Continuing on…

Montserrat
Thanksgiving morning we decided to take the train out of Barcelona and do a day trip to Montserrat. The train route took us to the bottom of the mountain, at which point we had to choose between a cog railway or a cable car ride up to the monastery at the top. We took the cable car, since it was supposed to have better views.


The cable car ride

Once at the top we had a picnic, then wandered around. In addition to the monastery, there are also several hotels, museums, cafes and lots of walking trails.

Inside the basilica

We went on a hike and had a lovely view looking back at the monastery complex.

Montserrat Photos


Girona
Our last night in Spain was spent in Girona (aka the city where RyanAir sends its “Barcelona” flights). Girona was a surprisingly fun town. It had a “down town” with lots of shops and restaurants in the very cool historic section of town. Unfortunately it got too dark and we don’t have many pictures of the narrow streets.


Girona Cathedral

We had a tasty meal where you picked little hors d’oeuvre sized food things on toothpicks and then they counted how many toothpicks you had at the end.

Girona Photos

Continuing from yesterday’s post

Barcelona
After driving to Barcelona from the castle, we ditched our rental car at the airport and took the train into town. Within minutes of arriving at the train station someone tried to pick Randy’s pocket! Luckily we had been warned that pickpockets were a problem in Barcelona and had taken the necessary precautions. Once we realized that Barcelona has both trains and a metro and we were looking at two separate maps we didn’t have any trouble navigating to our hotel.

Our hotel was located right on La Ramblas, a major pedestrian thoroughfare where one can purchase everything from tourist trinkets to live chickens.


click for video!

Right off of La Ramblas is a huge, very cool market called La Boqueria. Live seafood, mysterious unidentifiable fruits, skinned goat heads – they had everything.

We also did the Gaudí tour and saw lots of…interesting buildings.


Casa Battlo


Casa Mila (aka La Pedrera)


Gaudí used lots of mosaic tiles

We also walked around Park Güell and walked past Palau Güell.

Across La Ramblas from our hotel was the Barri Gòtic (old Gothic Quarter).

This was a very cool area to wander around. Lots of narrow alleys leading to hidden plaças (plazas), gorgeous buildings and cool shops. Shops in Spain open much later than we were used to (around 10:30 or 11:00 am) and in the smaller cities they also close between 2-4 pm. They are open much later than shops in England, though.

Barcelona Photos

We just got back from our first adventure on “the continent”. We spent the week of Thanksgiving soaking up the sunshine in Spain.

Our route took us up the Eastern coast of Spain from Murcia, to Valencia, then a detour to Alcañiz, Barcelona, and finally Girona.

Murcia

We arrived in Murcia on Saturday evening. After getting through customs and picking up our rental car we headed to our hotel. In Spain, dinner doesn’t start until at least 8pm, so we went out to grab an “early” (by Spanish standards) dinner at a restaurant recommended by the hotel. I have no idea what we had, but it was all delicious. Selections included a cold salad with tomatoes, black olives, tuna fish and onions dressed in olive oil; grilled vegetables; a seafood dish with salmon, onions, tomatoes; artichokes in gravy with pine nuts; and lima bean-ish things with ham and olive oil.

The next morning we got some churros and chocolate for breakfast and then did some exploring.

breakfast


Murica Cathedral

Murcia Photos


Valencia
On Sunday after exploring Murcia we hopped in the car and headed to Valencia. We decided to take the more scenic route along the coast. We drove past approximately three trillion orange trees.

Valencia was a much larger city than Murcia. Our hotel was downtown, near the shopping areas and historic districts. I didn’t get any pictures, but we did eat authentic Valencian paella. It had snails in it. Yes, I ate them.

While in Valencia we visited the super modern Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences) to see the aquarium.


“The Future” ™

From Valencia

Valencia Photos


Parador Alcañiz
On Tuesday we drove up into the mountains to Alcañiz to stay at a parador. Spanish paradores are state run hotels, many of which are in old castles or monasteries. We stayed in a castle!

Parador Photos


Still to come – Barcelona, Montserrat, and Girona!