And on to Barcelona

August 15, 2015 - Barcelona, Spain

Our train was due to leave at 10:07am so we knew we would have to be falling in the doors of the breakfast room. They operate the very civilized hours of 8am to noon for breakfast but that doesn't help when you have a train to catch. As luck would have it our normal breakfast woman was late arriving this morning so the night clerk was pressed into service to deliver coffee and pastry and, somewhat grudgingly, some diced fruit and yoghurt, but the niceties had to wait until reinforcements arrived in the form of our breakfast lady. She then fussed about to get us juice and help set the table in the normal fashion.

Suitably nourished for the day we packed our bags and checked out while waiting for the taxi 'Henri' had ordered for us. Our driver dropped us in a very crowded drop-off zone at Gare de Lyon and we thanked him with a little extra for his troubles and headed inside. Our driver would certainly have his job cut out extricating himself from the collection of taxis pointing in a hundred different directions but the French drivers seem to handle those situations with patience and and a bit of give and take.

We had to wait in Hall 2 until our platform was announced at twenty minutes before departure but the actual system was very simple; in fact just walk in. Some people were presenting their tickets to the machines for validation but ours certainly would not work that way so we just headed to our carriage. I asked a TGV woman at the door of the coach about our tickets and she told me they were good for travel with nothing further required so we clambered aboard and up to the top deck where we found somewhere to stow the luggage and took our seats. Soon enough we were off and, after leaving the outskirts of Paris were soon showing speeds around 295km/hr. At those speeds the countryside slips past but the ride is so smooth it is only the posts and fences close to the train that make you realise how quickly you are travelling. Also the fact that cars on the 130km/hr motorway just disappear behind you.

Soon the hills and hollows gave way to coastal plains and lagoons as we rushed along the south-west coast near Montpellier and then through a tunnel or two and we were in Spain. The countryside began to take on a look I associated with Spain and the signs on roads and buildings confirmed our impression but the weather began to look very threatening. Within minutes we were into a serious storm and the roads and gullies we could see were awash. Almost as quickly we passed through the thunderstorm and into areas where the ground was still dry and stayed that way as we dashed on toward Barcelona. Although it had been a six hour trip the journey had been very comfortable and we had plenty to amuse ourselves with books, writing parts of this journal as well as walking the corridors and finding lunch. We disembarked in Barcelona after the large crowd of people who were in a desparate rush to either just get off the train, meet friends and family or be first to the taxis. We caught up with the latter group at the taxi queue but it didn't take long for us to be in a taxi and threading our way through the traffic to the Hotel Espana.

The hotel itself is down a little 'Carrer' beside the Gran Teatre del Liceu and it looked a bit downmarket in the Carrer but when the taxi pulled up at the entrance the grand style of the doorway and the doorman rushing out was reassuring. After checking in we went up in the lift and through a series of corridors that opened into different light shafts and atriums to find our room. And what a room! A king size bed and room to move as well as a settee and desk area. We settled ourselves in by unpacking into the cupboard space although most of our clothes were in the laundry bags rather than on the shelves. Must get around to that one day ... soon.

Well the hotel was everything we hoped for so we went out for a look around the area and perhaps check for places to eat later in the evening. Our walk down the Carrer away from Les Rambles did not reveal anything that looked very inviting and by the time we got back it was also beginning to rain so we looked in the hotel bar which also served Tapas and snacks and thought it more enticing than venturing out again. We also had some free drinks to collect which significantly swung the balance so after a quick freshen up we headed back to the bar for a couple of Margaritas while we looked at the food.

Our waitress (or to take non-sexist language to extremes, our waitpersibling) had to disappoint us as far as the free cocktails were concerned. Definitely not the Margaritas, but they were worth paying for anyway. She, our waitpersibling, also suggested we do their €25/head Tapas taster which saved us fussing about what to try and she would make choices to avoid garlic for me. So we began with some olives and then some salad, followed by ham, slices of panini bread with a light tomato sauce, some pork strips with roasted peppers all washed down with a bottle of red wine and then a steamed pudding with ice cream and coffee to finish. Welcome to Barcelona.



Breakfast is a delicate affair
On the train to Barcelona
Make yourself at home
Margaritas in the bar

1 Comment

Judy Crewe:
August 23, 2015
Fantastic, reminds me of the great train trip Margaret (Scorer) and I did last year, Paris to Barcelona etc.Enjoy it all.
Judy xx
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