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Budget Low-Price Elainovision @scattermoon
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Through Charles le Gaulle Airport, the less usual way.

Hours of dark French autoroute has given way to daylight and Paris. And I never found a comfy sleeping position. #TransEuropeExpress3
I always forget how much Paris there is.

Odd to go from hours of rural fields and little woods to l'urban sprawl. #TransEuropeExpress3
I wasn't in Paris more than 10 minutes when a man started pissing on a wall in front of me.

This is truly a magical place. #TransEuropeExpress3
When you want to hide your boats. #TransEuropeExpress3
En Seine in the brain.
En Seine in the membrane.
Parisian dawn #TransEuropeExpress3
Leaving Paris in the morning is the first time any of my TransEuropeExpresses have matched the Kraftwerk lyrics. Didn't have time for a Champs-Élysées rendezvous though.
It takes a while to leave Paris too.
Perfectly placed billboard to block my one photo of the castle at Étampes. #TransEuropeExpress3
Then suddenly everything goes flat and wide open as we leave the Seine Valley behind. It's like Cambridgeshire but French.

The rural-urban contrast with the Paris conurbation is huge.
Orléans (the original one, not the jazz one) is full of water towers for some reason.
Maybe for easy access to water in case roving English try burning someone to death again? #TransEuropeExpress3
With a landscape like this and almost no sleep for two nights running, I'm struggling to stay awake, but I also don't want to miss any part of this journey. So.

No. Sleep. Til. Bordeaux.
Loire (just a little bit)
Loire (a little bit more)

Our tour left Tours and the plains have given way to rolling hills with enough sunshine to apparently merit fields of solar panels. I guess it is pretty lovely today.

Also the ticket collector on this train had a stereotypical moustache which is excellent.
Geometrical shape land. #TransEuropeExpress3
Poitiers is far more dramatic than you'd assume for a system of ranking poi players' skill.
By the way, almost everyone else in this carriage is sleeping. There are very few people talking. It's like this train is a highly mobile sunny Saturday morning lie in. #TransEuropeExpress3
At some point it started to feel like Southern France rather than Central France but I can't quite place it (though tbf it's hard to do the same with the shift in English climatic/cultural regions).

Anyway Hello Northern Southern Europe! #TransEuropeExpress3
Almost in Bordeaux now and it shows. This is different to my usual haunts of Northern and Eastern Europe. I'm acquitting Acquitaine.


My favourite trans Nintendo character.
Within 5 minutes of walking into Bordeaux, I had a naked young man waving at me from a balcony. Bienvenue? #TransEuropeExpress3
A main street's pavement.
This feels safe.
I can't tell how deep it goes.
So Bordeaux is very pretty. Feels very different to more northerly cities. The centre is like this... #TransEuropeExpress3
And the surrounds like this. #TransEuropeExpress3
I see they got a Londoner to write their directional signs #TransEuropeExpress3
So right now I'm in Bordeaux drinking bordeaux. Metawine. #TransEuropeExpress3
Visited the Ice Cream 'maison' on my way back to the station. I hope the people in the glace house never throw stones. #TransEuropeExpress3
On previous TEEs I've stopped by the banks of the Rhine for some time out and reflection. I'm nowhere near there this time so I did the same with Bordeaux and the Garonne.

There was a rock band.

