Again, too many pics this week, due to the trip. See the Facebook pictures.
We left Marseille, France early the next morning to head to Montserrat monastery, about an hour outside of Barcelona. We had about 5 hours of driving, and stopped at a grocery store to get some fresh sushi and ham and cheese to make some wraps for a picnic. The drive was pretty, going through the hills, but still didn’t compare to what we saw coming from Grenoble to Marseille. That was so pretty!
From quite a ways away, you can view Montserrat. Montserrat means jagged edges, and it definitely looks that way. What a view. You go up a very windy road all the way to the top, and from there, you can see the beauty of the surrounding area. We enjoyed hiking down to the Santa Maria chapel, which was a small chapel down the hillside about a mile. It was neat to experience what a monk would do living there, caring for the grounds. The monastery is still active, and we attended a Vespers ceremony where the Boys choir sang! So neat to be able to experience that. It was freezing (it hailed on us while hiking down to the chapel), and so we were trying to stay warm while waiting for the Vespers service, so hid out for awhile in the hotel lobby that’s located there.
We spent the night at an AirBnB outside of Montserrat and we could see the jagged edges of the peaks from the house. When we woke up in the morning, there was snow on the ground! Unfortunately, Brian wasn’t feeling well that day, but we had tickets for a Winery tour and a tasting of cheese and wine. We took it easy in the morning, and only I did the cheese and wine tasting. I have always wanted to do a wine and cheese pairing, and it was pretty neat to experience how the cheese flavors taste different when paired with wine. I enjoyed it. The tour was okay, but the area was really pretty.
We explored the vineyard for awhile and then headed to Platja de Castelldefels, the beach. It was cold, so we just went to touch the Mediterranean Sea (Brian hasn’t been in it before), and then headed back to the city for our cooking class. We learned how to make paella and Spanish tapas! We went to the market with our chef, so we could pick out the fresh seafood that we needed. Mmm. He taught us how to properly clean the prawns, and calamari (they have teeth still in them that you have to push out!) and then we cooked it up and ate it! It was very good and a fun experience. However, Brian and I agree that the best Paella we’ve had still is in Australia at Doyles on the Beach.
The next day, we explored more of the city via a Hop-on-Hop-off bus. Probably wouldn’t do that again, as we were able to get around just fine using the subways the rest of our trip, but it was good for that day, since we were tired and Brian still wasn’t feeling great. We found more Gaudí architecture and went to his Park Güell, that was created to be basically a town outside the city. It didn’t work (not sure if it was too far, too weird, etc.), so the government purchased it and it’s now a UNESCO world heritage site. It was a pretty park, and a nice walk around the area, but he was definitely a strange designer. We visited Casa Amatller and Casa Batló, La Pedrera, Casa De Les Punxes, and Casa Vicens Gaudí.
We stopped by the FC Barcelona stadium. Too bad we couldn’t catch a game for Brian while we were there. It was cold, and we were tired from so much walking, so we had a nice snack inside the stadium and warmed up a little.
That evening, Brian found us an amazing gluten-free restaurant that provided us with GF bread, a wonderful tuna avocado appetizer, and probably one of the best steaks that I’ve eaten. This was our “fancy” night, and after that we went to a Classical Guitar orchestra concert. There were 20 guitars playing like an orchestra would! Also a flamenco dancer for part of it, which was neat! Definitely a highlight of the trip.
In the morning, we went to walk more around the Gothic Quarter, which was a favorite area of mine, and went back to the GF bakery for some treats to bring on the plane. We definitely enjoyed our time in Barcelona and the surrounding areas, and got to enjoy some great food, especially since we don’t have anything like that in GTMO!
Had a long plane ride back, where we were supposed to stay awake, due to the time changes. I watched a few movies and read quite a bit. It wasn’t horrible, but I was getting pretty tired by the end, when we were supposed to still stay awake. Our plane had been delayed an hour leaving, and so we landed around midnight and it took an HOUR for our bags to come out. We were through customs, sitting and waiting for 45 minutes by the time the bags came. So frustrating, especially when it’s that late at night. We met Brian’s parents there (they flew into Fort Lauderdale from San Diego) and went together to our hotel… Except that the hotel had given our room away before we got there! I was really upset, because we were only going to have 4 hours to sleep anyways, and it was spring break, so rooms were $300/night, and we were supposed to have 2 rooms. We had said it would be a late check-in anyways, so I was really frustrated that we had paid to take a 20 minute cab ride over only for our rooms, which we booked months ago, had confirmation numbers for and everything, had been given away because we weren’t there and they had people who wanted the rooms. We decided it wasn’t worth it for at-this-point-2.5 hours of sleep, so we headed back to the airport and slept at baggage claim. We told the Cooxes that this is how life is getting to GTMO. Everything seems to be so difficult, even though we’re only a 2 hour flight, to get down to Cuba. This is a regular experience of getting in late, and having to be at the airport the next morning at 5am to check in for a flight that leaves 2 hours later. So they got to experience some of it, but being the good traveler, I had a blanket, earplugs, and my eye mask and just went to sleep in the middle of the baggage area. Haha. I slept pretty well for 2 hours, and then we finally got on the plane and made it to GTMO. I was SOO happy to be back to the warmth, and to be able to show the Cooxes our home. We showed them the beaches and had a BBQ over the weekend. Kerry and I collected some shells so she could make some of the wine charms that I had made a few weeks ago. It was nice to be back home.