From the outset of this piece I must confess my adoration for trains. Gone are the steam-hurling machinations of old but there still lingers a sense that the train really is the right way to travel, offering the elegance, serenity and romance that neither the car nor the aeroplane can hope to match. Estacio de Franca, Barcelona’s oldest railway terminus, is today not the thriving transport hub that its grandeur would dictate, having been surpassed by the hard nosed practicality of unsightly Sants.
The station remains in use for a few local services as well as Elipsos, a company with the commendable objective of restoring a little pride and character to international travel, services that depart once daily to Zurich, Paris and Milan. In the main, however, the grand entrance hall with its marble walls and magnificent domed ceiling has become a relic of a bygone age, imperial opulence fallen into wistful emptiness.
For me, the old station serves as an inspiration, the bar radiates sophistication and class, with a large selection of books for perusal and excellent food, it’s very easy to spend a couple of hours in the place, sipping a coffee, reading, writing and of course, partaking in the age old sport of people watching. That’s the fascinating thing about any station, they house impermanence - trains, people, belongings, they come and they go - only Franca remains unchanged, standing regally on, unperturbed by the passings of time.