It didn’t make sense; Dinan was not listed as a stop on the 5:30 train from Rennes to Saint Malo. Yet our ticket was for 5:30, and this was the only train leaving the station at that time. Pat and I ran back upstairs from the track; I showed our tickets to the woman staffing the information booth who assured me we should take the train departing from track 8 to Saint Malo. We returned and settled in, yet doubt nagged me.
Then it hit me. As they say in these parts, it was a real coup de foudre.
Although we had arrived in Rennes by train, and I had bought the ticket from the French rail website (and even though printed across the top of the ticket it said VALIDATE BEFORE BOARDING THE TRAIN) this was a bus ticket.
“Expetive, expletive, expletive… Pat, we should be on the bus.”
I looked at my watch; it was 5:29.
Pat asked, “Should we get off?”
As if on cue, the doors shut and the train shuttered.
Expletive, expletive, expletive.
Pat smiled, “This is exciting. We get to see a new town!”
“Are you expletiving kidding me?”
Herein lies a major difference between Pat and me. Mistakes turn him positively chipper. Me? I sprout hair as dense as Brillo pads and howl at the moon.
Fortunately, I found the Brittany train network map posted on the wall near our seats. We could transfer to Dinan by getting off in Dol en Bretagne. I began to practice my French so I could explain to the conductor why we were riding the train to Saint Malo with a bus ticket to Dinan.
Thirty minutes later, we exited at Dol (the conductor passed us several times but never asked for our tickets). In the station in Dol, we bought a ticket to Dinan. With time to spare, we decided to explore the village. I must admit, Dol was charming: Tiny. A town constructed simply and from 3 materials: stone, shutters, and flowers. I texted our landlord in Dinan and told him we’d be 20 minutes late. It was no problem.
The only photo I took of Dol was of this sign. “Here, on the 18th of April 1891, absolutely nothing happened.” For the first time in the last hour, I laughed.
As we rode the train to Dinan, I said to Pat “I need to accept the journey. Life isn’t always about the destination.” (One might argue life is seldom really about the destination) “When you have no place to be, why can’t anyplace suffice?”
Pat was looking at the window, smiling. At this point, I was preaching to the choir.
We enjoyed three days in charming Dinan (I’m writing this from a deck overlooking the bay on the southern coast of Ireland. If I move through this lazy spell, I might write about it.) Brittany is my new favorite region of France: less touristy, better food, charming villages, cooler weather.
Our second day in Dinan, we decided to rent bikes and spent the day biking to Dinard. There, we planned to eat lunch and explore before biking back. The round trip was about 35 miles, largely flat. We were ten minutes outside of Dinan when we took a wrong turn and got lost.
I stopped and asked for directions. One man pointed right. The next pointed left. We ended up on a busy highway and finally found a bike path. “Hey Pat, let’s just take this and go wherever we end up.”
Then Pat had an epiphany; he pulled out his cell phone. (Kids, let me explain. There was a time when cell phones didn’t exist, and people my age asked for directions. That’s crazy talk, right?) A young man came out from his bed and breakfast to help us. The path to Dinard was a converted train track, clearly marked on the phone. “You need to make some turns,” he told us, “but with a GPS you won’t get lost.”
We found it easily. (After biking up a long hill and realizing we had added 5 miles to our day.) But let the record show, for one brief and shining moment, it hadn’t mattered we were lost.