9th February – 16th February
We went to pay for our 2 nights in Collioure however the gates were being repaired and the power to the ticket machine was turned off. The gentleman doing the repairs said not to worry, it’s free, an even better way to end our time in France. We drove on the D914 road that hugged the coast all the way to Llançá, about halfway to Roses, our first overnight stop in Spain. The scenery was stunning with a sheer drop to the water on one side, and rocky mountains on the other. The border crossing again was straight through, although the police were stopping people who were leaving Spain. We walked the few kilometres into town, it is a seaside town with a very large promenade along the beachfront and lots of hotels as you would expect. We got into town before siesta, but most shops were closed anyway. We sat down at the beach for a little while before heading home again with views to the alps from our window.
We have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the roads and the amount of road signage in Spain. Very easy to travel around and so far, the drivers are courteous and the people we have encounter are very friendly.
Our travels today took us to Girona where Catalonia’s best preserved medieval Jewish quarter lies. We headed into town from our home for the next two days and walked along the river where brightly coloured houses overlook the river Onyar. We walked around the cobbled streets before climbing the 86 steps to the Girona Cathedral (€7 each to get in so we didn’t) where we had our lunch in the grounds. We then ventured up to Passeig Arqueològic, Girona’s medieval wall that surrounds three quarters of the old town with views overlooking the town and the alps in the distance. Back down into town and a visit to the tourist office and through more of the cobbled streets before heading home.
Our agenda for today was an easy one. Walk around the old town then hike up to Sant Miquel, a mountain where the remains of a ruin named after the mountain can be seen. Firstly, we visited the Moslem baths which were built in 1194. In 1617 it was used by a Capuchin convent as a pantry, kitchen and laundry before returning to its original purpose. The streets of Girona have a lovely feel, cobbled paving in tiny streets that weave their way throughout the city. We found the entrance to today’s hike and off we went. A 4.5 kilometre hike up to the top of Sant Miquel, rising 380 meters took us about 1 hour and 20 minutes with some parts being slippery due to light rain. There were several points of interest along the way and we stopped at Cal Mistaire (in ruin) an example of a local farmhouse which comprised of two floors with a living area of three rooms and storage area. In the kitchen a bread oven, stove and several shelves can still be seen. We had our lunch here before completing the last part of the hike up to the Sant Miquel ruin. The view from here was a bit obscured with cloud, however on a clear day would have been wonderful. We did get glimpses of the surrounding scenery and had a good look around before heading back down and home for a well earned cuppa.
After doing the weekly shopping, we headed off to Barcelona. We decided to bite the bullet and use the autopista (€7.30 from Girona) due to the alternate route costing more in diesel due to all of the roundabouts. As well as that there were a lot of biggish intersections which given my past history could have seen us end up anywhere. This way was stress free and quite an enjoyable journey through mountainous scenery. We are in a free Aire with services 12km outside of Barcelona however there is a metro train station just down the road, €7 return each. The alternative was €35 at an Aire nearer to town but still needing a train trip to get in. I think we have made the right choice. We had a little walk around the area and just behind us is one of Gaudi’s creations, the Cripta de la Colònia Güell. It was closed when we got there however it is a very strange looking building.
The lady at the tourist office yesterday advised us that if we walked to the next train station, the fare would be cheaper as it is only 1 zone to Barcelona and the return journey was only €4.30 each as opposed to €7.60 each, so we did walk to the next station, although the very long way round (took a wrong turn!). The train ride was underground most of the way and we hopped off at Place Espanya. There was a huge monument in the centre of the road, four Roman pillars on one side leading up to the Art Museum of Catalanya and Arena Barcelona which used to be a bullfighting arena and is now a huge shopping centre. We headed up to the museum and the view down to Place Espanya was lovely. We could also see Barcelona’s version of the Gherkin (which is a tower in London), La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s masterpiece cathedral and across to the Mediterranean. We must have covered at least 20 kilometres walking around the city. We were fortunate to see a street parade put together by local schools with giant size figures of all shapes and sizes, children dressed up as fish, some boats and drumming groups in between each school. It was very loud and very colourful. Outside the Barcelona cathedral were children dancing. The building itself was beautiful, gothic in design with a richly decorated facade and an interior filled with lots of gold. We walked down La Rambla, Spain’s most famous street which is a broad pedestrian boulevard flanked by restaurants, cafes and news stands. We passed Palau de la Música Catalana, a concert hall which is a high point of Barcelona’s Modernista architecture, a mixture of tile, brick, sculpted stone and stained glass. Entry is by guided tour only, so we didn’t go inside. We had lunch in nice cafe before heading to La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s all-consuming obsession. It is still under construction after 100 years and is expected to be finished around 2040. It is the most visited site in Spain and has to be seen to be believed. Beautiful stained glass windows of the brightest of colours, huge gothic pillars very unusually shaped, it was both beautiful and unusual. It did cost €18 each to get in, but I don’t think you can visit Barcelona without seeing it. We had a very big walk back to the train station, everything about Barcelona is huge including distances between tourist attractions. We left home at 9 this morning and returned at 6 exhausted, but had a great day.
Happy Valentine’s Day 🌹🌹🌹
We had a small thunderstorm last night, however the rest of the day was basked in sunshine. After yesterday’s big walk, we had a very leisurely day. Did a spot of cleaning, read a bit, did some route planning and read a bit more. Had a chat with an Englishman who has sold his business, his house and bought an old American RV and is looking to buy a home in Spain somewhere in the south. He and his wife have been on the road since November and have given themselves 12 months of travel before settling down. Nice if you can do it!
We had an awful night. A couple of carloads of young lads decided at some ungodly hour to come up to the Aire and play their music, very very loud! Not only that, they were doing burn outs in their cars until about 4 in the morning. Not sure how the other Motorhomers felt, but we weren’t brave enough to go out there and ask them to move on, suffice to say we didn’t get much sleep. Back on the train into Barcelona and we headed back up to the art museum at the top of the hill. We walked around what was the Olympic village and saw at least 30 huge semi trailers used for stage set ups, then we heard what we are both sure was Neil Diamond live in the main arena singing and doing sound checks. We haven’t seen any signage to say he was in town, but we are both adamant it was him! From there we walked up to the Castel de Montjüic which gave amazing views across the port of Barcelona where three big cruise ships were moored. The view also captured Barcelona’s world trade Centre, the airport, across the huge expanse of the city to the Pyrenees including views of La Familia, the Gherkin and much more. Back down to the marina past a huge statue of Christopher Columbus that has a lookout however we saw all there was to see from the castle so didn’t go up. We then ventured back up La Ramba, the big pedestrian walk and through to the old town. You could walk the alleys and streets for days and still not cover all of it. We caught the metro back to Place Espanya and had a quick look around the Arena shopping Centre before catching our train home. We have found another spot to move to if the lads from last night decide to return, fingers crossed that isn’t the case.
A very quiet night, phew! An office type day today, getting ferries booked for our trip back to the UK and then Sweden. We also tried to shop around our Motorhome insurance but again have come up against the hurdle of not being UK residents, so it looks like paying the huge fees for Downunder Insurance again. We will know for sure on Friday when the last company we tried will get back to us. So it has been a very expensive day.