The End to a Carmichael Costa Brava Triptych (More Bosch than Beautiful)

What possessed us to choose train over taxi for our trip down the coast to Barcelona?

1) Cost?

2) Adventure?

3) Memories of times gone by?

T’was most certainly not number three. Mr and Mrs Carmichael have yet to enjoy the Orient Express, the Blue Train, Royal Canadian Pacific or indeed any other track based transport boasting great views and vast expense.

It has to be said that the station in the middle of nowhere was rather stunning. As was the entrance to its lavatories.

a master tiler's pride and joy (mrscarmichael)
a master tiler’s pride and joy (mrscarmichael)

But first we had to get to the pueblo in the middle of the Costa Bravan countryside and for that we needed the taxi driver from the previous night (pre spat, good English) to collect us from what had become our cut priced hotel and deliver us to the nearest train stop.

Oh, and to return Mr C’s blue cap which he’d left in the cab for safe keeping (see previous post).

“I not get you,” he said when he called us. “My nice will get you. Vale?”

“Will your nice have my cap?” Mr Carmichael is nothing if not dedicated when he needs headwear.

Yes, we were told. The nice would have the missing article.

“I bet he meant nephew, ” I commented in a, looking back on it, rather sexist way.

How wrong I was as the next morning Drive’s niece rocked into the hotel reception waving a blue cap and talking rather fast in Spanish.

Unlike her uncle she could speak no English. Which is absolutely fine (we were, after all, in Spain) if you know where you are going and/or can work a sat nav.

She did not know where she was going and as we discovered only later, after numerous exits and re-enterances onto the motorway and quite a few visits to quite a few pueblos, could not work her uncle’s Tom Tom either.

Luckily Mrs Carmichael can speak Spanish.

Well, I used to be able to and even in one foolish episode in my life went back to school and studied it and took the exam. But that’s another story. Suffice it to say it would be no longer honest to say “hablo espanol” because I really don’t anymore.

I have forgotten more that I ever knew. However watching the meter hurtle skyward is a powerful incentive so I got involved.

“Ferrocarril, Ferrocarril, ” I shout gesticulating wildly from the back seat. “Vi una sign, you know, a sign.” Here I signed a sign shape.

She breaked and began speaking muy rapidly.

“Mas discapacio (slower) por favor,” I begged remembering my Spanish oral exam. It was the only thing I could utter correctly at the time. And it seems history was repeating itself.

where does this say station? (mrscarmichael)
where does this say station? (mrscarmichael)

We circled the village, stopped and started, hit the sat nav, entered and exited some dead ends and pulled up in an industrial estate close but not adjacent to what she thought was the station.

It was very hot.

Mr C went to investigate. This took some time. He arrived back rather sweaty. We had already got the suitcases out in anticipation of a positive result.

The result was positive. It was the station so we paid the uncle’s niece and hauled our three bags plus handbag, water and picnic lunch through the estate, up an incline, across the station car park and into the shade. Phew.

“Ola, ola, aqui.”

To her credit she chased us down and thrust the errant cap at, a very errant, Mr Carmichael.

Words fail me.

He put it on.

We bought our ludicrously cheap train tickets and most pleased with ourselves moved outside to eat our left over breakfast.

not a carb in sight (mrscarmichael)
not a carb in sight (mrscarmichael)

We crossed the tracks, literally, to platform Numero Dos and waited, along with a growing contingent of fellow travellers for the ‘fast’ train to Barcelona.

The thing that marked us out as different was not so much our foreignness but the amount of luggage we were toting. Five days of masculine work clothes and paraphernalia does not make for light travel.

“You want to know what I’m most worried about when the train comes?” I asked Mr C.

“No,” he replied.

“I’m worried it won’t stop long enough for us to get all this on.”

And I was right to be concerned because the train that turned up was more of a tube train (you know Met Line on a bad arsed day), covered in graffiti with very high steps and unsatisfactorily full of people.

It was very hot outside the train. Words do not describe the heat inside.

At this point I wished, really wished we had stayed in the taxi all the way to Barca. Then I remembered the Miss Nice’s non-geographical bent and reconciled Yours Truly to a ninety minute purgatorial saga in which standing, close suitcase surveillance and sweating would all play leading roles.

Oh my goodness there were moments en route when I could have given someone else a shower so ‘glowing’ was I. My hair went dark roots to tip. My Carmichael chose not to meet my eye for a goodly portion of the travail. Funny how close that word is to travel.

There were ten stations between Costa Brava countryside and Barcelona outskirts where we thought we should alight. This alighting location decision happened back in the moment when we thought the train trip was going to be one great adventure.

I have been to the Catalonian capital many times but never anywhere near the station Mr Carmichael and I fell out of that train. I for one had lost at least a stone in liquid body weight and was rather thirsty.

It was very hot. Even hotter at the summit of the hundred or so steps up to the exit.

There were no taxis.

I lost my temper.

Mr Carmichael tried, I think, to lose me. Ha. Not a chance, Matey. Your idea I remember. Suffer me.

Barcelona, northern suburbs was very, very hot but thankfully a taxi found us, did a 180 because we were walking away from our hotel and took us to a part of town I don’t want to stay in again unless I’m attending a conference.

But the foyer was very nice.

always love a modern staircase (mrscarmichael)
always love a modern staircase (mrscarmichael)

And so was the mojito I enjoyed later that evening.

spotlight on the star of the show (mrscarmichael)
spotlight on the star of the show (mrscarmichael)

I flew home with easyJet the next morning, trouble free. That is until I reached Luton Airport’s immigration desk. But that really is another story for another time.

