9:45am Saturday – Paddy and I were able to kart all our belongings including our makeshift plastic cases for our bikes to the station with ease. “What were these cases?” I hear you ask in your heads, they ended up with some planning like this;
Yeah, it may look stupid, but by god did it work a treat.
Getting the first (of many) buses in time was relatively swift, we were even able to nab the seats that had the most leg room, as for tall people we’ve found that public transport is built for much smaller-limbed beings. The journey from Edinburgh to London was very quick with an added Subway stop in the mix that evening, even with a few delays due to an accident that occurred on the M1 but however we eventually made it to London Victoria bus station. And the the carnage occurred.
9pm Saturday – London Victoria bus station may possibly be the single most unorganised place I’ve ever been to in my life, the people at the help desks were useless, there wasn’t enough room for people in the station itself so they had to shoo people outside, and to top it off we nerdy missed our bus because the check-in steward didn’t know where it was. It turns out, our bus to Paris ended up being behind another bus to Amsterdam, but because the bays for the buses were so narrow, NO ONE WAS ABLE TO SEE THIS. And honestly, I could’ve screamed at this point thinking how could such a place in the capital city be so dysfunctional, but I decided to deal with the task at hand. We took initiative and carted our belongings into the bays and eventually found the bus, where we had a 10 minute argument with a small French bus driver if we were able to put our bikes on, in the end we persuaded him, with Paddy’s Irish charm to get our bikes on towards Paris. But this bus was something made for people who maybe just about reached 5 foot, my knees probably left an imprint in the guys spine from the journey as they certainly felt like they left a mark. The ferry over the border to France was also an interesting experience as we expected things to be on full lock down after what recently has been happening in Calais, but everything was relatively smooth going with the passport checks etc. Even at 2am, we found time to have a pint as at this point we could feel our body clocks becoming well and truly scrambled.
7am Sunday – Regardless, we made it to the Paris Gallieni station, and from this point,w e had no idea of how to get to the Gare de Lyon to make our train that would eventually get us to Barcelona, after about 30 minutes of panicking, I attempted to speak French (with what little I knew) to ask the easiest way to get to the train station was. It ended up that we were one of the last metro stops in Paris, and with that we took the metro straight to the station (I would highly recommend getting the metro for anyone traveling in Paris as it is dirt cheap). The Gare de Lyon left us with a lot of time to wait for our train, but as our bikes were relatively annoying to carry and much in the way of people, we ended up waiting in the big waiting chairs at the station, whereby ‘she’ came along.
I do not know the name of this women, she was about mid 30’s, and was homeless from the fact she had no shoes and was trying to nick the food of a family that was trying to feed their child baby food. But my god the odour that came from her is definitely something I won’t forget. It was a mixture of sweat, urine most likely and faeces unmistakably. I did feel sorry for her obviously and I don’t mean to be insulting. but as she asked for the time and I took out my phone, she did nearly try to take it. It really does present that the desperation of homeless deserves recognition, and shows that homelessness in major cities needs to be addressed to help find homes for all the people living within the boundaries of said city. But it’s safe to say, even with our cargo, Paddy and I waited elsewhere for our train.
After our specific station was called, Paddy and I rejoiced in finally making our last mode of transport to get us to our starting destination. After carting out bike case contractions into a perfectly fitting space we crashed out and slept in shifts a majority of the journey. With the TGV high-speed training only taking 5 hours to get from Paris to Barcelona was quite something itself, reaching 300km/hr at points everything became a blur outside. Barcelona Sant Charles was reached at around 8pm the Sunday evening with around 40 hours of travelling and stressing done in between. Left us with us being able to actually assemble our bikes properly and using them in the streets of Barcelona, however due to the signal at the station being terrible we had absolutely no idea where our hostel was.
10pm Sunday We ended up picking a direction down one of the main roads that we found next to a inner city carnival and just walking through it to see what we found, which was just pure Spanish culture. Fun fair cult at it’s biggest and brightest right in the middle of city, rides galore and much fun attractions to be had but alas we needed to find our hostel. After getting some signal finally I was able to get some signal to Google Map the location on the hostel (in hindsight I should’ve checked beforehand how far it was from the train station, you’ll see a lot of highlight in the future travel posts of this trip don’t you worry). But after a small cycle, we eventually found 360 hostel, which ended up being one of the most magnificent sites after nearly 2 days of solid travelling, friendly people, free paella, and even safe storage to put our bikes. The hostel runners even asked us if we wanted to go out with them, but at this point we were far too tired to go out. However we did explore the surrounding area as our bodies were still in a dazed state of actually arriving at a place we’d be for for more than a matter of hours. Handily enough, 360 was just around the corner of the Arc de Triomf, and what a site it was in the evening, we chilled there for that feels like years from how calm warm it was that evening, seeing a very different crowd of people that evening, and not what you’d expect. People walking their dogs, having picnics underneath palm trees and friends just meeting to catch up, not the scene you’d expect at around midnight. But it was a thing of beauty and immediately made Paddy and I excited for the following days to come. Nonetheless, it was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in the early hours of the morning, and with Paddy and I returned to 360 to rest for the packed days of sight-seeing, drinking and just generally ‘touristing’ we had planned.
So there’s a very brief version of how we got there, now to tell you what we found, and I guarantee you what we discovered on our voyage was something I’ll never forget.