Europe Travel Log – La Rochelle to Bordeaux
Sunday 25 September
It takes only about fifteen minutes to walk from our hotel to the railway station. It’s a beautiful sunny day. La Rochelle is putting on a show for us as we leave!
We report to the information centre which is also where help is available for those with reduced mobility. There are five people in wheelchairs going to Bordeaux! Previously I have been the only person asking for assistance. The official seems shell shocked. Our train leaves at 12.10, and by 12.05 no porters have shown up to help anyone. Two others in wheelchairs move on to the platform. I suggest to Peter that we just get on the train and not rely on help. I don’t know what happens to the others, but we’re off. A young man offers to help me up the steps but I point to Peter and he gives him a hand with our luggage.
Finding our seats seems impossible. At the far end of the carriage I see our seat numbers, but they are being used. I look at the numbers … “onze, deuze” I say … The occupants stand up and leave. What the heck??? And for the first time Peter and I are not side by side, but one in front of the other. Huh … It’s about two hours to Bordeaux …
Our carriage is full of crazy people. Twenty minutes before we are due to arrive people start getting their luggage and moving to the exit. Our seats are near the exit. I suggest to Peter that he get our suitcase down while he can still get to it. Ten minutes before we are due to arrive there are about eight or ten people pushed up against the door. A woman suddenly surges forward to be a little closer. She sits on me … I wriggle away as far as I can. I don’t like being squashed in the corner so I push against her and she moves away a little then sits on the arm of my seat. People are crammed in around me. I lift the arm of my seat, the woman has no choice but to push against someone else to make room. I can’t see Peter. He tells me later of a woman standing in the way of an automatic door. It keeps closing on her. She complains (in French) to her husband that her hand is sore. What is wrong with these people?
When we eventually get off the train Peter asks the guard “sortie?” There are few signs and we follow a guy in a wheelchair who has a porter helping him with his luggage (sitting on a very cool backless wheelchair that can be easily pushed or pulled).
Where is the taxi stand? There’s no sign and no taxis. Eventually one pulls up outside the station near a small group of people. No sign, but we know where to queue … And wait, and wait …
But we are in Bordeaux – wine and food!