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Travelog – Jeudi, 8 Mars

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Thursday was our last day in France. Jon and I packed up and headed out to find some breakfast. We went to the Brioche Dorée, a chain cafe that had a lot of yummy pastries and sandwiches.  We ate, then bought a couple of sandwiches for the train ride (we were fully aware it was going to be a really long day), checked out, and went to Carrie's flat to pick up the clothes we had left to dry, said our goodbyes, and started the walk back down to the train station.

We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare, waited patiently for the platform to be announced (I had run out of yarn on the scarf and started on a pair of socks), boarded the train, and got to Marseilles without incident.  After that, we waited patiently for the platform to be announced, boarded the train, and got to Nice with a couple of hours to wait for the next train (an overnighter to Venice).  It actually wasn't that quick; by the time we got into Nice, it was already dark outside (I think it was around 7pm).  We did get a few glimpses of the Riviera lifestyle on the train from Marseilles to Nice, in hillside villas and docks full of yachts.

We stored our suitcases in giant lockers, headed out into town and found a nice Italian restaurant.  Dinner was quite tasty, but we wanted to get back to the train station so we could relax.  We paid the tab, and headed back with 45 minutes left.

Back at the train station, something curious showed up on the departure board – instead of a platform number, there was an icon of a bus next to our train.  Here is the point where crunching to learn French in two weeks breaks down a little – for the next 30 minutes, we were wandering around the station, trying to find someone who could tell us what the heck the bus meant.  Eventually I found an employee who knew a little English, and figured that around the corner, there was a bus we needed to be on in order to get to Venice.  We walked around the side of the building, and there was one charter bus loading people.  The driver spoke very little English, but when I said “Is this the train to Venice?” he said “Yes,” so I took him at his word, and we boarded.

At this point, I was still assuming that we were getting on a shuttle to some nearby station, where we would catch the train at the time on the ticket.  20 minutes later, though, we were still sitting on the nearly-full bus, and they were still loading people on.  Here is where I started to freak out.  We didn't leave until five minutes after the departure time on our ticket, so on our quiet drive through the streets of Nice, I sat with my mind racing – what would we do if we missed our train?  We didn't have anywhere to stay; we'd have to buy another train ticket; since our stay in Venice was so short, it might even affect our trip to Munich.  On top of this, we had moved from driving through the city streets to driving up secluded hills.  Now I was sure we weren't on a shuttle, but I was second-guessing the driver telling me that this was the correct bus – they hadn't checked our tickets or passports or anything when we boarded.  Was he some kind of crazy serial killer, taking us up away from civilization where no one would hear us scream?  I am telling you, I don't usually get freaked out – this was a very new sensation for me, actually being scared on this bus.

I sat like this for the next hour.  Jon was also stressed, but about halfway through, he figured out what was happening – the bus was actually taking us through the mountains and into Italy.  What he said made sense, but I was already too far on the road to insanity from the day of travel and the added stress of not knowing what the hell was going on.  Was there no train at all?  Were they going to keep us on this bus all night, until we ended up in Venice the next day?

Finally, we pulled into a station in a town near Torino, and our train was waiting there for us.  We found our sleeping car, I lamented at how it wasn't as nice as the sleeping car I had been on on my first trip to Europe, then got over it (I think Jon was really annoyed at my worrying and whining by this point).  We took some OTC sleeping pills so we could get some rest.  I took the top bunk, and released all the stress from the evening by crying myself to sleep.

I don't know how those crappy sleeping pills make any money – they really don't work.  I was awake on and off throughout the whole night, feeling the train rock back and forth as we wove through the mountains.  Next time, it'll be all prescription, baby.


Written by Sarah Levantine

April 24, 2007 at 12:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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