60 Days in Europe: Day 41 / July 9

July 9, 2014 – London.

Do you get the feeling coffee is important?

From my journal:
Had our own Starbuck’s instant coffee that we had brought, with cream.

Took the tube to the Tower (of London). After that we toured the Tower Bridge, leaving from the other side.

Southwark Cathedral, the Queen’s Walk along the river to the Globe. Not available for touring due to a performance. We can try again tomorrow if we like.

We walked across the Millennium Bridge and walked all the way around St. Paul’s.

From there we took a bus to the British Museum. I went in, but Laura took the tube to Elyse & Emma’s (our daughter and her friend) hostel in Hammersmith to check it out. (It was fine🙂 )

Highlights of the Museum:

  • The Assyrian Rooms:
    -The Gate statues
    -The wall panels: The Capture of Lachish, The Lion Hunts.
  • The Sutton Hoo treasure,
  • The European Rooms,
  • Celtic, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon Britain,
  • Viking artifacts.

Assyrian Deportation 7-9-14 Panorama (Custom)

 

Took the tube back to Victoria and the hostel, just after Laura got there. Napped. Chatted with gov’t IT guy from Australia with 6 months of vacation.

He was claiming  half of his vacation pay every month, thus getting a year off to travel.

Laura and I walked up to the laundromat to find it gated.

A block or two from the hostel we happened upon James Watson’s old digs.

Ate in cafe – where the man said the laundromat opens at 8am. Big plate of spaghetti and meatballs🙂 Game is on.

Sat and began the day’s journal entry.

Back to hostel as Argentina v. Holland was drawing a big crowd to the pub. Loud futbol mania, on into the night – it sounded like hundreds of people all around the surrounding block, all roaring, cheering, singing, raising Cain. Madness.

IMG_4067 (Custom)

 

 

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 40 / July 8

July 8, 2014 – London.

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London: Horseferry Road & Arneway Street, Westminster.

From my journal:
We walked to an Italian cafe for real coffee, as the pub the hostel is attached to (owned by) was offering instant (!).

We dropped our wet laundry (we had received it that way from Marc) at a laundromat.

We walked to the Houses of Parliament and began our Westminster walk (R. Steves again). Westminster Bridge, Parliament Square. Statues of Lincoln, Mandela, Churchill. A TV reporter told us that Parliament had just that morning voted to erect a statue of Gandhi in the square. We saw his report that night, and he included Churchill’s nasty “Mid-Temple lawyer” quote.

Whitehall, Horse Parade, Old Scotland Yard, Trafalgar Square. Got our London Pass and walked back to tour Westminster Abbey. Tombs of the rich and famous. Poet’s Corner was my favorite.

We took the bus back and bought ourselves microwave dinners at Tesco (Supermarket).

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After eating we went next door to the pub and watched the first 60 minutes or so of the historic Germany v. Brazil World Cup game. When we went to bed the score was 5-0 and all the cheering and singing we heard though the neighborhood , we learned the next morning, was the not the end of the game as I thought, but two more goals by Germany! (and one by Brazil.)

60 Days in Europe: Day 39 / July 7

July 7, 2014 – Paris.

From my journal:
Marc came by in the morning, with the understanding we were checking out by noon. We thought we had until midnight (our booking confirmation said “midnight.”), but he was asking us to vacate early for the next visitors. We left in half an hour (11:30) and Marc arranged to let us leave our packs in the tour office on the ground floor, and fetched our laundry, as it wasn’t ready yet.

We bused to the Arc de Triomphe and walked the Champs-Élysées.

We decide to walk to the Cluny* which was farther than I realized. A great collection of medieval art, esp. the stained glass and the tapestries.

We walked around the Left Bank some more, ending up at the Luxembourg Gardens.

There we caught a bus back to pick up our packs, , and another bus over to Gare du Nord to catch the train to London. There was some kind of breakdown in the Chunnel, so all the trains were delayed, and for ours – the 9:13 – they announced a 2 1/2 hour delay. We were there 2 hours ahead of time. The train ended up leaving at 11:15, so we waited 4 hours , a lot of it standing in line.

