20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog


Its (not) that way



Off the Rambla

Lots of Passport shinanagins on the night train to Barcelona - we lost about a quarter of the occupants of my carriage to the French police at the first border including a young lad in my compartement who had no passport or other ID. I expected to take the costal route round to Spain but the train headed over the alps, a fact I first recognised by my incessantly popping ears. A GPS check showed that I was back within 500 miles of home and at one point I woke up in Lyon not somewhere I expected to pass through on the way from Milan to Barcelona. The train was the very impressive and very expensive TrenHotel, I was now down to 2 people in the compartment so I guess I can't complain. The Spanish border saw a few more detainees probably having boarded in France although the train now had no resemblance to the one that left Milan being twice as long with carriages from all over europe attached. All the police raids had added an extra few hours to the journey so we arrived for lunch rather than breakfast.

Similar to Rimini and San Marino, Barcelona got onto my itinerary due to it's transport links to Andorra. I've been to Barca a few times before and didn't really feel up to much sightseeing but I did decide to go to the Sagrada Familiar. I hadn't seen it since '87 and can't believe they still haven't finished it. I passed on the €8 to go into a half built monstrosity, it might be trendy but it certainly ain't pretty.

I seemed to spend most of the rest of by time in Barcelona trying to arrange transport, I had it all planned and it fell apart when I went to book my desired night train to Granada and found that it was full. In fact every option I tried got the same response, train full. I managed to log on to the RENFE (Spanish railways) website and kept coming up against "Tren Completo" until I found a day train to Cordoba. My attempts to book it online were a complete failure as the site reverted to Spanish for booking, Name etc I could do but it asked for things I couldn't translate so I had to head back to the station. The booking office had a ticket queing system, I got number 371, the board was showing 322! I was convinced that the train would be full by the time my turn came but half an hour later when I finally got served it came up trumps.

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