Emmett Zeifman Travel Blog

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Jun '10 - Aug '10

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    Thirty-Six Hours

    By emmettzeifman
    Jun 28, '10 4:46 AM EST

    Wake up in Lyon at 6:30 for 9:30 flight to Barcelona. Should be landing at 11:15.

    Take subway (two trains) to the airport shuttle bus.

    Airport shuttle bus to the airport. Wrong terminal printed on the e-mail confirmation. First sign of trouble.

    Easyjet terminal is packed. Going to miss the flight?

    No. Flight is delayed. Wait. Flight is cancelled.

    Refund. Air France is going to be 500 euros. Direct train to Barcelona sells out while in the middle of purchasing it.

    And there is a general strike today in France.

    Decide to go to Perpignon if possible and figure it out from there. Walk over to the airport rail station to try to discuss situation with SNCF agent.

    Station abandoned. Ticket machine doesn't accept chipless credit cards.

    Return to the terminal to use the internet again. Purchase ticket on-line.

    Take airport shuttle back to the city to the central train station.

    Stand in another endless line to try to get paper ticket printed (because machines don't accept the card). Going to miss the train. Cajole way to front. Not to worry. Train is cancelled.

    Now going on later train to Montpellier. Decide to get as close as possible to the border in hopes of eventually catching a bus, or a Spanish train.

    Starting to feel like Walter Benjamin trying to cross the Pyrenees.

    Train to Montepellier is running. No seats, so standing in the abandonded bar car. No one is checking tickets.

    Arrive at Montpellier. 17:30. Progress. Investigate options in broken French with the helpful strike information people working the stations. Not much of a strike for them. Being bombarded by questions from foreign tourists.

    No train across the border. Train to Narbonne, bus to Perpignon.

    Eurolines overnight bus is sold out. Seems the whole train station is in the same predicament.

    Arrive in Narbonne. 19:30. Decide to stay the night in Perpignon and figure it out in the morning. Strike is supposed to end at 8:00. Book hotel room on-line.

    Bus to Perpignon. Lovely sunset over the hills. Windmills and fish factories. Coves on the Mediterranean. Arrive in Perpignon. 22:30.

    Hotel didn't receive the on-line reservation. Taking a more expensive room. Late night falafel for dinner. Sleep.

    Wake-up at 6:30. Go to the train station. No train to Barcelona. There is a strike in Spain. And a holiday. Train to Cerbere, on the French side of the border.

    Arrive in Cerbere. 8:00. No train across the border until 13:00. Decide to take a cab instead. Friendly French woman escorting her friend across the border as well calls a cab from the Spanish side when all the French lines are busy.

    Cab arrives. Wind over the border. Towns tucked in coves. Portbou, on the Spanish side. 10:00.

    Outside the train station there is a plaque dedicated to Walter Benjamin. He spent his last night in Portbou.

    Spanish trains are running. Arrive in Barcelona at 13:00.

    Can't be let in to the apartment until the friend of the owner (who had to leave for Denmark the previous night) gets off of work. Sit in the boulevards with luggage.

    19:00. Home.


    • jhines

      ////I went through the same ordeal, same towns, stories, etc. Luckily, we were picked up in Portbou and taken to Montpellier. I didn't see the plaque!

      Jul 7, 10 6:39 pm  · 

      When you get back, remind me to tell you about bryne and I getting trapped in sperlonga overnight...

      great work, btw


      Aug 4, 10 12:08 pm  · 

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About this Blog

His research is focused on the diverse and shifting positions of architecture within Francoist Spain (1939-1975). It pursues a number of related questions, examining the relations between institutions of architecture and the regime, the function of architecture at the intersection of totalitarianism and an increasingly free market, and the evolution of architecture in Spain in the void left by the post-Civil War rejection of international modernism.

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