Then another showed up on the back of a truck. #TransEuropeExpress3
Mrs Doyle: "Would like a South Western French river, father?"
Ted: "No I'm quite all right. Don't even know any."
Doyle: "Oh Garonne. Garonne Garonne Garonne etc"
And with this, my Bordeaux tweets have finally reached an impasse. #TransEuropeExpress3
Double decker TGVs. Objectively cool. #TransEuropeExpress3
South of Bordeaux, France gets weird. First up is an hour of almost unpopulated forest region called the Gascogne.
Even the trees give up in places. #TransEuropeExpress3
Eventually you reach just about the only town in the area, small but important because of also being a railway junction. It's like a cross between Crewe and Rivendell and even its name 'Dax' sounds like a character in a sci-fi film. #TransEuropeExpress3
Hold up hold up there's a cat on this TGV and it's small and black and has big round starey orange eyes and is peering at me from under its owner's seat. J'aime. #TransEuropeExpress3
Important #TransEuropeExpress3 cat content (I asked)
By Biarritz it no longer feels much like France. #TransEuropeExpress3
Mountains to the left of me, ocean to the right, here I am, stuck in St Jean de Luz.
And I'm on a train not a bus.
I just tried to type #TransExproperess as the hashtag.
I am utterly exhausted.
Technically I've not slept since a wedding BBQ in Berkshire.
But we can stop here. This is Basque Country.
So I wasn't exactly just joking. I was so knackered that I began to get auditory hallucinations like my phone saying 'hey' to me in my voice. Also because I'd gone past the most difficult part of the trip, I took some time out by the mountains and sea. #TransEuropeExpress3
This is Hendaye. Aside from sounding like a day when we honour hens' contributions to our life, it's where the Pyrenees, Atlantic, France, and Spain all meet. There's a break of gauge on the railway so both country's rail networks stop here at the river. #TransEuropeExpress3
The border used to be a much bigger deal before Schengen and especially under Franco. These days you can easily walk across it.

In fact I did just that on a family holiday to Biarritz in 1999 and walked across this bridge into Spain and back to say I'd been. #TransEuropeExpress3
This TERRIFYING THING is on the side of the border railway bridge. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there in 1999...maybe it wasn't there an hour ago... #TransEuropeExpress3
Here's where I took that time out, looking across the estuary to Spain where the large church of an old village was tolling its bells with no other sound but the wind and gentle waves. #TransEuropeExpress3
Here's a small grass person guarding the entrance to their castle, spear in hand.

OK so I was heavily sleep-deprived but you can see that too, right? #TransEuropeExpress3
No lie, they did indeed 'av 0 cats. #TransEuropeExpress3
Hendaye harbour.

I'd started the day in Calais and I was now right at the other end of France. No wonder it had felt such a long day..
But it's also Basque Country. Street signs were bilingual, and the Basque rail network extends to here from Donostia/San Sebastian, even if you don't see entire adverts in Basque like over there. #TransEuropeExpress3
The Euskotren is like a metro system linking Basque towns and cities, running all the way from Bilbao to Hendaye. It's very winding and feels like a bubble car from the future. #TransEuropeExpress3
Basque in its efficiency. #TransEuropeExpress3
When you have control over your bowels. #TransEuropeExpress3
On the Basque train, hearing announcements in Basque, it wasn't a huge surprise to see reminders of the Basque independence movement out the windows. #TransEuropeExpress3
Arriving into Donostia/San Sebastian on the Euskotren. Kinda felt like someone built a metro line for a large town and then just kept going because it was fun, never mind the mountains. #TransEuropeExpress3
So finally we reach San Sebastian. Or Donostia, to give it its Basque name, which you end up doing by default after 5 minutes here.

(This is where I still am btw but I need to get a move on and leave my hostel bed.)
I hear churros calling. I really wanted some after going out for sangria and pinxtos last night but nowhere was still selling them and so I've been craving them all night long. There's a late night churros business going in Donostia if you're interested. #TransEuropeExpress3
Didn't get those churros, mostly because the hostel reception was closed when I went to check out and it was 20 minutes before the receptionist showed up. On a skateboard. #TransEuropeExpress3
Sorry for the slow updates. Spoilers for the future of this thread but this is my current passing view. It's distracting. #TransEuropeExpress3
Back in Donostia yesterday evening and this is very much a city. It was bustling.
And the main attraction? The beach. Any of the three main ones. #TransEuropeExpress3
(Oh wow that tweet finally sent. Blame the Pyrenees.)

The sunset did things to my hair. #TransEuropeExpress3
When I'm in an idyllic location, you know what imagery would make it even better?

