St. Gengoux le National, our day off.

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This is the mid-evil town of St. Genoux. A 30 minute walk from our temporary home in Burnand.

A small but beautiful town with a natural spring that an old French King considered the fountain of youth, so naturally built a castle there.

All that is left of that castle is the dungeon tower and the ancient laundromat. The springs themselves still flow but now with a sign warning the water is non-potable.

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While touring the city, we collected picnic foods and made plans to hike up to an old look out tower perched atop a near-by hill.

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Heres the village from above.

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Here’s Sierra post picnic.

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This is another nearby city, (this one much bigger, though still a small city) Chalon-sur-saone where Jeane took John to do some marche shopping.

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Chateau de Burnand

ImageWe stayed in this incredible castle for 2 weeks. The oldest part of the place dates back to the 13th century and from the 15th century it served as a home for the Augustinian Monastic community for 250 years. Many centuries of owners brought the castle to what it looks like today. It underwent a major renovation in 1866, making it look as it does today. The locals call it the “Castle of Sleeping Beauty” and it really looks like it is right out of a fairy tale! Today it is a family home and B&B, plus a farm house on the property is a rental cottage and another building has been turned into a studio/gallery.

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We worked on a lot of different projects during our stay. The biggest project was preparing the Gite (rental cottage) for the spring/summer vacation season. Sierra helped to re-decorate and clean the cottage…

 

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And John built a wall and shower stall and then helped to install the shower, sink and toliet.

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This claw foot tub was going to be moved out of the cottage but Sierra protested! Insisting it stay because it is perfect and adds so much appeal to the cottage… Don’t you agree?Image

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The giete’s front porch overlooks a little pond.

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John built these awesome rustic handrails from wood found around the property!Image

Photo below is the front of the cottage as the handrails are in progress…Image

Check out the cool tiles on the roof of the Chateau! They are colored ceramic laid out in patterns.

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Below is what you might find in the top of one of those towers… Image

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Above is a stairway through one of the towers.Image

Here is our room! First we were placed in one of the towers, about halfway up a really narrow “servants staircase” right off the attic. It was freezing up there so after a few days in that room we were given the option to move down into a better room, we were pretty happy about that!Image

Above and below are photos of the beautiful dining room, the painted ceiling was really pretty!Image

Here is John in the Salon, this is where we could be found after dinner, playing chess, poker or guess who? in front of the fire.

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Meet Leon, Hans and Jeane. Jeane was our hostess. Her son Leon and John worked together a lot and we often played games together in front of the fire in the evenings (is it just me or does Leon look a lot like my brother?!) Jerome, the younger of Jeane’s two sons (not pictured, he was mowing the lawn when I snapped this pic on our way to the train!) worked with us as well, and he had a cute shy kitty named Meow. Hans was the contractor, he’s a super cool, incredibly positive Dutch man that pretty much ran the show as far as building went. Image

Here are some of the rooms we happened across. We were never given a tour and sort of left to discover the place on our own, wandering around and opening doors we would find a room with pool table, beautiful bedrooms…Image

An amazing library full of very old books behind an unassuming door in the attic… I went in there often to look around.Image

And an incredible photography room full of bottles of developing chemicals and some bottles labeled “potion”(!!!), old cameras, film and slides that were developed and some undeveloped. John and I looked around in there for a long time, looking at every glass slide, some of them faded and some with clear images from long ago!ImageImage

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Outside chickens roam and provide us with more eggs than we know what to do with! There is the studio and gallery of Nico Vrielink, father to Leon and Jerome. His paintings are throughout the house and they are really beautiful! Image

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Below is a photo of one of the koi fish in the pond being harassed by a frog. Can you see whats going on here? The white koi fish has a frog attached to his face! The frog stayed that way for hours. It was pretty hilarious!

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Here is the little green house where Sierra spent a lot of time weeding and tidying.Image

One of the stone walls in the back garden. Image

The front garden, overlooking rolling hills and farms…Image

We were at Chateau de Burnand for 2 weeks. We worked like crazy and had only one day off! It was by far the hardest worktrade we have done (and hopefully the hardest we will ever do!) but all in all it was a good experience and we are glad we did it!

