Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Barcelona, Spain, Andorra and Southern France

Another amazing conference. Well I didn't go to the conference but David said it was great. I did all kinds of other fun things. Barcelona is a beautiful city. I was extremely impressed with it's beauty. The people were friendly and I quite enjoyed the food. We ate Tapa's a lot but there was other ethnic foods as well. I only regret that we only had 4 days there. I would have liked to rent a car and go exploring.

The first evening we walked out onto the beach. They had these long rock piers where there were fishermen

The great thing about getting your luggage lost is buying new clothes. Luckily there was an H&M across the street from our hotel

Walking back from the beach I tried out some slow shutter speed

These cute kids saw me taking a picture and posed for me

Tapas- delicious, interesting food. I loved the Spanish tortilla's which are more like cornmeal and egg quiche and they have all kinds of stuff in them

I've never had a sink that I could brush my teeth and watch my toes wiggle at the same time. This was a Marriott

Our hotel overlooked this vast area of empty buildings to the left and you can see the beach to the right. There was so much fog it was hard to see the water

The next two dasy we took the hop on/ hop off bus and stopped where we wanted. That is one of our favorite ways to tour in any major city

The first stop was Gaudi's Familia Sagrada still under construction. It was his life's work

I had to pick up a Spanish fan

We took a funicular up to Mount Tibidabo. We had a great lunch there with an amazing view. You can see Familia Sagrado in the distance

Spanish Tile

Some of the most unique windows I have ever seen on a building

Another of Gaudi's buildings

The main square

Barcelona has a beautiful marina and beach front area

These are the empty building below our hotel window. One tour guide told me the government built them and they were a huge waste and not used for anything now.

Our hotel had an interesting roof top pool

This was better pizza than I had in Rome

There were lots of pedestrian streets all over with shops in the bottom and apartments above. 

The Barcelona Cathedral is Gothic

We went inside on Sunday while they were having services. It's gorgeous

They had modern art all over the city

Even the graffiti was beautifully done

The west side of Barcelona

Overlooking the harbor. We really should be taking a Mediterranean cruise but alas, David can't spare the time from work

We took a tram up to the top of Montjuic

This is Barcelona's formidable fort- Castel de Montjuic

This is my favorite- Boys can't resist the big guns!

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea

I love the new HDR feature on my Mark III

Lots of tourists here. The soccer stadium

Palau de Nacional or National Palace

An old bull figting ring they have turned into shopping. I guess there are still bull fights in Madrid but they are banned in Barcelona

Lots of bikes but mostly motor bikes

We paid big money to go see Tablao- supposedly the best Flamenco show in Spain. The buffet was Catalan food and it was really good

It was well worth the money

The dancers were amazing! The crowd is small so we got front row seating

Absolutely fabulous

The next day I took a 3 country trip while David was at the conference. It went to Spain, France and Andorra

First we stopped at the medieval town of Baga in Spain

It was wonderful

The poppies were out. It reminded me of Denmark but there weren't quite as many

Then we drive into Southern France

We visited the Fort of Mont Louis but they wouldn't let us in because it's a working military fort so I took pictures of the horses

From the fort area looking into Mont Louis

It seemed to also be medieval. This was the church

Driving through Spain

Coming into Andorra, a country I don't remember hearing about, but it is a small country between France and Spain

It's high in the Pyrenees Mountains and relatively isolated. It is a very small country- only about 180 square miles. It's a cheap place to shop for the French and the Spanish and so is thriving on tourism

Some of our group went shopping while the rest of us drove up the mountain to a beautiful lake. Andorra is independent but shared by France and Spain. One year they pay taxes to France and the next year to Spain. France takes care of their military needs and Spain other needs. 

It reminded my a little of driving the Amalfi Coast

We stopped at a little restaurant by the lake

It was called "Lady of the Lake". And then it took us about 4 hours to get back to Barcelona because we got stuck at a gas station who's computers were down. I really enjoyed the tour though. I got to know everyone pretty well and it was a long day but a nice one

On the last day we took a tour which included a train ride up to Montserrat which means serrated mountain

We had some great views of the city below

There was a cute little girl sitting across from us taking pictures as we went up the mountain

Once at the top its a whole different world. It was originally a monastery that was raised when Napoleon came through as he was trying to destroy the culture

I thought this sculpture of Patron St. George fitting since I was born in St. George

Looking at the East end of the of the courtyard of Montserrat

On the West end they have the Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat. Montserrat is now host to  Europe's oldest children's choirs, La Escolania de Montserrat.

Inside is the "Black Virgin". Its an important pilgrimage site for Spain and people come from all over and wait in line to touch the Virgin. It was about an hour wait when we were there and so we opted out of that one.

Instead we took a hike on a trail that had some great views of the buildings

The end of this trail


David was freaking out right about now, but I don't have any issues with heights anymore. At least when I am not worried about little kids

There was wild Jupiter's Beard growing everywhere. It was awesome!

I bought some Montserrat cheese

You can actually drive all the way up and some people did

The scenery was awe inspiring

The last thing we did was visit La Boqueria which is the market in the middle of Barcelona on Las Ramblas 

The had fresh fruit drinks. I tried the strawberry mango

Once I got home we feasted on the cheese I brought home from Montserrat and Andorra's famous cheese Caprice des Dieux