For example, this is us post-check-out from the Hotel Neri in Barcelona yesterday morning, tooling around La Catedral to get to the taxi stop by Starbucks an hour before our train to Narbonne, en route to Toulouse in the South of France. We had to leave early, by 7:45 am, so we had to wake our kids up earlier than they'd had to wake up in Europe (after yet another midnight bedtime) and, worst of all, we didn't get a coffee at Starbucks because we figured there would be coffee at the train station (WRONG!).
Undercaffeinated and underfed, we somehow made it onto the train, where the sweet South African couple sitting behind Emme put their barefeet on the chairs... (This is Emme with the little green frog that has become the star of her pictures on this trip, appearing in front of landmarks like the gnome in those travel commercials.) Life improved somewhat when we discovered the dining car, where an older Spanish man would take an order, go around to the adjacent kitchen, make the toast/bocadillo/whatever, then make your coffee/drink order, then take your money... In that order, for each person. It was quite a lengthy process, but then again, we had a 3-hour tour...
In Narbonne, our train was delayed by a half-hour and literally no one speaks English (or at least, they didn't to us). We were taking a while to find the right car and heard a whistle and I realized that the train was gonna go, whether we were on or not, so Raf and I just pushed the kids on, threw our luggage on, and hopped aboard, hoping for the best. With my mastery of grammar school French (seriously limited), I was able to find our seats and enjoy the ride through vast sunflower fields.
Finally, in Toulouse, we found our way to the car rental office and then to Giant Burger, where we bought our kids a few Burger Max Country's and "churros" (oh my god, I ate one and I have no idea what the F is in it - not good, not quite a churro, not quite a french fry, not quite worth the box it came in). Surprisingly, the burgers were delicious, as was the salad. As Raf said, at least the French are a bit more "civilized" than Spaniards, offering a better food selection at their train stations.
There's not a lot more to tell about the rest of the trip to Floure (a small village about an hour from Toulouse, which even the rental car lady hadn't heard of), and I'll refrain from detailing the mini-hissy I nearly threw (but didn't) when we found our rental Mercedes and it was incredibly dirty and in dire need of a car wash (REALLY! Civilized??), but we are now in the South of France. With all that it took to get here, I am glad we are not doing anything for the next few days except swimming, eating cheese, drinking wine, watching movies on my laptop and listening to the bees buzz.
Ahh... la vie en rose.