Saturday, June 16, 2018
Castelnaudary to Paris
Travelling Day! We woke up early, freshened up packed and put the kettle on. Breakfast involved finishing whatever was in the fridge and otherwise available. This was time to say goodbye to Ollie and Jill; everyone off to their own new adventure. Ollie was getting a new group on Saturday afternoon to do the sail back to Homps; Jill was off to Toulouse for a few days and after that to Bordeaux where she was going to do volunteer work for 6 weeks.
We walked over to the train station which took only 10 minutes. We discovered that our train to Narbonne was leaving 25 minutes later: 9:30 am versus 9:05 am. We found a bench outside and checked regularly to see what platform our train was leaving from. We had to carry our bags down a good size set of stairs, walk underground to the next platform and pull them up the same size set of stairs. Not easy on the knees and backs! We wondered how they deal with less able people here. Our train arrived just 10 minutes later than the original time and it took less than an hour to reach Narbonne. The landscape was somewhat familiar because we were going in the same direction as we had come from with the boat.
In Narbonne we had a little more than an hour before our high speed train to Paris was due. Eke bought some tea and juice plus some snacks which tasted very good mid morning. Again, we had to drag our suitcases down the stairs and up the stairs to get to “our” platform. The train arrived on time – 11:30 am. We had reserved tickets for compartment No. 3, 1st class, seats 91 and 92. At the platform was a sign that told us where our compartment would stop along the platform so we were ready to board when the train stopped. Our seats were upstairs, so dragging suitcases up the stairs again! We found our seats and to our surprise they were occupied by another couple. They spoke English and after a while they realized that they had the same number seats – but in compartment no.2!
We settled in our seats: sitting across from each other with a table in between. They were very comfortable seats fortunately as the trip to Paris would take four and a half hours. Sometimes this high speed train reached a speed of 299 km/hour. The landscape literally flew by! Consider two trains meeting each other at 300 km/hour each, a closing speed of 600 km/hour; they pass one another in about a second. First we went even more south from Narbonne to the Mediterranean. So we saw the sea in the port of Sete. Then we went north to Paris. We actually “sped” from southern France to almost northern France in four and a half hours. We picked up something to drink and eat for lunch from the cafeteria down the hall. Across the aisle was a mother with two young children. Mom was very good at keeping the kids busy with eating, colouring and reading to them. The kids were very well behaved most of the time. If they got too loud in mom’s opinion she told them to stop and if that didn’t do the trick she started counting! Three was the end of the line for mom so she warned them of consequences at number two!
Our time was spent with reading, updating our phones and Brian did some uploading of pictures on the computer. When we went through a tunnel the air pressure changed and we could really feel that in our ears. Nonetheless we decided that this was a very comfortable way to travel.