I fell asleep right away and slept for the whole ride – almost unheard of for me.

Since the buses and the tube weren’t running, they paid our ways by taxi (Yes, for every single person on the train. There were scores of cabs waiting outside.) A Chinese girl who was riding with us was getting a free ride all the way to Birmingham!

We arrived at the hostel about 2:00 am.

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Paris: Luxembourg Gardens, the Medici Fountain.

*The Musée national du Moyen Âge, formerly Musée de Cluny.

60 Days in Europe: Day 38 / July 6

July 6, 2014 – Paris.

From my journal:
Took the bus to La Cité and got a big coffee at Patisserie Paul on Boulevard Saint-Michel. Walked the ‘historic Paris walk’ (R. Steves). Saw Notre-Dame from the outside. The lines were huge, in the thousands, which discouraged us from going in. We left the flat without our rain gear, so we went back to our room and returned. Bought an umbrella, as we had left Marc’s on the bus. We went to Shakespeare & Co., which was cooler than I expected. I think I spent an hour in there, in part because I thought I was shopping a used section upstairs for some small, old keepsake volume, when in fact I was browsing their library! I had selected a volume of Milton – sermons. Laura had found “Poems by Captain Noah,” and at checkout I grabbed a S & Co blank notebook. I’ve been trying to think of a special purpose I could IMG_6933JPGgive it – writing ideas, or a publication ledger.

The ex-pat writers who frequented this store inspire me – not only due to their talent and breaking new ground – but because they exercised a new freedom to experiment, to be different, and chart a new creative course without anyone’s permission – although they also needed a certain degree of acceptance and encouragement, if only in their own circle. I feel a need and desire for that kind of freedom. God willing, I will live and work in it.

We walked toward the Orsay and the rain increased. We got quite wet. Along the way we happened upon a Protestant church just letting out and chatted with a young couple for few minutes. We also ate some lunch .

At the Orsay (Musee d’Orsay) the line we thought was for ticket was several blocks long, and did not seem normal. We stood for at least an hour and the rain soaked us through. Once inside we realized the reason for the lines: free admission!

Oh, I was in heaven. The last part, the fifth floor Impressionist collection is a dream. I love them all, but  am especially fond of Sisley and Pissarro. A superb collection that delighted me beyond description.

We went back to our room to eat and take a nap, as we planned to be up late. We took a bus up to Montmarte, where we walked from the Cemetery at Rue Josephe de Maistre up to the Basilica.

There was a party atmosphere as we joined the crowd to watch the Paris nightfall. I love the area around the Consulate, but we didn’t linger. We bused over to the Trocadero and viewed the Eiffel Tower. It was after midnight by then. We walked toward the Tower in the hopes of catching a bus or the Metro, but we soon learned that the Metro had ceased for the night, and we couldn’t figure out the bus, so we hailed a taxi for home.

60 Days in Europe: Day 37 / July 5

July 5, 2014 – Madrid – Paris.

From my journal:
Last day in Spain. Packed up, grabbed coffees while waiting for taxi to urgent care at the hospital. Laura got in and out of her visit with the doctor pretty quickly, but without an ℞ for the antibiotics she really wanted. Pain meds instead.

Apparently you can’t get antibiotics in Europe unless you have the bubonic plague.

Metro to aeropuerto. Flight to Paris dep. 2:24. Adios, España!

We had booked an Airbnb rental near the Opera House.

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The Paris Opera House.

Plane landed after 4:00. Made our way by bus and Métro to the Havre-Caumartin stop, where Marc was kind enough to meet us. He walked us back, and through all the info we needed re: the building, apartment, neighborhood, etc. Then he bought us drinks next door at a punk pub. For a long time, old Bowie was playing, then the Velvet Underground.

Laura and I bought food including a microwave dinner at the Dia (Spanish supermercado chain) on the block.

You can buy some really good microwave food in Europe.