It's not London.
When you need to leave Gary's house. #TransEuropeExpress3
When she needs to find her grandmother. #TransEuropeExpress3
I was shattered but also hungry. Thankfully as this is Southern Europe, going out for a meal at 9:30pm was fine.

Check out the bridge with the glowing Crystal Domes. #TransEuropeExpress3
Oh no you don't Donostia. The Nordics have a trademark on 'pointy modern buildings sticking out to sea'. Just ask Oslo and Reykjavik. #TransEuropeExpress3
Donostia old town by night. Peak pinxtos time.

Also we're very clearly in Southern Europe now. #TransEuropeExpress3
Pinxtos (don't call them tapas) are a Basque speciality and Donostia supposedly has some of the best. So I plunged in, picking a bar called 'Atari' because video games. Took a while to get used to but it was delicious. The sangria was perfect for it. #TransEuropeExpress3
I was next to two Durham graduates celebrating something by ordering everything on the menu which was a useful preview.

Anyway then between the exhaustion and sangria I started craving churros, beginning the Churros Saga. #TransEuropeExpress3
Leaving Donostia old town as a Rio-esque Jesus statue stares down from above. #TransEuropeExpress3
The next morning, I had a lie in because I needed one and I could, but this cut down on my exploring/churros time. Then the hostel receptionist disappeared on his skateboard and I got much less time than I'd hoped.

Here's a tree zombie attacking a tower.
First thing I come across after entering Donostia town centre this morning? A race blocking half the roads. I am a lucky.
You can tell it's Basque by all the Xs and Ks. Like a language made to score highly in Scrabble. #TransEuropeExpress3
Donostia shining in the sun this morning, palm trees(!) swaying in the breeze. And an art market. Because. #TransEuropeExpress3
What's your favourite genre of music, dad? #TransEuropeExpress3
Old Town plaza.

You'd occasionally see Catalonian flags as well as the native Basque ones. Solidarity from Spain I guess? #TransEuropeExpress3
Tried climbing the mountain to the monument for the views but half(?)way up realised if I did I might miss my train.

Yes, I ran out of time to find Jesus.

Still worth it though.
It was so lovely in Donostia this morning I didn't really want to leave. Saw folk eating croissants with coffee at streetside cafés by the green waters of the bay in the warmth of the clear blue sky.

Donostia/San Sebastian, you get my Zeus of approval. #TransEuropeExpress3
But I did stop by the beach briefly first. With most of the rest of the day on trains, how could I not? #TransEuropeExpress3
I made my train and it even had vending machines so I could rehydrate and have some snacks. I was expecting a slow journey. I'd forgotten the train crosses the Pyrenees. #TransEuropeExpress3
And so we reach that preview tweet from earlier, where I am mourning the lack of churros but utterly distracted by the increasingly mountainous scenery. #TransEuropeExpress3
Increasingly mountainous scenery intensifies. #TransEuropeExpress3
Pyrenees are halfway up a pair of legs. #TransEuropeExpress3
Down to the Valley of Abandoned Industry. Would make for a scenic urbex if you like that sort of thing. #TransEuropeExpress3
The Other Side of the mountains. I guess this is Iberia proper now. #TransEuropeExpress3
And arriving in Vitoria/Gasteiz (again, it's Basque) where I gave myself an hour's break before the 9 hour train journey across the rest of Spain.
Love this poster at Vitoria station. Shows every national rail operator for Europe and their websites. I guess they were expecting people like me? Anyway I want one. #TransEuropeExpress3
The easiest way to spot a Brit abroad. #TransEuropeExpress3
I can't believe I ran into *another* race. And this one was a marathon this time! #TransEuropeExpress3
There is no escape from them. #TransEuropeExpress3
Viva la diva.
Viva Vitoria.
(Gasteiz, either)
Opinion is divided on this shop. #TransEuropeExpress3
Vitoria old town has moving walkways going up the old staircases. Definitely appreciated the brief rest! #TransEuropeExpress3
Update from the future again: I'm half way through that 9h journey and we're west of León on a single track line winding its way up into the mountains. Signal is likely to be patchy but I'll do what I can cos I'd like this thread to catch up with my present! #TransEuropeExpress3
Lunchtime in Vitoria. The pinxtos bars are packed but I wish I'd had time to indulge again. Also unlike Donostia last night I heard nobody talking in English. #TransEuropeExpress3
Stopping by the plaza on the way back to the station #TransEuropeExpress3
Then I nearly made a terrible mistake.
I saw a churros restaurant. I had time. I ordered 2 churros with chocolate. Except the man heard 2 'churros with chocolate' and prepared enough for a small group. Which took time. I only just made my train. Churros, huh? #TransEuropeExpress3
btw this was my 'solution' to having Too Many Churros (too little time).
Reuse recycle etc... #TransEuropeExpress3
On to the fancy 9 hour train (which I am still on 5 hours later). So fancy in fact the aircon wasn't working and the screens kept showing the first few minutes of Batman v Superman on loop.

