Monday, April 7, 2014

Minding my P's and Queues

There's nothing quite like the excitement in the eyes of a child.
The best scene I'll remember about the thankfully uneventful but drawn-out trip from Orlando to Perpignan is of the 3-year-old boy ignoring the entrada prohibida signs and running, arms outstretched, to hug his arriving father as we emerged from the baggage / customs area in Barcelona.

The next best thing about the trip is I now know how to navigate from the Barcelona airport to the new TGV high-speed rail line which whisks you to Perpignan in about an hour. Only trouble is, it takes almost four hours to transition the 20-25 km between the plane and the train.

After waiting for my checked luggage until the carousel stopped, going to file a lost bag claim, only to be told they weren't finished offloading the Miami flight, then walking the entire length of the baggage hall again, it was a good 90 minutes just to exit the airport.

To get to the TGV train station, which is at Barcelona Sants, you first take a bus from Terminal 1 to T2. Adjacent to T2 is the Renfe metro estacion, where the queues for both the ticket attendant and the self-service kiosks were long and slow. Once ticketed, of course, you wait for the next train to central Barcelona.

I could have taken a taxi and gotten there more quickly, but at a cost of 22-25 euros compared with the 4.10 via train.

Finally arrived at Sants a little after Noon (2 1/2 hours after I landed) and only needed to wait another hour or so to board the TGV.

Flying into Barcelona is almost always less expensive than Toulouse (largely because of the added fees when routing through London Heathrow). But I'm not sure the modest savings is worth the extra bus-train-train-bus time and hassle.

Flying into Toulouse, I take a cab to the train station, then a two-hour train through Narbonne to Argeles. I suppose depending on the plane arrival and train departure times it might take as long as the Barcelona route. I'll have to calculate that some other time.

There's no easy way to get to Argeles-sur-mer without a reasonably long train ride. The regional airport at Perpignan only operates during tourist season, and then mostly flights to/from the UK. The relative inaccessibility is one of the things that makes ASM so pleasant -- it is definitely off the beaten path. The only people who are here are the ones who know it's well worth any inconvenience.

The third good thing on my trip is that I managed to transit Barcelona (the pickpocket capital of the world) without losing my wallet, my computer, my camera, or anything else. 

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