Barcelona to Paris

After checking out of our hostel in Barcelona we locked our bags at the train station and headed over to Casa Battlo, which is argued to be one of Gaudi’s best works and the perfect exemplar for his style. After admiring the outside and taking a few pictures, we decided that 16 euros was a little too exorbitant for our budget and decided instead to head over to the Picasso Museum. The 3 euro entrance fee was a little more reasonable, so we spent the next couple of hours staring at the squiggles and smudges that this guy passed of as art. Maybe the better stuff is in the Picasso museum in Paris. Maybe there isn’t actually better stuff.

So after grabbing sandwiches and making a few quick phone calls outside the train station, we dashed inside to grab out bags and find out which track the 6:38pm train to Cebere was leaving from. Only it wasn’t on the board. After asking some very nice Spanish security guards we found out that the 6:38pm train to Cebere…get this…didn’t exist! This was the train that was supposed to connect us to our night train to Paris. By this point I’m flipping out and talking a mile a minute to people who only understand loud, slow english. Eventually I was able to figure out that there were explaining a different way to get to Paris that night.

We would take the next train to Cebere (at the French/Spanish border) transfer to a train that would get us to Marseilles 6 hours later then transfer to another train that would take us to Paris in 3 hours. Now, you’re gonna need a map for this one, but the distance to Cebere to Marseilles (Cebere is not on that map, but it’s right where France and Spain meet on the southern coast) is about 2 or 3 times the distance from Marseilles to Paris and they were proposing to get us there in half the amount of time. It actually did work out this way, but I slept through most of it, so it will remain one of life’s greatest mysteries to me.

The station at Cebere was a little sketchy, our train disappeared from the departures board about 20 minutes before it was scheduled to leace, so 20 or so passengers who were filling the station, all clearly waiting for the same train took a gamble and went to the only train waiting at the station.

The train was really dark inside. I mean really dark. People were pulling out lighters and cell phones to try to find the right seats. Not that it mattered though, we heard other people complain that their seat and even their car simply didn’t exist. Add in the complete lack of heat and the guy smoking a joint in pitch black at the back of the train and the word of the day is SKETCHY!

We pulled into Marseilles on time but had to sort of guess where we were because there were no signs and no announcements. Thankfully, we discovered once we walked into the station that we were in the right place. And “into” is also a relative word. Though the station had walls and a roof where was no heat by any stretch of the immagination and when the board announced that our train was “retard imdeterminite” I had visions of people peeling my frozen, lifeless body off the benches. Frankly, I don’t know how palm trees grow in that place, it was bloody cold.

The wait wasn’t actually that bad, the train was only 30 minutes late (plus the hour we had to wait for the connection), so we arrived at our hotel in Paris just as they were finishing cleaning. We all took nice, hot showers and slept until the late afternoon.

It snowed in Paris. A lot. Then it rained. Slava had the brilliant idea that we should walk to 2km from our hotel to Notre Dame. Most of the time I’ll all for walking, but when it’s raining, the temperature hovering around freezing and the streets filled with slush, it pretty much becomes a recipe for one miserable little girl. The only thing that cheered me up was stopping for a french pastry and a baguette before taking the metro back to the hotel.

Notre Dame was beautiful. I was surprised at the amount of people there, but I think they all just wanted to get in out of the rain. I wish we had seen St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome last, because after seeing it no other churches can compare, beautiful as they may be.

Oh yeah, and Paris is ridiculously expensive. We have pictures of what a hotdog that costs 5 euros looks like.

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