They fixed that, thankfully. #TransEuropeExpress3
Lots of wide open green under blue skies. Like an express train though Windows XP. #TransEuropeExpress3
Just before Miranda de Ebro, one sudden bit of rocky drama that has nothing to do with Sylvester Stallone. #TransEuropeExpress3
That tweet took an hour to send. Mountains. #TransEuropeExpress3
Near Palencia (the friendlier version of Valencia?) the landscape gets kinda arid. Didn't realise that reached this far north in Spain. #TransEuropeExpress3
They just started playing jazz over the train tannoy?! #TransEuropeExpress3
Speaking for now: We went back the way we came for 10 min and now we're back in the mountains with limited signal except it's now dusk so the deep gorges are like tunnels from the train. Might have to wait until we leave the mountains to tweet the mountains. #TransEuropeExpress3
Also they replaced the screens that showed where we are with some movie nobody's watching? #TransEuroExpress3
OK we've reached signal again.

So earlier we reached León, the part where the train switched from plains to mountains, and an important historic city known in the UK for...a band and a restaurant chain. #TransEuropeExpress3
After this I walked 8 cars up the train to the buffet car to find it's like UK ones that do sandwiches, crisps, and drinks. So my train dinner was...a Spanish pot noodle. #TransEuropeExpress3
I could see on the screens we were approaching mountains and would even have a twisty climb coming.

At first it seemed like scrubby hills...then... #TransEuropeExpress3
Well that's dramatic. #TransEuropeExpress3
A mountain me #TransEuropeExpress3
Progress though these mountains is slow. From 100+ kmph we were now 80 at best, sometimes 30, and on twisting routes too. #TransEuropeExpress3
From occasional regions of flat ground we could even see snow on distant mountaintops. #TransEuropeExpress3
At some point we started following a river, through gorges and past numerous hydro-electric reservoirs. #TransEuropeExpress3
It started to get too dark to photograph the scenery. Basically, the same gorge but with an ever wider river and slightly lower hills. #TransEuropeExpress3
Almost caught up!

Here's the moment they inexplicably played jazz at us. #TransEuropeExpress3
Ourense, the main rail junction for Galicia. The train mostly emptied here as others headed on to Santiago de C or A Coruña. Just us hardcore ones left onwards to Vigo. #TransEuropeExpress3
When you're gluten-intolerant #TransEuropeExpress3
And now we're all caught up!

We followed that river until the other side became Portugal and I even got Portuguese network coverage briefly.

Been on this train almost 9 hours now! Can I sleep now. #TransEuropeExpress3
There's a beautiful view across Vigo Bay from the train as we enter the city, but I can't see any of it because it's gone 11pm and it's super dark. I think the lights opposite are the village of Moaña? Which just earworms me. #TransEuropeExpress3
Did I earworm you with Moana? You're welcome!

