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Rennes, France in the early 1980ies

Post 1

Titania (gone for lunch)

I was out InterRailing on my own. Having left Luxembourg on a late night train, heading for the Channel Islands, I spent most of the night piled up rather crowdedly with two Africains; a man and a woman and instruments and coffers enough for a whole orchestra.

Not having slept much at all, I arrived rather bleary-eyed at Gare du Lyon (Paris). I was heading for Rennes next, in order to switch to a train to Saint Malo, where I was planning on spending a night before taking the ferry over to Saint Helier (Jersey).

Not quite managing to make head or tail of the information boards, I asked a young man behind a counter for directions. He directed me to a platform, but I think he must have misheard (my French is a bit... sparse) because the time for departure came and went, with no sign of a train.

I asked another railway official, and it turned out I needed to go to a different railway station - at the time, they had four major ones in Paris. Somehow, I managed to navigate down into the Paris M├ętro, complete with a valid ticket and all.

And this is where I encountered my first (and so far only *knocks on wood*) pickpocket. I just happened to glance down at the open pocket on the outside of my handbag, and saw a small brown hand tucked into it. The owner of the hand (a small boy) looked up at me, I looked down at thim, and then he vanished between the legs of the crowd surrounding me.

MInd you, all I had in that pocket was a map and a paper tissue - I'm not stupid, you know!

Once I finally arrived at the correct railway station, my train had left long ago. When I learnt this, I collapsed on a bench like a punctured balloon.

I'd still be sitting there moping, feeling sorry for myself, if it hadn't been for my stomach. It gets very insistent and loud if I don't feed it, see. And I hadn't had any breakfast. And so, it started growling loudly.

I searched in my small backpack and found an opened bag of Gott & Blandat and dug into it. Yes, it's just as healthy and nourishing as in this picture:

Anyway, that sent my blood sugar soaring high and, feeling all energetic of a sudden, I set out to find the next train to Rennes, and how to proceed from there on.

There was one more train departing that day and I was determined not to remain in Paris for longer than necessary. The idea of trying to locate a youth hostel in this labyrinth of railway stations and underground trains didn't appeal to me.

However, the train would arrive pretty late in Rennes, so I looked up a youth hostel there. Mind you, this was before laptops and smart phones. I looked it up in a book. A sort of early version of the Hitch Hikers' Guide, limited to Europe, Earth.

It was already dark when I arrived in Rennes. Good thing there was a city map right outside the station. I memorized it as well as I could and set off, following the river.

I waliked, and I walked, and I walked. There was less than a half hour left before the youth hostel would be closing, and I started looking around for a telephone booth. It turned out they didn't run on ordinary coins, but on something you had to buy at a Tabac.

Unfortunately, every Tabac in sight had already closed for the night. But then, looking across the river, I spotted then youth hostel! And a nearby bridge!

I sprinted across the bridge (carrying one big and one small backpack) and got there in time and yes, they had a bed available. Phew...

The next morning, I had breakfast at the hostel. PIcking up my try with my dishes, I carried it over to a cheery looking young man behind a counter.

'Where should I put this?'

'YES!' smiley - biggrin

*slower this time*

'Where should I put this?'

'YES!' smiley - biggrin

'Uh, fine - I'll just leave it right here on the counter then?'

'YES!' smiley - biggrin

I think that was the only word in English he knew, poor fellow. Fine with me, I left my dishes on the counter, packed and walked back to the railway station.

It was a miserable morning. The skies were grey, and the rain was pouring down. I felt I was finally back on track, so the rain didn't bother me at all.

I arrived at the railway station with plenty of time to spare.

And then it happened. yet again. A complete stranger trusting my honest face. Trust me, it gets just a little bit boring after the first 100 times or so.

A young French woman asked me if I would look after her luggage while she went off to buy breakfast.

'Oui, certainement' I said.

When she returned, she had not only gotten breakfast for herself, but some sort of pastry for me, as thanks for my help.

Upon inspecting it, I realized it would be an even bigger sugar shock to my system that the half bag of candy in Paris. Here's what she got me:

Imagine a pastry, twisted around in the middle, with a loop at each end.

One loop was filled with strawberry jam.

The other loop was filled with chocolate cream.

And the twisted part itself was filled with vanilla cream.

And the whole concoction was coated with a shiny layer of gelatine.

It made me cringe, it did - but I was too polite to refuse it, especially since she was watching me with a smile on her face. Good thing I had had a proper breakfast first. No idea where my blood sugar would have landed me otherwise.

To round up the story, I got to Saint Malo, and I got to Jersey, but that's a different story.

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Rennes, France in the early 1980ies

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