Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Journey to Barcelona

The 24 hours preceding our hook-up with Jeff & Lindsley was pretty cool, too! We left Bouzigues around noon, which meant that the kids got to skip school for the afternoon. Yay for them!

We stopped at La Jonquera, which is also referred to as the Frontier. This is where lots of Frenchies shop for staples such as alcohol, cigarettes, etc. You can also get great deals on some food – and, better yet, find some food that you can’t find easily in France. For example, we bought a box of Oreos! Yummy!

La Jonquera was fun because we found some cool slingshots for gifts for the nephews back in the US. I know, I know. Bad idea to gift a slingshot, right? Well, have you met Mike? Need I say more? He is the ultimate trouble maker, thus we are giving slingshots as gifts. Yes, my children got one, too.

After La Jonquera, we were off to a “nearby” hotel for the night. Since we couldn’t meet Jeff and Linds ‘til one the next afternoon, we figured we’d relax halfway to Barcelona, kick it by the pool while the kids swam, etc. He he he. I put nearby in quotes because it ended up being in the middle of nowhere – aka Macanet de Cabrenys.

I must admit, while we were driving along the endless country road, twisting and turning our way deeper and deeper into the Spanish mountains, I was wondering to myself, “Where in the hell are we going? Where did he make reservations? Is this going to be another Bad Reichenhell?” After all, the name of the hotel was Els Cacadors. Danger Will Robinson!

Just as I was beginning to think we should find somewhere else to stay, the motorcycle cops started passing us – going in the opposite direction. They had red lights flashing, and they were motioning us to either slow down or pull over. Well, as I mentioned, this was a narrow country road. There were no turn outs!

Finally, after about 4 cops had passed us, Mike found a turn out. We pulled over to wait. A few minutes later, one of the policemen stopped and told us to wait there until we saw a motorcycle with a green flag. We waited and waited and waited while more and more motorcycles passed by. While Mike and the kids practiced with the new slingshot, I wondered if there had been a horrible accident ahead!

Well, guess what it was?! The Tour de Espana!! You know – like the Tour de France, only the Spanish version. Sooooo cool! We were our own tiny little cheering spot as we watched about 100 cyclist go by along with their support cars, ambulances, police escorts, etc. It was about a 40-minute detour and well worth the time!

When we finally saw the motorcycle with the green flag, we were off again. Our next detour was more exciting to me than anyone else in the car. As we turned from the country road to the next “real” road, there was a flock of sheep and goats in front of us – complete with a shepherd. I thought was the neatest thing! I had to stop to take a ton of pictures. Must be the knitter in me.

Minutes later, we finally arrived at our destination: Els Cacadors hotel. Okay, so we didn’t arrive directly there. We had the standard Billat difficulty of actually finding our destination – despite the fact that this was a very, very small town. However, when we got there, the hotel was actually nice. Okay, so the pool was already closed for the season (most outdoor pools in Europe do not seem to be heated, so they close early), so there wasn’t any frolicking by the pool. Instead, we set off to explore the village.

It was great! Small, quaint, beautiful . . . almost like a movie set because it was practically deserted! Check out the village with this link:

After wandering around for a while, we meandered back to the hotel. Little did we know that we were being followed!

An American couple had heard us talking, and they were staying at our same hotel, so they ended up right behind us. They introduced themselves, Kathy and Rick from Boston, and we had a great little chat. They were very jealous to have missed the Tour de Espana because they are both avid bikers.

Later, we had a delicious dinner at the other hotel/restaurant in the village. My salad was amazing: sautéed mushrooms (still warm) over a bed of lettuce, raisins, walnuts, apple slices, tomatoes, with a drizzle of olive/vinegar dressing and a piece of toast with melted goat cheese atop the salad. One of the best I’ve ever had. Dado is in the process of recreating it for me.

We also had great desserts. Max had a hot fudge sundae (well, Max and I ate that, actually); Dado had chocolate truffles over Chantilly (whipped cream); and Josey had fresh, warm apple cake with sorbet. Mmmmmm!

The next day, we decided to visit the Salvador Dali museum, which is in Figueres – on the way to Barcelona. Ohmigosh. That was certainly an amazing experience . . . and not necessarily amazing in a good way. Mike summarized it very well: “Now I can walk up to anyone in the world and say with 100% certainty – I do not like Salvador Dali.” Ick. The guy was seriously twisted! I guess I can say that I like his use of color, and his works are very, very detailed. That’s something nice, right?

Mike now has this as wallpaper on his iPhone.

For anyone interested in more Dali . . .

So, in a sentence: Our journey to Barcelona to see Jeff and Lindsley was awesome – just as our visit with them was. Yay!

Love to all!

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