My trip has finished at Carcassonne one week early instead of Barcelona and I felt very sad for Dagmar, The trip had been going so well up to now. She decided to return home as well.
We looked on the internet and a train to Paris that carries bicycles leaves at 09.51. Dagmar wonders if this would be a good train for her as well. We cycle to the station and after a long wait we are told that this train is full. The next train is at 14.29, involves a change at Toulouse and arrives in Paris at 23.20. Dagmar finds another route home. The train company asks if they can book a hotel in Paris for me and gives me a reservation. Dagmar and I say farewell and resolve to meet again for another cycle trip.
There was a canal and cycle path outside the train station so I peddled off. Many of the boats carry bicycles. This is just like in England where people who live on canal boats have bikes. They are handy for shopping or going to the pub. I ride along the path to find some locks. There are several cyclists and boats. I then head off along a country lane and find vineyards, a quarry and a holiday place. Lorries rumble outside the holiday place and it would not be a nice place to stay.
It is a long train journey to Paris. Some French trains are covered in graffiti and makes them look ugly and unwelcoming. My train however was on time and quite comfortable. I arrive in Paris, cycle out of the train station, across the River Seine and find my hotel at midnight. I check in and am told my reservation has been cancelled! I want to scream but instead show them my reservation and give them grief. They find me another hotel. I cycle on and ponder where I am going when I see lots images of girls trying to entice me into their establishments. My new hotel is fine and I am given a garden room where my bike joins me in my room
Next morning I cycle across Paris passing the Bastille. There are some very good cycle paths but not at the Bastille where I join what is normally a mayhem of traffic, except that today it is quiet. I quite enjoy the ride.
The cost of a Eurostar ticket bought on the day is frightenly expensive but I have no choice. I buy another ticket for the bike at baggage check-in. On the Eurostar train I fall into conversation with an Australian lady who asks about the storms in Devon in February. It was big news in Australia. I tell her and she compares with a forest fire at her home where she had a lucky escape.
In London, it is 2 miles to Paddington. There is traffic everywhere and I am stuck. I am told there is a strike on London Underground. I still cycle faster than everyone else but it is very busy. And here is the good news. Taking a bike on an English train is easy. There are no long waits. I just caught the next train and sat back watching for the west country to arrive. There is one last story. My train passes Dawlish where the railway passes alongside the sea. Today it is high tide and the sun is shining. Small waves wash at the foot of the train. All the children on the train look out to sea with wonder in their eyes. This is one of the most amazing train journeys in the World. Yet in February the ferocious storm mentioned by the Australian washed away this railway and it was closed for 10 weeks for the repairs. The pictures of Dawlish were seen across the World
Here are a few images of Carcassonne: