LOCATION: On bus most of the day. Night in Bergarac, France
WEATHER: Cloudy and warm on bus through France
The day started with a bang! We departed from London last night on the bus and arrived at the English Channel at about midnight. We had to get off the bus for passport control. Just as we were finally sleeping! The bus driver told us to run back to the bus as he was anxious to catch the Chunnel crossing at 12:19 AM. I ran back, thinking George was right behind me. The driver started the bus engine up, but George wasn’t there! I yelled to tell the bus driver to wait. By this time, it was 12:15 and the driver was anxious for us to catch that train through the tunnel. If we missed it, we would have to wait 2 hours for the next one. Everyone started looking around for George. They realized that I was anxious and told the bus driver something in French like “this lady’s husband isn’t on the bus yet”. Frantic, I didn’t know what we would do. Finally, George appeared…..He had entered the back door and was in the bus’s toilet! We took off and got on tunnel transport at 12:18. Whew!
Here is the bus and driver on our 35-minute tunnel crossing…
We were scheduled to arrive in Paris at 6:45 AM, but at 4:30 AM, the driver announced that we were arriving. I guess they publish the 6:45 AM arrival time due to the uncertainty of which tunnel crossing transport we would make. The bus ticket said that we were stopping in a “Gare” (station), but it wasn’t a real station, just a dark ghetto-like garage-type area. Most of the passengers just scattered. We had to wait until 8:20 AM for our bus to Bordeaux. There were lots of homeless guys sleeping it off on the benches. We just sort of huddled over our backpacks. Then, these drunk North African guys came in, just to make trouble. They obviously had been partying all night. One guy had his shirt off. They approached me (while George was snoozing), trying to engage in a boozy conversation. I just ignored them and pretended to sleep. I wonder how travelers do this in the winter – just open space – must be freezing.
Finally, it was 6:00 AM, and we walked out of that garage to see if we could find a cafe. Yay! A really quaint, typical Parisian cafe had just opened. We had coffee and a scrumptious croissant.
Back to the bus area. More people had arrived, so it wasn’t scary any more. It was very unorganized, though. None of the buses had signs on them saying where they were going. So, people just walked back and forth, dragging their wheeled suitcases, nervously looking for their bus. It was a sea of humanity, walking from one end of the parking bays to the other. Finally, at about 8;15 a TV monitor came on and showed the bay for upcoming departures. We set off for an 8-hour drive south.
The bus trip was uneventful, but we arrived about an hour late, missing our train to Bergarac. We caught the next one, and happily landed in our hotel at about 8:00 PM. 34+ hours of traveling!!!
We were supposed to pick up our rental car, but the office was closed. We will deal with that tomorrow – if the airport car rental office is even open, since the airport is probably not functioning due to strike.
DINNER: We are staying at an Ibis motel – a European chain like Microtel. There was only one restaurant nearby that we could walk to – an American Tex-Mex steakhouse restaurant called Buffalo that features California wine and quesadillas! What could be worse in Bordeaux country with great wine and foie gras! We were so tired that it really didn’t matter. We ended up with some local wine, a decent cut of beef and a salad.