16 August 2009

Great and not so great train rides of the Mediterranean coast.

After all the action and excitement of Santiago, I skipped over to the east coast for two nights in Valencia and two in Barcelona. This was more about me hanging out on the beach and getting some sun than about historical buildings and culture, although I did do a walking tour of Valencia. I didn't see a single orange while I was there, but I did try the local beverage known as 'horxata' (pronounced 'whore charter,' but don't let that put you off) which is made from milk, sugar and tiger nuts, which turn out to be a locally grown legume rather than the testicles of a big cat, served cold. It tasted like a vanilla milkshake with... basil in it or something, but it went down alright on a hot afternoon.

I had already been to Barcelona, so I spent most of my time there wandering through the Ramblas and sorting details for my next great European experiment; travelling to southern Italy. I had hoped it might be a simple as flashing my Eurail pass and saying 'One ticket to Rome, please'. It wasn't.

First leg was from Barcelona to the Spain/France border in a town called Cerebre. As I changed trains here, disaster struck as I managed to leave my trademark black fedora on the first train and only realised as it pulled out bound back to Barceona. Curses!

Meanwhile, in the blink of an eye, everything changed from being in Spanish to being in French, which added an extra dimension to the whole experience.Second leg was from Cerebre to Beziers, from whence I was told I would be able to buy tickets to Rome. Wrong again. I managed to get a ticket to Nice via Montpellier and Marseille. I didn't arrive in Nice until twelve-thirty that night on the last train to arrive at the station, at which point the not-so-friendly station staff turfed us out of the station and locked the doors for the night. The first trains out weren't until six or so the next morning, so a group of about 40 of us camped out on the steps of Nice train station until morning.

Third leg was to Ventimiglia on the Italian border where I was finally able to get a ticket through to Rome, with a two hour stopover in Genova. So the fourth leg was to Genova, where I went exploring for an hour or so, though by this point I was running seriously low on energy. Fortunately I just had the fifth and final leg to complete; a seven hour marathon from Genova to Rome.

The trip, while long, was quite nice as it followed the Mediterranean along the west coast of Italy. There were beautiful beaches and rocky coves to look at all the way, which was handy as I wasn't awake enough to do anything except stare out the window. I couldn't sleep because I was stuck on some rubbish seat up the back with no back rest, but that was fine since it would have been a shame to travel all that way and miss the scenery.

And so it was that, 27 hours after leaving Barcelona, I collapsed hatless into my hotel bed in Rome and slept for somewhere in the region of twelve hours.

Far from home




Garry with 2 Rs
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