Jul 8, 2014

Striking Out: Stuck in the South of France

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal:

Barcelona was all abuzz when we arrived sleepy-eyed this morning onto her streets. The quaint laziness of the weekend was gone and the locals were en route to work and school. A few misty raindrops landed on us through a layer of thick, humid air. It was a relief from the crowded subways where we huddled on platforms amid swarms of schoolchildren, tourists and businessmen. Hoards of bodies crammed in between armpits and chests, shoulders and knees. We were an amalgamous form, uniquely one until we scattered into pieces at Espanya, Catalunya, Selva Del Mar. We gathered at the train station in hopes of better news, only to be reminded that the strike had stretched into 6 days.

Day 14 in Europe and we've hit our first rough patch- The French trains are on strike. What this means is Marine and I have spent a day longer in Barcelona than we originally anticipated. We've made a makeshift home of the train station, and even found some comraderie in our fellow travelers. We've comforted the customer service rep after she was berated for a cancellation entirely out of her control. A part of the adventure is not turning around and going home when someone tells you it cannot be done. It is not crying or getting angry or stomping our feet proclaiming that the world revolves around us. It is in fact throwing your hands up and admitting that you are an integral part of the world, but that it will also continue without you. Sometimes you can plan everything squarely to the minute, and still you will look up, and catch rain.

Day 15 in Europe has put us in the small French town of Perpignan. The strike continues into its 7th day and we can only pray that negotiations today are successful so we can eventually make it out of here. We have eliminated Carcassonne from our travels. The fortified city will have to wait. We'll probably spend another night here before we try to get a train for Montpellier in the morning, which then could get us a train to Nice, where Marine's grandfather can come pick us up. Hopefully, the French can resolve these issues, and we can all go back to our regularly scheduled travels!

So we made the most of Perpignan, we found a small but friendly hostel, ate delicious food, climbed castle towers and strolled through the streets. Sometimes getting lost means finding something better.

Eventually, we made it into Toulon, where Marine's grandfather and his girlfriend, Monique came to pick us up. It was a magical relief.

Over the weekend we stayed with Marine's grandfather in the South of France. He took us to dinner in St. Tropez the first night and I could hardly understand him. Even still, I could hear him reminiscing over the food, my own head becoming a swarming fog of wine and cidre. He talked of life as a young man on his boats and the pretty girls that walked by, his attempts to woo them. He poured me the last of the wine and claimed that whomever finishes the bottle gets married within a year. Marine blushed, and I took that as a sort of blessing.