The Real Journey Begins
Trip Start Feb 24, 2010
50Trip End Ongoing
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Got to Blagnac as scheduled. I picked up my luggage, although it seemed like it took forever. As I was heading out, I saw a Bureau de Change, so I got in line. There was a couple in line and a woman in front of me. For some reason the couple took FOREVER. I never even saw an exchange of money. I was afraid of missing the train, so I left. No Euros now would bite me later.
I found the right exit, found the bus area, then went in to purchase my bus ticket to the train station (5 euros--out of the 20 euros I brought with me). Then went back to get on the bus. My God it was hot. It was even hotter inside the bus with all the people packed in it.
I was crunched up against the center wall surrounded by Germans. But we all piled out at the train station. I dragged me and my bags inside and went up to an automatic ticket kiosk. The line for a real person was pretty long. I went through the process of buying my ticket for the next train to VdR, or so I thought. I realized afterwards that the first and second legs of the trip were by bus (it said autocar on the ticket).
I asked where I needed to get the bus, and it was just outside and down a bit. There were two buses I could take, and, unfortunately, I picked the wrong one. Not technically, just as a matter of fate. It had to be 85 degrees F inside the bus. My chocolate malt balls a friend gave me melted together it was so hot. Anyway, I dozed off and woke when we were at a stop. I saw no name, and there was no announcement made. It wasn't until we were a bit out that I saw that we had, in fact, been at the stop where I was supposed to get out of the bus (St. Sulpice). Uh oh.
At the next stop, the driver was getting some luggage from below for passengers so I asked him about St. Sulpice. He confirmed, in French, that that was the first stop. He said he would return there after Albi. I had quite awhile before the next bus was supposed to take me to Tonnieres, so it seemed like that would work.
But no. The driver got lost or confused or something. The young girls sitting behind me were getting all perturbed. I'd say he drove around for 45 extra minutes getting to the Albi bus stop. Great. When we got there, I asked him if there was going to be another bus in St. Sulpice to take me to Tonnieres. He didn't know.
So after a few minutes of thinking about how isolated St. Sulpice seemed to be, I decided I did NOT want to get stuck there. I did the best I could to get across to him in French that I need to arrive in VdR. I think the lightbulb finally went on, so he took me to the information lady inside. She said the best thing for me was to take a taxi from there (Albi) to Tonnieres and get a train there to VdR. It was 7pm by then. I had an hour to wait for the taxi.
The only good thing about the wait was that a nice French woman came up and talked to me for a bit. She spoke some English and had been to Santa Barbara. I mainly spoke to her in French. I really enjoyed talking to her. She helped me with some of my French too.
The taxi finally came at 8:10 pm. The train was going to leave at 8:35 pm from Tonnieres. She said she could make it. I was also hoping she took credit cards, since I had only 15 euros in cash. She zipped through the countryside. I enjoyed the airconditioning. However, I was not happy how quickly the fee went from 5 to 10 to 20 all the way up to 35€ by the time we got there at 8:25 pm.
I saw that the train was there when we pulled up. I handed her my French bank card. She said no. Crap. I gave her the 15€ plus enough USD to make up for the fact that she would have to exchange it. She said no, but I said that's all I have. She had no choice, and neither did I. Not the way I wanted things to go. Sigh.
I grabbed my stuff and ran onto the train. It left a couple minutes later. We had several stops along the way: Lexos, Najac, Figeac...finally VdR. I wasn't about to miss THIS stop. I got off the train, took a deep breath, and walked with my suitcase, computer bag, and backpack purse across the bastide over cobblestones and all. By the time I arrived at the hotel, my legs and shoulders were burning. I couldn't wait to fall into bed...