 

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 36 / July 4

July 4, 2014 – Madrid.

From my journal:
Coffees at the hotel. Went to mall, got a box. Went to P.O., wrapped the box, and sent it.

Reina Sofia was just a block away. “Guernica.”

guernica

I put this museum on my itinerary solely to to see this great painting.

Also, some Miros, and photography and propaganda art from the (Spanish) Civil War. Very moving.

Laura not well. We ate, she took the Metro back to the hotel.

IMG_3684JPGI went to the Prado. I made a big mistake. Learning admission was free 6-8, I relaxed and waited for the queue. I didn’t see that it was forming away from me for blocks. So a few mutes before 6, I paid and went in only to realize 2 hours was not enough time take in this remarkable collection of paintings.

Highlights:

  • Many masterpieces. Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation,” Dürer’s “Self Portrait,” Tintoretto’s “Christ Washing the Disciples’ Feet,” Goya’s “The Third of May, 1808.” There were others, some I knew and some I did not, that were amazing.
  • Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Holy smokes. Seeing this in person was mind-blowing. Certainly one of the most bizarre and confounding paintings before the Surrealists.
  • Bruegel, “The Triumph of Death.” A nightmarish vista of death’s inevitability, indiscrimination,  variety and horror. One of the most horrific paintings I’ve seen.
  • Many remarkable portraits, for example, Dürer, “Portrait of a Man with Beret and Scroll.
  • Finally, a painting and a painter I did not know.” The Execution of Torrijos and His Companions on the Beach at Málaga,” by Antonio Gisbert. This totally enthralled me – capturing the moment of men, brothers in arms, bravely facing their deaths. Not a false note. At the same time, a few hold hands showing their solidarity, yet each contemplates their end in their own way. One of the most emotionally powerful pictures I have ever seen! Wow, wow, wow.
    The painting is 12 ft. 9 in. high, and 19 ft. 8 in. wide.
    Execution of Torrijos“The Execution of Torrijos and His Companions on the Beach at Málaga,” by Antonio Gisbert.
    Took the Metro back and Laura surprised me by meeting me on the street. We shopped, ate in a park, and returned to our room. Her throat is giving her intense pain and she thinks it is the same infection she had a few weeks before we left.

 

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 35 / July 3

July 3, 2014 – Toledo – Madrid.

From my journal:
Slept until 9:00. Checked out. After checking on a place offering a 30-minute massage for €20, we ate our American breakfast again. Waited for the place to open. It was raining. Thunder back at the hostel, then a good showering. Got my massage, then walked to Santo Tomé. The man shut the gate on me and said, “Closed. Open at one o’clock.”

We found a cafe and went in because it was raining more heavily. Then, a torrent. The streets ran like a muddy stream. A woman was sitting outside because she had a dog, but the owner had her come in.

Went to Santo Tomé and viewed El Greco’s “The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.” Worth the wait.

Laura waited outside watching a young bird we found on our way there: quivering and immobile on a step. I held it and warmed it and then we set it under some brush to stay dry. Before we left, Laura activated a hand-warmer and set it next to him.

We walked out of the Old City to our car, buying a roasted chicken on our way. We got to the car and went to the P.O. They sold us a flimsy box and some bubble-wrap but we were not going to be able to make the box ready for shipping there.

We needed to ship our tiles home, along with other things we had bought or collected so far.

Drove to Madrid, to the airport. On the way, in Leganes, we found a Spanish Home Depot – Poricomart. We got some more bubble-wrap, tape and foam peanuts. I assembled the box in the lot, and we realized the postal box wouldn’t do. We also were too late when we went to a P.O. there. From the airport we drove to our hotel in Ciudad Lineal. Bought food for dinner and the next day. Watched BBC World on the telly. Terror alert on air travel got my attention. Flying in two days to Paris. Laura’s sick again: got my cold.

60 Days in Europe: Day 34 / July 2

July 2, 2014 – Toledo.

In Toledo I visited a small exhibit on the Inquisition, and the demonstrations and illustrations of methods of torture and execution were horrifying , even to someone who has read about it and had some familiarity with it. So I go on a bit.

