Barcelona, Spain – September 15, 2009
This was my first business trip as a Department of State employee. Barcelona is a regional responsibility for me, so I HAVE to go there once every quarter; tough duty!
I left home this morning at about 05:30. I had a taxi take me to the Atocha train station in downtown Madrid. I was to go with the facility manager that was working here when I arrived. We met at the train station at about 06:00 and entered the Preferente lounge. That is a sort of “frequent flier” lounge.
We boarded the train at about 07:00 for a 07:20 departure. The car we were in was virtually empty. I assume the hour was just too early for the average Spaniard. At 07:20 exactly, the train pulled away from the platform! In no time at all, we were traveling at 150 km/h. Ultimately, the train made a top speed of 301 km/h. That is nearly 200 miles per hour. I was surprised at how smooth the ride was and the fact that it did not seem we were traveling that fast.
It only took about two and a half hours to make it to Barcelona. Once off the train, we took a taxi to our hotel. After we checked in we took the Metro to the stop nearest the Barcelona Consulate. It is a beautiful 1920’s house that has been converted to our use as a consulate building. It sits on an acre or so of land. The gardens are quite beautiful and well kept.
At the end of the workday, we went back to the hotel and took a nap. We met up again at about 20:00 to go out for dinner. We sat down for dinner at 20:30! That is nearly my bedtime! Oh well, when in Rome…
I only spent one night in Barcelona. The rest of the time was jam-packed with work, so the only “sight” I saw on this journey was the apartment building designed and built by the renowned architect, Antoni Gaudí. The apartment building is known as Casa Milà or La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry). The building dates from around 1910. Also, if I understand the story correctly, Gaudi died after being struck by a streetcar in Barcelona. At first, no one knew who he was, so he did not receive very good care. By the time people realized who he was, it was too late. He died in 1926.
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