After the long stretch between Barcelona and Valencia we were convinced that we had done the worst trip that the Spanish railway company RENFE could offer her passengers. In Valencia we booked ourselves at the Hotel Europa to get a much needed rest. This hotel was spot on in the centre of this important Spanish city with a view towards the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
Our destination now was Andalucía in the south. I am sure we touched on Sevilla and spent a few hours there before heading for the coastal town of Huelva. Once there we were looking for somewhere to stay. Since entering France I was left in charge of communication, as I knew the languages.
I approached a young couple and asked them if they knew where we could stay. They promptly invited us to their home. There was no question about it… They just would not hear of anything else. Mona was very impressed as this couple with a small child prepared their own double bed for us to sleep in. They somehow settled somewhere else. This beat all records of hospitality before or after. We talked about it many times later and sent them a postcard thanking them and inviting them to visit us, although we had not settled anywhere at this time.
We were now prepared to meet the Pinheiros as they planned to arrive. My father came by car bringing Bua along and perhaps Pedro. It was a much awaited moment this one of seeing my grandmother. It was decided that my father would drive us to Merida where we could meet the rest of the family, somewhat like the changing of the guard. We took in at a hotel in the old Emerita Augusta, important Roman town, in its day.
Pleasantly enough there was a swimming pool at the hotel to cool us down!
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!