Everything had gone pretty well up to this point, so I can't complain too much.
Thursday 15 Sep 11 - Thursday 15 Sep 11 27 °C
I woke up early and packed, then took the Metro from Drassanes, then a regional train to Cerbere, on the French border. We all had our passports checked, and I jumped on another train to Perpignan, where I wanted to catch the train towards Narbonne.
But then, while we were still on the platform, disaster struck. Here’s what I wrote at the time:
Bugger. In a bit of a pickle. I had a bag stolen from me when I was on a train (I put it on the rack above my head and when I next looked up it had gone). Luckily I had my interrail pass, British passport and ATM card in a money belt on me, and my laptop with me. Unfortunately, I had £420 in cash, my Australian passport, my driving license, my iPod, all my travel documents (including, ironically, my travel insurance policy), my crappy phone, my entire bag of toiletries, and a collection of DVDs and books all stolen. Nothing that’s not replaceable with time and money I suppose, but all incredibly annoying to lose.
My fellow passengers told me to stay on the train and speak to the conductor, who, when I eventually found him, told me to get off at the next stop and take the train back to Perpignan (where the incident had occurred). He said it would be coming in ten minutes, but the next train wasn’t due for three hours.
Thankfully there was someone at the station, and while I hardly spoke any French and she didn’t speak any English, we managed to work it out and she gave me directions to the police station in Perpignan, which may or may not be closed by the time I get there. Not entirely sure how I’m going to get to Marseille, my next destination where I have a hotel booked, before nightfall.
Obviously I should have been more aware of my bags, but equally frustrating is that I wasn’t planning to catch that train in the first place. And just as frustrating is that it had my last scraps of food and water, so I’m sitting here, on the outskirts of a tiny town which might take forty minutes to reach on foot, having hardly eaten all day, with only €10 in cash and no way to get any more, and nowhere to spend it even if I did.
There’s not even any internet access so that I can get in touch with home. As I said, bugger.
I had crappy advice from my fellow passengers, who tried to help but failed miserably, telling me to stay on the train when it would have been much better to get off immediately. I had even worse advice from the conductor, who didn’t try to phone anyone, but told me to get off at the next stop – if I had have stayed on the train until the end of the line and then gone back to Perpignan, I would have saved around two hours.
I’ve just got to hope that the police in Perpignan, the gendarmerie, can be of some assistance. It’s wishful thinking, I know, but there’s got to be some chance that someone picked it up by mistake and has handed it in. Or at least handed in the passport and wallet, even if the cash is gone.
UPDATE: I’ve just been told to go to Narbonne instead, and speak to the transit police there. I hold very little hope of retrieving my luggage at this stage. Probably close to $1000 worth of stuff if you include the money it’ll take to get back the license and the passport. Just hope I can get the rest of it back on the insurance.
UPDATED UPDATE: At Narbonnes they weren’t much help either, but they did have someone who could speak English. I managed to communicate my problem and they told me the best thing I could do would be to catch my train as planned and speak to the Marseilles Gendarmerie tomorrow. Perhaps my passport and travel documents will have been handed in?