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Our Europe Trip Part III: Soaking up the sun on the Costa Daurada

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For the other portions of this trip, please see

--> Our Europe Trip Part I: Switzerland - Cheese, Chocolate, and Snow in July

--> Our Europe Trip Part II: Barcelona: Ritzing it up with paella and sangria in a Gothic City

We had stored our bags at the Hotel Arts to pick up and catch the 3PM train from Barcelona to Salou. We got to the hotel around 2:45PM, got our bags, and hailed a cab. We asked the taxi driver to take us to the Barcelona Sants station and told him we wanted to catch a 3PM flight. He was real indifferent about the whole matter and said "It all depends on traffic" and then later "We'll get there when we get there." When we got to the station, he wanted to charge 17 Euros for the ride. All I had was a 50 Euro bill. Luckily, he allowed us to change that bill, and we gave him a 20 Euro, which he had no change for as well. He got a much greater tip than he deserved, but oh well, let's not dwell on that.

Once inside the train station, we were a bit overwhelmed. The only time I had taken trains was in Edinburgh and that station is quite small, comparatively speaking. Also, the waiting platforms are covered, but still outside, not underground like in Barcelona. We finally got our bearings, and we were able to ask around and find the place to buy the tickets.

Next we needed to head to the underground area and wait for the train. I tried to get through the scanner, but I was carrying two large bags and a backpack (my wife was carrying our toddler and a backpack), and I was not able to get through the ticket machine in time. :( I woman started yelling at me in Spanish, and I had to tell her "No hablo Espanol" so she wouldn't get any angrier than she was. She must have pressed some override switch, and at that time, I went with one of the bags and got through the security. Now, she had the other bag and was going to go down the elevator to bring it to us, but then she decided to pass the bag through with another person. To make this worse, we had asked earlier where an elevator was, but they said we couldn't take it. What gives?

It was now about 3:30PM so we had long missed our 3PM train. We had an hour to kill in the subway waiting platform near the train.

We caught our train at 4:30 PM and there was plenty of space on the train. After a few minutes, we were out of the underground and in the suburbs, and after some time, we could see the Mediterranean peaking at us now and then through the hills and tunnels we were crossing.

The landscape reminded me more of the Desert Southwest than California - Coastal California is much more lush than the Mediterranean Coast of Spain. The scenery was more like Palm Springs than San Diego, for instance. I wasn't expecting that because both have Mediterranean climates so I would expect them to be similar. However, the juxtaposition of the sparkling blue Mediterranean and the arid landscape was quite stunning, and I was overall very impressed. The only thing I didn't like was the graffiti, which seemed to be rampant in Barcelona along the tracks and scattered here and there. I seem to have remembered similar graffiti in Scotland during rail transit. It's such a shame.

I was also quite impressed with how hilly Spain is. When we toured France on a previous trip, I found most of the country to be rather flat (still beautiful though) except for the area near the Alps. However, it appears that Spain is quite rugged throughout, and very mountainous in places as well (Montserrat being an example).

We passed a few different stops, Tarragonia being one (appeared to be an interesting place to stop) and then Port Aventura later on followed by our destination stop, Salou.

We got off, and I noticed the town was right there across the tracks. It's such a cute town, and very walkable, with shops below and apartments above. We caught a cab and went to H10-Europa Park, our hotel in Salou.

We checked in, and found our rate had been increased 8 Euros per day for VAT - I had not anticipated that. They asked me if I would accept the charges - like I had a choice!

Fortunately, our rate included breakfast and dinner, although drinks, including water were not included for dinner.

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