The 11:53 To Paris

Train from Saint Malo to Montparnasse, Paris. 11:53am. Duration: 3h 2m

THE sun is beaming. Big, bright and infectious, like Julia Roberts’ smile. All the trees and fields we pass are infected golden.

Me, in my window seat (No 72 in Car 18, second class and not my first choice, well not my choice at all — mine was No 66. I did not care to locate it because the sequence discombobulates, and the train is sparsely occupied anyway. So I park myself in a small compartment where it’s just me), yeah, I’m infected, too.

As the high-speed TGV train rumbles to return this erstwhile low-spirited passenger to Paris, I feel myself returning… to me. Breath by breath.

Tips for a peaceful, pleasant train ride:

  1. Use the bathroom before you board the train.
  2. BYOWater.
  3. BYO entertainment, perhaps a book.
  4. Travel light. Especially if you’re travelling solo. No one, unless you meet a kind soul (which I did — thanks, stranger!), will load and unload your suitcase(s) for you. The more baggage, the more stress.
  5. Buy your ticket online. There are machines at the station where you can print it out. You have the option of choosing your seat, but it turns out no one really checks or cares. Just have your ticket with you for the conductor.
  6. Oh, have wetwipes. Always have wetwipes.

P.S. I don’t have a shot of the train, or the view from it. I remember writing this and just wanting to be present without distraction.

P.P.S. That painfully hilarious train scene of Carrie and Samantha from Sex and The City occured to me. “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” says an optimistic Carrie just before a different reality of “the journey” hits her. Oh, life, right?


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