Vigo is warm - even given its ill-fitting time zone; it's as warm here at 11:30pm as 1pm is on an average day in the UK.

It's also very well lit. So...shiny!
One of the lesser known colleges, I guess. #TransEuropeExpress
The bottom sign is the Shorter ALFAYA NAUTICA #TransEuropeExpress3
There are pedestrian crossings with lights on the floor. You don't need to look up to know when it's a good time to cross.

It mostly just reminds me of Tron.
Shoutout to my Scottish friends on here. #TransEuropeExpress3
And that's all for tonight. I'm in bed and knackered. Buenas noches from my 9 hour train and me!
Spanish B&B is very Spanish. I wandered down for breakfast at 7:30am only to find breakfast doesn't start until 8am. The owner didn't even get out of bed until 8:05am. With an 8:55am train to Portugal, I'm not going to get to see Vigo proper. #TransEuropeExpress3
Apparently the Guardian named the white sand beach on an island in the bay as the world's best. Don't suppose I could ask the train to wait a few hours?

Such little time here. Most international rail journey itineraries give you this long at changes. How?! #TransEuropeExpress3
The Spanish host speaks very little English. Sleepy lactose-intolerant me wanted coffee. Guess what happened. #IAmMilk #TransEuropeExpress3
Leaving Vigo in the early morning. International trains shouldn't be allowed to depart before 9am... #TransEuropeExpress3
From Port o' Vigo to Porto we go.

I had no idea just how beautiful this area is when I arrived in the dark 9 hours ago. #TransEuropeExpress3
Between the scenery and the climate I'm wondering if I really have to return to London after this. #TransEuropeExpress3
Everything has a vaguely yellow glow from the rising sun and it feels like high summer. Adore this climate. #TransEuropeExpress3
Hello old friend! It's the river we spent hours following through Galician mountains yesterday. And crossing it means...

These trips take so much planning and organisation but it's the best feeling when they work out!

Also I get that hour back that I lost entering Calais. It's more use here than there. #TransEuropeExpress3
And here's the Atlantic Ocean. This is the western edge of Europe. #TransEuropeExpress3
Cool that they named a station after the D&D character I created when I was 12. #TransEuropeExpress3
Keep passing citrus groves, mostly oranges and lemons.

(I'm turning turning turning turning turning around.
But all that I can see is just another lemon tree)
Into the hills which smell of woodsmoke from farmers' fires and palm trees grow in hillside corners between vineyards and scrub. #TransEuropeExpress3
Porto is impressive. Almost ever corner hides a beautiful surprise. It's properly warm and sunny and I'm in a small bar with hearty local food and gooseberry beer. Best bank holiday Monday. #TransEuropeExpress3
Super relaxed. #TransEuropeExpress3
It's a great city for selfies, anyway. #TransEuropeExpress3
OK. I want this travelogue to be honest so here goes.

I missed my Lisbon train, just. The Porto Metro had confusing signage at Trindade station and I was so focused on getting my train I didn't notice I'd gone the wrong way for a few stops. #TransEuropeExpress3
There's always a certain amount of risk in having set trains to catch and you have to play that off against time in the changeover city.

In this case I'd given myself just enough time but compounded my error and was *just* too late. #TransEuropeExpress3
I'm not travel infallible.
That said if I could afford to miss any connection it'd be this one as it's only cost me an hour timewise and €30 for a new ticket. I was more careful in France and Spain cos I'd have been relatively screwed if I missed those. #TransEuropeExpress3
So yeah. I considered pretending that this was always the plan but I guess I wanted to show the risk and also maybe give some schadenfreude to those envying my journey.

I guess there are worse places to wait than Porto. Now back to business. #TransEuropeExpress3

Turns out the high speed trains in Portugal may have wi-fi but they don't have power sockets and after supporting me through much of the past day, my power pack gave out and I had no battery on the last leg to Lisbon. Oops.

