Saturday, April 18, 2015

La Roche Sur Yon France to Barcelona Spain: Riding the Rails

Yesterday, I woke up in France and was driven to the La Roche Sur Yon train station. As always, I wanted to be there early, but this was a little pointless due to the punctuality of the train system. I took a TGV train (fast train, not a local). It was due to arrive at 9:47am from it's previous stop, and due to depart at 9:49am. TWO MINUTES to disembark and board. These trains don't mess around.

I had requested forward facing seats for the three trains I would be taking. Unfortunately, two of the seats were backwards facing. Ultimately, this was fine. The TGV trains have a maximum service speed of 300kph (186mph) and watching the countryside zip by at this speed is not something my brain can process backwards. I get disoriented and a little dizzy. I took a 1/2 a Travelcalm pill, which took all the nervousness/confusion out of what was happening out the windows. I ate a sandhog on my way to Bordeaux (special thanks here to Christelle and her dad for hooking me up with goodies for the trip). I switched trains in Bordeaux, and again in Narbonne. Each ride was about 3 and 1/2 hours long. My final train from Norbonne to Barcelona was only 2 hours. For the most part, the trains are all the same. They're clean, spacious, with plenty of room for luggage, etc. I believe they have food carriages, but because I was all stocked up, I didn't look for one. On the last train, there were headphone jacks at the seats so you could watch whatever movie was playing on the two TV screens hanging from the ceiling. It was a French Movie with Spanish subtitles. I passed. There are also power jacks to charge your phone, or whatever.

I traveled from 9:49am to 7:30pm by train. About ten minutes before getting to Barcelona, I had the thought, "Maybe I should've looked at where my hotel is on the map." I had printed out the reservation paperwork, ready to hand the address to a taxi driver in case he didn't speak English. I hadn't thought of giving myself an idea of distance. I left the train station and ended up in a taxi rank. The taxi driver did not speak English and when I showed him the address he said (in Spanish), "too short". The hotel was too close to the train station for him to drive me. I asked him "where" and he pointed in a specific direction. I walked back through the train station, out the other side and onto a road which turned out to be the road my hotel was on. It was about 7 blocks, or a 15 minute walk but I didn't mind because it was light out, it was a nice temperature and it was free. 

Arriving at my hotel, the receptionist (Cristina) was wonderful. She spoke English, gave me two street maps, a subway map and offered to give me directions if ever I should need them. I had heard good reviews about her on Trip Advisor and could see why. She was great. 

My hotel is the Ámister Art Hotel. I suggest you look it up/click the link, because it's cool - as seen in the bathroom mirror.

I ordered room service off of a limited menu. And then I found that the power cord was missing from my TV. Both of which were delivered in reasonable time. After I scarfed down my delicious burger and chips, I took a shower (powerful!!) and sacked out for the night. 

Next blog: Casa Batlló. If you ever have the chance, you MUST go to this. I don't even know how I'm going to blog about it because it was indescribably magnificent.

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