Here’s the second of three dispatches from Dirk VanderHart, true comrade, Portland bon vivant and Trainbeer’s first foreign correspondent.
Editor’s note: You will notice that VanderHart sips on a Champagne-like beverage called Cava in this adventure. Generally, Trainbeer’s Editorial Board only accepts submissions featuring beer on trains. But it is making a one-time exception for VanderHart’s prose.
Barcelona, Spain — C2 RENFE Train from El Prat Airport to Placa Catalunya (SAME DAY)
This is, as far as I know, a trainbeer record. Two countries, two trains, two beverages, ONE DAY. It felt good, I can tell you. As good as the pleasant Catalan sun glinting off the Mediterranean, the swaying palms, and my fake hipster eyewear.
Let me first say that were I to rank my top 20 or so favorite places in the world, Barcelona’s El Prat Airport might be one of them. This is solely given how pleasant, clean, comfortable and all-around attractive it is relative to its counterparts. The chairs are of a supple, leatherish substance, with a sproingy give and just enough an incline on their high backs to be relaxing, but not ostentatiously so.
The high glass windows offer views of both mountains and sea, the high definition Philips televisions broadcast hilarious European basketball games, they serve tallboys of San Miguel beer for CHEAP. I want to go on, believe me, but recognize this is a beer and train blog.
I hope I won’t be too much maligned, then, when I admit I selected a fine Spanish Cava for the next span of my journey. Cava, you’ll know, is the Spanish compeer to French Champagne. Many in Spain will hint, but never outright aver, that it’s just as good. I can say it is cheap and delicious and, to one with an unrefined palate like mine, just as good. The airport concession stand, in fine El Prat style, offered up a plastic champagne flute upon purchase. The train was right on time.
But this train drinking experience was touch and go. Perhaps it was the crowded nature of the RENFE car, swollen with tired travelers from a multitude of cultures. Perhaps it was the perceived opulence of popping a bottle of sparkling wine and pouring it into its component glass on an airport train. It might have been the many pictures and videos taken, or the satisfied smacking of lips during the act.
Whatever the reason, people did not appear pleased I was drinking Cava on the RENFE, particularly one gentleman in a Green sweatshirt who I guessed (through sheer appearance) may have been from Austria. He kept giving me the stink eye. I kept drinking.
The Cava (Anna de Cordoniu, by Cordoniu) was a brut, the bubbles were acceptably tiny, and I was in fine fennel when the train pulled into our destination.