Your European correspondent is back from a whirlwind trip to Spain and France that was full of adventures, some intended and some not, some good and some not. I hope to have a couple more posts on the trip in the next several days, and those will have the good parts of the trip. But lets get the bad out of the way first. Actually, my daughter Christina has already done that much better, and in more detail, than I have energy for. She has nailed it in a long post on her travel blog today entitled "Barcelona/The Apocalypse". The only comment I have on her post, aside from it being a very entertaining read, is that she was a little unfair in her title to Barcelona. It was, after all, upon leaving Spain that our troubles really began. (Aside on Barcelona: My wife and I have often daydreamed about the places abroad that we'd like to visit, most of them in Europe. And I've wondered, given that most people in America can go to Europe at most a few times in their lives, where I might like to go more than once. Of course, this can only be determined with certainty after you visit a place once. Barcelona is now one of those places. Though my first impression was brief, it was very favorable. Barcelona is already one of my favorite cities!)
Before you read Christina's post, I'll give you the Reader's Digest version: We were stranded on a train for over 24 hours on the Mediterranean coast at the border of Spain and France due to a freak snow storm. Though this storm happened in a place that seldom has to deal with any snow at all, it was not just a matter of a warm weather locale being paralyzed by a few snowflakes. The storm delivered between 6 and 16 inches (it varied widely from place to place) of heavy, "heart attack" snow over a wide area, with strong winds and lightning. It caused wide-spread power outages. And it caused our train to be stuck for over a day. The morning after the storm, a French TV news crew made its way to our stranded train (the roads were nearly impassable). We got on French news. Here's a story on the storm from the European media.
A few days later, we traveled through the same small coastal town where we had been stranded. We told tales of the storm to the passengers who were on our return trip. Most of the snow was gone. I'm including a few before/after photos here to give you an idea.
The train station at Cerbère, France. Things were looking bleak.
After the storm, our trip was mostly uneventful until the return home. Then Mother Nature turned capricious again and caused our puddle jumper from Newark to Harrisburg to be canceled (windy rain storms this time). I rented a car and we drove the last leg home.