I must say – I have a new favorite! Barcelona – WOW!! This city has the most amazing energy – the people, the food, the music! It just feels good to be here! The subway system here is so easy to navigate – and you can get anywhere you want to go quickly!
I stayed with the cutest couple in their high-rise apartment. She works for a company that just launched a new fashion brand in the US so we had a lot to talk about. They were so helpful in getting me acclimated to the city. The language (it’s not the same Spanish I’m accustomed to – it’s a mix of Catalan and Spanish) barrier continues as very few here speak English.
The food is all about simple flavor! After settling in, I walked around the neighborhood and found a place to eat dinner. Since I can’t read the menu and they don’t speak English – we finally agreed that he would bring me his favorite! The dish was AMAZING – salt cod!
My first day out I toured Casa Batllo and Casa Mila la Pedrera – Antoni Gaudi’s wild and creative architectures! It takes a while for your eye and your brain to connect on what is actually going on. Barcelona is very good about providing audio tours in English so I was able to understand and appreciate every detail of these two homes!
Back on the subway to the Gothic Quarter for my Spanish Cooking Class! I joined Angels, our amazing Chef, two couples from the UK and a family from New Zealand on a tour of the oldest market in Barcelona. Angels guided us through the market pointing out all of the wonderful fruits, vegetables and proteins we would be using in our menu! It was such a fun evening spent making sangria, tomato bread, tortilla (a potato, onion and egg dish!) and amazing Paella with prawns, mussels and chicken! And to get dessert you had to caramelize the sugar on your flan! Angels philosophy is that “food is an excuse for people to have a connection” and that was exactly what happened!
Another day of wandering the streets – the Gothic Quarter is so intriguing! Several times I was alone walking down a stone street that dates back to Roman times in the middle ages and you could just close your eyes and envision life then. I visited Museu Picasso, several cathedrals, the harbor, La Rambla – a tree-lined mall with street performers, artisans and a great Tapas Restaurant – I can’t get enough of the food and wine here! A trip to the post office, the laundry mat, and the print store made me feel right at home! I met the nicest man from India who helped me print my train tickets. He said “I moved here because the people accept me here”. What a better world it would be if we could all say that.
On my last night in Barcelona – I had a tour of the Sagrada Familia – another Gaudi creation on an unreal level. I had read about this building (began in 1882 under direction of architect Gaudi until he died in an accident in 1926, construction has continued since 1950 and is not due to be completed until 2026?) and even after walking in the doors can not wrap my mind around it! It is such a sensory overload – beautiful – but overload! I jumped on the subway and went to the Magic Fountain show at Montjuic. Thousands of people – many of them locals – come and line the streets and steps to watch the fountains dance to music and lights! What a wonderful way to end my stay in Barcelona!
An early train trip lands me back in the South of France in a quaint little town of Cassis! I didn’t do my research and thought I would just rest for a couple of days before heading North, but have spent all day hiking Calanque! I shared a cab (the bus was running very late) with two women from Switzerland and they told me people come from everywhere to hike these beautiful mountains! Throughout the 4 hour hike I walked upon private harbors full of sailboats, a beach where everyone was swimming (I walked in up to my ankles and that was enough – the water is a COLD!) and limestone cliffs! I can see why people spend days hiking here!
Growing up, my family always spent two weeks in August at Possum Kingdom Lake. Dad always said it was the hottest time of the year and out there we could get in the water to cool off instead of wasting his AC at home! I remember walking to the store of the campground and getting an orange dreamsicle. On my way back to town today, I stopped at a little stand selling snacks and they had orange dreamsicles. I sat on a rock, ate my treat and said a little prayer thanking God for the most wonderful years I had with my Dad here on this earth. I know that I can’t tell him in person about the wonderful journey I am having – but I know better than that – he is watching every step I take and smiling down on me.
Before I leave France tomorrow – I will visit a vineyard overlooking the sea and take a boat ride out to the same cliffs and harbors I hiked through today. It will be interesting to get a different perspective of the terrain.
It’s been 10 days since I’ve turned my cell phone on. I have access to internet but am limiting it to research, writing and occasional emails with home. It is interesting how much you think and process when you disconnect from electronics. I have gone days without a conversation with another person even though I am surrounded by people! I have had to rely on reading a map and speaking to strangers to ask for help. They say that when you loose one sense your other senses become stronger. I had hoped to include more photographs with my writing – but I am enjoying my sense of disconnect!
With love and adventure from France – but not for long – tomorrow I head to GENEVA SWITZERLAND!!