At the end of my very first time abroad (studying at the University of Limerick for a semester during my junior year of undergrad), my mom- who is more like my best friend than a typical mother- flew into Ireland (her first time abroad as well) and we went railing for 6 weeks around Europe. I actually had not left the island of Ireland the entire semester, despite friends jetting off every other weekend. I stayed put, got to know my new city better, and visited other towns in Ireland.
I had “saved” the rest of Europe for these 6 weeks with my mom. At the tail end of our trip we were heading to Barcelona from Nice. However, there was a rail strike and we could not get into Spain via rail. After much confusion at the train station, panic over not having a room for the night, having to turn down a few French men’s offer to rent a car and drive us to Barcelona, and securing a couple of extra nights at the Chateau we were booked in, we decided we would just train to our next destination three days early.
We arrived at the Bordeaux train station around midnight, with no clue of how far we actually were from our lodging (this all happened pre-smart phone era). We ended up in a taxi with an 18 year old driver who was ready for a night out and less than thrilled with his step-father’s request to pick up these women during his obviously prime clubbing hours.
An hour later we arrived at our Chateau, were shown to our room, zonked out, waking up too late for breakfast but were greeted with wine and cheeses at 11am. We then ventured into the village to find that the annual Fete du Vin was going on for the next two days. Had we made it to Barcelona, we would have missed it entirely. The wine festival was set against the backdrop of this gorgeous medieval village, with free tastings, some pours the size of an actual serving!
While we were bummed about missing out on tapas, Gaudi, and practicing our Spanish, the Saint Emilion Fete du Vin more than made up for it.
And don’t worry, I got to Barcelona. Eventually.