From my journal:
Drove the car from the expensive lot near us to a free one down the hill. The bus back up to Plaza de Zacodover.

Ate a great American breakfast for only €4 each. Walked to the Cathedral, then saw first the “Instruments of Torture” exhibit, then one on the Knights Templar.

The torture exhibit was really one on the Inquisition, specifically in Spain. It was depressing, disturbing, but also very informative. Left thinking about the motives of the perpetrators of such savagery… force, power, conformity, fear of dissent. Was also struck by the fact that the Inquisition not a small, evil sub-committee of the Church, but rather an institution that fed off and enlarged the widespread attitude that held terror, torture, legal injustice, all as means of force to bring wayward souls into “peace” with the church. It involved not only the church, the state and the populace, but in the church it involved all, from the top (Pope) to the bottom: the local clergy and citizenry (who gathered enthusiastically not only to observe but to participate in the cruel violence and the humiliation of the accused. The Golden Rule be damned. The level of barbarity is staggering. You have to look to not just methods, but also motives. Why?

The Templars exhibit was in Spanish, so not as informative for me. But they had some good examples of weapons and garb, some original, some reproductions.

Picked up some decongestant and went back to hostel for a nap, while Laura ran some errands.

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We walked to the Cathedral and Plaza del Ayuntamiento, then to the Sephardic Museum – Synagogue of El Tránsito. Again, I enjoyed this less than I would have if it had English text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then the El Greco Museum. This was very good – there is a complete “Apostolate with Christ” series – but not great; it’s just too small a collection. I hope to view “Count of Orgaz” tomorrow at Santo Tomé.

We walked back to P.de Zacodover and ate before boarding a scenic tour “train” that took us around the city. Very nice.

Back at the Plaza we went in search of churros and chocolate. Not as good as he ones we had in Mont Blanc.

Toledo Panorama 1 - Cropped

60 Days in Europe: Day 33 / July 1

July 1, 2014 – Seville – Cordóba – Toledo.

From my journal:
After checking out and getting directions over coffee, we drove to Cordóba.

Wow! Puente Romano (bridge), Alcázar (outside), happened upon the Royal Andalusian horses getting ready for a show tomorrow night. Pix and video for Tracey Arnett🙂 (see video below).

Saw the Mezquita (Mosque)/Cathedral, being much more interested in the mosque than the cathedral it was turned into. Amazing, especially the Byzantine-made mosaics. Ate lunch and made our way back to the car.

 

Leaving Cordoba, we drove through La Mancha, and stopped at the windmills of Consuegra on our way.

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We arrived in Toledo some time after 7 and repeated our two-hour routine of finding our hostel.
Great location – next to the Alcázar in the Old City. Still not feeling better. We had milkshakes and pizza, which helped.

Hot night.

 

 

 

Video: In the Royal Stables of Cordoba, horses and their humans prepare for a show the following night.

60 days in Europe: Day 32 / June 30

June 30, 2014 – Seville.

From my journal:
Woke feeling much better. Walked the Paseo; walked up to the top of the Torre del Oro. Walked through Maria Luisa Parque – very nice – to Plaza d’Espagna. Bought fans. Laura: haggle fail.

Cathedral: Laura visited with a horse & carriage driver while I walked around to where I could see Reál Alcazar on one side, and the Giralda Tower on the other.

Then we walked back to our room, rested a few minutes, and followed the tip we’d gotten to shop for ceramic tiles. Success, when we bought a box directly from a distributor for €22 (∼$28).

Now, how to get them home. We walked around the neighborhood, looking for dinner. Overate a nice meal at a Chinese place. Paid for AC in our room, and slept much better.

60 days in Europe: Day 31 / June 29

June 29, 2014 – Ronda – Seville.

From my journal:
Laura got us coffees, eggs and tostado. Drove to Sevilla, via White Hills: Grazelema, Zahara (Lake).

