The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 30 – Delayed and Detained

This morning we got up early to drive from Zoagli to Genova to catch a train to Nice, in France. What we didn’t know was that there was a strike of rail workers.

What we also didn’t know is that can on the departures board means cancelled. The train had a platform number so we thought it was abbreviated Italian for something else not important.

departures board showing most trains cancelled

We were not alone in this ignorance.

On the platform we meet Charles and Matthew, business associates, and Thomas and Kaitlin, a couple, all from the US. We compared notes to confirm we’d all read the platform number correctly – 17 – but still no train arrived. A discussion with a couple of platform staff confirmed our worst fears – the train was canceled.

We made our way up to the information desk and having waited in a long queue were told to come back at midday and they might be able to tell us if the 12:58 was running. If not, then maybe the 16:39. Or not at all. At this point I rang our travel insurance company. They said it was OK to try to get to Nice, but to try to minimise costs and document what we did an why for the claim.

Being stranded is not a pleasant experience, but Charles had mentioned he’d had an offer of a private taxi van to Nice at dinner the previous night. He called and booked it to pick us up outside the railway station in 20 minutes. The price was right when split six ways, and we could be in Nice before the next train might leave.

But after loading our bags into the van, we got ‘stuck’. The taxi drivers at the station complained to Police about (as we found out later) an illegal pickup, and as you can see from this picture police descended and there was a lot of raised voices and hand-waving.

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We found out later that private taxis must be booked in writing or by email. They cannot be booked by phone. If the drive could produce a booking slip or email then there would have been no problem.

Here are three police looking up the relevant rules.

Charles was asked to make a written statement, and we were eventually told that our driver was being detained, presumably for not having the correct paperwork.

One of the police officers realised (I think) that this was not our fault and that we just wanted to get to Nice. He organised – or perhaps negotiated might be a better word – an alternative van for us from the taxi rank (at the same price).

Here is us on the Autostrade, bound for Nice.

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There was an upside to this experience –  we met some really nice people and heard about their work and travel experiences. In the end we appreciated having good company to share this frustrating experience with.

Once in Nice we picked up our rental cars, said our farewells, and it was off to Provence for us.

We are here for five days, exploring the villages of Luberon and the wider district.

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