Friday, May 20, 2011

Toulouse, France... and the road to Barcelona

We arrived in Toulouse to which we phoned our friend Camille. She very kindly offered us a ride to our first hotel which we could not turn down. After about 20 minutes she had arrived and a little adventure attempting to find the address of our hotel began. It seems once again we were way out on the north outskirts of the town. Arriving at the destination according to her GPS we found ourselves in front of a McDonald's. She asked for directions and we were told we need to back one street that was right in front of us. Shortly after that we had arrived. This was a very nice hotel to which we checked in and made it to our room. Since it was late and we were way out of the way we weren't going to do much that night. I did manage to walk back to McDonald's for some dinner for us. 

The next day I awoke and managed to eat a very slim 7 euro breakfast, which TJ slept through even though he had paid, and we gathered our stuff to make it to our next hotel.  We had the hotel call us a cab and luckily I had written down the address to which the driver knew where to go. After a lengthy cab ride we had arrived to which it seemed they had not gotten our reservation. But luckily they still checked us in and we found our way to our room. We figured that since we had a fiasco finding a place to stay here we might as well book our hostels for Barcelona and Paris. So began the search. After awhile we had picked out two and TJ booked them for the appropriate dates. Soon after we set out to see Toulouse. Being on the southeast side this time we had no idea how to get into the city center but the resourceful reception desk told us which bus (which was right in front of the street to our hotel) to the nearest metro and which stop to get off on. In no time we were in the center of Toulouse. The weather was fantastic and people filled the streets. As we made our way to the Capitole we found a good-sized market that filled the square. There were belts, wallets, dresses, DVDs, books, sunglasses, etc all for sale. We had managed to wander to an old church to which we entered. Since we found our map to be less than helpful we made our way to the tourist information center to obtain a better one. Once we had that we were able to find interesting landmarks to see. Most of the sites were very old churches and parks. After a good afternoon of walking we returned to our hotel and had dinner at the hotel restaurant which was not the best.

The following day I had gotten up and made my way to a market around the corner which turned out to be like a mini Wal-Mart. I purchased a few items before returning back to the hotel. Not long after TJ had awaken and gotten ready. So we set off to the train station to book our train reservations for Barcelona. We then returned to the Capitole and set off for the river. Once again we walked a good afternoon's worth seeing the river, a few more churches, a basilica, and the Japanese gardens before returning to the Capitole to meet up with Camille.  After TJ dined on some expensive ice cream while waiting for Camille she had finally arrived. Mentioning she had some early practice exams and we had an early train (again) we decided to keep it a low-key night. We walked with her to get an envelope and then walked back to the river to a park on the other side where we chilled in grass for awhile just shooting the breeze. In due time we headed back to the Capitole to find dinner. Stopping at place called the Hippopotamus we dined and also filled Camille in how American food is since she will be going to Austin, TX next January as an exchange student. I know she'll have a good time there. After words we headed back to her car via the metro and made our way back to our hotel. Exchanging good buys we arranged to have the hotel order us a cab for the next morning and we headed for bed.

We awoke early and prepared for our trip to Barcelona. Normally I don't write about the train rides but this one warrants a line or two of mentioning. So we arrived at the train station with plenty of time. We waited until we saw on the screen the train to Narbonne, France was set to leave platform 3. So we made our way and found the train waiting. We jumped on and found some random seats since there were no reservations required for this part of the trip. Now the train was set to leave at 6:16am. TJ and I sat awaiting such time when all of a sudden at 6:04am the train began to move forward. We traveled ahead for a 2 or 3 minutes before coming to a stop. Sensing something was wrong we set out to find someone. We only found two other passengers (no workers). One of them was a man probably about early 40s who had said the train was going to Paris direct. The other was a young girl who said the train was going to Narbonne. Enter panic mode here. We began running about and freaking out as to what was going on. We couldn't find anyone. After a minor conference we followed the young French girl back towards the train station. We arrived at a workers building where she explained our situation. By this time our train was headed for Narbonne. However he had advised that we could walk back along the provided paths to the train station. We began the walk back when he ran up and said that another train to Narbonne was waiting near them. We turned around and followed him a ways to a small train where were informed that this train was going to Narbonne at 7am. So we hopped on and hoped for the best. We arrived at Narbonne (the site of our original connection) and asked the ticket agent what we needed to do. She informed us that we could still make it to Barcelona with only a few hours behind. With a few more connections and a few hours of waiting we made it to Barcelona but the stress and anxiety of this mishap had already taken its toll. We decided to make our Paris reservations since we knew when we would be leaving already. Shorty afterwards we found our hostel and decided to relax the rest of the day.

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