Many years ago I travelled with my Yorkie
to the south of France to learn French. It was a memorable journey and I don't know who learned more French, Monique or I.
Many years ago I went to the south of France to learn French. I looked forward to the sun and bath and moments of leisure. And – not last, the finest French red wine.
The day before departure by train to Paris, I gathered the most essential things for the journey. These were of course my toothbrush and my shaving kit as well as some indispensable gadgets. They filled three regular suitcases and two textile bags. No matter how I tried- I did not succeed to limit my “French household goods”.
I did a meticulous run-through, I eliminated everything not necessary for me to live, two suitcases and a bag remained. Monique, my Yorkshire terrier, lived in that bag. I could not leave her behind. Lucky as I was, a couple of my friends coming to see me off, helped me on the train. Aa I at last was installed in my compartment, I sank down by the window and looked out over the landscape, flickering by.
Arriving in Copenhagen, I felt that the ADVENTURE would start any minute. How true , as the train started to move again, there was a knock on the door and a French-speaking conductor appeared. He received my ticket and cut it.
- Where is the dog’s ticket? He asked and pointed at Monique, dancing around on the soft pillows in the compartment.
- The dog’s ticket? I echoed astonished.
- Yes, the dog must have a ticket of its own, answered the friendly but rather annoyed conductor.
- But I have no permit for the dog, only for myself, I said resigned. The conductor showed the right art of compromising:
- Monsieur, I have a suggestion. Tomorrow morning there is a customs check. I could see to it that the customs would not worry you. The little dog could move freely around the compartment. No other passengers would come this compartment. Wouldn’t that be worth something, if you in return do not need to pay the full price for a dog’s ticket?
I have to admit that I was puzzled a couple of seconds before I realized what this noble French actually meant. But then I suddenly saw the scope of his offer. I told him humbly that I would agree. This arrangement implied, that I would be entirely undisturbed in “my” compartment would avoid impertinent questions from the customs the following morning and not be bothered by other travellers. The result had probably been that Monique had been sitting in quarantine during the time I should concentrate on my French course.
I was thoroughly rested and fresh-looking as I arrived in Paris. I went to the meeting-place, where I was supposed to join the rest of the course participants. Our journey should continue to Montpellier. The train for the south of France should leave at 22.00 in the evening. Finally I succeeded to find my fellow travellers. I managed to get on board the train and in that time it was quite clear to me that there was no place for me on the train. Several of the female passengers in my crew were willing to put their seat to disposal – not to me though, but to Monique. Obviously she needed less space than I did. I was forced to spend the night on the floor in the anteroom of the compartment. I had my overcoat as a pillow. It is still a mystery not only that I survived the night, but that I slept quite a lot. It must have been due to the rocking of the train.
The following morning I still felt as a bulldozer had gone over me, but we were almost there! We were shaking in a bus full of garlic fumes, and I saw the outline of our castle. My mind took a heap. That’s another story.