Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TGV - On the Train

(continued from previous post 'TGV - Paris, Montparnasse') 

Finally our platform was decided but we had to watch the board to find out where to go…

…as the public address system is worse than the British system...

...though it does come with a big light, presumably for sending morse signals which would certainly be easier to understand than the announcer. The camera may be to make sure that you are paying attention or may be a quality control monitoring device, tuned to detect furrowed brows to see if they need to turn to morse code.

Any way the board showed we were dure to depart from platform 5 and we all traipsed off to the lower level.

The train was fully booked and the platform was alive with scurrying life forms scrabbling to find their carriages...


Luckily two trains had been stuck together so there was room for all of us.

My carriage is in the second train and is sort of comfortable, but once again there are other people on board, including a baby which makes one apprehensive.

As it turns out the baby is OK for the next four hours. It is a pity the same cannot be said for the mother who chirps and cheeps, throws baby-food all over the place, and makes raspy rattling noises with one of those coloured  plastic clowns designed to give kids nightmares. I wonder if babies are allowed to travel unaccompanied?

Mother and baby seen here 
in a rare moment of repose
The TGV has two types of carriage which, in typical French style, are named Zap and Zen. From what I can work out, Zap is for people who want to work on their laptops and party with their iPods and Zen is for people who want to meditate and not be bothered with mundane everyday matters. Having said that the Zap passengers who want to party must do so without disturbing anyone else (some party!).

I assume the Zen passengers are requested to chant their Ommmmms silently so as not to disturb the Hari Krishnas who are not allowed to ring their bells. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.

In fact the only substantial difference between the two carriages that I could elucidate from the man in the peaked cap is that Zen does not have power sockets, so presumably one cannot recharge one’s laptop or mobile whilst recharging one’s psychic batteries.

France, where a peaked cap
still denotes authority
But I was in a Zap carriage (with power sockets) and did not want to disturb the Zenners by crawling around on the floor to check – so it will remain a mystery.

The train also has a bar where you can hire a DVD player and some DVDs, buy magazines and have a snack.

The snacktastick choice here is between a very healthy looking sandwich and an even more ‘good for you’ salad which is so full of fresh-loveliness that I swear it will extend your life by several days. They ought to run a campaign along the lines of: Travel TGV – live forever.

Happy punters can lean on the stagger-tables and swig carafes of vin-wonderful...

…while lesser mortals, condemned to a life of sobriety, must suffer the pitiful conditions in the foreground

We arrived at Bordeaux St Jean…

Which has a big clock and probably a lot more fascinating stuff not visible from the train. And then on to Agen...

...which is only 40 mins from home, except that on this ocasion I arrived home an hour or so later which would make it an hour or so from home.

So that was Oman, except there is a lot more to say about it, so I will continue with this blog until I am distracted by something else…

...and then I will probably share that with you - the choice is yours.

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