From Lyon, I went to Chambéry to meet my correspondent from the French exchange programme and her family. It was a lovely stay, though short. My ‘Maman’ in Chambéry is a boat-driver, and, as I was there in summer, she had long hours of work, so I did not want to impose on them for too long.
My sister came to Chambéry to meet me, and we stood in queue to reserve places on a train to Milan. The plan was that we would get to Milan, go from there to Bologna and finally, find our way to Greece. With Eurail passes, we did not need reservations for most trains, but for trains from one country to another, we did. The train to Milan was full, though, so we considered our options, and then booked tickets to Turin instead.
With a few hours to spare, we wandered around Chambéry. Nostalgic about the exchange programme, we looked around happily, but made sure we got back to the station well in time for our journey to Turin.
Pay close attention to the ticket.
A second class train ticket from Chambéry to Torino.
Train number 17999.
Coach (voiture) number 1.
On the TV screen that had the details of platform numbers, the platform number was ‘CAR’.
“Technical error,” we decided. “Technical error.”
We waited. About ten minutes before the train was scheduled to leave, the platform number still said ‘CAR’. It was time to find out.
“Excuse me, for this train, the platform number says ‘CAR’ …”
“Erm – so, where should we go?”
These-foreigners-are-crazy look. “Outside …”
“So, it’s a bus?” we asked. (Yes, ‘car’ means ‘bus’.)
“Yes. It was always a bus!”
We took our things and ran out. We hunted and found our bus. We stored our luggage and sat down, a minute before the scheduled time of departure.
No one had thought of telling us that the ‘train’ from Chambéry to Turin was ‘always’ a bus.
We reached Turin anyway. In a confused vehicle that was not a train and not a car because, you see, it was always a bus.