Lyon day 2

The second day in Lyon we only had a few hours before catching a ride share to our next workaway. We go to the sprawling, Parc de la Tete d’Or. It’s an easy walk from the apartment.

ImageIt’s a cold gray day and we walk around the central lake and enter another section of the park… we see these flamingos! We realize we are in a zoo… a free zoo! We only have about 30 minutes to look so we rush around, trying to see as much as we can before we have to go back to the apartment, make lunch, then get to the train station to catch a ride to our next workaway. We are practically running around trying to see everything and taking photos!  Image

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Whew! We eventually drag each other outta there and back up to the apartment, eat lunch, get our backpacks on and hop on a couple of subways to reach our driver. Then the madness begins, we wait and wait, no driver. Finally I am able to get wifi from a tour bus parked near us and read an email from our driver saying to go to a different station. Cursing her all the way we go to the other station, she’s not there either! We go back to the original meeting place and of course she isn’t there either. We are upset, to say the least! We are supposed to be meeting our hostess at a certain time and now we will be super late. We decide to go to a hotel and ask to use their wifi. The concierge is incredibly nice and lets us use the wifi, we email our hostess about the situation and we find another rideshare. I need to call the rideshare since it is just going to be passing through Lyon and we need to coordinate a meeting place. I ask the concierge where the nearest payphone is and he insists I use the phone there at the front desk! Once connected with the driver I am having so much trouble understanding, eventhough she passed the phone to an english speaking passenger, the concierge asks for the phone back and collets all the info we need! So amazing, he even takes out a map and marks the route of subways we will need to take to reach the station on the outskirts of the city where our driver will pick us up! We are so incredibly grateful to have someone on our side in the midst of so much chaos! Image

Long story shortish, from that point on everything else goes smoothly! We reach our destination! We are picked up by Leon, our hostesses son and he drives us to the castle! Where we have been working for 2 weeks now! I write this on our last day here, determined to catch up on these blog posts!!

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Lyon

We were in Lyon for about 2 days. We arrived by car share and made our way to a metro stop Croix Rousse, with one of the car share passengers who happened to be going to the same stop. We met our couchsurfing hostess, Helene, at the street level of this metro stop with merry-go-round. We walk to a bar nearby and have a beer with Helene and her friend Jaques. We then stroll the the neighborhood market and pick up a few things for dinner. Image

We arrive at Helene’s apartment and we are taken to another world! Her apartment is so colorful and eclectic, decorated with lot’s of exotic little things to admire. We both love the space and immediately feel at home. She is an amazing woman, has lived in Lyon much of her life and has hosted many couchsurfers. We have a lot of interesting conversations with her and after a lovely dinner, she brings out guidebooks and maps so that we can plan our next day’s journey.Image

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We decide to begin our day at the market, it begins not far from her home and goes on for over 7 blocks! It’s an incredible Marche with so much to offer, John and I walk the length of the market to check out prices and selection before going back through and picking up items for lunch, dinner, snacks and tulips for our hostess. Image

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ImageImageWe bring our goodies back to the apartment and make a nice big lunch before going out to sightsee…ImageLyon has 2 main hills and 2 rivers, where we are staying is on top of one of the hills and between the 2 rivers. We walk down the hill to the river in search of the roman ruins. We cross over the river towards the mini-Eiffel tower looking structure, Tour metallique de Fourviere. We walk up a lot of stairs, stopping multiple times so that I can catch my breath!

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ImageI guess the million stairs were worth it because now we have a view of the city! We are standing next to Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere.

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ImageImageInside, the church is beautiful with ornate paintings and wood carvings along with stained glass.

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The roman ruins are just steps away and we wander over to check them out. We climb all over them, through tunnels and over walls. Image

ImageThere are 2 very well preserved Roman amphitheatres and we spend a lot of time walking around the grounds.

 

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ImageThere was a science fair going on too, we really wanted to go in this planetarium but we were too shy to ask!

 

We walked down the hill and back to the river, we see a cute little store, Les Ateliers de Marinette, and decide to check it out. The store has all kinds of little vintage things, all made in France. Most of it is dead stock, items that are old but unused and refurbished awesome old things! We loved it!Image

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By recommendation of the shop owner we decide to go next door for a coffee. La Limonade de Marinette is such a cute little place as well, it’s made up like a grocery store of the 50’s-60’s, the walls are covered with French products of yesteryear making the place super colorful and the perfect place to sip coffee at a formica table, out of little vintage cups and read the walls! Happy little stores!

