Indiana Jones and the Runaway Train

There is a train about 5 minutes walking distance from my house. It is a direct train from Vaux to Paris. This was one of the selling points of moving here. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know is that the frequency of it does not make my life any more convenient. On a Friday, like every other one, I planned to meet up with the girls in Paris. Robin and my train both get into the same station so we usually meet up and then go from there. So I got on my train just like any other day. I of course had my iPod in and was relaxing because I realized I had a 50 minute journey ahead of me. Little did I know it was going to turn into an epic adventure…

Halfway through my journey, I hear some French over the loud-speaker. Now they do this often so I didn’t think much of it.  I continued to stay on the bus not noticing anything different. I mean, the two other people in my car exited the train, but I assumed it was just their stop. Well, after that stop, once we began to move away from the station, the lights in the train turned off. I assumed it was just a normal flicker and they would turn on again soon. Well they didn’t. Once I figured this out, I called Robin to tell her about my situation and see if she could offer any advice. Suddenly, the train picked up speed. I’m talking Disneyland Monorail speed. I think Robin quotes me saying “800 miles an hour.” At this point, I was really scared. I was on a pitch dark train hauling ass to how knows or “where trains go to die.” The train eventually starts to slow down and I see we are pulling up to a station. I run the stairs and try the doors… locked. I try another set, and then another—all locked. Then the train starts moving again. This is about the point that I started wondering if I was going to survive tonight. I think, “maybe I can walk through the train toward the conductor.” Mind you, the train is so dark I am using my cell phone to light my path. As I am walking through, I am thinking how scary it is that I am alone on this runaway train, but how much more scary it would be if I wasn’t alone…

Eventually, I can’t walk any further and I really did not make it far at all. There are doors that keep you locked in your set of cars. However, at this point, the train started to slow down again. I couldn’t see a station but thought, “hey were in a tunnel, there has to be one at the other end.” I was wrong. The train slowed to a stop and we were still in the tunnel. I headed toward the doors and knew I wasn’t going to spend the night on this train. I lifted the release on the door and they didn’t open automatically like they are designed to do. I had no choice. (Although after telling this story to my family, there seems to have been other things I probably should have done. But I still stand with I did what I thought I had to do at this point). I pried open the doors and jumped onto the tracks. Indiana Jones style. I walked for several minutes in the dark tunnel praying another train didn’t come. Meanwhile, I have Robin on the phone this whole time and trying to calm me down. I continue to walk and see lights in the distance. I have no other choice really then to walk on the thin strand of land filled with rocks between two tracks—again praying nothing goes whizzing by me. Eventually I am next to the lights and see it’s a station. The other thing I see is the huge fence lining the station. I am not one to jump over fences but a night like tonight, who knows? I decide to walk around for a bit to see if there is an easier way. I found some stairs leading to the platform. I was somewhere and could not be more excited. However, this is France and nothing is easy so once I get there the train is running late and no one knows when its going to arrive. After about 20 minutes of waiting I get on the train and eventually make it to St. Lazare. Needless to say, I ran up to Robin and had her hug me for a few minutes. I survived a runaway train.

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Journey into the South- Biarritz and St Jean de Luz

So here is the first of several many posts I am going to have about my recent holiday to the south of France and Spain. It was such an awesome time and I have no idea how I am going to write all about it! Bear with me… I promise I will get to it eventually.

Biarritz beach early in the morning

Callie and I left on the 19th late at night for Biarritz to meet the family I am au pairing for. They had rented a house just outside Biarritz and invited us to stay with them for a few days. Callie and I were really excited to go on the night train because it was one that was supposed to be designed for a younger crowd (such as, having a bar/club on board). Although it was not what we expected, it still ended up being a lot of fun. I tried Desperados for the first time, which is beer and tequila mixed! Definitely not very tasty… but made for a very interesting train ride! Because Callie and I got no sleep on the train, we were exhausted when we got into Biarritz.

The colorful tents lining the beach

We arrived there around 6am and had to wait until about 10am for our family to pick us up. We must have looked so funny– exhausted, no place to go, and with luggage! However, there is so much beauty in seeing the beach this early. Beside the occasional runners, the beach was empty and quiet. We sat there watching people set up the tents to get ready for the day. The beaches in Europe are very different than California. They set up all of these tents and activities on the beach– a huge ordeal! Seeing the beach made me miss San Diego a bit but I reminded myself where I was and the adventures I am about to take on! Callie and I sat on the beach until the stores and cafes started to open. We grabbed a bite to eat and then the family came to pick us up. I was nervous but they are so nice. I felt comfortable right away!

Our house just outside of Biarritz

Me in the middle of the road on our beautiful walk

When we arrived at their house, I fell in love with the boys I will be watching right away. I am extremely fortunate to have found such a great family. After resting for a bit, I had lunch with the family and their guests. I cannot get over this love affair I have with the food in France. Even the simplest meal can be so mouth-watering. I seriously look forward to every meal. On the bright side, Europeans walk everywhere so hopefully my tummy doesn’t start to show how much I love the food! Callie and I decided to explore the village after lunch. All the country houses are look like they are out of a movie. Almost all the houses have red shutters in this area because in the past when there was no paint, they used bull’s blood. The walk was phenomenal. Green, luscious plants line the dirt roads making for an idyllic walk through the French countryside. When we got back home, we joined everyone in the pool and had a laid back evening.

Me and my pot of delicious mussels!

The next day we decided to join the family on a day trip to a town near by called St. Jean de Luz. Another gorgeous beach town. We walked around with the family taking in the sights and shopping in the little stores that line the streets. We were able to see the church that Louis XIV married Marie Antoinette. It is incredible to me that there is so much history intertwined with modern culture on the streets in Europe. People hustle and bustle on the streets flooding the tourist shops and then you just turn the corner to find a miraculous church filled with remarkable history. I will always love this the most about Europe.

One of the things this area is known for is their mussels. As food connoisseurs, Callie and I of course had to try them! There are no words to describe the delectable tastes that came from the pot of mussels I consumed–truly incredible! Callie got mussels with a blue cheese sauce and mine was cream based with a touch of peppers in it. Now I know why they are famous for them! Delicious!

After our day trip, we went back to the house and played with the boys. And of course, we had a fabulous dinner! We rested up the rest of the night for our trip in preparation to go Bilbao the next morning. Before our bus ride to Bilbao, we walked around Biarritz a bit. The bus ride to Bilbao was about 3 hours. Stay tuned for most posts about my holiday!

Check out my pictures from the trip!