It seems that the first taxi driver that I met ay Matabiau wasn’t trying to rip me off after all. The fare from Jeremy and Mathilde’s apartment back to Matabiau was over €16.00.

It’s a pretty long journey from Toulouse Matabiau to Barcelona Sants, four hours in total. Made even longer by a stop-over at Narbonne. The stop-over was supposed to be for fifty minutes but, there was a delay of one hour and twenty minutes. We were supposed to leave Narbonne at 02:50pm but, by the time we actually left, it was 04:15pm. Didn’t get into Barcelona Sants until 07:00pm.

When I boarded the train at Matabiau, I saw a Chinese woman who was almost as loaded down with luggage as me. Her suitcase was smaller and more manageable but, she had an assortment of other bags and, a huge cardboard box.

She somehow managed to get off the train at Narbonne before me so I asked her to help me by keeping an eye on my Eastpak duffel bag while I re-boarded the train for my two backpacks. After that, we got talking and decided to wait together for the train to Barcelona Sants.

Amy is from Shanghai, works in the fashion industry and was in Toulouse on business. She also had business in Barcelona, that’s where her husband is. They leave for China later tonight. The big cardboard box is full of medical face-masks. She has another in Barcelona. Because of the Coronavirus, there is a shortage of them in China.

It was nice to have someone to talk to and to generally pass the time with. Amy showed me pictures of her two young sons and I showed her photos of two adult children and my grandkids.

When the train finally arrived, we basically commandeered a section for ourselves and all of our luggage. The luggage racks were full anyway. Amy gave me a Chinese custard bun, ‘all the way from China’, and a satsuma, ‘not from China and not so sweet. The Chinese ones are sweeter’.

About half-way through the journey, Amy had to go to her assigned seat because an old English couple boarded the train. Amy was occupying their seats with all of her luggage. My seat was across the aisle from where Amy and I had camped ourselves but, when the other passengers saw our predicament with all our luggage, they happily swapped. Not these two English folks. I purposely left as much of the luggage as I could where it was and made them squeeze themselves in.

When we finally arrived at Barcelona Sants, Amy and I helped each other offload our stuff and said our goodbyes on the platform. We shook hands and, I’m ashamed to admit, I freaked a bit when I felt that her hand was hot and sweaty. Coronavirus paranoia hit me a little bit too I’m afraid.

Eli (aka Camila, Florian’s ex-wife) is managing the flat where I’m going to be staying and she met me there to let me in. Some cleaners arrived shortly after us, to finish off getting the flat ready. When they were done and I’d unpacked all of my clothes, Eli and I went around the corner to a nice little tapas bar for a bite to eat and a couple of beers.

In no time at all, Barcelona feels like home.

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