The train went through the fields full of cows or sheep, and then coastal towns of France. It stopped in small cities, buildings train cars covered with puffy balloon graffiti lifted wholly from 70s NYC. A young Spanish guy smoked in the bathroom every 20 minutes, filling the car with smoke from his clothes. The conductor vaguely tried to do something about this but could not catch him. His tickets were in order. His seatmate had fled to another car long ago.
As the smoke became overwhelming, the land became hillier, then there were mountains. We reached Barcelona, eyes burning, as the sun set.
We tried to find our way through the train station and caught a taxi to the place we were supposed to stay, supposedly to meet the owner. The young taxi driver had a loud Catalan conversation with a pal that involved a lot of swearing he thought we could not understand.
Catalan sounds shooshy and not quite familiar, the way Brazilian Portuguese does, but it's enough of a mishmash of Old French and Spanish that I can pretty much follow it. (Though not produce it properly.)
This was the story of our trip: understanding but not being able to say anything complex. And often coming out with French in Spain, and vice versa. I had a good conversation in Spanish with one guy, as he worked in a cafe, about languages, geography, and politics. I managed to get along in French in a few transactions. but otherwise might have been two years old language-wise...
We managed to find the place we were staying on Sepúlveda, right off the Rocafort metro station in Barcelona. It was a good base for walking to Las Ramblas, a main road through the old town. We walked all over everywhere despite pouring rain of the kind we get here in MN. For three days. Barcelonans kept assuring us it was very unusual. Other than wet shoes and less outdoor photos, it was not a big deal.
Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi.