What possessed us to choose train over taxi for our trip down the coast to Barcelona?
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.
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.
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.
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.
And so was the mojito I enjoyed later that evening.
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.
- The Carmichael Costa Brava Mini Break (Chapter Dos)
- In Which Mrs Carmichael Experiences the Reality of Ryan Air, Saves a Traveller in Distress, Embarrasses Herself and Makes it to the Costa Brava
- To Ryanair, a Muted Monologue