A Travellerspoint blog

Granada

Easter

all seasons in one day 18 °C

I think our last post from from Barcelona.... so it's been a few days.

On Thursday we drove from Barcelona to Valencia where we stayed for one night. Valencia's weather was horrible. Cold, windy and wet, and the city had pretty much closed down for Holy Week. Having only an afternoon and evening there, we elected to go to the Oceanografic (AKA - The Aquarium) which is not a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon. The fish displays were pretty cool and went through the different oceans/climates of the world, although the audioguide was a little lowest common denominator. Little about the actual marine life... more a message about global warming and waste management etc. Unfortunately, they also had large marine mammals - buluga whales, walrus... and it broke my heart really because it was obvious they were so bored.

Anyway - Friday - we had a long drive from Valencia to Granada (about 5 hrs), with us on a time frame to arrive and check in. There are religious processions every few hours here over the easter weekend and the streets are closed for those periods. Anyway - made it before the 4pm shutdown for Friday.

Friday afternoon - we basically went walking. There were masses of people around (due to said religious processions), so there is a nice energy to the place. We are staying in Albaycin which is the old muslim quarter. It's really interesting to walk around and here are some pics from our Friday meanderings.

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Friday night, we had indian for dinner - weird thing to do in Spain I know... and then wandered the streets with the crowd and got a little lost down the little streets and alleyways - all part of the fun - before finding our way back home again.

Yesterday (Saturday) - I had a shopping pass from Steve... and he was very patient while I wandered around... and even found the handbag store we had passed on Friday night for me.

In the afternoon, we walked up to The Alumbra - the old muslim palace. Alas - no tickets left and in order to see the inside areas, we will have to get up early tomorrow morning and attempt to purchase two of the limited tickets available outside of the pre-purchase arrangements. Apparently, this was something I should have done weeks ago.... but we will see. It's free to enter most of the public areas, so we walked around. Very beautiful - the detailing, the atmosphere. I should mention that Granada has multitudes of jasmine and citrus trees growing, so the air here smells purfumed. Here are some pics we took up at Alumbra.

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Last night we had a fun night out bar-hopping and eating tapas. Today (Sunday) - a little slow to get going.

When we did venture out this morning - we were looking at the cathedral when masses of people kind of appeared out of nowhere and we found ourselves in the crowd watching one of the parades.

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Happy Easter everyone.

xx

Posted by LindsayandSteve 14:53 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

Barcelona

La Ramblas, Tapas, Sagrada Familia

semi-overcast 19 °C

We arrived in Barcelona yesterday afternoon after taking our time in Cadaques (for obvious reasons).

So after checking into the hotel (which is in a great location), we were off for a walk down La Ramblas - Barcelona's main drag. there were seriously thousands of people walking.... both locals and tourists. We walked right to the end and then along the waterfront, cutting back up through the Gothic Quarter (and stumbling upon the Cathedral, complete with central garden courtyard and geese!).

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After a brief rest, it was out to dinner. Generally, the eating times here are quite late... We ventured out at 8.30pm and found a great tapas place just around the corner from the hotel. It was still packed when we left at 10pm, and a new wave of people was coming through.... Not bad for a Tuesday night.

Today - an early start and off to the markets for a cheap breakfast. 1 x Fruit salad - 1.50, 2 x zucchini omelettes & teas - 9. We sat at the bar, surrounded by locals (who were hitting the liquor early). I felt it was a great travelling moment... even though I had I slightly queasy moment when we finished and I turned around to see sheeps heads for sale in the butchers stall next door!! YUK!!!

Next stop was the Picasso Museum. The most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona - and only two people selling tickets. There was a bit of a queue - our first queue since Paris - but we were there before opening, so after only 25 minutes, we were in. The museum itself was interesting - no photos of course - but it focussed strongly on Picasso's development, rather than his later (and most famous) works. I quite like the lithographs, which did coincide with his later work, but his paintings from that period were not there (which I was aware of going in - but Steve was disappointed).

After Picasso, we walked a long way to the top of the city (via some gardens with cool sculptures....)

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and via Barcelona's Arc de Triomf...

