Barcelona, Spain — July 13, 2016

I attempted to do this post yesterday, but the WiFi in the Ramblas Center Youth Hostel is very poor. In the morning it was dead slow, and in the evening I couldn’t connect at all. I’ve given up writing it online, so I’m writing this post on my computer, and later I’ll go out in the street, find a public WiFi, and upload the post.

Yesterday I took the train to Arenys de Mar, which is on the coast north of Barcelona. My motive for going there is that I used to spend my summers in Arenys 50 years ago during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship, and I wanted to see how much the place has changed. A lot! It used to be a sleepy fishing village with some summer tourism. Now it’s a small tourist city with modern buildings.

I started chatting with a man of almost my age in the train station in Barcelona when we were both looking at the train schedule. It turned out that he was going on the same train but a bit farther up the coast that I was, so we rode together and gossiped, which made the trip go faster.

I think I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the rails on standard Spanish trains are farther apart than the international standard. That means that the passenger coaches are also wider and spacious. Here is a photo of the interior of our train car.

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The train ran for most of its trajectory along the Mediterranean beach. Suddenly the guy I was talking to pointed out the window and said, “That’s a nude beach.” And so it was. I only saw it briefly as the train whizzed by, but people were lying on the sand nude or walking around with various appendages swinging in the wind that most of us never expose to sunlight. I apologize to the voyeurs who are reading this blog (I know you’re there), but by the time I snapped a picture, we were almost past the beach, and due to my haste and the train’s motion, the picture of the few people I managed to capture is blurry. Clicking on the picture will enlarge it, but it will be just as blurry.  I’ll show it anyway, and you can use your imagination to fill in the details. Take my word for it. At least three of those four people are stark naked. If I had been able to take a better picture, this post might have gone viral!

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Below is a photo of the train platforms at the Arenys train station. It seems to me to be pretty impressive for a place that is somewhere between a large town and a small city in size. However, the rail system in Spain is excellent as is almost all of the infrastructure including the highways. Due to our political climate, infrastructure in the United States has fallen far behind that of Western Europe. We look like a third-world country in comparison.

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You’ll also not in the picture above that the USA is not the only country with a weight problem. There aren’t nearly as many obese people in Spain as in the USA, but the ones who are obese are just as heavy as their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic.

As I wrote above, Arenys looks nothing like it did when I used to visit it. For one thing, in those days under the dictatorship the Catalan language was effectively forbidden. Now all of the signs including the restaurant menus are in Catalan only. Because it is a tourist town, I would have expected them to also be in Spanish and English and perhaps also in French, but the people in Cataluña outside of Barcelona tend to be very nationalistic. They feel that Cataluña is a country occupied by a foreign government, the foreign government being the Spanish government, of course.

When I used to visit the village, one of the businesses in town was glass blowing. There was an open air workshop right on the main drag, and I used to stop in front of it and watch the men inside pull balls of molten glass out of the oven on the end of a long tube and blow it into useful shapes. That type of work no longer exists, of course.

Arenys is built mainly along the length of a canyon extending from the sea. Below is a picture I took from one side of town looking across the canyon to the other side. You can see that there is nothing left of the once primitive fishing village. The hills used to be covered by olive orchards.

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