My train journey to Toulouse was as straight forward as all of the others that I’ve had thus far. The same usual problems with having too much and too heavy luggage. There was, however, one thing different about this journey.

About half way through the three hour plus journey, four cops (or was it five, I can’t be sure because, even though I only saw them in groups of four, I’m sure that it wasn’t the same four guys) boarded the train and started asking for ID and tickets from various passengers. It was clear that they were looking for illegal immigrants because, quite frankly, there was blatant racial profiling going on. I know that the whole issue of immigration, legal or otherwise, has become a hot topic all over Europe but, the EU should have thought of the Pandora’s Box that they were opening when they introduced the Schengen Accords.

The racial profiling didn’t end on the train. I arrived at Toulouse Matabiau station at about 03:30pm and had a three hour wait ahead of me. As I sat there waiting for my AirBnB hosts to get home from work, I saw countless police officers and rail security personnel stop people and ask to see their ID’s etc. Every single person that they approached was very clearly NOT indigenous French.

Then things took are rather bizarre turn. A “flash mob” gathered in the forecourt of the station and started to protest about something. Immediately, three riot cops were on the scene and two soldiers from the specialist counter terrorism unit. This was a bunch of rather dishevelled, rather bedraggled hippies in clown make-up and costumes. One was even in a wheelchair. The words “disproportionate response” were screaming in my head.

My adventures with taxi drivers continue. I knew that my latest AirBnB home was less than 2km from the train station and, had it not been for my ridiculous amount of luggage, I would have walked there. But, a taxi was needed.

The driver was friendly and chatty but, as I settled into the back seat, I noticed that his meter was set at €15. I asked him if that was the fare, if that was the starting tariff for the journey and if it was going to increase. He became very irritated, especially when I told him that I’d been in France for two months and that he was more expensive than the taxi I’d recently taken in Paris. He threatened to stop the car and told me to get out and walk if I didn’t like it. I told him to continue, I needed the damned taxi.

“Ah, you are upset about Brexit. Is OK.”

“No my friend, I’m not upset about Brexit. I’m Greek, I have a Greek passport which means that I’m an EU citizen. So no, I’m not upset about Brexit.

“You Greek? My wife Greek. Her name Paraskevas.”

Wait, what? He just said what? I was freaking out a little bit in the backseat of his car. Did he somehow clock the nametag on my duffel bag? The guy would have to be one sharp eyed mofo, with eidetic memory to boot.

“You’re joking right? Are you serious, your wife’s name is Paraskevas?

“Yes, that is her family name. She live France many, many years. She is French but she is Greek.”

“Paraskevas is my name. that’s my family name.”

He went on to tell me where in Greece she was from and what her fathers name was.

By now we had reached my destination, that’s how short the journey was. He dropped me off about 50 meters from the apartment block because of a one way system that he could have gone up. But that would have meant him going round the block or something or other, I don’t know. Anyway, he only charged me €10, me having the same name as his wife obviously gave us some kind of connection which entitled me to a discount.

Getting up into the apartment was a real pain in the arse. Jeremy, my new AirBnB host, answered the door and I was a little shocked at how young he was. I actually though that I’d come to the wrong place. Nope, this is the right place, Jeremy and Mathilde are a very nice young couple.

After they had shown me to my room and given me the basic tour etc., Jeremy got on the phone and booked me a table at a nearby pizza restaurant. I’d told them that I was hungry and needed to find somewhere to eat.

Yeah, a really, really nice young couple.

The restaurant that they sent me to is called Pizz’Artisanale and it’s about fifteen minutes walk away. I ordered a starter of what I can only refer to as pizza fritters. Little bite sized pieces of pizza dough, deep fried until golden and crispy. They were served on a large plate with salad leaves, sundried tomatoes and thin slices of red chilli peppers marinated in olive oil. Main course was a Capricciosa pizza. The waiter looked at me and said,

“That’s a lot. Is very big.”

“Don’t worry, I’m very hungry.”

After I had finished, when he came to clear my plate, he again looked at me (this time rather warily) and said,

“Is enough yes? No more?”

The look of relief on his face when I confirmed that yes, I’d had enough to eat, was so palpable that it was funny to see. Anyway, the food and the service were excellent.