The stamp clearly indicates that at Port Bou near Perpignan the passport control was made before entering Spain. Someone was telling us that it no longer was España we were entering but rather Espain due to the fact that there were so many tourists there. The date was 6 of august 1972. We were well conscious that we were entering a country ruled by the ageing dictator Franco. It was with some mixed feelings that we headed to our destination- Barcelona!
When travelling by train it is easy to meet new people and establish relationships. It happened on our way to the Catalan capital. We shared compatment with a couple where he was from Spain.That meant that once there, we were guided by our Spanish new friend who knew where the best paella could be eaten. Our stay in Barcelona was not long as our goal was to hit the frontier regions of southwestern Spain where my parents could turn up to meet us.
Meeting the Spanish railway system and operating company RENFE took us back a few decades in relation to our transport experience so far.
Getting to Valencia from Barcelona was a slow and hot experience that took 14 hours. People could get edgy and the conditions concerning toilets were a big problem. People carried wine on skin bottles and passed around.
We were rather amused and impressed by a young German co passenger that tried to dodge the ticket inspector on a cat and mouse game. Apparently he had no ticket or just like us was expected to pay extra for the ride. We were often told that he Interrail did not fully apply and that an extra fee was necessary. The mustached controller was getting livid but committed to getting hold of the missing passenger. When he finally got him he was told what he could do with his fee. When asked to hand in the passport he refused. When threatened with the police he made what in Portugal is known as “manguito”. I was impressed and surprised that anybody could show so little reverence to authority in a dictatorship country!
We finally got to Valencia and looked for a hotel!