Zahara Panorama

Saw the castle at El Cornil, stopped and walked through, up to to the top of the tower. Death trap!

Notice the 20-foot drop to rocks below, with no rails. I concluded that Spain has no trial lawyers.

Seville: Went to hostel and slept 5-6pm. Walked around. Very quiet, Sunday, many places closed.

Went to a German restaurant and had underwhelming vegetable soup. Came across a cathedral that had been consecrated by none other than Bartlomé de Las Casas.

 

Wrong. Okay, so I can’t read Spanish. This convent (not cathedral) is where Las Casas was consecrated as bishop in 1544. I can’t find any information in English about this place except this consecration and the setting up of a court of Inquisition for Seville here in 1481. Perhaps it is where the Iglesia de Santa María Magdalena was later built (1691-1709).

60 Days in Europe: Day 30 / June 28

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The drive to Ronda.

June 28, 2014 – Nerja – Cueva de Piketa – Ronda.

We drove out of Nerja back up into the White Hills in the Baetic Mountains, the system of mountain ranges in Southern Spain.

From my journal:
After breakfast we got groceries and drove to Cueva de Piketa, arriving about 3:00 – closed until 4:00. Started tour at 4:40. Awesome cave with stalactites, and paintings dated from 30,000 y.a. to 4,000 y.a., some of the most important in Europe. One ceiling was 30 m. high.IMG_3354JPG

Drove to Ronda. Napped at hostel, while Laura found a plastic fork and spoon. Ate in. Walked the town, the bridge, the gorge. Me, not feeling well – a cold.

Day 30 – Amazed to think, after seeing so much, that we’re only half way through our trip.

Ronda Panorama

60 Days in Europe: Day 29 / June 27

June 27, 2014 – Granada – Nerja.

No decent pictures from today, so I borrowed one. We had an easy drive to, Nerja Brouchure1and a relaxing afternoon and evening in a southern coastal resort town.

From my journal:
Left Granada and drove to Nerja, hitting the beaches below the Balcony
(of Europe) about 2:00. Stayed until 7:00, burning ourselves.

 

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View of the beach in Nerja, from the Balcon de Europa. We played around the rocks in the center. (Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Back to hostel to wash up, and at dinner until 10:30.

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 28 / June 26

June 26, 2014 – Granada.

From my journal:
Got up and walked, before coffee or food, to Placeta Joe Strummer, 9:00, only about a 10-minute walk from the hostel.

At the Placeta there is also a street painting by the famous street artist, El Niño de las Pinturas.

Walked to river and had coffee and tostadas at a nice neighborhood place. Did the “Old Town walk” (R. Steves). Highlights: Alcaiceria market, watching the flamenco dancer and band in front of the Cathedral (we’d seen him the night before on our walk), tour of La Madraza.

We took a bus up to La Alhambra and got our tickets, about 1:30. We walked down to the Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta and toured there, finishing about 2:40.

At La Alhambra, we got in line and entered the Palacios Nazaríes at 4:00.

 

El Partal area, Alcazaba, Generalife.

Walked down to the hostel, then went looking for dinner. Had paella at restaurant with waiter with American parents. Big sangria. Walked some more. Collapsed on bed.

 

60 Days in Europe: Day 27 / June 25

June 25, 2014 – Alicante – Granada.

From my journal:
(Alicante:) Got up and swam in the hotel pool. Drove to Granada.

Parked in the lot (taking no chances) and walked Albayzin and up to the San Nicholas viewpoint.

This is where you go to watch the sun bask Granada and La Alhambra.

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Granada: View from San Nicholas viewpoint, with the Alhambra.

Then back down to the river and Plaza Nueva.

60 Days in Europe: Day 26 / June 24

June 24/25, 2014 – Barcelona – Alicante.

From my journal:
When we first checked in, the hostel desk clerk told us we could park on any available space on the streets that didn’t have a yellow line. So Laura parked about a block away. I got up today about 8:30, Laura about 10. We were going to drive to Poblet Monastery on the way to Alicante. With the late start I realized the night before  we would miss Poblet, as it closed 12-3.

