Bayonne, France - June 30, 2016

Dropping into Paris
Although our trip through customs was seamless, we couldn't leave Iceland until after nine o'clock due to the Paris Airport not wanting us in the air until after our scheduled departure. There was no explanation. We ended up waiting on the runway for over an hour. I think my posterior started looking like a Boeing seat. No big deal.

Shuttle to Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2
We arrived in Paris and tackled finding our train to Bordeaux St. Jean. We caught a shuttle to CDG terminal two and followed the signs to the train station. Once there, we had time to relax until our train's platform number appeared on the departure screen. In no time, we were stepping on the southbound train and finding our seats.

Airport Station - Paris, France
We made our way to the very rear of the train, sat down and started a conversation with a younger couple sitting across from us. Martin was a computer science professor at a local university. He had recently taken a work-related trip to the University of Washington. He was interested in fly fishing and my commercial seining experience in Alaska. They were in the process of dropping off their cat at a parent's house for two months. Free at last.

French trains are phenomenal. They travel at speeds over two hundred miles per hour on smooth track. The United States is dramatically behind in this area of public transportation. I estimate it will take two hundred years to reach this point of efficiency in the States.

Flat Farmland
As a cyclist, the countryside outside of Paris looks appealing. It's almost completely flat farmland broken up by small established areas of well-maintained homes. In some of the fields, wind energy is being harvested by large turbines. I noticed solar panels on a number of homes. Impressive.

We arrived in Bordeaux St. Jean about fifteen minutes late. We had a connecting train to catch to Bayonne; the pressure was on. After hustling to get directions from a conductor, we RAN to the the second train on platform two just in time to board. With adrenalin starting to slow, we walked down the middle of several cars until we found ours. The second time through this will be easier. Deep breathing was in order.

I would not suggest purchasing food items on the trains in France. They are overpriced, and the wrappers are so loud, they let everyone in the car know that you got ripped off. Avoid at all costs.

Bayonne Station (Underground)
We arrived in Bayonne right on schedule. Finding our host was a snap with Apple Maps. My first major mistake of the trip occurred at the finish line. I pressed the wrong button in the trap to buzz our host Caroline. I went with the button to the right of her name when I should have gone left. Her neighbor on the fifth floor triggered the bolt to let us in. When we reached the fifth floor, he came out on the landing and started pointing in different directions with his finger, speaking many French words that I could only nod my head to. At eleven o'clock PM, I could understand his raw emotion. I had the feeling that this scenario had played out before.

As he disappeared into the darkness of his apartment with a sharp "Caio!", I could only speculate that his dreams would be troubled this weekday night - and many nights to come.

Pont Saint Esprit Bridge at Night

1 comment:

  1. Great. Count your blessings; back in the US you would have been gunned down.