Last Minute Decisions and Endless Train Rides

Hello, world!! It’s been so long since my last update that I had to browse my latest posts  to find out where I left off – sad, but true!! When we left off, I was just leaving Portugal and was on my way to my next major destination – Nice, France. Initially, I wasn’t really sure exactly how I would be getting to Nice, I just knew that I’d be making it happen. Thus, when I arrived in Madrid, I was prepared to book a train to Barcelona in order to make my way to next major destination #1. Unfortunately, a wrench was thrown in those gears when I was told that all of the seats to Barcelona had already been booked! After the transportation mishap in Portugal, I was not discouraged in the least by this issue and decided on a whim to venture to San Sebastián, a city in the Basque Country of Northern Spain.

A beautiful, seven-hour train ride northward gave me the opportunity to finish two blog updates and the last of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice all while taking the time to watch the way the landscape changed as the hours passed. The closer we got to San Sebastián, the more the landscape seemed to mirror a mixture of the Rocky Mountains and my beloved Humboldt County – mountainous, verdant land with towering trees, overcast skies, and an endless amount of rain. Not to mention the fact that as soon as I was off the train, I was within earshot of the crashing waves of the Bay of Biscay. Love at first sight indeed!

San Sebastián was a beautiful seaside city that looked quite a bit more modern than the rest of the Spanish cities I had seen, and with the crispness of the sea air felt more alive than most of the bigger cities as well. I wasn’t surprised to feel a tinge of regret that when I was deciding on a city to study abroad in, I  chose Madrid over San Sebastián – this city was so much more my style! Unfortunately, I was feeling quite under the weather, as I must’ve caught a cold somewhere during the early days of my travels, so my exploration of the city was limited to the walks to and from the hostel and the train station. After a full day’s worth of travel, even the springy bed of the hostel was a welcome reprieve, and after a hot meal I went to bed early in hopes of nipping my cold in the bud.

A sample of some of San Sebastián's architecture
A sample of some of San Sebastián’s architecture

I left early the next morning to make my way to Hendaye, the French city which neighbors San Sebastián, where I would be taking my train to my next (yet unknown) destination. I had an idea that I would head to Paris, but was really hoping to be able to get closer to Nice that day instead, since I really had no desire to train all the way up to Paris only to return to the south of France the following day. Luckily, I was able to book a train to Toulouse that afternoon, so in the meantime I took the hour walk from the train station to the village of Hendaye to explore, grab some groceries, and do some laundry while I waited.

The view of the Bay of Biscay from Hendaye
The view of the Bay of Biscay from Hendaye’s coast

By nightfall I had arrived to Toulouse feeling much worse than I had when I woke up, and knew that the only thing I’d be doing in that city was resting. Thus, I checked into my overpriced hotel (which was cheaper than any hostel in the area by far, I might add), made myself some soup, and called it a night. Despite having a night train to Nice the following day, I spent the majority of the day in the train station reading Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, drinking a full liter of orange juice, and taking short walks when the rain let up enough to merit a stroll. I was not about to take any chances with getting myself sicker, especially when there was no place to check my luggage. I was happy to find out that my night train was equipped with reclining seats, so for the first time I was able to get a good night’s rest during the six hour ride to Nice. Thankfully, I woke up feeling 100% and was fully prepared for a proper day of exploration!

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