It’s true to say excitement levels varied regarding the next 24 or so hours of The Grand Tour; the train enthusiast among us was in a frenzied state, the half-pie claustrophobe was a tad anxious, the remainder were a combination of resignation and curiosity; because that fabled day had finally arrived. Hello, Train Day!
It was still dark as our train pulled out of Munich Hauptbahnhof. At Augsburg, the first stop, we watched the sun rise as the local police, train staff and sundry passengers ousted a fare dodger. As this entire process was conducted in three languages we were kept well in the loop and any tidbit we missed was happily supplied by our carriage companion who had seen it all before. He seemed less familiar with the level of excitement displayed by the Homestead train enthusiast once they decided to let TGV 9576 stretch her legs. As the train enthusiast also doubles as Homestead photographer, our record of the journey Munich to Paris look like this:
Something was definitely up when we arrived at Gard de l’Est; luckily we still had carriage companion handy to translate that the Metro was on strike. Hmmm, we muttered among ourselves, what to do? Looks like we’ll have to shell out on a taxi to get us to Gare de Lyon. No sooner uttered and the French equivalent of Fools and Horses Delboy appeared at my shoulder. Taxi, Madam? How many? Two? Six people? Ahhh…very fast French muttering…private car, very discrete, one hundred twenty euro each. There are times as resident Homestead mother hen (human) that I am considered, canny, gracious and/or genteel; this was not one of them.
“Mate!” I shrieked, hearing my kiwi accent bouncing off the marble station interior, “You have got to be joking!”
Long story short, we travelled for ten Euro each, Farm Girl free, in what turned out to be the ride of a lifetime – afterwards. We were effectively bundled into the back of two very sleek, black luxury cars by gentlemen who knew very little English beyond “Hurry fast!” and sped through the crush of Paris traffic, generally side by side, while the drivers communicated to each other by a complicated language of hand signals and facial gestures and we tried to ignore our driver’s cell phone cover page was of him standing knee deep in bundles of greenbacks while yet more fluttered gently around him. Slightly reassuring, as far as I was concerned, was that every time the suitcase too big for the trunk wobbled in the front seat, our driver steadied it with the cry of O La La. Surely that was not the language of a bad man.
It took us a good five minutes to stop our hysterical laughter, gather our belongings, and make our way on shaky legs to the station lockers and then to a treat lunch at La Terrasse de Lyon Paris where the lamb was sumptuous and the vegetables…after a week of schnitzel, wurst, and pommes frittes those vegetables were ambrosia.
“I think that’s the sort of thing you only get away with once,” The Goat Herd stated as the dishes were cleared and our experiences recapped, “Let’s not do that again.”
Sound advice, we all declared.