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Day 20 : Getting some rest on the train?
We got up around 6:00, so we could take the earliest train possible. First, we needed a receipt stating the town's name and date. There were already a few bakeries open but we were in a hurry. A sign at the station said it would open at 6, it was 6:45 by now and still completely deserted. It was time for CSI part 3: see if the station was still in use. There were no cobwebs on the doors, but also no clear signs that someone had been there recently either. We returned to the bakery to ask if the station was still used and get some food. The man there said there were still trains coming through.
Back at the station we sat down and waited. If the station was closed, we would have to cycle at least 50 km until the next station. Eventually, it opened at 8, so we could just as well have stayed in bed 2 hours longer. The first train didn't leave until 8:45. A scale outside the building showed I hadn't lost much weight. I weighed about 70 kg, and my bike and luggage were about 20. So that was 90 kg in total. Bram weighed 65, and his bike 25, so that was similar.
While we waited, we tried to figure out which train we needed to take. It seemed best to travel straight south, towards Besancon. We asked the lady at the desk how to get to the Netherlands, and she also told us to travel via Besancon. After buying tickets, we waited some more. Two guys around our age came in. They wore white shirts and a suit, and both carried three enormous suitcases. At first, we thought they were English, judging by their boarding school look. They started talking to another English guy about what they were doing in France, but we couldn't hear them. We wondered what they were doing and why they dressed so oddly. After ten minutes we noticed they wore name tags.
On the train, we sat in the same cart as the guys. Their bags were put in the bike section because they carried so many. After a while we realized they were Americans. They sat across a sleeping girl that seemed to be French. After a while we heard them speak in almost too perfect French, they were giving a memorized speech. She was awake, but it looked like she wanted to go back to sleep again. I heard one of the guys say "c'est ca" 5 times in one sentence.
We heard them ask the girl if she was 'interested' in something. That didn't sound right. We tried to guess how many suits they carried in their suitcases. We couldn't figure out what else there would be in six of those. Suddenly Bram said 'I think I know what is in their suitcases'. He had read their name tags, which said: 'Elder [first name] [ last name] ???? Jesus'. We couldn't stop laughing, probably they were carrying around tons of bibles.
In Grenoble, we had to leave the train to go to Chambery. Ideally, we wanted to go south from there, but only busses were going in that direction. The only other option was to take the train to Lyon, which was in the wrong direction. We could have taken a direct train there from Manosque had we known, then we wouldn't have had to transfer. Only around 8 o'clock did we arrive in Lyon, while we could have been there around one had we taken the direct train.
We had to wait an hour in Lyon for the first train to Dijon. There was a TGV to Brussels that left in three minutes. If we were allowed to take our bikes it would make up for the day of detours. We quickly ran to the right platform and shortly after the TGV arrived. We knew we weren't allowed to take bikes on those trains and didn't have time to buy tickets, but we could try. When the train arrived we saw our chances departing. It was as full as a city bus during rush hour. Still, we asked the conductor if bikes were allowed. If he said yes we would start about the tickets we hadn't bought yet. Unfortunately, he said no.
An hour later a train would leave for Dijon, for which we did have tickets. We hadn't eaten much the entire day, so we looked around for a place to buy food. Most shops were closed because it was pretty late by now. We did see a "Quick" advertised, which I knew was a kind of fast food restaurant. We had 35 minutes left before the train departed, so we sprinted through town to get there. When we arrived we queued in the longer but faster line. I had a theory that you always wait longer in slower lines than in faster ones, regardless of which is longer. We memorized our order in detail to get it as fast as possible and sprint back to the station. We agreed to both pick the first hamburger listed on the main menu, so it was simple to prepare.
When it was our turn we tried to name our order as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the menu was sold out. Then we will take something else. Of all options, we chose the first one mentioned and the same one. They started to realize we were in a hurry. We also picked the hamburgers they had ready. After paying, we ran back to the platform where we had locked our bikes. We still had 12 minutes left before the train departed. We quickly stuffed the food in our faces before the train arrived. After putting our bikes in the last wagon we saw a couple saying their goodbyes. Bram said, 'oh, I bet the toiled will be occupied soon'. When the train departed someone came walking by panting.
A little later the same guy came walking by again. It was a French guy who asked something about the window. I wasn't sure what he was saying. When he came back two seconds later I could smell he had been drinking. Later he passed again, unable to walk straight. He started talking about our bikes and laughing and imitating riding a bike. Then he started talking nonsense again. I asked if he had drunk a lot. Yes, he explained he had been drinking Beaujolais, which was cheap. Then he showed us his train ticket, which looked like it had been in his pocket for over a month. It was also nearly torn in two. As it cost only 1,50 he might as well not have bought it at all. He started smoking on the train, which of course wasn't allowed. Then he started jumping around because he had too much energy and asked us where we were from. We said the Netherlands, after which he suddenly became alert and asked if we carried 'herb'. He started making movements like he was smoking or sniffing and thought it was terrific. Then he started jumping some more.
He left and came back again asking (again) if we spoke French. I had told him we understood a little but were better at English. He sat down next to me and started a sentence in English. He nearly folded back on himself thinking about the right words. I knew he was trying to ask our age, but we let him try some more before answering. He was 24 and lived in Grenoble. I don't know exactly what he had taken, but it wasn't just alcohol. Then he started talking about drugs so we made him believe we lived in Amsterdam. He became even weirder and started hanging on the luggage racks. Then he suddenly disappeared to his two friends who were also on the train. When he returned, I told him Bram had just called his girlfriend, which was enough to make him jump for another 10 minutes.
We arrived at the endpoint of this train which was also the end of our journey today. It was 00:30 and we were in the center of Dijon. We considered cycling out of the city and finding a place to camp, however, it would take a long while before we would get to some rural area. At first we looked at the map to find a spot with fewer buildings, but then we realized there was hardly anyone around. We passed a park and decided to cycle through there, hoping we might find a place to sleep. Behind a hill we found a half-decent spot. It wasn't visible from the road and no buildings were looking out on it. It was pretty small so there was no place for a tent. We simply rolled out our mats and sleeping bags and went to sleep in our clothes. That way we would stay warm and if we got caught we would at least wear clothes.
We didn't sleep very well, I hardly slept at all. Every time I nearly slept a slug krept on my mattress touching my head. Then I would be wide awake from the sudden wet feeling and had to pick up the slimy thing, throw it away, and try to sleep some more.
Distance cycled : 20 km.
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