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..... to see the Sagrada Familia - or Gaudi's Cathedral. Construction started in 1908, and like all momumental constructions, it's still not finished, with estimates for completion 2020-2040. Another queue here, and it's hard to capture the size and scale of the cathedral - the top parts are covered in working cloths. There is no doubt that it's a "modern" construction and very unique in the design and feel of the spaces. I found it really interesting and quite liked the use of towering spaces and light. And being Gaudi - it's quite quirky. Overall - I liked it. It's very different from the churches you traditionally see here in Europe. Steve didn't like it at all and found it empty and hollow and that the construction being partly cement, reduced it's appeal and achievement. An interesting discussion ensued on this. Anyway - here are some pics, so see what you think.

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Overall - Barcelona has a very different feel than I expected. It's very much a place obsessed with food, and the city really doesn't get going until 5pm. Shopping is interesting through - I bought a pair of shoes (I love shoes) for 18 euro... and have been obsessing over the leather shops, but I think I'll wait until Andalucia for that.

Tomorrow is a travelling day. We will leave early(ish) and head to Valencia for one night, then continue onto Granada for Easter weekend.

Posted by LindsayandSteve 18:26 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

18th April - Toulouse to Cadaques

Au Reviour and Hola...

all seasons in one day

Hi All - I wrote this last night, but then couldn't get onto the web to upload it, so the entry is for yesterday....

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A very intersting day today.... two very different experiences.

This morning – we left Toulouse after two nights (and one full day).
After Bernard and Anna’s dinner party, we were feeling a little under the weather.... so a late start to the day. Following breakfast at the hotel, we went walking to discover Toulouse. It’s very different to the other places we have been on our travels. They call it the pink city – the buildings are predominantly a pinkish brick originally built by the Romans, rather than the stone and limestone buildings we have seen elsewhere in France. It’s the 4th largest city in France (Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Toulouse, Bordeaux) – partly due to a large student population and a high number of immigrants. On our meanderings, we forgot to take the camera, but being Sunday, it was market day – fresh produce markets, and flea markets (which Bernard informed us was where stolen goods are disposed of!!). We wandered through all of them.... wandered through the Jacobite Church (the first signs we saw of Moorish influence in France) and ended up having lunch by the river.... and our first Cassolet of the trip. Those who are familiar with French cuisine may be horrified that we waited so long to try cassolet (a white bean and meat stew), but it’s a regional thing, and until Toulouse, I can promise that it wasn’t on menus.
On leaving Toulouse this morning, (and with a quick pit stop to change a flat tyre) we headed to Carcassone – the largest citadel in France and one that was extensively restored over 50 years (1830 onwards or thereabouts). Really interesting place, not only is the citadel intact, but the medieval town surrounding it as well. Overall, the place is massive and pictures don’t really do it justice but some are attached anyway.

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After lunch in the medieval town (rather than the newer town below), we headed south.... and with the Pyrenees in front of us (complete with snow capped moutains) and the mediteranean to our left... we crossed the border into Spain.
The change in landscape is really noticable... much more mediteranean... olive trees... and kind of scrubbier... rather than the very lush fields that have abounded throughout France.
We went firstly to the Salvadore Dali museum at what was his house for > 30 years (from 1930 onwards) until his wife (Gala) died. Then he left the house and never came back, so all the furnishings etc are original. Only the paintings have been moved to museums (and copies installed in their place) – except for those works unfinished at the time of Gala’s death. So apart from being on the mediterannean coast in a tiny village in a house that is whitewashed throughout and designed to capture the light (with mirrors and lots of windows) - I really liked it. It was kooky to say the least. Lots of “stuffed” animals (I don’t really get the fascination with taxidermy...) including a polar bear, swans, rams horns, a goat, cats.... and a lot of really random stuff... but overall it tied to his personality. Also a lot of dolls/maniquins... which Steve says is also common in serial killers, so I guess it’s good he was into art. The gardens were also pretty cool – large scuptures throughout the gardens and terraced with views of the ocean. Here are some pics...

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So now we are sitting on the balcony of our hotel room, overlooking the mediterranean drinking champagne we bought in Champagne. Here is the view.

