Train travel #1

Im starting to think that I write too much. So, today I will include a long story and a short story (they’re the same, so read one or the other):

Short story: today I missed my first train, even though I left early! It turns out when you buy a ticket online it makes you select ‘e-ticket’ that you have to print out at the station. But the machines at the station don’t accept foreign credit cards! Finally found someone who spoke enough English to rebook me on the later train. And then I caught a bus which left me nowhere close to the Camino. I walked in what I though was the right direction for over an hour until I saw the right sign. And now I thank the Good Lord for delivering me to a place with wonderful company and a 5 course meal. Amen!

Long story:
So this is how my first European train experience went: I bought my ticket online yesterday (it wouldn’t let me buy from the US), and the only option it gave me to retrieve my ticket was to print the e-ticket at the machine at the station (at an extra service cost of $7.95). So no problem. My host said to leave 40 minutes before the train departure. I left over an hour before departure this morning, since I wanted to walk (through another really pretty part of town that I didn’t see yesterday). I stopped to buy another croissant for breakfast and a crusty little loaf studded with raisins and fruit. Then I bought a banana at the farmers market I walked through. I got to the station 20 minutes before departure, which is recommended by the train people. I’m dripping sweat at that point since Im still carrying a 600 page novel that I didn’t quite finish on the plane plus extra food and water (it has been in the 50s here, but really muggy in the mornings).

I find the e-ticket machine and try to get my ticket. No go. It kept rejecting my card, the same card I used to buy the ticket yesterday. I must have tried half of the machines in the station until I finally found someone who spoke enough English to tell me the machine won’t take foreign cards.

So, I can only retrieve my ticket by using a machine that won’t accept me card. Doesn’t make any sense to me.

By this point I was freaking a bit, my train was leaving in 10 minutes, and the only option was going got the ticket counter which had a long (15 min) line. But what else could I do. I held back a few tears, got in line, and ate my croissant. And as I was enjoying the buttery goodness, I accepted that I would miss my train, but so what. I was originally planning to take the later train anyway, and is would be $25 down the drain. Hooray for traveling by myself and having loose plans!! The ticket lady actually didn’t charge me for the new ticket and away I went. Phew!

My Mom’s friend (my auntie) Maille told me that fear and excitement are basically the same emotion, it just takes a little mental tweak. I’be been holding that for these little panic moments and the advice has served me well.

Update: there is wifi at the place tonight! I got off the train and miraculously caught the right bus to Auch and then could not find any signs of the Chemin. I had vague directions that it was past the Chateau de St Cricq and I happened to see a bus map that had a stop called St Criq so I just started walking in that direction. It was very questionable for awhile and then I found one little marker (hooray!). We just finished a 5 course dinner plus 2 kinds of wine (they make some with grapefruit which was surprisingly delicious). The place Im staying is a building from 1665. The owner bought it 4 years ago when the roof fell in. It’s a beautiful farm now, most of the meal came from here. They are a lovely couple plus 3 dogs (Molly/Archie I heard them say ‘cushe’!) 5 cats, 4 geese that come over and want to be patted, chickens, rabbits, and a donkey. We shared the meal with Diana, the woman from England that I organized to meet, and a father and daughter from the north of France who finish their holiday tomorrow. Everyone was so bright and expressive that I spent the whole meal (3 hours of it) talking and laughing along with their French. I’m really in a good place. Tomorrow will be a long walk, 26 k, and maybe Internet (which is unusual so don’t expect updates). I’m happy!

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9 comments for “Train travel #1

  1. Barb Parker
    March 29, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I am so excited for you. Have a nice walk. xo

  2. Liz Kyle
    March 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    I love the long versions of ALL your adventures. It helps me to experience it, much more rich and satisfying than reading about it. Don’t stop! Your positive attitude shines through which makes my day brighter as well. walk on!!!

  3. Pedro
    March 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Keep up the post. More pictures please.

  4. Jen LeFebre
    March 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I like the longer versions! It’s so much fun to read what you’re up to. Great advice from your auntie. The 600-page novel though–you’re hilarious. You might want to finish that soon. 🙂 By the way, we had internet access at nearly every albergue we stayed at. Maybe France is different though. Did you hear that it would be rare? Meeting all the different people is the best part! ENJOY!!!

  5. Janet Siegel
    March 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    I would have felt cheated without the long version. . . . . . Especially the part about the croissant! The challenge of traveling outside of your comfort zone is both scary and exhilarating. You have to be alert and keep your wits about you. You will learn enough about yourself to fill a whole new 600 page book. Looking forward to more stories! Long ones!

  6. March 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks Jen! I actually committed some awful librarian crime… I cut the book apart this morning, threw most in the trash and just carried the last part I haven’t finished yet. I felt awful but decided no one else would want a 600 page book in English, and Mom got it at a book sale for 30 cents anyway! Good to know about the wifi. Maybe this person was just talking about the French part. Thanks for reading!!

  7. March 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Yeah, long version got my vote. You got me remembering my own frustrations trying to figure out the rail system in France. That was miserable. Good thing you had the croissant on hand.

  8. Holly
    April 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I’m all about your long versions also!! I LOVE reading everything you write!! And I really can’t believe you tore a book apart, funny stuff!!!
    Miss you, will continue to stalk! 🙂

  9. ellen!
    April 6, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I love this post! I am just catching up on them all now… I like reading them in bulk! Its like watching a movie in my mind 🙂 and I love the happiness you express with the shared meal. That’s what this whole trip is about. Love that you feel content! Hooray for you!!

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