Δευτέρα, 5 Ιουλίου 2010

Exit France-Enter Spain

Finally my boarding time had arrived. I was due on the old TGV for Montpellier, where I would board the Talgo to Barcelona Estacion Franca. The quick trip to Montpellier was a beautiful experience. Though the trip lasts only a little more than an hour, the terrain is varied. The train goes past agricultural farms, villages and bridges. It is one of the most beautiful scenic train routes in Europe, only compared to the routes between Athens and Thessaloniki, Miranda del Evro and Bilbao, Leon and A Coruna, Rome and Bologna, most of the Scottish Rail Highlands routes, and the ride between Narbonne and Barcelona. Montpellier itself is a beautiful small town, very traditional in its looks, but also modern. I only wish I could stay longer, but unfortunately I had to make a 15 minute dash to the ticket counters and back toward the lines, to buy the ticket and catch the connecting train to Barcelona. In the end I arrived at my seat with a sigh of relief. It was not as movie-like as my connection in Milan, but hell it was frantic.. Once I had boarded the train, it started to move. I was at the nick of time! I was rolling again towards Barcelona. Again I was looking around with awe. The scenery of the south-western coast of France can be breathtaking. As the sun was striking noon, we were passing through sandy beahes, lakes , marinas and coastal towns. The water looked crystal clear. Near the afternoon we had finally reached Narbonne, and I was reliving the my past trip. Now the train was drifting into the mainland, getting ready to start crossing the Pyrinees. Soon we where into Perpignan, in the French part of Catalunya. I was listening to Fermin Muguruza, the illegalised Basque singer yelling Maputxe , when we had finally arrived at the border crossing of Portbou. As the train was slowly progressing toward the Spanish part of the station and a border patrol was checking us, I watched a group of Morrocan, Senegalese and Mauritanian immigrants where sitting at the blazing sun, handcuffed, desperate and scared. Fortress Europe on the rise, that is. Instead of what is written on the Statue of Liberty, what European governments are saying is, “I do not care what happens to them, as long as they do not step on my soil”. And, Southern Europe being the frontier, this is what one can see on it’s borderline. Houndreds of hopefulls, in a desperate dream of finding a way out for their future. People who are almost doomed in their homelands, trying to make it for a breakthrough. And in the process, some of them being caught by authorities and thus facing an uncertain future. Meanwhile the train has been handed over to RENFE, and we are now crossing through the Catalan landscape towards Barcelona. I see familiar names and places passing by. Girona, Figueras.... Amparanoia are playing Buen Rollito through my earphones, and I am reaching Barcelona, to chase away the ghosts of my last stay there…..

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