Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

Is this the right train???

On Saturday we were traveling from Lyon to Basel, Switzerland but decided to go via train rather than by plane. For the most part, that was a good plan!!

The hotel arranged a taxi to the train station, although at first we couldn’t see the station. The driver pointed to the far corner of the square and we finally saw the station entrance. It was the thing with all of the people coming in and out of!!!!

When you ride a train in Europe, you aren’t told which track you will be on until about 20 minutes prior to the train arrival. Since we are always worried about missing the connection, this causes us no end of stress. We stood patiently (sort of) waiting for the Track number to be posted……

You can tell when a larger train is about to leave the station because the group of people standing around the departure board grows bigger and louder. Then, when the departure gate is listed, people rush to the specified gate, leaving this area empty and quiet again.

When our track was listed, we joined the throng heading to Track “G”. Now the problem is to know where to stand on the platform. We were in 1st class and had assigned seats so it was important for us to know where our car would be. Michael did a bit of recon and found this diagram…..

….indicating that Car #1 would be to our right as we were facing the tracks. Okay, that question is answered. Now the next problem is to know exactly where the train would stop, so how far down the platform did we need to go? Another look at the diagram told us that it was past “R”…..whatever that means. We looked down the platform and found letters……

I bet that is where we should stand!!!

I wonder if they have to buy this guy a ticket or does he fit in the overhead bin…..

The train soon arrived…..

….and we were aboard. Our seats were on the top level of the train so we had to haul our HEAVY suitcases up the narrow set of stairs!! Of course, we did manage to turn the wrong direction when we entered and ended up in car #2 instead of #1, but the two ladies in front of us did the same thing so it made us feel a little bit better.

Since we were in first class, we had access to WiFi and immediately fired up our computers to find that there was a fully interactive website for our journey……

It told us where we were on each stage of the trip , how long until our stopping point and lots of other information, including info on the dining car and how to pre-order our food online!!

After we had been traveling for about an hour, we could feel that the train had picked up speed…..a lot of speed!!! Then this “badge” popped up on both of our computers…..

In China, the bullet train got to 200 km/hour so we have now increased that record by 50%!!

It was fun to look out of the windows as we flew thru the country areas, seeing fields of grain and fun stone houses and barns.

We arrived at our stop in Mulhouse, hauled our suitcases down the stairs and exited onto the platform. I nice gentleman helped us to find our way off of the platform and into the station proper. Our next leg was into Basel SBB, or so our tickets said, but then they also said that our train number ended in 125!! The board in the main terminal said that #125 was leaving from platform #2, but when we got there, it said that the next train was #120 and was headed to Bâle. But we are going to Basel!!!

I had read that portions of the city of Basel are located in Switzerland, some in Germany and some in France so I figured that this was ONE of the names. Sure enough it is the French name for the city!!!

The train arrived and stopped at the far, far end of the platform. We hustled our way along and jumped into the first open door, hoping that we were on the right train. It was a bit disconcerting as a man in our car suddenly jumped up and tried to exit the train, but the doors closed on him. We did notice that he got out at the first stop so we are pretty sure that he was on the wrong train!!!

The announcement board kept showing “prochain arret” so I pulled up Google translate and found that it meant “Next Station”. From then forward, we were able to feel a bit better about where we were headed. Although, we did start wondering exactly which country we were in, so we googled the cities as we made each stop….Bartenheim…..St. Louis…. all in France still.

Now the question was where to exit the train. As I mentioned earlier, our tickets said Basel SBB but none of the stops had that name. I used google maps to find one of the stops and found that is was really close to our apartment, but as we pulled into the “station” (ie a patch of ground with a small parking area), we worried that we wouldn’t be able to find a taxi, so decided to keep going,

The terminus for the train was the unknown Bâle so we decided to ride it to the end and see where we ended up. In the end we found that we had indeed arrived at Basel SBB ……good plan, good luck or maybe God’s grace….you decide!!

Our taxi driver was fantastic and pointed out a grocery store as we were coming up to the apartment. After working thru the instructions to get into our apartment, including a combination lock-box for our key, we arrived at our home for the next week…..

The only other disconcerting part of the day was realizing that Switzerland uses a DIFFERENT plug than the rest of Europe and we didn’t bring an adapter for it!!! Since all of our devices were at about 50%, it was super important that we find a way to plug them in. A search of our local store provided an “around the world” converter that we were able to “rig” to work for us……

Any port in a storm…..right!!!!

Our Coop shop…..

….also provided provender for the evening and we enjoyed a lovely dinner of roasted chicken (thank heavens for prepared food), cheese and bread!!

We are looking forward to exploring the city tomorrow, but for tonight we are just happy to be in a comfortable room with our tummies filled with yummy food….and our devices charging in the corner!!!

One thought on “Is this the right train???

  1. The joys of travelling in anther language. The trains in Europe are remarkable – so efficient and fast. I agree that is sometimes tricky to know the platform numbers and where to stand. Locals are often helpful but it is still very stressful. I am impressed with how well you worked it out together.

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