Saturday, March 31, 2007

Space Age Train in a Paddock

Today I had a slightly weird experience. I am not too sure what to make of it. I departed early in the morning on a diesel powered passenger train out of Bern after a F5 slice of pizza for breakfast (it was better than the F25 can of XXXX beer I found last night - that can had been out of Queensland for at least a decade!!). We had a beautiful, clear day and the rumbling train took us through classic postcard scenery of Switzerland, tracing a train preferred route though valleys and across plains with snowcapped mountain backdrops. As the valleys narrowed we were pushed more and more into farmer's yards and each "clickety click" took us in and out of small farms, and chalets, and firs, and poultry and goats, sheep and cattle. And all very green. I think an indication of ones "Australianness" is how much you notice green fields. I see them everywhere.

I had a ticket that said I was on the French TGV so was a little disappointed in Bern to find myself on a more plain and ordinary carriage. Comfortable. But stock standard. A short time after we crossed the Swiss border our train slowed and then stopped. Everyone started to get off. I stayed in my seat - there was no station! We were stopped in the middle of an open meadow, covered in knee deep grass. I was the only remaining passenger before a guard insisted I get my luggage and get off - or risk going back to Bern. I did as I was told.

For about fifteen minutes we all stood in the field. There was a low grass covered rectangular mound that hinted at an earlier platform perhaps. But other than this, a small crowd of fellow passengers (all very relaxed) there was nothing, from horizon to horizon, to suggest this was a other than a normal part of the trip. Conscious of the unseen larks in the sky twittering away I was gazing to the West when to my surprise a TGV slowly slid into view, coming through the grass, around a bend and eventually gliding to a silent stop beside us. I followed what everyone else did and climbed aboard. Once we were seated the TGV quickly took itself to blast speed and we did not stop again until we reached Paris.

That was very bizarre. No marked stop. Open paddock. TGV appearing out of nowhere. All very well if there was no snow or rain. The experience would have been something else if it had not been a beautiful day. I could see nothing on the map that shows where we stopped. Bizarre.

May 1995

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