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Traveling to Barcelona
The travel agent had assured us that the trains from Paris to Barcelona are never full, and thus no reservation was needed (reservations cost money, about 5 Euro each (a Euro is about a U. S. dollar)).
They were full. Every one.
The very nice French ticket agent struggled for at least 20 minutes to find a route to Barcelona. Finally she booked us on a train leaving at 11:45 p.m. (yes, almost midnight) to Tolouse, then on a local through the mountains, on another to the Spanish border, and then on a metro line to Barcelona.
The overnight portion was in 1st class - four beds to a compartment (Janet got the private room). The beds were very comfortable, probably the best sleep we got on the entire trip. Unfortunately, we had to wake up at 6:45 a.m. to leap from the train at Tolouse, and in our half- sleep confusion we left the kids' digital camera on the train.
The next leg was a ski train, and the views were absolutely breathtaking. The mountains were high, craggy, and snow-capped. A little breakfast or even water, and it would have been delightful (I really missed that British trolley!). The very nice female conductor (in the photo below, at a small station directing traffic) spoke English very well, and dashed our hopes of seeing our lost camera again. *sigh*