Arrivederci, Venezia; bon jour, St Malo

Saint-Malo Travel Blog

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Gondola dock on the Grand Canal, early morning

Up early on July 19 to catch the vaporetto to the airport.  We had checked out the boarding dock and the prices the day before, and decided that instead of catching the slow boat at 7:20 (arriving airport at 8:30), we would catch the fast boat at 7:40 (arriving airport at 8:20).  It was more expensive, but we thought we’d need the extra time to get up, get organized, check out, and make our way down to the Canal and the dock. 


We actually arrived at the Canal at 7:15, I thought I’d take one more pix, as we had plenty of time, then we wended our way down to the dock.  Asked the guy at the ticket counter for tickets for the fast boat.  “No, no, you don’t need the fast boat, got a boat leaving in one minute, it’s cheaper, and you’ll get there same time as fast boat.

St Malo architecture
  So OK, we buy our slow boat tickets, go down to the loading dock … just in time to see the boat taking off from the dock!  Eeek!  Wait!!  So we scurried back to the ticket booth, explained that the boat left without us, he says, “Don’t worry, another one will be here in 15 minutes, same price, get you to the airport in plenty of time.”   OK.  Back to the dock, to sit and wait. 


An American family got on the dock, started talking about when this next boat actually will arrive (7:55, they have a printed schedule), and it will arrive at the airport at 9:10!  My flight left at 10:00, and we understood it’s a 20-minute hike from the dock to the airport!!  More adrenaline rush!  About that time, another vaporetto pulled up to the dock, the pilot got out and asked, “Anyone for the fast boat?”  Carol and I looked at each other, I got up to go talk to the guy about taking his boat, he saw my slow boat ticket and said that boat would be along later, jumped into his boat and takes off!!  We decided that the guy in the ticket booth had issues with the fast boat guy, and didn’t want to sell any tickets for his ride.

St Malo beach in the evening
  We were forced to wait for the 7:55 boat.  Grrrrr.


9:10 and we pulled up to the dock at the airport.  Fortunately, Carol and I were sitting close to the exit, so we said our good-byes on the boat.  I snatched my bag, leapt off the boat, and began my scurrying to the terminal building.  Only took me 7 minutes to get to the Air France desk.  Where of course, there was no one in line.  I got my bag weighed, they didn’t even bother to weigh my backpack much less measure my suitcase, and off I dashed to security.  Dang, always in the wrong line!  I cut into another line that’s moving faster and clear security.  Looked like I’d just got time for a potty stop, I scored a bottle of water in a café, then scurried down to the gate, where boarding was in progress.

Beach cottage
  Whew!!  More adrenaline rush.  And we took off on time.  Onward to Paris.


I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport with 1.5 hours to catch my train.  I scoped out where the train station was, then stopped at a fast food stall to get a salad and a bread stick.  €6.50.  So I handed the guy a €10 note and 50 cents.  He wanted me to give him another euro, and I figured he didn’t want to make change in coins (which was common in Italy), so I give him another euro.  He rings up my salad, hands me the receipt and walks away!  Hey!!  I gave you a 10!!  You owe me €5!  He told me I’d have to wait till he rang in the next customer, then hands me the €5 note, no questions.  I think he thought I was a little old lady who didn’t know the monetary system.  I had read about that happening, so I was prepared for it.


I ate my salad, went to the station, located the track for my train, and queued on the platform.  Suddenly, a conductor comes down the platform, shouting something … in French, of course … and people began scurrying away.  Wait!  What’s going on??  Should I be scurrying too?  So I asked a lady standing by me if she spoke English, which she did a little, and asked what had happened.  She replied that the train supposed to be arriving on the adjacent platform was coming in on another track, and those people had to go elsewhere to catch their train. 


Whew!  I didn’t need another adrenaline rush!  Grazie … uh, merci, Madame.  I was mixing up my Italian and my French.  Hadn’t made the total switch yet.  But I seemed to be able to communicate OK.  The train to Rennes was due to arrive on the track I was on, but it was 20 minutes late. 

While I waited on the platform, another train came swooshing through the terminal.  Must have been the bullet train, because it shot through almost before I had time to register what it was.


How nice it was not to have to run for a train.  The French railway system has electronic notice boards that display an image of the train with the numbers on each of the coaches.  On the platform are alpha placards spaced out down the platform.  You look at the display, find the number of the coach you’re sitting in, locate the corresponding placard number underneath the coach image, then go down the platform to your placard location.  The train comes in and stops; if you’re assigned to coach 8, which is at placard B, and you’re standing at placard B, the door to the coach is right at hand.  Really facilitates boarding.


And so I boarded the train for Rennes.  We departed the airport, and skirted Paris.  I did catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the far distance at one point, before the trees alongside the tracks blocked out the view.  Lush undergrowth, like Italy, on the way to Massey.  There were small garden plots in a row alongside the railway tracks, each one with a small shed in a corner of the plot.  There were also tunnels, like in Italy, and the land was mostly flat.  Announcements were made on the train, in French, of course.  I don’t recall any announcements on the Italian trains. 


We passed through farm country, saw some sunflower fields, a few hill towns in the distance, and lots of white cattle around Le Mans.  Roofs were steeply pitched and red-tiled.  We passed through Le Mans, they must have been getting ready for the road races, as they were erecting lots of barricades along the streets, which I could see from the train. 


Outside Le Mans, the countryside became gently rolling hills the closer we got to Rennes.  The architecture of the houses was the same, steeply pitched roofs, but with predominantly brown or black slate roofing.


Arriving at Rennes, I climbed the stairs (more stairs!) to the terminal, checked the board, and saw that the train to St. Malo left from track 4.  So downstairs (via an escalator) to track 4, just in time to see the train slowly rolling out of the station!  No!!  That’s my train!!  More adrenaline rush!  There was a conductor standing there, and I showed him my ticket, my dismay at having missed the train quite plain on my face, and he smiled and told me my train was the next one to St. Malo, it would be in shortly, go back upstairs (groan, more stairs) and check the board to see where it would depart. 


Silly me.  I then remembered that I had been aware that there were two trains leaving for St. Malo, about ½ hour apart, and I opted for the later one in the event that I was delayed getting to Rennes from CDG.  Good planning on my part.  Poor memory on my part.  So I had time to locate my position on the platform, no scurrying necessary. 

Countryside from Rennes to St. Malo began to flatten out.  As we got closer to the coast, the clouds increased, until the sky was totally overcast.  Weather was cool, which was a great relief from the heat I had experienced in Italy.  Hopefully my swollen legs/ankles/feet would shrink back to normal.


Tom was at the station to meet me, and gave me the traditional French greeting: a kiss on each cheek, with a few French words, only one of which I recognized, that being Mother.  It was now cool enough I had to get my windbreaker out of my suitcase to put on.  First time it had been unpacked since leaving Estes.  We headed out on foot for the hotel.  It was located right across the street from the beach, and had a normal-sized bathroom … ahhhhh.


After getting me settled, we headed across the street to a restaurant specializing in seafood, and had a wonderful dinner.  Then it was back to the hotel in a light rain, to crash for the night.

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Gondola dock on the Grand Canal, e…
Gondola dock on the Grand Canal, …
St Malo architecture
St Malo architecture
St Malo beach in the evening
St Malo beach in the evening
Beach cottage
Beach cottage
photo by: Stevie_Wes