So let's finish this now.
Porto's main station, which varies architecturally from 'historic rail station' to 'car park in Coventry' #TransEuropeExpress3
Pineapple Fanta.

The world is full of wonders. #TranEuropeExpress3
I walked from the station to the city centre to see some of Porto's out-of-centre areas. Also coming across palm trees was no surprise in the heat - I popped into a supermarket on the way to get sun cream and water. #TransEuropeExpress3
Becoming a big fan of 'shade', a concept that I'm much less used to in the UK!

Also that thing in the pond isn't a dead fish, it's just a statue that looks like one, so. #TransEuropeExpress3
Porto genuinely is a city that keeps surprising you. I was so taken with the following buildings I didn't even realise I was heading *away* from the city centre. #TransEuropeExpress3
Excellent, I've always wanted to own a French high speed train, but especially since I travelled on one on Saturday. #TransEuropeExpress3
Nutella Cafe. Because of course. #TransEuropeExpress3 #OhGodTheSweetness
I got lost. But it's easy when the streets look like this. #TransEuropeExpress3
I never did find out... #TransEuropeExpress3
Liberation Plaza. I basically melted into a bench here with some strawberry juice due to walking up and down hills in the sun. My poor toe. #TransEuropeExpress3
The old train station is right in the middle of the city but the long-distance trains don't stop here. This one doesn't look like a car park. Think more Marylebone than Euston, Londoners. #TransEuropeExpress3
Lunch was in a crowded bar off a narrow sidestreet.

Food is pica pau which is ham, olives, carrot, cauliflower, beef, sausage, all mixed in with fries. It's like a chip pizza and I want it available in London right now.

Beer has gooseberries in it because.
Then I realised I'd not even *seen* this bit of Porto yet and. #TransEuropeExpress3
A lost tourist walked past me looking confused, an old lady in one of the passageside houses smiled and went back inside. #TransEuropeExpress3
Porto's most famous feature. Should have called it Ponte, in hindsight. #TransEuropeExpress3
Some topless guys were standing on the edge of the bridge (which seems VERY DANGEROUS) and were shouting 'Porr-to!' because of the local football team's recent championship win. Others started shouting back from all sides and levels of the river. Like bells. #TransEuropeExpress3
Ships, trains, helicopters, cars, cable cars, and funicular railways. Did I mention I like transport infrastructure? This is a happyplace. #TransEuropeExpress3
After bordeaux in Bordeaux I had to have some port in Porto. #Metawine #TransEuropeExpress3
Porto old town, complete with hidden restaurants up narrow alleys. #TransEuropeExpress3
I swear Historic Buildings are just all over the place. You head away from one only to hit another. #TransEuropeExpress3
City was full of students in gowns, costumes, colourful accessories, and some carried huge wooden spoons. Occasionally you'd find some performing

Turns out it was the week of Ribbon Burning. I had no idea this was a thing in Portugal.…
Street art. Choose your fighter. #TransEuropeExpress3
Now finally we reach my metro journey back, where I obliviously went the wrong way at my change at Trindade and cost myself a train ticket. Other than that it's lovely. #TransEuropeExpress3
And then onto the power-socket-less train to Lisbon. I was feeling down but the views from the train soon cheered me up again. #TransEuropeExpress3
Had a weird weather thing leaving Porto where there was a low-hanging thick fog around the ocean, meaning that as we neared the beaches, everything disappeared. #TransEuropeExpress3
The final train leg of my trip, heading mostly along coastal plains through Central Portugal. I kept fighting with the woman in the seat in front of me about whether to have the window blind down or up. #TransEuropeExpress3
The final approach to Lisbon. #TransEuropeExpress3
As we pulled in to Lisbon itself, a huge rainbow filled the sky. That was a particular fitting final backdrop. #TransEuropeExpress3

I didn't get to savour it as I had to rush off to my hostel to get in before check-in closed, but I'd made it, and furthermore I was right next to the Eurovision arena.

#TransEuropeExpress3 complete, and I'm still exhausted the following morning.
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