I was going to go straight into a post about Benicassim and the FIB festival, however it did take the best part of two days to get there and we stopped off in a couple of places along the way; some willingly, others, not so. This is the less exciting side to interrailing; the long long train journeys and the long long waits in between. Here’s what we encountered on this stretch of the journey.
We stopped off in Bordeaux for half a day to break up the journey to Spain. Since we weren’t there long we didn’t see much (although i’m not entirely certain there is a lot to see there) and spent most of the time in the city centre square enjoying a drink and a welcome change from sitting on trains. In the square there seemed to be some sort of coca-cola event going on to celebrate 125 years of the beverage, with vintage coca-cola trucks, decorated buses and people dressed up. It was slightly strange and random but we were given free frozen and ice cold drinks because of it. Oh and we also had the excitement of ‘comedy’ photos posing through the ‘head-through-the-hole’ painted boards. See above.
However, if we thought we had a strange experience in Bordeaux, it was nothing compared to the four hours we had to spend in Limoges to wait for our night train to Portbou. It was like some sort of eerie limbo. The sky was fantastically dark when we arrived which soon progressed into a heavy thunderstorm with great flashes of lightning. As a result we had no choice but to sit in the station to wait it out and wait for our train. Even that wasn’t free from the weirdness though. We were either being stared at by an old man sitting directly opposite us for the entire time, or freaked out by a guy who sat uncomfortably close to our group for a while, then disappeared off for a bit, leaving his belongings and coming back again later. He repeated this odd charade for the whole four or so hours while we were there. Needless to say the time spent waiting went very very slowly.
Finally, the train arrived at around 1am. We had the reclining seats (didn’t splash out on a cabin) and were in a communal carriage that smelt like feet and sounded like a sea of collective snores. Nevertheless I managed to sleep the whole way to the Spanish border where I awoke just in time to see a beautiful view of the coast as the sun was rising. I would definitely recommend getting as many night trains as possible for those who are interrailing or just going on a long journey in Europe. It was only €6 (with interrail ticket), which for a journey and a night’s accommodation is not bad! You can spend a bit more though and pay for a cabin, which is probably a better idea if you’re not as strapped for cash as we were, since it’s private and you get an actual bed.
From Portbou we went to Barcelona in order to get the train to Benicassim. Couldn’t believe how lucky we were to actually get a train to the festival destination – we got the last eight seats out of ten available and had to pay a first class reservation (we got a meal, drinks and a film though, so not complaining too much). So many people we talked to were stranded until the next day. Advice: if you’re going to the festival next year- book your train early! We also had to wait several hours in Barcelona which we spent in Parc de Joan Miró sunbathing, people (and dog) watching and trying to figure out what the huge mosaic sculpture there was supposed to be. Found out later on that it’s a woman and a bird. I remain unconvinced. We also had a quick wander to the nearby Plaça d’Espanya and up the hill towards the museum to see views of the city. After this glimpse of Barcelona we were excited for our ‘real’ stay in the city after the festival.