It was sitting in the Passeig de Gràcia station five years ago where I had my first exposure to Cerbère, the most southern town on France’s Mediterranean coast. I had arrived from San Francisco, ready for adventure with #1 Fan. Sitting there in that station, jetlag still painting the world an odd shade of strange, I anxiously awaited our train up to Figueres.

Train after train passed bearing the name, “Estaciò de França” and I would ask, “This one? This one, right” to which I’d get a calm, “No” that spoke to her wonder as to how on earth I’d ever really traveled before given my obvious lack of understanding trains in Europe. As an ironic future side note, not only would I know where Estaciò de França was, but I’d end up living spitting distance from it. Also, I took the TGV to Paris all by myself not once, but twice as I’m very special.

Then, finally a train bearing the name, “Cerbère” trundled in to view to which #1 Fan said, “This one.” Not wanting to look dumber, I boarded it, lugging my rather crappy suitcase, and headed north. Naturally, we got off long before Cerbère, but this was my first exposure to the town. It would seem, as this excerpt from Salt & Old Vines shows, I was missing very little other than the foundations of a future narrative.

…Going from east to west, it’s Argeles, Collioure, Port Vendres, Banyuls and Cerbere. I will most likely never write about or mention Cerbere again as it is an utter shitehole and the most interesting thing I can think of to say about it is that we once blew out a tire there on the drive back from Spain. We’d gone to Spain for lunch, because we can do that in this neck of the woods, and had one of the truly worst lunches I have ever willingly eaten. Ever. Blowing out the tire was better than the lunch. I don’t think anyone present that afternoon would disagree with me…