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Day 1: Home to Mataró

I arrived at the gate about 80 minutes prior to departure. So the first challenge to a successful break (a relaxed approach to punctuality presenting a risk of not actually making it) was passed.

This will only be a short entry because it was a day spent travelling. I was delighted to see at some point in the flight that the "Barcelona" airport called Reus is actually on the outskirts of Tarragona. I'm going to bear that in mind for future travel, since I imagine there's less chance of encountering so many people heading there who are not capable of not talking. I've not really enjoyed either of the flights I've taken so far to El Prat. The thought occurs to me that a chunk of people are drawn to the airport because they think it's personalised for them.

It took me nearly an hour to get off the plane and through passport control. I happened to be the third in line to leave via the back door but ... the back door wasn't going to be in use. So I was off late and at the back of the three lines. Yes, three. Only three people were working passport control and I'm not convinced we were the only flight disembarking.

There are shuttles from the airport to Plaça de Catalunya leaving every ten minutes, which is exactly where I needed to go, so i was in luck. I bought my ticket in the queue (5.90€) and was on my way. Finding the train station at Plaça de Catalunya wasn't quite so straightforward: it isn't signposted. There are two metro stations, so I thought I'd give them a go. It wasn't the first but - phew - the second also featured the Renfe signs. I also noticed a Fnac store just outside, so thought to myself I know what to do if there's a wait till the next train. (They leave hourly but I didn't know when exactly.) Yep - why think about getting a meal when you can buy books? As it happens, the train to Mataró was signed as leaving in 3 minutes, so I rushed to a machine, bought my ticket (4.10€), and dashed to a platform.

The train journey was lovely. For the entire 40-minute duration it ran alongside the coast, so I got a view of the beach and sea to relax with. I arrived in Mataró as the sun was starting to go down but made it to my apartment without a problem.

I decided it would be nice to head to the congress venue and see whether I could find anybody. En route I noticed a second-hand bookshop, so I know what tomorrow's priority is now! I knew that the venue was directly opposite the railway station, and that became clear when I glimpsed an Esperanto flag hanging from a window. So in I went, spotting Jorge Camacho.

Jorge and I headed off together for a meal and were joined by a friend of his, a fellow Esperanto-speaker called Antonio Valén. I liked him a lot; he could speak about Asterix ("The first one isn't that good - Obelix is just there to give Asterix somebody to talk to"), was entertaining company ... and he paid the bill!


After the meal we headed to a venue around the corner where a local choir sang some regional songs. The leader was an Esperanto-speaker and so spoke in that language as well as in Catalan and Spanish. It was very pleasant and, at only four songs, didn't stretch on too long. And then I returned to the apartment and will spend my first full day in Mataró tomorrow.

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