Zuper Respect!

On our last day in Barcelona, we drove to Parc Guell. The parking is very limited in this area, so unless you want to walk several kilometers you must be a fearless parker. Observe my masterful parking job in the attached photo! Manual transmission on a hill! A German tourist walking by as I was finishing parking exclaimed, "Zuper!"

Stop #8

Saint Pierre des Champs / Carcassonne. We rented a car and pressed ahead to the beautiful Le Roc Sur L'orbieu guesthouse located in Saint Pierre des Champs. This guesthouse is a 1100 year-old castle in the French countryside, surrounded by acres of vineyards. We plan to come back here as often as possible over the remainder of our lives! It was a beautiful old building with surprisingly comfortable accommodations and a charming hostess named Helen. Helen cooked dinner for us and the two French men who were also staying at the guest house (on a fishing holiday) named Serge and Patrice. The six of us had a wonderful evening as we shared about four hours of discussion over many delicious courses. Serge and Patrice were two extremes – Patrice was quiet and Serge was a character. When we sat down at the beautifully-prepared table, he remarked, “oooh... french table... very competiteev!”

Stop #7 (unplanned)

Saillagouse. After turning around in Andorra, we finally made it to France, albeit later than expected. So it was almost 11 PM when our car suddenly decided to die. We were on a mountain road in the middle of nowhere, 30km from Saillagouse and 20km from Prades. We moved the car to a somewhat safe spot off the road (hard to tell for sure in the darkness) and after a few unsuccessful attempts to flag down a car, we finally got one to stop... and thankfully it was a pair of firemen with a radio! After determining that we don’t know any French and they don’t know any English, we found that we all knew a little Spanish. They took a look under the hood and tried to start the car, but couldn’t determine the problem. After a while, they offered to give us a ride to Saillagouse and hand us off to the police. This was a very small town with only two hotels, both of which were closed at this late hour. However, the police contacted the owner of Planotel, a 110 year-old hotel in town, and asked him to open up for us. They also gave us information for contacting a local garage to fix the car. All of the French people we met were beyond nice, beyond friendly, ... they were magnifiques.

Stop #6

Andorra is a small country in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Since we were crossing from Spain to France it made sense to check out this neighboring country which is a renowned ski spot. We quickly located their famous spa and pool facility – Caldea – and treated ourselves to a few relaxing hours. My favorite part was the pool’s tunnel to the outdoors where we could look up at the mountains as the snow fell on us...amazing. Unfortunately, the road we had planned to take to France was snowed in, so we had to backtrack through Spain.

Stop #5

Tossa de Mar / Roses. We drove through many small towns along the Costa Brava. Each one was unique and beautiful. We stopped in Tossa de Mar for lunch, where we walked through the old fort (castle?) and along the beach. I was shocked by the blueness of the water of the Mediterranean.

Stop #4

Montserrat. We drove from Barca into the mountains north of the city to Montserrat. We walked the grounds of the monastery and listened to a service of singing from the famous boys choir. It was a transcendent experience.



I did not brush up on my spanish in anticipation of my trip to Barcelona. My spanish isn't very good to begin with, but it's sufficient to get directions, order a drink, and do most of the day-to-day things a tourist does.

What language do you think is used in the subway advertisement in the photo???

Yep, after spending a few days in Barca, I'm very glad I didn't invest any time brushing up on my spanish -- it wouldn't have done me any good.

Stop #3

Barca! What a great city -- beautiful parks, beautiful beaches, beautiful streets, and simply amazing buildings. I will have to devote several future posts to the details, but for now I'll just say that stop #3 is beautiful Barcelona.