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xxx

Posted by LindsayandSteve 01:44 Comments (1)

Bordeaux to Toulouse

via Rouffignac

sunny 23 °C

Bordeaux to many people means wine.... and there was certainly lots of it to choose from. We elected not to do any wine touring though, and instead drove up to the Vezeze Valley where France's prehistoric paintings are to be found in various caves.

The countryside is different up there, the trees shorter (more alpine) and the valley itself is very pretty with lots of lakes and small rivers. I gather the place is a hive of tourists in summer, but at this time of year, it was pretty sedate. Had a nice lunch in the town and then headed to the Grotto of Rouffignac, which is a cave with multiple levels and about 10kms in. The tour would have been pretty interesting (although it was all in French), and inside was too dark to read our english translation. Also unfortunately - no pictures allowed, so I don't have any to add to this posting, although I am including a link to a site which has some of the pictures.

http://ancientcivilization-geology.blogspot.com/2007/06/caves-of-prigord-rouffignac.html

Anyway - the cave is an excellent example of Paleothithic art and the artists were quite prolific. It's quite awesome to see really.

So, lots of driving yesterday.... arrived at our hotel in Toulouse around 6.30pm.... and caught up with Raymond's friend Bernard for dinner. He came and met us and we hired bicycles and rode to his place via the Toulouse sites. Bernard and Anna were excellent company and Bernard introduced us to Pastis (an aperitif that tastes like licorice).... plus several post dinner digestifs (that resemble rocket fuel.... ). A late night last night (home at 1.15am) - so we are a little slow getting going the morning.

We are in Toulouse today and tonight and then off to Spain tomorrow.

Posted by LindsayandSteve 00:17 Archived in France Comments (1)

Loire

sunny 24 °C

So after leaving Champagne, we had a fairly long drive to Loire. Probably less long if we hadn't decided to try to find food in Orleans - which is a bit bigger than we thought, with lots and lots of traffic, so we jumped back on the highway and kept driving. Just to explain the roads here - they are very good, but all the big roads are tolled, and as you get onto the road, you collect a ticket and then when you exit, you just pay the required toll. Easy with a credit card..... and for the first few days that's how we managed it.... so imagine our... let's go with concern... when our credit cards stopped working. Gotta love banks really.... we're still not sure why they have stopped working for the toll roads - ANZ has assured us that there is no "hold" on them, but now we have to find the right booth to pay cash.

For anyone trying to contact me by phone, I've had some issues with my mobile as well. Have a query into Three, but their customer service is very slow... so email is probably best if you need to reach us.

Anyway - made it to Bauge. Cute apartment. Town was small, but used to be significant historically, and there is a Chateau and an historical Apothocary. Unfortunately for us, they were closed for restoration, so we couldn't go through, but here are some pics of the town.

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We spent a day driving around Loire looking at Chateaus - there are lots in the area. We drove to four I think, but two of them are privately owned and not open to the public, and one of them was privately owned, but had tours. We really only went through the Chateau de Angers, which was lovely and quite an impressive (and defendable) castle. It also housed the Apocolype Tapestry (no pictures allowed) which was over 100m long and depicted various scenes from the Apocolypse overlaid against the 100 year war.

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Yesterday we drove from Loire to Bordeaux via Saumur (another Chateau) which was pretty cool... and Saumur itself seems like a really nice place. Bigger than Bauge, and also home to the National Riding School (which we didn't view), and strangely - the Tank Museum which we found in a "happy" accident. A whole building dedicated to tanks. Lucky me. The highlight for me was the gift shop which had some great lego kits with various army scenarios.

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We arrived in Bordeaux yesterday evening and had dinner with Raymond's friends Eric & Marin. Lovely company and food, but a late night.

Today, Marin took the time to show us around Bordeaux this morning - much better through a local's eyes. It feels a bit like Melbourne here... lots of small streets and funky boutiques. I've made my first real french purchase today too.... 2 x 24 piece Inox cutlery sets for home - yes I know it's a weird thing to buy and lug home.... but it's lovely and was reduced.... and will replace our basic Ikea stuff (which is starting to show rust spots) for everyday usage.

Anyway.... that's all for now. Tomorrow we move onto Toulouse and our last two nights in France.

Posted by LindsayandSteve 07:55 Archived in France Comments (0)

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