“Only one thing marred the trip,” I wrote in my last post. But even that had good consequences, as well as bad.
On the way to Carcassonne, I’d expected not to catch the direct train from Marseille. This would have meant waiting for hours and then changing trains twice on the way. In the event, my plane landed half and hour early and I caught the direct train easily. Plain sailing.
Not so on the return journey. My train was delayed by a full hour. And my suitcase was stolen, probably at the station after Carcassonne. It felt like déjà vu. Exactly twenty years earlier my rucksack was stolen on a train from the airport into Paris. This created no end of complications, involving replacing passports and credit cards.
There was nothing important or valuable in the suitcase. But still.
“You should tell the guard,” said a girl who spoke good English. I found the guard, who also spoke good English but was very unhelpful, unless you count telling me I should have been watching the case all the time.
At Marseille’s Saint-Charles Station, I searched for the police station and found it.
That wasn’t much help. I asked at the information place what I should do. The guy there wasn’t at all helpful. But at my Japanese hotel, I was given a map and walking directions to the nearest police station, which I found easily.
Two things interested me during the two hours I spent there. I wish I could have taken photos, but I decided that wouldn’t be a good move!
As I stood waiting in a queue, a man arrived all cut up and dripping blood. The police officers talked to him from behind the protected counter, and he answered. The people sitting on benches in a corner moved up to let him sit, which he did. A woman who talked to him and seemed to be trying to help got snapped at, but he did thank – profusely – a couple who came into the station with him, for their help.
After a short while, two police officers arrived to administer first aid before taking him away. When I was told to sit and wait, I noticed blood on the bench where he’d been sitting and kept away from it.
Just before that, while I stood at the counter waiting for them to deal with me, I saw two officers – one female and one male – kissing. It occurred to me that this was a strange place to carry on a romance. As I sat in the waiting area, it became obvious that this was a procedure that took place every time an officer entered or left the area behind the counter – men with men, men with women and presumably women with women if there’d been more than one woman. Yes, it was only the kiss-on-each-cheek type, but to one who doesn’t live in France, it seems strange in that setting.
At eleven o’clock, when they finally finished with me, I asked, “Is it safe to walk back to the hotel at this time?” showing an officer the hotel on my map. He pointed to the way I should walk, telling me not to walk round the other way because it’s not safe. That didn’t make me feel wonderful, but I got back in one piece.
The other good outcome was that I didn’t have to deal with a suitcase on the way home. This was particularly useful at Ben Gurion Airport, which was very crowded because of a holiday. I was pleased to be able to get out in record time.
And I got new clothes.