As there is not a lot of info with regard to our travels for the day I shall tell you first of two things which happened on our 2nd day in Barcelona, i.e.yesterday. One was a bit of fun and the other got me into a bit of trouble for a while.
The fun activity happened while we were walking down the street, Passeig de Gràcia, where we saw most of Gaudi’s designs. Quite unexpectedly half a dozen school children of 12-13 years old stopped us and asked if we spoke English. We confirmed that we did and then they asked if they could interview us. We agreed and they explained that they were trying to get visitors opinions on the Barcelona, what is the best Catalonian food etc. We said good things about Barcelona itself but had to disappoint them by saying that we had not tasted any specifically local Catalan foods. The whole interview was filmed on one of their mobile phones for their project. We hope that they got a good grade.
A building designed by Gaudi
The second thing which happened and got me into trouble was reserving our seats for today’s train. When we got to the correct counter at the station I asked for 2 seats on the direct train to Malaga. It was from there that we would get a Locale (Metro) to Fuengirola. As we had our Pass we could travel 1st Class so, without any thought, I requested 1st Class. Trevor was not pleased about that as the exchange rate between the Rand and the Euro had just soared to almost 18:1, meaning the tickets cost us R1 000! We learnt that for 2nd Class, no matter the distance or direction, it was always 10Euros each but the cost for 1st Class fluctuated. I could hear my ‘plastic money’ screeching. What with the 4 star hotel and now these tickets, Barcelona proved expensive but oh we did enjoy it.
A beautiful tree-lined avenue in Barcelona
We boarded the train on time and were pleasantly surprised at the very comfortable and spacious layout of the carriage. It is quite interesting to travel on the trains of the different countries and see how they differ and yet are all the same. I was partially forgiven the faux pas of the 1st Class booking when we discovered that we were served a delicious breakfast. This was the first of all the trains on which we had travelled that we got anything to eat or drink with the exception of the Cologne-Lyon train on which we were served a free tea or coffee.
As we travelled south the scenery gradually changed to mountainous, dry and rocky with groves of Olive trees on either side. At one time we could see rain on the top of the mountains but none lower down where we were. One of the pleasures of travelling by train is the opportunity to enjoy the scenery. When driving the driver has to concentrate on the road and the passenger(s) often have to act as navigator(s).
high speed train which was cruising between 250 and 280kms/hr, but on occasion sped up to 300kms/hr, had to stop at Cordoba for some of the carriages to be separated and change direction to Seville. This took approximately 20mins and then we were on our way again. We arrived in Malaga early afternoon and caught the Locale to Fuengirola. Regional trains in Spain are called Renfe.The
Sign showing train travelling at 300mph
I had been here in 2002 with one of my sisters so it was quite amazing to see the changes in 14 years. The station at Malaga was markedly different from that time. Looking at my journal notes from then I wrote, “Malaga station was dirty and shabby. There was a vociferous group of unemployed or retrenched rail staff protesting (so we were told).” Today the station is modern and bustling and very clean.
We had to go out of the main station and down an escalator into another station to get the Locale. We did not have to reserve seats for these trains and our pass was sufficient. This train too is new since I was last here with lots of well-designed stations on the 40 minute ride. From Fuengerola station we got a taxi to take us to our holiday destination. Today it cost €10 as opposed to €2 in 2002
Booking in to our holiday accommodation also had its moments. The gentleman on duty at the Reception seemed to be very new as he had to ask the lady working on a computer where to find things and what to complete etc. I was rather irritated when I was asked to sign the document which was all in Dutch. I asked why it was not in English and the reply (from the lady) was that the computer automatically uses the language of the country of the visitor. Taken aback, she said, “Don’t you speak a language like Dutch?” My reply was, “No, I speak English”, knowing full well that she was referring to Afrikaans. Oh well, they cannot change what the computer is programmed to print. I have sent a very strong complaint to the Management. Of course, I have not had a reply yet!
We got a real surprise when we were directed to our unit. It was identical to the one I had been in with my sister in 2002. Since there is a row of about 20 I cannot say that it was the same one but it was either that or within one or two apartments. Why I recall its proximity was the position of the pool in relation to the unit and it seemed to be almost in the same position as the one in which we had stayed in 2002.