Archive for August, 2011

night train from paris to barcelona

August 13, 2011 Leave a comment

one of the reasons to take an overnight train is to not waste a whole day traveling when you could be exploring.  and then it just turned out that the train schedule from paris to barcelona just wasn’t that accommodating, so i went for it.  the train left around 7 and was due to arrive around 6am the next day.

you should know that i had a pretty big suitcase on my trip.  it didn’t fit into the compartments on any of the trains i took.  just hung out in the hall blocking traffic and annoying countless travelers (the train employees seemed just fine with it).

on the overnight train, i was placed in a small cabin with 3 other men.  the cabin was tiny to begin with.  i’d guesstimate the length at about 8 ft and width at around 6ft.  add 4 grown men (more like 4.75) and 2 large suitcases (mine and someone else’s) and other smaller bags, and there’s just not much wiggle room.

i find my cabin, figure out my seat, and cram my suitcase in a corner.  it’s not really out of anyone’s way, but it’s better than putting it directly in front of you so there’s no room for your legs or the legs of the person opposite.  the other travelers join me.  one by one they enter and realize the situation we’ve gotten themselves into.  this cabin is a sleeper.  a tiny little sleeper cabin.  and 4 (almost 5!) grown men are just not going to fit easily.  the extra large man also isn’t as respectful with his large bag as i am, so he basically blocks another guy from sitting down.  we eventually resolve the issue, but it’s just not comfortable.  and there’s no way there will be any room at all in the cabin once the sleeper beds are pulled down for the night.  i want out.

but the lack of space isn’t really the issue.  no one speaks a common language.  one guy is from somewhere in africa…i think senegal.  one is from egypt.  and i can’t remember the details of the last cabin-mate.   we try for 5mins to make small talk, but it’s too painfully small to go on.  i want out…now.

a woman comes to check out tickets and take out passports (b/c we’re crossing over a border?).  and then i signal that i’m going to the bar.  and i don’t intend to come back.  and i spend the next 6 hours drinking and reading and chatting with random travelers.  in all, a good, long night.  but at around 2am, the bar closes and after a bit, i’m forced back to the cabin.

i quietly enter the cabin to find the lights on – seems 4 strangers on a train can’t quite trust each other in the dark – and the extra large egyptian snoring away.  and i mean a serious snore.  freight train is coming down the tracks and you better get out of the way type of snore.  everyone else is up tossing and turning and every once in a while we say something, but the guy just won’t stop snoring for more than a minute or two.

so i read a little more, catch a couple mins of sleep here and there, but basically count the minutes until the train arrives.  not fun.  not comfortable.

i’m not high maintenance, but that overnight train proved that i’m not low maintenance either.  so nice to step off the train and find a sunny beach around the corner!

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