It was obvious from the circulating cleaning teams and technicians that this train wasn’t due to leave any time soon. The complete lack of other passengers made us feel odd as we stood alone on the platform. We looked longingly at the comfy seats through the tinted windows and wondered when we could board.
Just as we were staring to feel resigned to sitting on a hard bench for a couple of hours, breathing diesel fumes and sweating in the unexpectedly warm May 1st afternoon, a conductor spotted us from the train. He popped his head out an open doorway and asked us, first in French and then in English, if we were waiting for this train. When we said that we were, he gave a quick, almost furtive look up and down the platform, thought about it for a second and then ushered us into the air conditioned heaven of the 1st class compartment. He checked our tickets, helped us with our packs and then in an act that earned him my undying gratitude, brought us some ice cold bottled water. We thanked him, happily sank into the plush seats, chatted for a few minutes as we drank our water and promptly took a snooze.
We drifted in and out of a light sleep, being vaguely aware of cleaning staff coming through doing their industrious work and then other voices. When the other passengers finally started to arrive in greater numbers, be perked up a bit and enjoyed the people watching. The rest of the trip to Lyon was fairly uneventful. The seats were comfy, the food delicious, and the scenery was blurry. Traveling by TGV is a bit like taking a trip on a jet at an altitude of 12 feet. The countryside goes by at such speed that it’s difficult to look at anything out the window unless it’s a good distance away. Trying to do so actually made me feel a bit motion sick, so we decided to focus on our long running game of Rummy in stead. After a few hours of this, we slid quietly into Lyon, collected our bags and stepped out into a rainy evening.
Thankfully, either the rain had washed away any protesters here or perhaps in Lyon, folks were just more laid back. Either way, we were happy to cross city blocks unimpeded. We checked in to a Ibis Hotel near the station for the night. It was cheap but clean and most importantly, within a short walk to the station. I barely remember the room. I’m willing to guess that 98.5% of the time we spent in it, we were asleep.
Tomorrow would bring a new sunny day, a new train to Montelimar, a huge honkin’ migraine and some confused commuters. But that was still to come. Tonight, we slept, oblivious to the rain out side.