Another Roadside Attraction

As pleasant and smooth as it was, the six-hour train trip into Barcelona gave me the urge to spend the first day in town with boots on the ground. It was a fifty-minute walk from my hotel to the Sagrada Familia basilica and that seemed doable. I need a lot of walking on this trip to make up for not taking my daily walk/jog along with me. I wasn’t in a picturesque part of the city, but as I approached the $300 per night Hotel Majestic, they’d set up a piano on the sidewalk as a way of drumming up some walk-in trade. It made for a nice rest break. I also observed that the clean sidewalk and streets are maintained by hand with straw brooms and oversized dustpans.

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Spain: Travel Goals

These are examples of my travel goals:

So far I have two objectives for the Spain part of my trip. I’ve done a ton of background reading for this leg, including Michener’s exhaustive and exhausting Iberia, Zoellner’s chapter on the AVE high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid in his wonderfully researched Train, Jack Hitt’s mostly enjoyable memoir of his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella, Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon and Cervantes’s Don Quixote. I’ve also digested a stomach churning account of the Spanish Inquisition, and browsed several other weighty tomes. After all this, here’s what I’ve come up to do in Spain: I want to find a good bowl of paella and an English edition of Jan Morris’s Spain. That’s it, you say? Bear with me, though. (I know that’s bearing a lot.)

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Rapping it up

Today ends the le flaneur or wandering part of the trip. My destinations today and tomorrow are all proscribed by the objective of getting back home. Toulouse was one of two cities that would get me to Gare Montparnasse and my bus to Charles De Gaulle airport. I could have chosen Bordeaux, but I knew my way around Toulouse better. Plus, Danielle had said she’d be returning from Paris early that evening, and perhaps we could get together one last time.

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