Monday, March 30, 2009


Within moments of finding my seat on the Montpellier-Barcelona voyage this weekend, a shabby, brown-toned sort of train, my seat-mate sat down next to me and asked if I spoke English. I nodded, and minutes later found myself typing out a text message to his anglophone girlfriend as he dictated. I made sure to remember it, because it was hilarious and sad at once: "Hello baby love. Yesterday was a good day but today is a bad day. Tonight you will sleep in new york and I sleep in Barcelona alone. I make a big kiss. I miss you. Call me when you arrive."

I don't remember his name, but we talked half-english half-french for most of the (six hour?!?) ride there. He was in his forties, he liked working at farms because he liked smoking cigarettes in the morning on the field, he told me. He had a recent cardiac problem that prompted him to sell his things and make his way, via train, to Morocco. A girl across the way, knitting, had heard I was from New York (I've given up trying to explain that Long Island or upstate is not New York City, but the state of New York, so I just stick with that). She was from New Jersey, had studied sculpture at SVA and was now living in Barcelona and trying to find a job, any job, that would let her stay there. Nearing the end of our trip, another man fell into our little party in a corner of car six - he was from Queens, but had been in Spain for ten years.

Seriously. Jersey? Queens? I can't escape the tri-state area, and I kind of like that.

But anyway, that weird train trip was a good indication of the exciting weekend I was about to have in Barcelona, one of my favorite cities I have visited thus far, I think! The only Catalan I remember is café amb llet - or café au lait on this side of the border. I saw Gaudi's architecture, an epically coreographed fountain show, a spring festival in a park, another Arc de Triomph, Las Ramblas, an amazing market with people and meet and fruit and chocolate and just food spilling out its seams. I loved Barcelona!

And now I only have about five days of rest before I start my next ridiculous eurotour, courtesy of Paul Valéry's two-week long spring break: Prague, Paris, London, Istanbul. Oh, quelle vie.

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