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Published: August 24th 2009
Pretending to be happy
In the middle of my 4 hours of sitting at the Barcelona Train Station
I guess I should start out saying that I am in Spain and that that is a blessing in itself. The day’s misery pales in comparison to yesterday’s, or rather, the day before yesterday’s MIERDA, but I still just don’t get why air travel and I don´t get along so often...
At around 3pm yesterday I got a cab and left for round two of the pure bliss that is Logan airport., and really just post-9/11 air travel in general. Naturally my new AirFrance flight was already delayed half an hour, but given the fact that the weather wasn’t going to get ugly until hours after my flight I assumed it must just be that the plane was delayed getting there. I flew threw security and no one asked anything about Spain, Andorra, or any kind of Visa crap. Wonderful. The couple hours of waiting went by quickly and in no time I was boarding the plane. There was no way my carry-on fit in the tiny Air France sizing restrictions, but I managed to get through no problem. Given the plane was a huge 747 double-decker there was plenty of room. I was seated in between a young Italian
Primer almuerzo espaÃ±ol
My tasty Spanish lunch aboard the train!
woman and an elderly French lady. Pleasant. Honestly the flight went by in no time - I had a nice meal of some kind of weird tuna salad, chicken in a neon green curry sauce over rice, a piece of Monterey jack, a banana brownie thing, tapioca pudding, and a small baguette with butter. I washed it all down with some champagne and a mini bottle of wine. By the time I was done watching the new ‘Star Trek’ movie on my personal screen, there was only an hour or so left until landing. We were then served a light breakfast consisting of coffee, plain yogurt, and a chocolate-chip roll-type thing. Aaaaand voilà, we were landing. I was proud to have accomplished everything on the flight speaking mediocre French., btw
We arrived at Charles De Gaulle 6:45am, which gave me one hour to pass through customs and get on my 7:45 flight to Barcelona. The stress resumed. Lucky for me, “Passport Control” was absolutely nothing, and after my own stupidity delaying me a bit (I couldn’t seem to figure out that my departure gate was a floor ABOVE me) I got to the gate at 7:15. The flight went
Enjoying some sherry but still looking like IÂ´m fake smiling.
super-quickly, and I was even served breakfast number two! This time it was (instant) coffee, some kind of toast over asparagus with cheese and chicken breast (strange but tasty), bread, butter, and some fromage fraiche that I wasn’t a fan of. After deplaning my luggage came within 10 minutes and I literally just walked through customs without saying/doing anything. END PLEASANT VOYAGE.
Well my first step upon arriving was to find the train tracks and take the airport train to Barcelona’s main train station. This was a simple walk with 300 pounds of luggage in sweltering heat (we’re outdoors at this point). I am so happy I opted not to check a second bag. The ticket was under 3 Euro and I got to the Barcelona Sants train station within half an hour. Fine. The place is a zoo and I manage to get myself over to the massive line of people trying to buy tickets for the day. Looking at the board of trains it looked like the next train to Valencia was some 4 hours away. Surprise! The trains aren’t as frequent during the week apparently! Of course had I not been delayed a day this would
AnÃs de Mono
Monkey anus liqueur!
not have been an issue. On a side note, never again am I attempting to stay the night in a different city from that which I arrive in. At this point I am dripping sweat and look like a beast. Of course to make matters worse the only seats available on the 2:30 train were “preferente” aka first class aka more expensive. PERFECT. I LOVE SPENDING 100 DOLLARS WHENEVER I CAN. At least I am a bit more pampered and get lunch included, I tell myself.
My next plan is to make some phone calls. The phone place I go to in order to buy a SIM card is of course out of new numbers. I instead am forced to use a pay phone with a credit card slot. This works successfully and I am able to leave a message at the hotel to tell Christopher (who has now been alone in Spain for a full day) that yet again all plans are RUINED and I will not be arriving until 5:30. I then repeat the process, putting in my credit card to call Inés and tell her that I am in Spain, finally. Well the operator is kind enough to inform me that it looks like a hold has been placed on my Chase Visa. THAT’S FUNNY BECAUSE I MADE SURE TO CALL THEM TO SAY I WAS IN EUROPE BEGINNING THE 23RD AND TO IGNORE CHARGES FROM THERE. PURE INCOMPETENCE. I was making a domestic phone call, not buying thousands of dollars worth of illicit merchandise.
Luckily I see a separate little storefront for Movistar, one of the phone companies, and for 20 Euro I am able to get a Spanish phone number and a bunch of minutes. In that process I also find out that Bank of America actually listened when I had them flag my account and I had no problem taking funds out from one of their sister bank ATMs. Wonderful. At this point I have 3 hours to kill, am hot as hell, and it is now 6am for me I have not slept at all.
Boarding the train ended up being no problem, and thanks to my “preferente” status I enjoyed a really delicious meal and a comfy seat all to myself with a window. The meal consisted of a) hake with a dugleré sauce accompanied by a carrot purée and green beans -delicious! b) a paté with a delicious sweet tomato marmalade - delicious! c) bread and butter and d) a really tasty strawberry torte. I washed it all down with a delicious glass of Fino Sherry while gazing at the rolling hills to my right and the ocean to my left. Somewhere around then I decided to embrace Spain’s official tourism motto - “Smile! You’re in Spain!” It certainly helped get my mind of the fact that I hadn’t slept in…27 hours! Then, just as I thought all the fun was over the second alcohol cart came around! I opted for a bit of Anís del Mono, which is essentially Spain’s answers to Pastis - an anise-flavored liqueur served diluted with a bit of cold water. I find it slightly sweeter and may even prefer it to the French version. Perhaps I’ll have to have a taste test! Ahhh even after all of this trauma I’ve missed Europe so much!
Well that was enough whining for one entry...I promise a more upbeat entry from Valencia tomorrow! Besos!
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