European Adventure 2011 - Day Eight: Leaving Montauban, Visiting Toulouse

Posted by Amy O. , Sunday, May 15, 2011 6:39 PM

Sunday was a packed day!  We left chez Maillard in the morning for a few minutes at the Journée Sportive – Sports Day – where I glimpsed many familiar faces from the Christian community in Montauban.  From there, we went on to the morning service at my old church, where I saw many more dear people & sang a song (Paul Baloche's Your Name) in French.  After that, we were off to the train station, which was an adventure in itself, to hop a train for Toulouse.

So long, dear Montauban!

At the train station, I didn't expect the ticket office to be open and it looked dark so I set about buying us tickets via the machine (we didn't want to use up a day of our Eurail passes for this little journey).  I was unable to use an American credit card, and I didn't have enough euro coins (the machine didn't take bills).  I looked everywhere for a change machine – no luck.  But there was a newspaper stand/snack shop.  Remember the rule about being paid to be helpful?  The lady was willing to give me change if I bought something.  I needed about 11 euros more in coins.  She hands me a 10 bill and some change from my 20.  I protest and she insists she cannot give me more change than that.  But it's not true, of course.  There is no law.  It's just that she won't.  She takes the 10 back, gives me 5 more in coins and a 5 bill, with the air of having just bestowed the farthest stretches of her grace upon me.

But she actually hasn't helped me at all because I still don't have enough coins to buy tickets.  She might as well have given me no coins at all.  Grrr.  I have 20 minutes before the train leaves so I leave Patrick with the bags and bolt out the door to return to one of the open bakeries that we passed on the way there to get some change.  And of course, after I'm about 3 blocks away, Patrick sees someone come out of the ticket office...with a ticket. 

Alas.  I got the needed change and a pastry out of the deal, plus burned off some of the pastry calories in the walking :-).  And we made the train in the end.

We had a night train booked (using the Eurail passes) from Toulouse to Paris, so we had the afternoon to visit La Ville Rose, another place with many, many memories.  Our friends Anneline & Mathias were performing with Pier Planas that day in the center of the city at the Place du Capitole, but we had a couple hours to wander around beforehand.  I introduced Patrick to more of my old haunts and we got some sandwiches and made our way to the St. Sernin church to eat.

Another gorgeous day!

Place du Capitole

The concert, which was a benefit after a march around the city to raise awareness for leukemia, was absolutely a highlight of our time in France.  The band was amazing!  Tight harmonies, clever lyrics, and talented musicians offering a delightful, fun-spirited performance.  After hearing about the band for a few years now, it was so great to see Anneline doing her thing up on stage!

After the concert, we rushed over to the Evangelical Free Church for an evening worship service to see some more friends, Aaron and Tiffany, who have been faithfully serving with Campus Crusade in Toulouse for several years, and who are preparing to get married in August.  We only had a little time there, but it was fun to worship again en français and to hear how things had been going in Toulouse since I had last been there.

After that, we rushed back to the city center for a fabulous Toulousain meal at a restaurant called L'Ane Qui Tousse (The Donkey Who Coughs) with Anneline & Mathias.  We all had ze duck :-).  I loved getting this extra time with them to hear more about their lives. 

All in all, a great day with friends, food & fun music! 

That is, until the night train.  Beforehand, when making reservations, we'd decided that sleeping in reclining seats was much less awkward than sharing a sleeping car with three to five strangers.  And it was cheaper.  How bad could it be, right?

As Patrick put it a half hour into the ride, “Worst train ride EVER.”  It was SO bad.  It was an old train with broken creaky seats.  Patrick's window seat's levers didn't function properly.  For some reason people were walking up and down the aisle ALL NIGHT and they would use my head rest to get by, pushing it down several inches as they did so (and then it would spring back up - arghhh!).  When multiple people in the car were moving, the seats all creaked and it sounded like someone was playing the harmonica (I admit, that was a little amusing).  We managed to sleep somewhat – more out of sheer exhaustion than any comfort whatsoever – but that is something we will never, never do again.

We arrived in Paris about 7am the next morning, where Patrick took this lovely classic shot of me post-night-train, strongly resembling the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  When in Paris, eh? :-)

1 Response to "European Adventure 2011 - Day Eight: Leaving Montauban, Visiting Toulouse"

mylaellison Says:

Rude customer service is one thing, but trying to ROB you? I am afraid.

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