Friday, 17 August 2012

Home for the weekend

I admit that I was a bit nervous about making the journey home for this weekend. I didn't sleep well, and only remembered to set my phone alarm for six at three fifteen in the morning. Fr Hywel conscientiously set his alarm, but forgot to change the time on his phone, so it bleeped then we were driving to the station for the ten past seven train for Barcelona.

It's a RENFE stopping train that diverts from the main line on a 'spur' line to Tortosa, and this adds an hour to the journey. The train leaving an hour later and arriving much at the same time cost nearly twice the price, but the early start was worth the effort to see this other section of the rail network, even if I was nodding off every now and then as we travelled. I noticed that several of the stations in the first part of the route, before the railway begins to follow the coastline beyond L'Ampolla, are well outside towns, and station signs carry the names of neighbouring places served - even Vinarós for that matter, unlike other coastal towns on this route has its station outside the main conurbation. The further north you go, the more the railway hugs the shore-line and holiday resorts and occasionally, where cliffs descend into the sea, even hovers above it.

The further north we travelled, the more travellers got on until the train was packed, standing room only. One inexplicably curious thing I noticed was that for every man there seemed to be ten women on the train. When we came into the Llobregat coastal plain, the airport control tower was visible on the horizon, closer to the sea beyond many square miles of market gardens, with their rich dark brown fertile soil. El Prat airport and the commercial zone area around it were constructed on land reclaimed from less productive salt marshes.

The train runs right into the south eastern corner of the Barcelona to Sants station. I quickly found a ticket machine for the airport shuttle train, with its instructions in Catalan (I couldn't find the language option button). Thanks to the universality of the machine's operating system and its user interface, I had no difficulty getting what I needed, and as luck would have it, boarded an airport train which immediately left for the 17 minute journey to Terminal B.

I was amused during the journey to hear the strains of an accordeon playing 'Besame Mucho', and observe the amused smiles of other passengers, as the busker, an older man, moved down the car soliciting donations of appreciation, oblivious to the fact that everyone has heard it before and can live without it as they strive to chat to travelling companions. It reminded me of walking down Trinity Street in Cardiff, and Geneva tram rides. 'Besame Mucho' seems to be the universal anthem of enterprising unlicensed buskers wherever they are, scraping a living as they dodge enforcement personnel. 

It's a quarter of an hour's walk from the train station to the check-in through sections A and B of Terminal 2, and the last part of the route to section C where EasyJet has its base is badly signposted in comparison to the others. All that was left to do was doze and wait three hours until the flight was called. The flight and connections the other end were just right, and I was home for the weekend by half past five.

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