Monday, August 19, 2013

over the ocean

Well, you could not ask for a more "fair weather" set of connections! And so, without fuss, after leaving a warm and delightfully summery Madison, I take off for Detroit and there, catch the Air France flight to Paris, where the weather is equally grand!

Just an hour in Paris and only at the airport -- but surely that's enough time for a decent, if late breakfast.

DSC00126 - Version 2

And then the equally easy flight to Barcelona.

Barcelona! The second cheapest gateway to Europe (the least expensive flights are again to Istanbul, but that seems awkwardly out of the way to where I really want to be this week).

Barcelona! I discovered this city with Ed and we always have a superb time here, no matter how fleeting our stop is. Today, I miss his persistent attempts to get Catalonians to understand his Castillan. And it's strange to check into our very modern Villa Emilia...

DSC00135 - Version 2

...without him next to me, looking around for a newspaper to read. Any newspaper. Even if it's in a language that he doesn't understand.

But, I have an agenda for this afternoon and hey, it's so sunny and buoyant here (that's a Barcelona constant), that I can't help but smile at it all (that, too, is a Barcelona constant).

My first stop, before I even take my stuff to the hotel, is at the train station. I have a two country rail pass for the time I am in Europe, but most of the trains I want to take require reservations. Besides, we're in the second half of August: Europe is packing up and returning to work. Flexibility be damned: I want to get a seat!

So I give the rail agent a list of eight trains I plan to take (yep, eight) and I walk away with only three seats. The others? I have to reconfigure stuff. Booked. Things are booked. I've forgotten how different it is to be here in August.

Tomorrow I start my rail travels and I have to say this right off the bat:

I love high speed trains. Love them. The journey is almost always enormously pleasant. And you get to places and, too, you get your reading done and it's just such a win win world for me.

What places? Well, you can tell that I do not travel for the blog, but instead, I blog despite my choice of travel. Because if I really wanted to be kind to my readers, I'd select places that are less familiar. But I'm not going for the exotic or even adventurous! I'm going for my comfort food type destinations. They're places where I really want to be right now -- in the Languedoc region of France. After that --  Paris + environs. (Then back to Barcelona to catch the flights home.) This, to me, is the ideal solo trip. (Ed is bored by now with the constant returns to the Languedoc and his idea of the perfect amount of time for Paris is half a day. Around meal time.)

Now, Languedoc is to France like Texas is to America -- it's big and it has its own personality.  Looking back over the 9.5 year blog, I see that I should have broken up the tag some. Because it has become a bit bloated. After I am done with this trip, I will have spent 99 nights (in the life of this blog) in Languedoc. It trumps every other destination except for northern Wisconsin, where the tag stands at 138 posts (though not all of Wisconsin explorations required an overnight away from home).

But all that is for tomorrow. Today my agenda includes a walk through some part of Barcelona.

Barcelona! It is one hell of a great city to land in just like that, unexpectedly, on this hot day in August.