Day 36: Oh, France, how I will miss thee! - Heidi Ho - CycleBlaze

July 16, 2012

Day 36: Oh, France, how I will miss thee!

Today was my day to ride the famous TGV (high speed) train. You see, my suitcases are with Leos and Steph’s friends Nicole and Pierre, in Agen, where Leo and I dropped them off, let’s see, a year ago, or so it feels.

So I got the early train from Toulouse. THAT train was the, “slow” train, the local, that stopped at every town and hamlet.

Did I mention that in France the conductor doesn’t always ask for a ticket? In fact often you don't even see one. It’s kind of the honor system, unless you get caught without a ticket, of course. Well the train to Agen had a conductor.

There was also a guy, about 20, on the train, with a large camouflage backpack and an mp3 player with headphones. To be honest, he struck me as kind of a jerk, for no reason I can clearly identify. He also didn’t have a ticket.

I couldn’t understand his conversation with the conductor, but I think she was busting his chops. Not as much as I would have expected, but still in busting mode. In the end, though, she sold him his ticket, after which he seemed to doze off, which was a mistake.

A little while later, when we stopped in a little town with a station that was no more than thicker concrete and a sign, he jerked awake.

“Blah blah blah!” he said to me excitedly, which I now know, meant, "What stop is this?!" Asking me anything was his second mistake.

I did my “I don’t speak French” routine, but that cost him valuable seconds. He quickly gave up on me and looked out the window to see where we were. Then he turned, grabbed his backpack from the overhead bin and ran to reach the doors before they closed. The only problem is his backpack stayed put, a strap caught on something. He reached back, unhooked the strap and ran for the door. Too late. The doors closed and the train started moving. Oops!

That’s what happens when you try and stick it to the man for a free ride! God knows. Sweeeeet justice. Maybe I should have felt bad, but I had the feeling he was feeling a little smug about getting away with not having a ticket.

Anyway, I got off in Agen and was greeted by a smiling Pierre. Since my train back, the TGV, didn’t leave for an hour Pierre gave me a little tour of the town and bought me coffee and a croissant at a little cafe. I got out my camera and showed him pictures of when I was riding with his friends. It was a nice time. After that we headed back to the station, and Pierre waited until I boarded the train, before saying goodbye.

It was really nice of them to hold my suitcase and I appreciate it. Thanks Nicole and Pierre!

I was looking forward to the TGV, except it didn’t go much faster than the local train! What a jip! I brought my garmin. The local “slow” train hit a top speed of 150km per hour and the TGV (supposed bullet train) only hit 160km per hour. That’s only about 90 miles per hour. I wanted to go 200 miles per hour! It did take less time to get back to Toulouse, but that was because we made less stops. But really, based on the people stretched out on two seats sleeping, probably tired from the early morning start in Paris, it didn’t feel much different from an Amtrak train.sigh

After the “blistering” low speed bullet train, I went back to the hotel and packed up my filthy bike and filthy belongings. It took some time, of course, jamming The Trucker into that tiny little suitcase. Still, I’m getting better at it, and while I did that I watched the Tour de France on TV, in French of course. A first for me.

This evening I took another walk around town and, of course, got some ice cream. The weather was perfect. It’s my last day in France. It’s been a good trip so it’s sad to leave. But all good things just come to an end, I guess.

Tomorrow I head to London, so until then...

The smiling Pierre in Agen. Thanks again, Pierre and Nicole! :-)
Heart 0 Comment 0
A little church in Agen
Heart 0 Comment 0
The Trucker in the pre-packed stage
Heart 1 Comment 0
Soon she will be crammed in here once again
Heart 0 Comment 0
Having a little snack in my room :-)
Heart 0 Comment 0
Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0