A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

Spain

Blanes - Costa Brava

rain
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We left Trebes and France quite early this morning, for Blanes, Spain. Here is a camp area that Rob has spent many happy memories in his past and his wish was to revisit it. The Costa Brava is an area of Spain that is frequented by many Dutch people for their holidays.
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Driving here was an experience within itself. The landscape changed dramatically from lush pastures to more mountainous and depleted soils. We crossed the Pyrenees which meant we got to high altitude. It also entailed us crossing some precariously high bridges. I needed to focus on either shutting my eyes tightly or looking fixedly at the middle of the road. The drama of it was not helped by high winds, there are continuous warnings about the danger of high winds for caravans - and I can see why.

Our trip was also marked by the ridiculous antics of a truck driver who weaved his way in between traffic and got aggressive with us. There were horns and finger gestures given by all in both truck and campers. The other interesting observation was the presence of ‘ladies’ plying their wares by the side of the road. They were wearing teeteringly high heels and short skirts, and stood under umbrellas - maybe the truck driver needed some of what they had to offer! It looked like a poor area and we had been warned not to stop in any of the ‘aires’ (parking areas) as they were not safe.

Our camp site is fine. Quite dear but this is an extremely popular area for tourists and holiday makers. I would hate to see it in high season. Once we had set up camp and had lunch it was time to walk the promenade of the beach. I still cant believe that I am walking along the shores at the Costa Brava.The sand is beautiful and the beach vast. We did have thunderstorms again this afternoon, so escaped to a restaurant for a drink and tapas.
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When in Spain - you drink Sangria. It is far too easy to drink. We also had guacamole and nachos, some really nice mature cheese and croquettes. We have made some tentative arrangements for going out on a boat tomorrow to visit the coastal highlights. Hopefully the weather co-operates.
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Posted by Sallyj66 20:58 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Costa Brava

Tossa de Mar

rain 18 °C

The weather forecast man said we had 40% chance of rain and unfortunately he was right. The day was overcast and maybe not ideal for sightseeing. However we are intrepid travellers and were determined to make the most of our time here.

So early to the catamaran, only 6 of us on this enormous boat. When it went up the coast it called into other towns along the way. The coast line is so stunning, with high cliffs and houses perched on the rocks. There are castles built on strategic outcrops - they obviously didn't worry about heights! Small fishing boats were out on a calm and glassy sea. It is however a tourist area and we passed a fizz boat pulling a group of children shrieking with delight on a banana boat. In the height of the season it would be teaming with people and much less serene I am sure.
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Tossa itself is a beautiful town. Disembarking from the boat and walking across the sand was an effort. It actually looks nicer than it feels as it is really fine gravel. There is a medieval castle that dominates the town and we climbed up to admire the views (heights again). The gardens are really nice and I recognised lots of the plants that I grow at home, in their natural environment, salvias, ligularias, geraniums galore, rhodos,etc. It is a photographers paradise, and when the sun did come out the light was just amazing.DSCF4294.JPGDSCF4273.JPG

There are numerous tourist shops and restaurants, and we ambled about mooching , taking photos and just enjoying such a clean and pretty town. We thought that there was a strong presence of the Catholic Church in France, but it is even more dominant here. The church in the village centre was just lovely and the atmosphere inside - well- divine. We did the Spanish thing with lunch, and picked different choices that we shared amongst us. Lovely tapas, paella, cannelloni. Later had desserts but had overindulged by then.DSCF4366.JPGDSCF4373.JPGDSCF4354.JPGDSCF4371.jpg

Unfortunately the rain and fog had come in thickly by the time we went home so we sat down stairs for the ride. We spent the evening making plans for Barcelona, booked a hotel for a couple of nights, got some recommendations for when we travel the northern coast of Spain, spoke with my cousin in A Coruna as we will connect up when there. Our time with Rob and Ans is fast coming to an end. They need to travel back to Holland and we will continue our adventure on our own. Their company and advice has been invaluable and we are so grateful to have spent this time with them.We will miss them.
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Posted by Sallyj66 22:02 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Barcelona

Gaudí crash course

sunny 22 °C
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My blog over the next couple of days will be minus photos. We are in Barcelona and don’t have the right iPad with us to process our photos. There are huge numbers tho but will need to add them in once we get back to Blaine’s on Sunday evening and get them organised. So just the written word for a couple of days - will be a bit dry, however not for long.

Today has been huge, and that is an understatement. We got going nice and early because Ans and Rob dropped us off at the railway station as they drove away. Very sad and our day today has seemed strange without their banter and good opinions. But we have managed without too many hiccups so far. The train ride was nice going along the coast. It was good we started so early as there were relatively fewer people around when we arrived at the train station in B. Barcelona itself has 1.6million so I think the same size as Auckland, but gosh it seems zillions more, especially as the day has gone on. We got off the train in Catalunya Square, which as luck has it is very close to where our hotel is, and Central to most activities. Finding the hotel took some figuring but google maps was a good assistant. We dropped off our bags and then decided to go and do the “hop on/ hop off bus thing that we got tickets on line for. We had to get physical paper tickets and the woman in the shop was having a frustrating and difficult time with a poor Russian girl who could not get her voucher to print off. Doing tickets on line can be fraught with difficulties and we had some issues but resolved them. Also booked some tours as they were pretty full already, so all that done now.

