Please Don't Take Me Home
14th June 2016

As we were well behaved last night waking up this morning was a lot easier. We enjoyed a lovely leisurely breakfast. Over coffee we talked with Clare about today's scheduled industrial action. Some trains were cancelled and some Air France workers were also on strike. It was a concern.

We weren't flying with the national airline but we were relying on a train to Bergerac to get us home. The SNCF web page only had a general notice up on their information board saying that some services will be disrupted today, so the sooner we got to the station the better, we didn't want to miss our flight home.

The fastest option would have been a taxi but being the frugal type we decided to catch the bus. It was a little less convenient but far cheaper.

According to Google the number 9 bus was due every ten minutes down Boulevard George V and took you all the way to Gare St. Jean. So it seemed straightforward enough. And so it turned out to be.

We arrived a good hour before we were due to leave. The first thing we did was check at the ticket office about the status of our train. It was a great relief to learn that the 12:10 to Bergerac was running today.

Safe in the knowledge that our route home wasn't disrupted we relaxed in the Paul coffee shop that was incorporated into the station.

I ordered a cappuccino and a tarte aux pommes.

I would never had considered eating an apple tart at home but in a case of "do as the Romans" I went all local.

I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it. So much so I spent the next five minutes searching the internet for tarte aux pommes recipes.

It was time to make our way to the platform. We bumped into Emlyn and his son Sam which I suppose wasn't that much of a coincidence as we were on the same flight home. Julie and I had seats reserved in the first class carriage. It was only a small supplement to upgrade. Just before the train was due to set off I realised that we hadn't validated our train ticket. We've had similar problems in the past. The worst was on a bus to the airport in Bucharest where this lady bus conductor tried quite aggressively to get us to pay a disproportionate fine.

So I stepped off the train and went looking for the ticket validating machine. I couldn't find it anywhere. I asked a fellow passenger. At first she just pointed vaguely down the platform. She then ever so kindly motioned for me to follow her and we ran down the platform and down some steps to this yellow box on the wall.

She then left me to it, which was a mistake. I was shoving my tickets in but it wasn't validating. I had exhausted all combinations top, bottom, upside down, sideways. I was just about to give up and risk a fine when another passenger who wanted to validate her own ticket did mine for me as well.

With the kindness of strangers I made it back to the train to a very relieved Julie who was on the verge of getting off the train in case it left without me.

We settled down for the journey across the lovely Dordogne countryside, passing along the way what we were almost certain was Château Haut Sarpe.

At Bergerac we got off and waited for a taxi to arrive. Once again it was a little shambolic. You would have expected a rank full of taxis waiting for the train from Bordeaux to arrive but there wasn't one in sight.

Thankfully there was only half a dozen of us waiting this time not a few hundred. A taxi did eventually turn up and picked up a local couple. The driver then radioed for another cab to pick us up.

We finally made it to the airport in plenty of time. In fact we were probably too early, the check-in desk hadn't even opened yet. But after the trauma of our arrival on Thursday we were just glad to be here.

There wasn't much in the way of a departures lounge. There was a small cafe this side of the security where we sat down with Emlyn, Sam and the lady from Bala who sat next to us on the flight over.

The place was filled with very tired looking Welshmen and women who had just experienced an unforgettable moment in Welsh history. None of us wanted to go home. Some didn't. Many stayed out in France for as long as they could. Little did we know how it would all end. We could never have believed that they would come become the sensation of the tournament, capturing the imagination of all of Europe when they came within a whisker of reaching the final, only losing in the semi-final to Portugal, the eventual winners.

I had never felt so proud to be Welsh before in my life.

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