Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

San Sebastian, 10.10.10

Posted by Lisa Hill on October 11, 2010

Here we are tonight in San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque), our first night in Spain, and we had a truly heart-warming experience on our arrival….

We took the TGV from Bordeaux and then transferred to the local train, but there were track-works so the last part of our journey was by bus. It poured with rain all day, all the way from Bordeaux in France to here, and it started to rain even harder as we got off the bus to look for a taxi to our hotel.

We wandered about looking for a taxi rank until the bus driver came over and launched into a flood of incomprehensible Spanish (or was it Basque?) and we set off to where we thought he meant for us to go. But there were no taxis anywhere and we didn’t like the look of some seedy looking characters at the railway station so we splashed our way back to the bus stop.

Once again our bus driver came over and did his best but we understood not a word except that he looked very worried about us. So we simply wandered off again in the direction he pointed to – only to discover that TAXI was painted ON THE ROAD not on a signpost. It was then that we understood his anxiety – there weren’t any taxis at the taxi rank because it was just like Melbourne on a wet day (and it’s Sunday too) …there were no taxis to be had because of the rain.

So we stood there huddled under my brolly looking very woebegone and pathetic I am sure because we had no idea what to do. We were just about to go into a nearby bar and ask them to ring for a taxi for us when the bus driver came over again to offer help. Eventually we grasped that he wanted to know where we wanted to go so we showed him our hotel address and he went into another torrent of not-Spanish and then rang a taxi company. After a brief conversation he seemed even more disconsolate and went away again.

We got wetter and wetter, and eventually rang our hotel where they speak English and they said they’d ring for a taxi for us but we had figured out by then that the taxi companies were not taking any bookings and we would just have to chance our luck. Plan B was to find another hotel – any hotel within walking distance – when the miracle happened.

Our bus driver turned up with a car. This wonderful, wonderful man had gone somewhere and got a car and he bundled the suitcases and his bedraggled passengers into it and drove us across town to our hotel. He would not take any money though we both tried separately to pay him, but he simply smiled and shook our hands and disappeared. We don’t even know his name.

Such kindness! What a wonderful world this is!

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2 Responses to “San Sebastian, 10.10.10”

  1. Oh, thanks for sharing that. Stories like this are the stuff of travel aren’t they. We have a couple of similar “going out of their way” stories in Japan. They warm one’s heart. On neither occasion though were we also in the rain! How miserable it must have been.

    • Lisa Hill said

      Well, we’ve learned our lesson! Have a plan B i.e. find out where the local bus station is and what route to take to get to your hotel, just in case! It really was rather foolish of us to assume that there would always be a taxi…

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