Our first tour was at Gaudi’s Casa Batlló house. Photos will be much more descriptive. It really is very very clever, organic And has an ethereal feel. We were scheduled for a specific time, I think that is their way of managing numbers ( same as at Van Gogh Museum). We had an audio device but they are unreliable and cause angst in my opinion. But as far as creativity workmanship and beauty it is unsurpassed. You just feel happy looking at it.
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We had booked the hop on/hop off bus as a way of orientating ourselves. So spent the rest of the afternoon doing both the green route and then the orange route. We were exhausted and that was about what we could manage. I had for some time been trying to buy a decent map book to help us on our journey across Spain and Portugal, and today we got a really good one.

No nice meal with Ans and Rob tonight. We found a quaint little restaurant on a side street with hams hanging down etc. My meal was Catalan pork sausage with white beans and Roasted red peppers - fabulous, then panna cotta for dessert that was even more yummy. Sal had duck confit and then nougat ice cream, so pretty awesome. The waitress brought us some ‘tomato bread’ that she showed us how to make. Just so nice. Topped off with a jug of Sangria.
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Now we are in our room. Just off La Rambla, very central and perfectly adequate. Tomorrow is another big day, with out last visit at 5pm. We are told there is a concert in the square outside our room tomorrow night- gospel singers I think. That is a bonus. So Barcelona is crazy, the traffic (motor bikes seem to have a death wish) is intense, the people are great, plenty of beggars, so many dogs, but an amazing experience.

Posted by Sallyj66 11:09 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Costa Brava

Botanical Gardens

overcast

Today's been day of 'lasts'. our morning was spent preparing for our respective plans tomorrow. This entailed washing and cleaning, as well as making books, loading bikes etc.

It was not until about 11 am that we set off walking to the Botanical Gardens at the end of the beach and up a hill (inevitably Involving heights again!)) The gardens are designed by a gentleman with the name of Faust. 'Some areas were nice and some areas I felt a bit too 'natural'.I did enjoy seeing so many familiar plants .People are always taking photos in these places, and when you offer to take the whole family or whatever, it is a good opportunity to strike up a conversation. Yesterday we met a nice couple - she danish and him Indonesian. They had traveled alot and was just nice meeting interesting people. We had our lunch up there overlooking Blanes and the coast.
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It had been quite a walk to get to the gardens, and as we ambled back thru the streets decided once again to have a drink at a bar by the sea. This was such a pleasant change from one we had been at a few days back. We tried different tapas and it was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. It would be a great life to get used to. However there was still the nagging presence that we had to get home and get ready for our respective 'tomorrows'.
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So back at the camp it was pack up time. We are leaving the motorhome at this camp while we go to Barcelona for 2 nights, then will return for another night before heading on the road to Porto. So we took the awning down to leave it as safe as possible. When we returned form the day at big Burstner Nexxo motorhome was parked next to us. The variety of motorhomes is amazing, so many I have never even heard of. Just in our small section a van from Germany, one from italy , Holland and us from Great Britain. Ans and Rob are leaving early in the morning. They will drop us off at the railway stationed on route to Holland. We had a last shared meal together and then back to our vans for packing. It is going to be an early start tomorrow and a big day for us both.

Posted by Sallyj66 11:55 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Barcelona

Gaudí pressure cooker course

rain 18 °C
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Such a pity I don’t have photos today. We will get onto them once back at Blanes and the the treats we have seen today will be more obvious.

We were booked in for a 9am tour of Antoni Gaudi’s La Pedrera,Casa Milà. This building was commissioned by a rich industrialist - Milà,to build a family residence with apartments to rent in it. Gaudi style is inspired by nature, and this place has been described as a stone poem. Incredible. I think the aspect I love is how exquisite craftsmanship and function come together so creatively. We started from the roof with its fantasmological chimneys and worked down. It was very worthwhile. We had extended our hop on/ hop off tickets for another day, so after picking up raincoats went to see the Cathedral . It is another excellent example of gothic architecture. Chatted to a couple from Yorkshire while waiting in a queue.
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We were feeling hungry so thought we’d go to the marina area at Port Vell. Had our most disappointing meal there. Think there was some difficulty with language, but got far too much food, it was expensive and average. So we had heard about the old Hospital at Sant Pau. It was built between 1902 and 1930 in the Art Nouveau style. At the time it was a landmark in hospital construction with open spaces, beautiful freestanding buildings that were connected by a network of tunnels and set in gardens all to ensure the greatest comfort for the sick. It is a treat for the eyes with amazing tiles, beautiful ceilings and a great atmosphere. It is no longer used as a hospital as they have a more modern one now, but well worth seeing.
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Our guided tour at Park Güell was scheduled for 5pm. It had come into rain by then and the walk up to the entrance is tough on the legs - especially ones that have walked all day around Barcelona! However our guide was great. For the first time in our experience we used ear pieces which made hearing him vastly better. The concept of this Park was sustainability and creativity. Gaudi set out to provide practical solutions especially about water management systems. At the same time he created a work of art in this designed residential complex. It never really succeeded as a commercial project and it wasn’t until the 1980s that Japanese tourist interests “discovered” this unique area and now is visited by 9m a year. He was a recycler extraordinaire, to the extent there are old teacups in a roof bauble.
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It is Mother’s Day in NZ today. It was lovely to hear from Tim and Sal from her boys. Steph is in Blenheim for the 90th birthday of Grandad Gifford. We hear there has been another earthquake in Seddon. Funny how these parallel universes are operating seemingly completely removed from each other. Tomorrow we visit the Sagrada Familia.

Posted by Sallyj66 21:53 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

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