with noticeable hesitation. A freight-train has derailed, so there are traffic disturbances in the entire region. However, a specially-chartered TGV train will take us to Montpellier from where we can continue with the Téoz train originally intended to Bordeaux. Just get on board, sit wherever you can, the train will depart soon! Except, it doesn’t. The train, and we, sit there for an hour while we wait for a conductor. Or possibly lemon-scented paper napkins, for certainly nobody comes to check our tickets when we finally leave for Montpellier.

People getting off Téoz train in BordeauxThe TGV does it best to make up for lost time, but we’re still late to Montpellier. The Téoz train stands on the next track, waiting for us. This turns out to be the weirdest train we’ve been on so far. Let us say the people on board don’t quite live up to the stylish design of the cars. There is no bistro car, but two cheerful guys, cracking jokes in a thick southern French accent I can’t follow, stand in a left-over luggage space making coffee with a little domestic water boiler, trying to pour it in the swaying and juddering train without sloshing more than half of it on the floor. They also have sandwiches in cool-boxes. The conductors clearly think it unnecessary to check tickets, but prefer to chill out in their little compartment. Somebody standing between the cars is very upset and yells loudly, whether at somebody physically present or on the phone is impossible to tell. Even a beggar turns up, handing out those little cards.

Regional train in BordeauxEven though we are late into Bordeaux St Jean the regional trains to Arcachon run often and we don’t have to wait for long, and we arrive an hour later.

We find our hotel quite easily and then go out to find some food. A Monoprix is still open and we gather supplies.

The microwave in our room prepares us our simple dinner and then we call it a day.

2 comments:

thnidu said...

Little cards? The only such beggars I know of in the US are deaf, or pretend to be. They go through a bus handing out cards with the ASL manual alphabet and, um, requesting donations.

kai said...

Now that you mention it, I remember having seen such an ASL card at some point, but I can’t remember when and where.

I do however remember sitting at Lo Joaquin in Montevideo one warm late summer night when a little well-scrubbed boy came by, selling pictures of the Holy Virgin that he placed on the patrons’ tables for viewing. Due to aesthetic rather than religious sensibilities I gave him some money on the condition that he kept the picture. The waitress thought me very generous.