The 10:26 to...”
...Lyon. I think I may have seen the papal palace on the way out of Avignon today. I couldn't help it, since stone walls and crenelated rooks and towers came into sight suddenly, and they filled the train window. At least now, though, I will be able to honestly answer "Yes," when the inevitable question, "Well, did you even bother to try and see anything while you were there, for crying out loud?" is asked.
I'm back on the Pass after a two-day layoff. I'll be riding the TER trains for the next two days instead of the sleek TGV's. That means no reservations are required, and I just hop on and off the TER trains at will and whim. Today, for instance, I literally sauntered into the train station at 10:20, and then sauntered onto the Lyon train at 10:26. In Lyon I will saunter off, saunter around, find a cafe and then saunter back on the 16:20 to Avignon. I am becoming one with the French railroad.
Signage on the road running alongside the rail line halfway into the trip indicates we are sidling with the Rhone River. Settled lazily between distant blue hills, the Rhone winds across a broad, flat plane. A handful of barges ply its languid waters. The images fill the entire window; it is the most panoramic view I've seen so far. In one of Peter Mayle’s novels, The Corsican Caper, he describes in effusive terms the magnificent beauty of the “vine-ladened hills” near Lyon. I’d missed those entirely.
I've also had my Eurail Pass checked for the first time on the hop on and hop off TER trains. Felt good to know everything that I understood about how the Pass would work was accurate, and it was reassuring to know I was legit.
I got to use my menu translator app for the first time, too. The cafe at the square in front of the Lyon station offered something called a croque monsieur. It also offered a club sandwich with chips, which I thought I could figure out for myself without translation. But the croque monsieur was a mystery. After a couple of clicks on my app, though, I entered the cafe and confidently ordered the croque monsieur - a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. (I also learned that a croque madame is the same sandwich, but with an egg on top. Have app will eat!)
A cute four or five year-old sat in the seat ahead of me for the trip home. I waited patiently, and soon she had breached the open space between the seat and the window and smiled shyly back at me. I went into my usual children's meet and greet schtick, beginning with "Je suis Americaine, et tu?" She answered, but between the noise of the train and the fact that she was a bit of a low-talker meant I would not be able to trot out any more of my pre-school level French with her. (I may also have agreed to wear a puffy shirt for the flight home, I'm not completely sure. I just hope it doesn't conflict with Delta's dress code for standby passengers.)