Tricycle car outside Taormina, Sicily, Italy (2015-05)

Taormina, Sicily, to Tarn Region, France (via Rome, Barcelona & Toulouse)


I had only been on Sicily for two weeks when it became necessary for me to go back to France to visit friends in the Tarn region. My initial instinct was to catch the ferry from Palermo to Genova and then a few busses, West along the coast and North towards Toulouse. But when I realized that the cheapest ticket for the 20+ hour boat trip along the Italian coast was 67 Euro and the cheap bus connection from Geneva had max. one vehicle going per day I changed my mind and started to look into other options.

Taormina to Catania by bus (with Etna Transport)

After some going back and forth I found flying from Catania to be the cheapest option. As I had learnt on my arrival here: the Taormina train station isn’t in close vicinity to the village at all. Luckily my host offered to take me the bus stop in town. There I was able to catch one of the direct busses to Catania airport. 8.20 Euro isn’t cheap (in comparison: the round trip to Catania is only 7.80 Euro). But it was convenient and it took little more than an hour until the bus dropped me in front of the terminal.

Catania to Barcelona via Rome by plane (with Vueling)

Google Flights is magic! Once I had established (via that the boat/bus combo was neither an easy nor a cheap option to get to Toulouse I looked into trains and busses which led me to look into flights. Google flights (much like Skyscanner) offers multi-dimensional search across both, airline websites and agency type sites like Expedia. So I found that flying mid-week with Vueling into Barcelona would be cheapest, I already knew about good bus connections from the catalan capital to the Midi-Pyrénées.

As usual I paid a bit more to check in my big backpack, 112 Euro, but in contrast to Germanwings didn’t get any food with it.

The Catania to Rome leg went smoothly. After a couple of hours in Fiumicino, during which I shelled out 7 Euros for a crappy panino and a drink, it was time to head to my gate and wait for check-in.

And wait.

And wait.

I had read on the news that there had been a fire at the airport earlier that week. But it took the crew an hour to inform us that in fact another fire was the cause of our delay.

Once on board we swiftly made it to the runway. Just to wait some more.

And wait.

And wait.

Finally the captain informed us that apparently two people had jumped off a plane which was still taxiing after landing and now police was scanning the meanwhile dark airfield to find them.

It was already the next day when we touched down in Barcelona. I had booked a cheap hostel in town, not far from the bus station for the night. Unfortunately the train the hostel had recommended was not running until the morning. But there were other options. The Aerobus cost 5.90 Euro and dropped me in Plaça Catalunya and what’s better than strolling for 20 minutes through Barcelona on a lush summer night? It was glorious.

The hostel less so. It was mostly hot and noisy. But that’s a different story.

Barcelona to Toulouse by bus (with Eurolines)

The breakfast at least was enjoyable. With a full stomach I made my way to the Estació d’Autobusos Barcelona Nord. I had found a 8 Euro ticket to go to Toulouse. Super saver! Usually, the price can be as much as 40 Euros on Eurolines, and only slightly less with the other providers.

I got a bit nervous when the bus only drove in five minutes before the scheduled departure but learnt that it had left from the Southern station. It got even more stressful when the driver told me I need to go to the Eurolines counter on the first floor to check in. I ran, backpacks and all on me, and returned with a piece of cardboard I handed to the driver. Checked in.

Once on board things were running smoothly as ever: there was plenty of space for me to have two seats for myself and my bag, there was even some Wi-Fi for me to get a bit of work done before motion sickness got the better of me, we stopped for lunch, and even arrived in Toulouse a few minutes early.

Toulouse to Gaillac by train (with SNCF)

I had hoped to catch a Tikémouv ticket to Gaillac. But the trains only left early or late in the day, and I had friends waiting to pick me up from Gaillac station. So I shelled out the standard 10.70 Euro (instead of 5 Euro) and there I was, back in the Tarn.

Do you have anything to add? Thoughts? Opinions? Let me know!

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