When we got to where Laura had parked, we found the car was gone! It had been impounded by the police. The guy who normally parks there (illegally) called in a complaint and got it towed. Then he parked there himself.😦

The hostel manager helped us figure what to do. We walked down to Maragall, ate breakfast (eggs

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We paid off the guards, and busted out of the Spanish Prison for Cars. Just glad it wasn’t sent to Devil’s Island.

& bacon!🙂 ), then took the Metro to the vehicle detention garage. We had to wait until 2:45 to make an appeal – which was rejected. We were parked on a sidewalk, they said. €218 – ouch.*

 

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Some people think Europeans don’t take terrorism seriously enough. After stumbling upon this Terrorist Office Building across from the Prison for Cars, it’s hard to disagree.

We were on the road by 3:30.

5:30 – The Monastery of Poblet. I went in by myself. This was awesome: a 12th century Cistercian monastery that included additions up till the 1800s.

7:30 – Mont Blanc. A cool little medieval walled town, with several very old churches and restored walls and tower. The St. Jordi Gate claims to mark the spot where St. George slew the dragon. This is of interest because this has been depicted in paintings, sculptures, buildings and adornments everywhere we’ve been on our trip. A captivating story.

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“We have all the right moves.”

Did not arrive at the very-well-hidden Holiday Inn in Alicante until 2:30 a.m.

Blessings: Got to see Poblet  & Mont Blanc after all. Had a great ‘American breakfast.’ The roads were empty because of the holiday. Our room was a bargain. Saw some beautiful country before dark. Found gas just when we needed it.

* About $300. Ouch ouch ouch. Just typing it hurts.

60 Days in Europe: Day 25 / June 23

June 23, 2014 – Barcelona.

Occasionally it’s really okay to be clueless while traveling.

Due to a scheduling mistake, we thought we were going to enjoy the biggest day of the year in Spain, La Fiesta de San Juan Bautista (the Feast of St. John the Baptist), the next day in the southern coastal town of Alicante. But as it turned out, we were in the very best place for it the day before – a pleasant surprise. We expected great bonfires and a festive spirit all around. It was more than that.

From my journal:
I slept until 8:30, and we didn’t leave the hostel until after noon. We walked down to Maragall to catch the Metro. We ate first. Shared a salad and hamburgues completa at a Chinese restaurant.

Metro to Juame I stop. Through La Ribera to S. Catherine Market. Over to Barri Gotic and walked all around. Got pastries and coffees.

Through La Ribera to Arc de Triomf. Took a nap on the grass. Watched some men playing Bocce.

Walked the wrong way from there. Took the bus back to the Arc. Walked through the Parc de la Cuitadella, (and on to) Barceloneta (where we had chosen to enjoy the Fiesta).

Walked to a plaza (Placa de la Barceloneta) where there was supposed to be a bonfire later. We walked to the beach and found a bonfire on our way back (in Plaça del Poeta Boscà). Turned out to be the only one we saw.

Back at the square we saw a great fireworks show (not aerial) put on by revelers in motley and masquerade. It went for some time.

Afterward we walked back to the bonfire but it was unattended and dying down. On to the crowded beach again, where we watched people, fireworks, and musicians. A little after midnight we headed home and got to the the hostel a little after one.

Aerial fireworks, along with firecrackers, are going off all over the city with no sign of winding down. 1:45 – hostel is closing this outside patio/deck.

60 Days in Europe: Day 24 / June 22

June 22, 2014 – Llanca – Barcelona.

Video: Church bells in the Llanca town square.

From my journal:
We went to Jessie’s, had coffee and tea, collected our laundry. Jessie and Nico drove us to the train station. Ticket machine was out of order, so we bought them on the train. Distance was farther than we realized, but we got the fast one – 2 hours, 4 minutes.

We went to the car rental in Barcelona, got the car, left our packs in it. Walked the Ramblas. Saw the Cathedral, Roman necropolis, Roman columns, Plaça Reial, Gaudi House, Maritime Museum. Took us about 2 hours to figure our where our hostel was and close to another 2 hours to drive there.😦 Ate about 10:00 at a neighborhood place.

