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How Missing the Bus Became a Core Memory

Treasure Aamayah at Lac d'Annecy Treasure Aamayah

After a meltdown in Paris led to a dead-end in Alsace, I turned my gaze towards the mountains.

Annecy is a place that I had been dreaming of visiting for close to a decade.

I still remember the first time I saw a picture of this little mountain town: an image of the city's iconic chapel, which sits between two canals. It was taken during the magical time of the day when blue skies begin to give way to darkness of night. This predetermined battle between day and night causing the sky to turn shades of orange, pink and purple. The stone walls of the chapel glowed under the streetlights and the water in the canals were a shade of dark green. I swear I felt my pupils dilate, as if it was love at first sight.

A decade later, I thought, “I’m in love with a picture but I can love this place in real life?” After all, I had felt the same about Paris and well, here we are. Regardless, I had nowhere else to be and so in the final days of exploring Alsace, I focused on creating a life in the mountains of France. 

As a former travel agent, one of my favourite parts of travel is planning the trip. However, even the best-laid plans rarely take a straight path from A to B. There is usually a detour to X followed by a swing through C and, if you’re lucky, you’ll only need to steal the proverbial dragon’s egg. As a result, I’ve been forced to be adaptable. Once upon a time, I had an acute tendency to unravel when travel plans went askew but after a number of mishaps, I have learnt the old adage is true: “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans.” 

Even the best-laid plans rarely take a straight path from A to B. There is usually a detour to X followed by a swing through C and, if you’re lucky, you’ll only need to steal the proverbial dragon’s egg.

Getting the bus to Annecy was meant to be fairly straightforward. I was booked to leave at 7am from Lyon bus station, which was located literally (and I stress literally) around the corner from my Airbnb. Plus, I gave myself a buffer of 15 minutes to make sure I had extra time in case shit hit the fan. Well, on this particular morning, it felt like the sewerage pipe of my life burst wide open. 

The street to get to the bus station had a few sketchy characters lingering around, forcing an unplanned detour to avoid becoming the victim for an episode on a crime podcast. This little reroute took me to a different side of the bus station, where I was separated from the terminal by a barrier of impassable car parking.

I finally figured out how to cross the canyon of urban infrastructure, but then I couldn't find my bus. All the buses had their final destination posted, but not the stops in-between. So, it’s up to the traveller, aka me, to have an accurate level of geography or conversational French that in that moment of panic, I did not possess. Time was ticking as I was frantically running from one end of the bus station to the other. As I circled back to the main hall, I stood defeated when I realized that all of the buses had pulled out.

Just like that, I had missed my bus. And then as it happens, life happened. 

Bonjour madame,” said a voice.

I turned around to see a girl who I had run past moments earlier. I spoke and she instantly clocked I was not French and switched to English. Turns out she lived in Annecy too and also had gotten completely lost in this bus station. Secretly, I felt vindicated that I was not a silly lost Anglophone and this station was truly confusing, even for the French.

After a brief chat, I learnt the next best option to get to Annecy was a train departing from a different station on the other side of Lyon, because, of course! This is how I found myself following a kind stranger and navigating the Lyon metro at 7am in the morning. Eventually, we made it to the train and had an unproblematic trip to Annecy. The changing landscape outside the window acted as our personal TV and was second only to our conversation. You know those flowy conversations you have with a random person who you feel like you’ve met before—maybe in another lifetime?

You may find it strange that this morning is such a core memory for me. I wasn’t seeing the Eiffel Tower or swanning down the Champs Elysees. I’m sure this morning seems tedious, and full of anxiety, frustration and exhaustion. But in my mind, all of this was overshadowed beautifully. I actually had to force myself to remember the negative when writing this.

When I look back, I immediately remember a time where when I needed help, it tapped me on the shoulder. Before I had a chance to mourn the plans I had lost, Life paved a new pathway that came with an adventure, a beautiful view, an engaging conversation and my first French friend in France. This morning serves as a reminder to me, that if you can summon the courage to look, you’ll find there are silver linings everywhere. 

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Treasure Aamayah

Treasure Aamayah is an Aussie living the dream in the south of France. She is a storyteller, lover of engaging conversations with strangers and known for being a perpetual nomad, with her current move to France on a working holiday being her fifth international move. Follow her at @treasureaamayah.

Website: www.coddiwompleandco.com

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