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Thursday, October 8, 2009
Pt.13 Getting on the Train to Avignon
Pt.13 - Getting on the Train is Half the Trip
Pardon Moi Monseur, Zees is Not Ze Chattanooga Choo Choo Trains have assigned departure tracks — like the Metro, if you get on the right track, in the right direction, you’ll get where your ticket says. I returned to Joyce, with 10 minutes to get to our track. There were at least 20 tracks at Gare de Lyon, so it was going to be a search. I honestly don’t remember how we got to the track — we must have automatically followed escalators, conveyors, and stairways to get to the right track. Once out on the platform, our train was already boarding. The cars were numbered. The number series of the cars, as we ran past them didn’t seem to match.
Right Track, Yes, But.... Finally, we found our car, #8, and got on. I showed the ticket to a conductor, and asked him where we take our baggage. Less than four minutes to departure. He said, in English “you are on the wrong train.” “But this is track #8" “Yes, but the other train— ” He pointed way back down the track to where we had first entered the platform. It looked very far away. With two minutes to departure, I wondered, how could this be possible? Then I saw it. When the trains park at the track, they park end-to-end, without any space between them. The next train looked exactly like the one we had just been kicked off of, and it looked like a continuation of it.
We found the new car #8. As we got into the boarding stairway, I asked the conductor where the baggage goes. He said something to the effect of “as long as it’s inside the train...” The train began to move. We found Joyce’s seat. Then I found mine — on the other end of the car, and just crashed down into it.
French Air Conditioning - Can't Say Enough About It It was about 90 degrees outside, and just slightly hotter inside, with that famous French air conditioning. I had been traveling at nearly a dead run with one to two hundred pounds of baggage, had tumbled it up the stairway into the aisle of the little stairway room at the end of the car. I was once again drenched in sweat. My suitcoat was soaking through in places. My shirt was clinging to me— I could have wrung it out. My tongue was sticking to the roof of my mouth. I was out of breath. I was separated from Joyce — Lord knows what she was going through. Well, at least she was in the right seat.
I sat there in a soggy heap, just appreciating being able to breathe without carrying all of that luggage. My carry-on bag had a bottle of water that I had brought from the hotel. Although it was no longer cold, I unscrewed the cap, and drank some. I did this more than once in the next fifteen minutes, just a little at a time, so my body could absorb it.
Rollin Out of Town - What Smells like France in Here? The train was moving very slowly through an industrial section of Paris. Everything looked foreign. Next to me, there sat a small gray-haired man in a charcoal business suit. He was busy with his newspaper, and since I knew such an embarrasingly little amount of French, I let well enough alone. There was nobody I wanted to talk to. Looking at the rest of the car, it was the scraggly backpacker multiplied to infinity. One of them kept walking past me, jabbing his carry-on backpack into everyone’s face. He would head for the end of the car, and fool with his “luggage”, a bigger green backpack, that took up half of the hallway. Then he’d slink back to his seat. He was a fetid walking armpit. Surely, in all of Europe, there was a basin of water for this poor little Eurotrash wannabe.
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