A Toast with a Stranger on the Train to Barcelona

A few years ago, my wife and I made our first trip to Europe together, and one of the highlights was the overnight train we took from Paris to Barcelona. It was my first time traveling by train, and it had been many years since my wife last did so, making it essentially a new experience for us both. It was great fun playing cards in our sleeper compartment, and falling asleep to the repetitive swaying of the train. One of my favorite memories of the entire trip took place during our time on the rails, and centered around a drink synonymous with Catalonia...

After settling into our sleeper, we decided to make our way to the dining car for a bite to eat. We were seated at a table, which we shared with a couple that I later learned were returning home from holiday in Paris. I noticed the gentleman was drinking what I assumed to be Champagne, and feeling in celebratory mood I ordered us a pair of glasses. The server informed me however, that unlike our table companion, our ticket did not include alcoholic beverages with dinner, and we were unable to order them as a result.

Gaudi Wave Barcelona Parc Guell
Surfing Gaudi's "Wave" in Barcelona
Having overheard our conversation with the waiter, the gentleman began to explain that he was drinking Cava, and went into great detail about the sparkling wine's history in his home, the Catalonia region of Spain. With Barcelona being our destination, and the capital of Catalonia, he said we were certain to see a lot of Cava during our visit. He handed me his two-thirds full glass of yellow bubbly, and insisted that my wife and I share what remained.

In the States, no one is going to drink after a complete stranger, but we were far from home, and if this gentleman had no problem offering me a glass from which he had already drank, then it wasn't a problem for me either. Besides, he was clearly very proud of the beverage, so who was I really to turn him down? The Cava was dry and effervescent, and my wife and I both smiled in satisfaction.

This was one of those "When in Rome" moments that makes travel, especially abroad, so fulfilling. We have enjoyed Cava many times since, and each time I pop open a bottle I'm reminded of the glass I shared with a stranger on the train to Barcelona.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~