Day 14 Girona-Barcelona

We woke up very tired in Girona. Since our room was quite nice, we decided to just have ourselves a rest instead of hurling ourselves into action. Our only agenda item was to drive to the Barcelona airport where a car was picking us up at 1 pm to take us to our hotel. We rested for a while, then got a coffee and a croissant, then checked out and hit the road.

Samantha was a bit of a pain on the route. We saw plenty of signs that said airport, but she always wanted us to go somewhere else. I have to admit I was really looking forward to packing Samantha away in the suitcase and dropping the Golf off at Avis for 4 refreshing car-free days in Barcelona. John did a great job driving, and Samantha did a great job directing us, but it was pretty tiring all that hopping around.

Soon we found the Airport and the Avis rental area and dropped off the car. Goodbye Golf! Goodbye Samantha! And Christian, our driver, was right there to meet us. He was very friendly and spoke perfect English and told us all about local trends in the economy and politics. I had a little bit of a hard time relaxing at first because I was so used to navigating that I kept feeling like I needed to tell Christian which roads to take. But in no time we were at the hotel, and Christian told us we made a good choice because the hotel was hip and close to everything—right near the University in the Eixample area.

We walked to the check-in, and were greeted by Carmen, the lovely receptionist who had been very helpful with our booking. We purchased this hotel package through www.luxurylink.com so it came with breakfasts, massages, free drinks, and a dinner. We have used the auction site before for reserving places in Costa Rico, St. Lucia, and Thailand. It has always been wonderful. We were anxious to see our new home for the next 4 nights, and Carmen walked us upstairs to the room.

It truly exceeded our expectations! It was a gorgeous suite with 2 bathrooms, a living room, and a huge bedroom with a King bed and floor to ceiling windows. We were so happy we decided to splurge for this relaxing last part of the trip. We took a few pictures, got freshened up, and went for a walk to get some Tapas!

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After a light snack of Tapas, we came back and had a quick nap. Then we walked to La Rambla—the crowded tree-lined pedestrian mall so famous with tourists. And tourists there were. A few too many for my taste. But we found a Desigual store and I bought two dresses and John bought a shirt, so the trip was a success.

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After shopping, we came back to the hotel and showered to get ready for our reservations at Hisop. We were really looking forward to the tasting menu at this innovative and hip restaurant. We ate an incredible 8 course meal that started with a gin and tonic oyster with horseradish foam, and ended with a special morel mushroom crème catalan with passion fruit ice cream. I think that was the best dessert I ever had. Loved it! We were full and tired, so we took a cab home and went to sleep!

Day 13 Cadaques-Girona

We got up this morning and went for a little run to see Salvador Dali’s house. Let’s just say it’s super cool and I want to live in it. I really want to live in Cadaques, period. What a gorgeous little place. I am so glad we came to visit.

Dali's House

After our run we had breakfast at the hotel then drove to Figures where we waited in line for about 45 minutes to see the Dali museum. While waiting, I bought a bottle of water from the Dalicatessin. So glad they have a sense of humor here!

Well, the wait was so worth it. Though it doesn’t even begin to house all of his work, we were absolutely amazed by his creativity and depth of artistry. From modernizing Roman and Greek images, to creating a sculpture out of an old Cadillac, to a Hologram called “First Cylndric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper’s Brain,” the museum was full of inventive and crazy items. The museum should not be missed. We caught a little lunch before leaving for Girona, our last stop before Barcelona.

Dali Museum

Our hotel in Girona was recommended in the tour guides—it was literally right in the center of town; in fact it involved a harrowing drive onto a pedestrian street. We really liked Girona a lot. We rested for just a moment, then started walking through the Jewish quarter—the oldest part of town with very close buildings and shops. We ended at the Cathedral, which was started in 1416, and has the widest Gothic nave in the world. It was truly breathtaking. On the way back to the hotel for a rest, we stopped at the store Desigual, which I fell in love with back in Arizona when I saw a lovely skirt that Isabelle had from the store. I tried on a dress but it was way too big, so it would have to wait for Barcelona. We got some ice cream and headed for a nap.

Jewish Quater, Girona

After a rest, we walked back into the Jewish quarter and happened upon a little wine shop where about 20 people had gathered outside. The shop keeper was serving wine out of his little store front, and a crowd had gathered to enjoy the tasting. We had to be a part of that, right? So we both got a glass for 1.5 Euro, and had fun in the street drinking our wine and people watching.

Dinner that night was tapas including stuffed squid, black rice with seafood, and mushroom cannelloni. We thought about going one more place before turning in, but we were spent, and went back to the hotel and read for just a few moments before falling asleep. Beautiful day, beautiful town. I would really recommend it.       

