Barcelona to Paris

There is brilliant white snow on the Pyrenees as the train crosses the border.

Valencia was good. The trip didn’t have the coherence of my visit to Barcelona in March – that concentrated on Gaudi, whereas Valencia took in the Romans to Calatrava – but the city benefited from having far fewer tourists. (And I note that the British are not the only nationality who speak their own language wherever they go; I was wished buongiorno in the lift by Italian tourists.)

I didn’t mention the beggars. At home those asking strangers for money largely have addiction problems, but here they are far more varied. Some are more like the gypsies in Greece, some display their disabilities, and some look like anybody’s grandparents. Many hang around outside churches or beside the long queues for lottery tickets. It makes me wonder about both the Spanish social security system and about the accepting Spanish attitude towards their beggars.

And I know it’s a cliché, but it really did seem to be a family-oriented society, as two parents and occasional grandparents accompanied young children on slow promenades in the beautiful sunshine.

(The train has been delayed by over an hour at Montpellier because of an “incident”. Not the first time I have encountered this this year.  I have a horrible impression that, all over western Europe, people are throwing themselves under trains.)

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