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Bus number 17 travels from outside Nelson’s Dockyard to the West Bus station in St John’s, the capital of Antigua. The journey costs either EC$3.75 or EC$2.75, depending on the driver.
The bus I caught to St John’s took 45 minutes and the driver was incredibly considerate. He stopped for people who weren’t yet at the stop, waited for regular passengers to arrive, and even reversed down a hill to pick up two school children. People paid when they got off so I paid when we reached St John’s.
The driver on the return took my money at the West Bus station. He was obviously a frustrated Formula 1 driver as we made the trip in 20 minutes. He seemed to resent passengers asking to alight from the bus, which they did by shouting “Bus Stop”. Even the locals realised the driver was insane; one person told him she wanted to see her grandchildren again after he had overtaken three vehicles on a narrow stretch of road.
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Today was interesting. I had a lovely meander around sunny Avignon in the morning and a great walk in Montpellier in the late afternoon. I should have caught the 9:38am train to Montpellier, arriving at 10:44 am, but there is an SNCF strike, so guess how I travelled from Avignon to Montpellier in between my respective walks?
The answer is on a bus and then a train!
At Avignon, the 12:45 pm bus was overflowing and my large suitcase blocked the aisle as the luggage hold under the bus was full. Did SNCF put on an extra bus? No, they gave the impression of not caring about their passengers, so at least 7 people were standing on the bus or sitting in the aisle. The bus went to Nimes via Tarascon. The drive didn’t know the way and bypassed Tarascon altogether until some irate passengers persuaded him to turn back.
Once we were dumped at Nimes, there were no SNCF staff around. Everyone who was travelling beyond Nimes went into the station and there was a train scheduled for Narbonne at 14:12. The train, a Transport Express Regional or TER train, was starting from Nimes, yet contrived to be 35 minutes late? When it arrived all the passengers piled on board and we were off. The ride was smooth, the seating new, and the toilet very large and clean, with a washbasin that worked.
The tip of the day is as follows: if you are going to travel on the trains in France, my advice would be to travel only on the TGVs (Train a Grand Vitesse) as they do appear to run during strikes, even if they are late sometimes. Also, try and travel on Mondays and Fridays as those days aren’t chosen for strikes, at least not in this year’s strikes when Wednesdays and Thursdays have been targeted. There aren’t strikes every month, but there is a struggle between the Government and the train drivers regarding the maximum number of hours staff can be expected to work.
I have another trip next Wednesday, but I think it’s on a TGV, so let’s see what happens then.
At Marseilles-Provence Airport, the buses (navettes) for the airport train station (Vitrolles MP) leave from stop 3. My train left Vitrolles at 17:25. The airport train station bus arrived at 17:00. I got on the bus along with many other people. We waited until 17:19 before leaving, which meant we arrived at the station as the train was on the platform. Most people ran to get on the train and I just managed to catch the train before it left.
But the bus could have left sooner – we’d waited at the airport for nearly 20 minutes. If an elderly or infirm person was trying to catch that train they’d have missed it. Why does the bus have to leave so late?
My tip is to warn you that if you catch this navette to Vitrolles, you should hurry to the platform as it’s the policy of the bus company to only leave 5 minutes for the trip.