Tag Archives: EuRail

Barcelona to Lourdes

10/21 – now we leave Sunny Spain and continue our trek east. As we contemplated our next destination, there was no question that we had to visit Lourdes. After walking the Camiño and visiting Fatima, Lourdes completes our pilgrimage trifecta.

This is the first time I’ve ever been to France, and neither of us speak the language, so we may be in for a challenging week, as we’ve heard from other travelers that the French are not very welcoming to those who can’t converse in their tongue.

We travelled on three trains today; a first-class high-speed from Barcelona to Narbonne, another from Narbonne to Toulouse Matabiau, then a second-class local from Toulouse to Lourdes that stopped every 15 minutes or so. We reached our destination by 17:30. Our first aha was that in French train stations you must pay .50 to pee, and the WCs on the train have no running water to wash your hands (savon – oui, eau – non!)

Here are some pics of The French countryside from out our train window (including some window reflections):

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When we got to the Lourdes station, we attempted to reserve the next leg of our journey. Our second aha for the day was that, although there are seats available on Friday’s train, there are no seats for EuRail pass-holders. We were warned that this would be a problem in France, and indeed it is. So, we ended up having to pay full price for our tickets, and will have to travel second class.

The third and best aha was that Jim booked us a killer suite here in Lourdes, with a full kitchen including a fridge, stove and a dishwasher! Unheard of! I think there may be a home-cooked meal in our future – magnifique!

Santiago to Barcelona

10/17 – we took the bus back to Santiago, bidding farewell to grey and rainy Finesterre. We are no longer pilgrims, now we are just backpackers.

With our (slightly wrinkled) EuRail Pass in hand, we went right to the train station in Santiago to book our first train ride. The Pass allows us 10 travel days anywhere in Europe within the next two months. We only have 30 days left in the European Union (you can only remain in the Euro Zone for 90 days), so will see several places within the next month, then use the rest of the travel days to get through Eastern Europe and into Turkey. It’s a tentative plan, subject to change.

So, our first travel day will take us from Santiago in the northwestern corner of Spain, to Barcelona in the southeast. We can’t just show up at a train station, we must prebook our seats and pay a reservation fee for each ticket. Very complicated!

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Our sleek and modern train left at 9am for Madrid, and then we take a second train to Barcelona. There is a snack car, and a refreshment cart offering coffee and pastry. An American movie is showing, but it is both dubbed into Spanish and has Spanish subtitles. Even so, I still cried at the end of Saving Mr Banks. I managed to take a few pics out the window, verifying once again that the rain in Spain stays mainly in Galicia.

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At 14:50 we arrived in Madrid, and had an hour to get to our connecting train, which leaves from another station 5 miles away. We negotiated the Metro between the two stations, and arrived with time to spare. The train to Barcelona was a high speed train, and got us there in under three hours.image

Our pension was a mile and a half from the train station, and we considered taking a cab, but once we left the train station we could see that this was a walking city. The streets are well lit, and everyone was out strolling, eating in sidewalk cafes, riding bikes and kids riding scooters or on roller skates. image

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What a groovy city! Tomorrow we will explore!

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