Squid with Black Rice

Day 12 Sete-Cadaques

This was our fourth day of skipping a run, since we woke up in Sete and it’s very congested and hilly with no good paths out. Plus, we took a nice long walk in the morning to the fish market, and then up to the Musee Paul Valery, where I went to his gravesite. That means I can write off my trip for poetry research right?? It was a nice morning, and we left town at about noon to head to our next spot, in Spain, Cadaques, which was about 2.5 hours away.

Musee Paul Valery

As soon as Isabelle my French tutor showed me the first picture of Cadaques, I knew I wanted to go there. It is a little seaside village with lots of artists, she said, and it has the home of Salvador Dali. So we headed out of Sete on the beach road, past the areas where I used to go sunning when I spent a summer at the Universite de Paul Valery in Montpellier in 1989. It was a cloudy and windy day, but we got our feet wet in the Mediterranean before heading off to the autoroute.

Cloudy Day

As we drove we spotted license plates, Italy, Fance, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Romania, and, finally, a semi truck from Hungary. John joked that they were shipping in Vizslas. I can see why they would they are such sweeties! Just ask Autumn and Jeff, who are sleeping with our Vizslas in the bed as I type!

Truck from Hungary

We got off the freeway at Figures, and passed the touristy beach towns that Isabelle had warned me about. The resort town of Roses looked just like Nueva Vallarta in Mexico, which is to say, it was to be skipped. To get to Cadaques one must brave a mountainous 2 lane 12 km road that then drops into an idyllic cove of white-washed buildings with red tiled roofs and blue shutters—it looks like Greek islands. Well worth the drive, and we were so happy we passed the resort towns as Isabelle had advised.

Cadaques

We headed straight for the beach where we had tapas right on the water. Some razor clams, gorgeous olives, and potatoes. Then we walked around for some sightseeing until John felt a nap coming on, and we returned to the hotel where he took a siesta and I wrote a little bit, catching up on a few days of the blog. When he woke up, we walked some more. There are tiny pathways with restaurants along either side, and we tucked into one and had some cervezas, and the waitress brought us some free octopus ceviche. Yum! It was pretty hilarious because they were playing the Spain show with Gwenyth Paltrow and Mario Batalli on TV. Isn’t that redundant? I thought. Finally, we found another seaside restaurant and had Tapas and Sangria again overlooking the water. It was so delightful, and we both commented how we would love to spend more time in this seaside village. Like maybe a year or two?

Tapas!

Day 1 Mataro, Spain

Wow. That was a long day of travel. There’s nothing like getting your period right before your 22 hour transatlantic journey (sorry boys, I know that’s TMI). But the day of travel was worth it since the tickets were free. We flew from Phoenix to LA to Philly to Frankfurt to Barcelona. It’s pretty amazing that the only delay was on the last leg. Thank heavens! And it was only 20 minutes late. We didn’t have a layover longer than an hour. We did a lot of running from gate to gate. We got to the Barcelona airport and it was really nice—brand new. Went straight to Avis and picked up our VW Golf. It’s a cutie! It will serve us well for 18 days.

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We started driving, relying on our Garmin Nuvi 275T to get us to the hotel in Mataro. When booking our hotel, we chose the town on the water right off the freeway but outside of Barcelona because we knew we would be exhausted and in no mood for crowds. All went well, even thought the Garmin thought we were in Madrid for about 10 minutes. We got to our hotel in only 20 minutes of driving. We went for a walk, exploring all the back streets and shops, then we ate some Tapas and had a bottle of Rose for $15 total. Then we went back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap. Well needed!

We have kind of a promise to run every day, not only because we plan to eat, but also because it is such a great way to explore. So after our nap we went for a 3 mile jog (really! it was slow!) by the beach. It was so beautiful, with lots of people strolling with their dogs and lots of others running and biking or eating at seaside restaurants. We circled up around the harbor, then back through the city center to our hotel.

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After a shower, we walked to a Jamon restaurant where we ate tapas—manchego, and some ham John really wanted to taste. They feed the pigs nothing but acorns, and I’m not sure of the science, but it tastes really good! Tomorrow morning I think we’ll run a the beach again since the breeze is so nice, then head up to Carcasssonne. I posted more pictures on another blog site I’m trying out at pcmasuedu.shutterfly.com I’ll take a vote and see which one you like best.

1 day to go (and why I don’t have children)

Rooster and Penny in Jeff and Autumn's Yard

As many of you know, my decision not to have children stems from several ideologies: political, environmental, philosophical. But I’ve just bumped up into another one: emotional! I had to drop off my “children” today to Autumn and Jeff’s. And while I know they will be so well taken care of, and I’m so lucky to have friends who are willing to help facilitate me having a completely selfish and decadent get-away, I just feel like I’m falling apart. Can you imagine if my children were human and not canine? Can you say breakdown?

Autumn and Pups

My mother used to say to me that she wished I would have children just so I would know how deeply she loved me. Well, Mom, Rooster and Penny are all it took. It’s hard to believe we will be leaving tomorrow morning. I can hardly picture being in a new place and out of this heat, and away from my pups!