The good thing about the canal bus ticket is that it’s good until noon the next day, which means we can use it to get to the train station. When I have to pay for the hotel at checkout, the clerk tells me that they don’t think their machine accepts Maestro (most common debit card here), only credit cards. In fact, he’s certain of it. Which means we’ll have to find a bank machine, and the nearest one is pretty far away. By the time we get to it and back we wouldn’t have time to take a nice relaxing canal ride to the station, we’d probably have to take a taxi. But the clerk grudgingly gives our debit card a shot, and lo! It worked! The clerk shrugs as if to say, “Well, it shouldn’t have.”
We spend the last of our euros on some snacks for the ride home. When we catch the transfer in Antwerp we’re informed by a conductor that we need to move to the first three trains later on, because the train divides in half and goes in different directions. Had he not mentioned this, we could have ended up god knows where.
At Lille we arrive an hour and a half early, but still nearly miss our train – the problem being that we spent our time waiting to see what track it would arrive on, and the billboard never showed it. Eventually I clue in that Eurostar works with different rules that other trains and no platform number will ever appear. The customs area is shut down for the night. People have to be called back just for us, and Gill and I are chastised for leaving it so late. They have to power up the x-ray machine just for us. By the time we’re on the platform the train has just about pulled into the station.
And that’s about it. We take the tube and bus to Camberwell and walk the rest of the way home.
Now you might think of this as good luck on our journey, but you’d be wrong. I’ll tell you what it was: a horse’s head in the bed. The gods wanted to remind us of just how magnanimous they are in sparing us this last day, and how things could have gone so much worse. It’s not worthy of gratitude if the forces behind it are reminding you that they could have screwed with you if they really wanted to.
Gill and make our way up the stairs, and I wonder what could possibly have started this whole debacle. There must be some kind of ironic comeuppance involved. But what could it be?
At the top of the stairs on the bedroom door there is a comic I had posted a few months back. A stick figure woman is rappelling down the side of an office building and says to a stick figure guy sitting at his desk, “You know how people consider ‘May you have an interesting life’ to be a curse? F*ck those people, wanna have an adventure?”
My eyes narrow. Ha Ha.