(You may listen to the story below, read it – if you can – or emerse yourself completely by listening and reading along…)
In the early 60s (of the last century) my parents bought a little vacation retreat in Spain some 80 kilometers down the coast from Barcelona. My dad really wanted it partially because it was sold as an investment to make money. Looking back, it might have been the leading edge of the wave of today’s timeshares. Mom thought it was a scam and had written off the FIVE-THOUSAND Marks (!) – a huge investment for my parents at that time when the monthly mortgage for their house was one hundred and twenty-seven marks.
But it turned out to be real, and my parents got themselves a ‘bungalow’ 1700 km away from home. That was quite a trip at a time when only Germany had its Autobahn, but there were no other freeways in France and Spain on the way to ‘Torredembarra’ to speak of.
I spend quality time there on several occasions – I considered it my second home. Took my first big love there right after we met and took her there shortly before she dumped me.
Then I took my next big love, occasionally she was a bit jealous because she was not the first one there with me, but it all turned out OK because the last ever trip to Spain, before we left Europe altogether for a new adventure in the new world, was with her as my wife. It was a surprise visit to my parents who now spend several months at a time in a better climate than the one in the middle of Germany.
My wife and I had gotten caught up in a cult in the good old US of A. My entanglement only lasted about a year, but it cost me my marriage and the poor wife is still in there as far as I know. Escaping the cult, with my tail between my legs, I went home to my parents – at least I wanted to, but when I was just breaking all the bridges with the cult behind me I received a letter (yes, that was a thing) from my parents, that they were about to get on the way to Spain.
So, no going back to my parents! The alternative was to go to the parents-in-law, who still loved me and whom I still loved, and who were probably were not quite aware of the circumstances that had developed in California.
Just getting out of a cult, finances were rather tight, but to my credit, I have to say that I never was one of those cult members who immediately gave everything to the guru. I still had my Ford LTD station wagon, safely (or so I thought) parked in the public parking of the cult, and I had maintained my own bank account with some green-bucks. Still, I got the cheapest flight to Europe. $225 on People Express to Amsterdam. All went well getting into Shiphol, but I had not considered that there would be a problem to rent a car to cross the border from Holland to Germany. The only viable solution I found was to take a Lufthansa flight from Shiphol to Hannover, about 330 km for nearly the same price as the flight from LA to Amsterdam.
In Hannover, I could rent a car and so I finally arrived at my in-laws, disillusioned by the cult, with many broken dreams, without my wife, and a really bad case of athletes foot from the cult’s community showers.
During the three weeks it took me to bring back my feet to good health, I built myself up emotionally, started to make plans for the future, and got ready to finally visit my parents.
In Bielefeld, I got on the train to Spain – on the Train to Spain – hmm, that rhymes!
Flying was not really an option, as at that time – the later part of the 80s – cheap city-to-city flights had not been invented, and Lufthansa to Barcelona would have strained my resources too much. So, it was two days of rocking and shaking trains, only sometimes with a seat all for myself, but also sometimes curling up on my suitcase in the gangway connection between two cars, in an attempt to get some shut-eye.
After many different trains at many different railway stations, I finally got off at the train station in Torredembarra, Spain. I invested a few Pesetas for a taxi ride to my parents’ bungalow. I only knew how to get there but did not know any address, so I had to tell the driver, left here, then right, then left again, and so on. I really never knew the official address of the house, but it had a number – later photos indicated that it was something like 35 II, and the street something like ‘Clara del Sol’. But my Spanish was good enough for ‘a la izquierda’ and ‘a la derecha’.
It was quite some surprise – they imagined me in California, in fact, had sent a letter there a few weeks ago, and waiting for an answer, and there this guy gets out of a cab in front of their house in a little cul-de-sac.
And that should be my last time in Spain in that little bungalow. Eventually, I made it back to California and rebuild my life, something that might deserve a few other stories.
A few years after these events, my parents sold the little house but some good memories stayed with me. With the advent of Google Maps and street view, I tried a few times to re-trace my way from the train station to our little sanctuary, but there were so many changes that I did not recognize the area anymore and just could not find that little cul-de-sac.
Until – yesterday! A little village a bit off the coast, and as such mostly left alone by tourists in the initial waves of German vacationers, had been our place of choice for shopping for groceries and wine. Pobla de Montornes itself was also unrecognizable for me on Street View, but the road connecting Pobla and Torredembarra was there and not likely changed during the last forty years, so I – virtually – drove this road from Pobla down towards the coast. I knew that I had to take a turn left to get to our little street, but all the streets going left looked unfamiliar, and I had tried in the past to just follow them but always had ended up in completely unfamiliar territory.
Again – until yesterday! I must have dismissed that left turn-off previously, but following it this time, things looked more familiar. And – suddenly – I stood in front of ‘our bungalow’. Sure, a garage had been added, the fence had been upgraded, the street number had changed, and vegetation was totally different, but it was undoubtedly ‘our house’.
The Google car even caught an older couple in the yard, which could have been my parents, but aren’t. Should they have been reborn, they would be much younger, and I don’t think they would go back to the place that made them work really hard initially.
In order to never ever lose that location, I put it on the internet, because nothing ever gets lost on the internet.