Single biggest mistake of our entire trip: not getting a GPS on our car in Spain.

Video: The Barcelona skyline from our hostel.

60 Days in Europe: Day 23 / June 21

June 21, 2014 – Carcassone – Figueres – Llanca.

Today Laura returned to Spain after 35 years. The folks in Figueres were nice enough to give her a warm welcome:

From my journal:
Caught bus to station for 10:30 train to Figueres (Spain).

Dali Museum: fabulous. The whole range of his career and work in all media. Brilliant.

The Museum was designed by Dali and he oversaw its construction. This included works done just for the Museum.

I went in by myself. We arranged to afterward meet Jessie, Laura’s childhood friend from her years in Mallorca (1976-79). Jessie is an ex-pat American who  has spent most of her life in Spain.

Met Jessie afterward, at 3:00. She drove us to her home in Llanca, a seaside village. Walked us to our hostel, then we walked to her apartment on the square, right across from the church and the old bell tower. Met Nico (Jessie’s partner) and Dario, their son.

Went to the beach and swam. Back to the hostel then to the apartment for dinner and dessert. We talked a long while about the question of Catalunyan independence. They plan a referendum in November, which the Spanish government has said it will not recognize, and has insisted not take place. As a native Catalan, Nico is conflicted about the question. He understands, and at times shares the sentiments behind independence (I notice how he always refers to Spain as if it were a different country).

Nico talked about his father, a strong anti-Spain, Catalan patriot who endured decades under the Fascist suppression of Catalunyan culture and freedom.

He also has misgivings about the consequences of independence.  I appreciated hearing such a nuanced perspective from someone to whom it is an important but complex issue.

Jessie & Nico put out a beautiful spread of food for both dinner and dessert.

After eating we went on a late night walk to the waterfront.

60 Days in Europe: Day 22 / June 20

June 20, 2014 – Nice – Carcassonne.

From my journal:
Awake at 6:00. Our train was supposed to depart at 7:25. Last night we went to the train station before dinner and printed our tickets. Apparently there is a train strike of some sort that is causing random delays and cancellations. A staff person told us our train would leave at 7:36 instead. This morning we were told it was cancelled, and to get aboard a train for Paris that would stop in Marseilles. Immediately. (7:30).

Stops: Cannes, Les Arcs-Draguignan, Toulon.

Marseilles: deboarded and immediately boarded our connection at the platform, 10:20.

Stops: Nîmes (11:25), Montpelier (11:49), Sète (12:09), Béziers (12:34), Narbonne (12:55), arr. Carcassonne, 1:30.

Took Petit Bus to the Cíte, which was the culmination of all of Laura’s hopes and dreams for our stay in France. Carcassonne was fantastic. Our hostel was right in the middle of the town, just down from the chateau gate.

Checked in, then walked the town, per R. Steves. We saw the entry to the Chateau but decided not to go in. But when we saw the ramparts by the Narbonne Gate & talked to the attendant there, we changed our minds, went back and toured it and the ramparts. Good decision! Excellent view of the town, and information about its history, excavation, and restoration.

We laid down on our beds. I slept well, Laura not at all. We ate at a kebab place, foregoing the nicer Italian and French cuisine offered at more expensive places in town.

We walked up and down some of the roads south of The Narbonne Gate – Chemin de Anglais and Chemin de Ourtets. Saw the cemetery (closed). Walked up Via Medievale and found an olive orchard/farm. But we did not find the the outer view of the city we were looking for. Walked back through the Narbonne Gate and the city to the Port D’Ande at the rear. Down a cobbled path/ramp to the streets below, then to the Pont Vieux.

Went across the river for nightfall. Then went back across the bridge The view was fantastic, though I couldn’t get a decent photo. We took an easier way back, by a street around the the north side the Narbonne Gate. Lovely.

 

“I promised you magic.”

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