August 28, 2015

Valencia, Spain and Montpellier, France

I woke up today at 10:20, showered, dressed, packed, and did some final research on Luxembourg (i.e. how to reach the hostel I made a reservation at). I then checked out of the hotel at 11:55 and had the receptionist print out my railway tickets (I had bought them online days ago whilst in Morocco). I then walked to the nearest metro station and rode the metro train to the railway station. Next, I walked to the most obvious railway station (little did I know that there were two right next to each other and along the same tracks; I ended up walking to the wrong one: Estación Nord) and found a place nearby to eat lunch at: a McDonalds – I had a Quarter Pounder with cheese, French fries, and a Coca-Cola. Then, I walked back to the railway station (which is right next to the bullfighting ring, a brick coliseum) and noticed the name above the entrance. I realized that this must be the wrong railway station and I confirmed my suspicions with the man at the ticket counter. Luckily, I had plenty of time to spare and the railway station was simply a 400 meter walk further south. So, I walked down to the correct station: Estación Joaquín Sorolla – a newer and cheaply-built station with sheet metal walls. I then waited around until 14:30, when the other passengers and I were allowed to board the train. It is worth mentioning that while I was waiting, I noticed a crowd videotaping and receiving autographs from a man exiting the station; I asked who he was and was told that he is a famous Spanish pop singer (Pablo something or other). Anyway, once on the train, I found my seat and we departed the railway station at 14:53. During this time I just sat back, listened to some light jazz and crooner music, and watched the Spanish coastline (we passed by quite a few nude beaches, which is apparently popular in Spain).

The train reached Barcelona Sants Railway Station at 18:20 (ten minutes late) and I had to catch an 18:35 train to Perpignan. So I hurried my way through the platform exit and security, and reached the correct platform entrance with five minutes to spare. Unfortunately, this train was late. Very late. I ended up standing in the waiting area for forty minutes before we were allowed to access the platform and board the train. The train finally departed Barcelona Sants at 19:20 (forty-five minutes late . . . and I had only forty minutes at Perpignan to catch my Luxembourg-bound train; in other words: I was fucked). So, I rode the train and listened to some opera music (these trains to have a lot of nice, easy listening music stations to plug into).

The train finally reached the Perpignan Railway Station at 20:40 and I, as well as many others, rushed out and tried to catch the Luxembourg-bound train; I quickly printed my ticket at one of the machines and frantically searched the monitors to see which platform I had to run to, but it was all for naught. The train had departed on time. I then waited around with the other passengers who missed the connecting train and we each had our tickets stamped, one by one. We then waited until 21:30, when they rounded us up and put us and our luggage on to a bus. We then drove to Montpellier where we would be put into a hotel for the night and where we would have to catch a connecting train in the morning. While on the bus, I pulled out my laptop, typed today’s journal entry, and went through photographs taken in Morocco and Spain.

We reached the Montpellier Saint Roch Railway Station after midnight (around 00:30 – three hours after we had left Perpignan) and as we drove through the city of Montpellier, I noticed five street walkers out plying their trade, staked out on the street corners in a part of the neighborhood. We then grabbed our luggage and were led to the information counter where our names were taken down and where we each received tickets for the following day to continue our journey. Then, one of the guys in our group was given a map and directions on how to reach the hotel we would be staying at for the night. Next, we all walked through the city and to the hotel. Regrettably, we ended up circling around and definitely did not take the shortest route to the hotel (sadly, most people in this world cannot read a map). Upon reaching the hotel, we had to put up with the receptionist’s excruciatingly slow check-in procedure (evidently, the railway company taking down our names and how many single and double rooms were needed did absolutely nothing to speed the process up); it took over a half hour before I received my room and it was well after 01:00 (I was tired and certainly irritable at this point). Once in my room, I looked for an alarm clock to wake me up in the morning (I had to be up at 08:00 or so to catch a 10:06 departure), but found none. I then decided to check my iPhone to see if it was functioning – it was not; however, I decided to risk it and use the recharger on the iPhone. This ended up working. After the iPhone’s battery charged some, I was able to access my phone once again; however, I noticed not all the buttons were working, it was acting sketchy, and there were some noticeable anomalies (such as some of the notes I made being doubled). Based on what I read online, I knew that my iPhone may not last long in this condition and I had to be quick if I wanted to save my photographs (especially the ones I took at La Tomatina) and the notes I made. So, I spent the next two hours emailing most of the photos saved on the iPhone and the journals I had written to myself. I also set the alarm on the iPhone, which was thankfully working. I then managed to get to sleep shortly after 04:00, comforted with the knowledge that my memories were safe and sound in my email inbox.

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An open journal or an exercise in narcissism.