Mr Carmichael had a successful conference and arrived home four days later still believing that I have washed, dried, ironed and put away his new Gant shorts and tee shirt.

I keep telling him I haven’t and that along with my shampoo/conditioner I left for his usage in the AC Hotel’s room 904 he has abandoned them all to the Catalonian heat.


35 thoughts on “The End to a Carmichael Costa Brava Triptych (More Bosch than Beautiful)

      1. For sure, and my favourite quote of the moment might be apposite here “Life isn’t about surviving the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”… Wish I could remember who said it.

  1. Ha Ha Ha!! You tell these tales SO well MrsC I am becoming quite addicted 🙂

    I always thought that being a taxi driver meant that you knew the area, or at least could read a map/sat nav – UNTIL we stepped into one at San Fran international and asked for the Marriott at San Mateo (another conference hotel, you so do not want to go there), anyway 5 mins into the journey the driver asked us how to get there – my OH and I looked at each other, stunned. “Well, that’s kind of why we took a taxi” said OH, “we don’t actually come from around here” – in his plummy English accent.

    Needless to say she didn’t get a tip from us after doing so many U-turns I expected us to be back on the flight home!

    1. hahaha -Sydney used to be the worst. The drivers all had giant A to z’s and a lot a lot of radio contact.
      Of course we are so spoilt in London.

      At least I had our trip to write about while we’ve been tumbleweed in the WP wilderness.

      1. How’s the commenting going? I haven’t made many – like you been writing some new stuff, but I have found that I can’t post a comment on an individual photo in a gallery which I could before this nonsense. Just get a sorry there has been a problem, try again later.

      2. Yes, Ive always had that problem but feel I can live with it????
        What I have got today is more real spam coming into my inbox which is a bit weird.
        The rest seems to be working ok.

      3. Not getting spam, but quadruplicates (???) of comments made on my blogs that I have already approved of in my email!

        Yeh, I agree, not being able to comment on ind. images is no big deal, but yet another bug!

    1. Oh I so do already. If I told you all the good things you’d all be taking early nights.

      In the end I think I could have done without the train ride but the taxi was funny and the countryside we got lost in very beautiful.

      Thanks for the ‘love’ it’s appreciated.

  2. Hahahaha! Hilarious, mrs. carmichael. I’m sitting in a cafe in Sintra, Portugal and I’m sure people are wondering what the hell that woman is laughing about! I can relate to your extreme heat stories (though lucky for me, not in Barcelona!) and the language barriers: Nice/neice! I may have studied Spanish in high school almost 40 years ago, but that doesn’t mean the Spaniards can understand me! Especially when I’m saying “Shukran” and “Salam u alaykum!”

    1. Yep it’s time to ‘stand away from the Arabic’. Portuguese is even harder and sounds, to my untrained ear, more like an Eastern European lingo.

      I cannot recommend anything in Lisbon because I’ve only spent a sleepy 18 hours there and will be interested in your posts.

      1. Well, mrs. carmichael, I can tell you so far, Sintra is my favorite place so far in all my travels! 🙂 Portuguese does sound really Eastern European. I keep saying Gracias, here and I have to keep reminding myself to say Obrigada!! I love the scruffiness of Portugal and its super friendly people. 🙂

  3. Things I love about this post mrsc:
    1. The tiling over the doorway is simply gorgeous. It would make a lovely quilt design.
    2. Mrc had way more luggage than you. I bet he was blaming you for all the excess when it was really him. Husbands tend to do that.
    3. Your train trip, with most of the population of the country already on the train. We made the mistake of travelling from Salzburg to Hallstatt on a train on a public holiday. It was crammed to overflowing with day trippers. (We didn’t know it was a public holiday – lesson learned. Always check when they are, because we got caught out a couple of times) We were standing in the aisle, with our bags, and a lovely man offered me a seat in their compartment. He was with a group of Austrian senior citizens who spoke no English. He asked me where I was from, I told him Australia and everyone got very excited and kept saying “Sydney, Sydney!” to me all the way to Hallstatt.
    4. Your mojito. I’m surprised you stopped at one…or did you??

    1. Thank you – yes, a quilt could be composed (I have a close up)
      Yes way more luggage – suit/shirts/ties/heavy shoes
      yes ditto the standing in the aisle or a seat yards from the bags with the shirts/suit/shoes
      and NO I did not stop at one……silly 🙂

  4. Sometimes I feel moved to say, Wish I were there!
    Well,with this account, I don’t.
    But I sure laughed a lot reading about it. Smooth traveling makes for dull writing, so I’m rejoicing at your hardships.
    Well, not rejoicing. But still laughing!
    Oh, Mrs. C, you are Destiny’s tot. Long may you (and Mr. C) wave!

    1. There were bits you would have enjoyed because i did. But the train trip was not one of them.
      I’m certainly going to revisit the CB, nice bits and might go inland as well because from the ‘tour’ of the countryside we had it looked verdant, green and lush.
      We’re off to Mallorca at the end of August but we do know it well so………

  5. Hmmm, I will be taking a train from Santa Cristina a’Aro to Barcelona tomorrow. Hoping very much now that it is not the sweltering experience you speak of! Either way, I think a mojito will be at the end of my trip as well 🙂

  6. Love it! I supposedly learned Spanish while studying for my French and German A levels. All I remember is going into the oral exam, opening my mouth, and French coming out. Not great. I felt for you on that train – debilitating heat is not my friend. I hope you can look at it as a sort of drastic spa and sauna experience!

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