So there we were, boarding an overnight train to carry us through the fields of France in the dead of night, and into Spain by morning. The journey was to take 12 hours.
After finding our “super reclinable” (who comes up with this?) seats, we promptly adjourned to the dining car. The sun was setting through the speed-blurred windows, and the train was full of friendly Southerners and their teenage children en masse, being taught that the world extends past Mississippi. A clear cut opportunity for a fine evening if I ever saw one.
We ordered a half bottle of red wine from the waitress, learning that the proper way to say this was vino tinto. We drifted into pleasant conversation with our neighbors. Fast forward a couple hours. We are having a fine time being on a train, which was novel to both of us, and on holiday, and having red wine at our disposal on a long journey.
We decide not to go to sleep yet and order a 3rd half bottle. This is the point of the evening in which the conversation turns to intrigue and eyeballs glaze over in the madness of enjoyment. Nothing gives you a crash course in getting to know each other like a long journey combined with alcohol, and we were having a grand time giving each other tours of the dank, ugly, fascinating underbelly of our rancid little minds.
As we ordered our 5th half bottle, the waitress stared at us with incredulous black eyes and asked, “Another one?”
“Yes, another one, good woman!” The car had emptied of all the Southerners, long since gone to sleep in their super reclinable proper seats like decent people. Tea and I continued to bore our way into Spain riding on a wave of vino tinto and luxuriating in the freedom of the moment, which was sadly destined to end any way but free.
At some point the 5th half bottle was emptied, and we regarded each other blurrily, all the conversation melting to that point when you realize that really, you must stop now.
Somehow I changed into pajama pants. I only know because I woke up in them. Along these lines I decided oh crap! I left my purse in the dining car! Bouncing off the walls 13 cars long, I make the lengthy, noisy journey back to the dining car where the waitress looked at me with frank disbelief and a little contempt, too.
“I left my purse,” I say to no one in particular, looking around in a helpless sort of way as I see no purse at all. I look around some more, being watched with sympathy by the single other patron still awake.
I manage to make it back to my seat, being ricocheted off the walls like a pin ball, to find my purse in a wad in the seat, right next to a sleeping Tea. I embrace the reality of the moment, and all my newfound stupidity with it. “At least,” I comfort myself, “this will eventually wear off and then I won’t be stupid anymore.”
Seemingly two minutes later, the sun is strong and yellow and Spanish, and the train has come to a stop under the cathedral-like dome of the station.
Clearly not yet recovered, but too excited by Spain to care, we trundle out our things and begin the miraculously successful search for our hostel. About the time we find it, things have gotten shaky. Apparently, the side effect of 5 ½ bottles of wine, and being shaken continuously for 12 hours by a train, is a severe case of vertigo.
Waiting for our room to be ready, we find breakfast in a perfect little café. For all its charms, to me it is the gaping maw of hell. I understand nothing that is said. The food all taste of poison, and the room swells and recedes like some nightmarish sea cabin I can’t escape.
Drinking on a train is apparently, about as good an idea as drinking on an airplane. You will not pass go. You will not get out of jail free. Now you all know and I've told this story for no reason other than to serve as a warning to others. Barcelona deserves your full attention. I discovered this later, but that is another story.