Saturday, June 1, 2013

Night Train to Barcelona

As you will read, I've written this while waiting for and settling into the train to Barcelona. I intend to post it as soon as I find a good Internet connection. . .

Is that not the most evocative title? So romantic, although romantic is hardly a word to be used in connection with Paris' Gare d'Austerlitz, where Paul and I are currently waiting for said train. We've had a busy and tiring day today after checking out of our hotel early, leaving our luggage behind so that we could take advantage of our last day here for a month.

Cute and cozy cabin

And what a productive day it was: we took the Metro over to the Musée d'Art Moderne to see their brilliant exposition of Keith Haring's work. Such a large and compelling oeuvre the man put together in such a short life. It obviously helped that he hit the ground running, with an exciting show of his work at only 20.

Lunch next door at the Palais de Tokyo's very hip cafeteria Tokyo Eats. We did our best to stretch out surveying the Haring show and savouring the three courses and wine and espresso. Even so, we were ready to head out by 1:30, and our train wasn't leaving 'til 10:16. . . So we walked. Across the Seine, joining the tourists heading to the Eiffel Tower, an area we generally avoid. And sure enough, three times we experienced the gold ring scam, once warning off an obviously gullible young man that he was being played for a mark.

After conceding that the Tour Eiffel is undeniably a gorgeous piece of engineering, we wandered back to a site that deserves to be better known and more visited, the Musée de quai Branly. We'd already had our fill of exhibitions, but we took advantage of the clean, free washrooms -- the savvy visitor to Paris has a little list of toileting possibilities across the city. Then we sat outside, enjoying the prize-winning architecture and the environmentally sensitive, strikingly effective and inspiring landscaping, including the huge exterior "living wall."

Then back to our march across the City, through the 7th, into the 6th, along St Germain until I cried "Enough!" and we grabbed a front-row seat at the Café Les Deux Mégots for a chocolat chaud (me) and a Leffe (him) and settled in for some prime people-watching. And the people did not disappoint, although I was soon rolling my eyes at the number whose goals while in Paris seem primarily to involve photographing landmarks such as Les Deux Mégots, inserting either themselves or their friends into the foreground. I couldn't help but wonder how many of them have heard of Sartre and de Beauvoir for whom the Place on which the Café is located has been named.

But enough of my grousing about the other tourists. Time to settle the addition and head back to the 13th to recover our luggage, check the email, say good-bye before making our way to the Gare, stopping first at one of those restaurants one always finds around a train station. Ours served up satisfying enough fare with an Auvergnat twist and we lingered comfortably before heading across the street, determining that the train was ready for us to board, and now we're settled in our cozy little bunks, ready for the train to rock us to sleep. Of course, we will regularly be woken as stations are called out, but we will drift off again wondering what Barcelona will look like when we ride into her heart in the morning ("I will wake you at 8:30 for breakfast," our porter has just assured us, knocking on the door to check our tickets, exchanging them for our breakfast vouchers).

While we have been wandering Paris, preparing to cross the frontier into Barcelona, Pater has crossed another border, having received news that his father passed away Thursday morning. His sadness at this news is much tempered by the reality that his father was impatient to be delivered from the weakness and discomfort of end-stage myeloma. Still, it's tough to process this new state so far from the rest of the family. He is still sorting out whether or not it will be possible or desirable/necessary to get back for the funeral, but meanwhile, we plan to explore Barcelona together for the next few days. . . I hope to share some of these explorations with you, depending what kind of Internet access we find.

 

16 comments:

  1. Your post title made me think of a novel that I read about the Spanish Civil War. Your last day in Paris sounds exhausting. I find the checkout/travel days of walking and waiting cause me to feel a little disoriented. I'm sorry to hear of Pater's loss although, as you say, it is a deliverance from discomfort. There is so much to see in Barcelona that the two of you will have a lot to explore together. Gaudi and the whole Catalan culture are so different from the rest of Spain. Buenas aventuras!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few years ago, in preparation for a trip to Portugal, I read Night Train to Lisbon, and we took that same train. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments, about our loss and a out the stresses and joys of travel. the train ride was easy, and we are now happy in the Barcelona sunshine.

      Delete
  2. My condolences to you and Pater and the family, but understand the mixed emotions (my Dad passed away suddenly from ALS in 2009, before the ravaging end stages of the disease).

    Your day sounds like the perfect Paris day to me! I was enjoying my own mental images as I followed along on your "tour." Hope you were able to get some sleep on the train.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sue. I remember when your Dad died, and you're right about the mixed emotions.
      surprisingly, we managed a fair bit of sleep last night. . .

      Delete
  3. Oh, F, so sorry for your family. xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks,K. He was a really good dad and grandfather, and he will be missed

      Delete
  4. Hi Mater, sorry to hear of your father-in-law's passing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Bittersweet news for Pater. My condolences.

    Your cabin does indeed look cozy. Sweet dreams.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I know this site presents quality based content and additional data, is there any other web site which
    gives these information in quality?

    My web site - saffron essential oil

    ReplyDelete
  7. My heart goes out to you both...

    I do like how cozy your accommodation on the train looks...like a cocoon.
    Take care,
    Leslie

    ReplyDelete
  8. My condolences to your family. What a lot to deal with in the last few months. I hope you're doing well.

    At the risk of what my seem a non-sequitor, do go to La Sagrada Familia. I think its beauty and the expression of Gaudi's profound faith will be balm for your souls.

    Sending you light and love.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I once witnessed a 30-someting your French woman upbraid a late-middle aged woman who was trying to pull the scam. The young woman told her it was uncivil and that she was destroying the fabric ofcommunity life-what was left of it-in Paris. The woman stared blankly and her male 'handler' (lurking about 40 feet away) began to approach, looking displeased. I admired the young woman's courage.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh dear, I just now realized there was a concluding paragraph; so sorry to hear of Pater's loss. So much for you two and the family to bear. Agree w/Rubi: beauty does comfort us in such times.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm sure your DH is relieved that his father's suffering is over. If he was needed to support and organise other family members I'm sure he would never have left for Europe. Those would be my criteria for returning for the funeral too.
    My Mother died of myeloma many years ago and I really wanted her end to come sooner than it did.
    Hopefully your DH can enjoy the wonderful sights and experiences without too much sadness. Our family has seen several deaths since March and I find myself missing the person that used to be rather than the sad, suffering illness victim of their last days. My rational brain realises that the healthy, happy person of long past days could never be restored but does live on in my memories.
    My thoughts are with you both as you contemplate your past.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I will say again here that I am sorry for Pater's loss.

    But I like the idea of you two on a night train, tucked up together, exploring.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My condolences to you and Pater on the loss of his father. What waves of emotions to weather. Hugs and prayers.

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...