Menton, France - Google Image
November 8, 1977 - Board train in Florence at 12:15AM. Change at Pisa. Ride along beautifully lit Italian-French coastline -- Rapallo, Cannes, Monaco, Nice, and even Menton, which my home town of Mentone, Indiana, is supposedly named after. In compartment with me are three Greek seamen. Talk a good part of the night away with the chief of them, the one who speaks English. All handsome and charming and cheerful. They are headed for Nice where they have a job of taking someone's yacht to Greece; the chief says I can come with them. I think of taking up his invitation except that they won't ship out of Nice for three or four days. [I've regretted not taking that chance of adventure ever since, but I couldn't imagine keeping myself occupied in Nice for that long.]
Reach Barcelona mid-morning. I'm starved and eat three sweet rolls and drink two coffees in station snack bar. Since I have a few hours wait before catching the train that will take me to Sitges I decide to leave the station and walk around aimlessly. The streets are quiet and empty except for an occasional policeman, as if all of Barcelona sleeps in on a Sunday morning. Or maybe it's that everyone but me and a few policemen are at Mass.
As I'm walking down one quiet street I see that I'm approaching from behind a policeman in front of some official-looking building. His uniform is gaudy like opera costumery. He's just ambling slowly. Suddenly, surprised, he hears my footsteps behind him and swings around and simultaneously hoists a machine gun so that it is aimed at me. Judging me harmless, I guess, he lifts an arm as if to dismiss his carelessness and laughs and presents the sidewalk to me with a sweep of his arm.