 

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We continued on our walk, reached the river, crossed through the Place Bellecour, of of the largest open squares in Europe. There was music being played and crowds of people as we walked through as the sun was going down. Before we know it the sun is gone and we are getting very hungry so we go back to the apartment to make the dinner we had planned!  

ImageAfter getting a little bit lost we finally reach the apartment, use our keys to unlock the door and oh no! The lock we don’t have a key for is locked and Helene isn’t home, she absentmindedly locked it, we waited for a while on the steps and then decide we will just have to go out for dinner! After some hungry searching we find a place and have a fancy dinner (I don’t think it’s possible to have an un-fancy dinner in France!) We walk back to the apartment stuffed and thankfully the lock is unlocked because we are exhausted! 

Just for fun, here’s some street art we saw throughout the city…

 

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Tarbes and Toulouse

Early, we take a ride share out of Spain and back up to France. We will be dropped in Toulouse for a few hours so that we can connect with our next ride share to Tarbes. We are on our way to Tarbes to have my appointment with the Orthopedist the following day. It’s a long day of travel and we didn’t get too many photos as we were carrying around our bags as we wandered the city. We had visited Toulouse on the way to Spain, and we visited once more on our way out of S. France so the Toulouse photos shared below are from 3 different visits.Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image From Toulouse we arrive in Tarbes at dusk and after checking emails we walk to the home of Flo, our couchsurfing hostess. John wrote many requests for couchsurfing stays in Tarbes, Toulouse and Lyon. We felt so fortunate to find a place in each city, with very kind, cool hostesses! Our hostess Flo had just gotten home from work, she teaches circus classes to children! She is really skilled in circus arts and has had many fun adventures so we have dinner and share stories.Image We wake up very early to meet Louisa, our sweet hostess from Enjouanisson. She will be my interpreter at the hospital where my wrist will be x-rayed and re-casted. It’s about 2 hours at the hospital but I get a snazzy, shorter, cast! Yes, I can wear a coat again, and good thing because France is cold! But, for the moment the sun is shining and we walk to Jardin Massey, a big sprawling park. There is a great cactus conservatory… Image Image Lot’s of Peacocks and many other exotic birds and ducks…Image Look at the little pouf on this ducks head! Isn’t it the cutest?ImageImage Spring was in full swing in the park, flowers everywhere and we even got a spring shower for about 5 minutes! We wandered the paths, saw there are actually chickens and goats living in the park too… Image Image Then wandered out and back into town, stopping in a gallery space to see a show about Guiseppe Arcimboldo, he’s an Italian painter from the 16th century, famous for his portraits made up of fruits, vegetables, sea creatures, plants, mushrooms, tree roots or books.ImageThe gallery was hosting a show of his work set up for interactive learning for children, perfect for us because we could read and play with the art, in French! With encouragement from the curator, we played with plastic veggies and opened little doors, remade the portraits with wood blocks… it was really fun and although the artists actual work wasn’t there (his work is in the Louvre and many other museums throughout the world) I felt we learned so much about the artist, I adore his whimsical paintings! What a fun little detour! ImageSee the resemblance?Image After all that playing with food we go to the market so we can pick up a few things to make for dinner for our hostess. Then back to her house we go… Flo is super committed to her teaching job and she spent a few hours putting together curriculum for her classes the following day and then we had a nice dinner. The following day will be early again as we will leave as she goes to work. We go into town, hang out a cafe for a while and then go to the big market place before we catch our next rideshare back to Toulouse for the evening.

After the hour or so drive to Toulouse we hang around the merry go round and then go to a bar in front of an big church to have beers while we wait for our couchsurfing hostess, Maya, to get out of class…DSC_0312

We walk over to her apartment at about 6 and meet her and 2 of her roomies, Camille and Marion, they are all cute bubbly girls and they are excited to take us to the oldest bar in Toulouse, Cafe Concorde. The place is cool, live music and cheap beers! We then walk over to the pizza place across the street and get some pizzas to bring back to the apartment.IMG_6842Back at the apartment we meet Bastien and his boyfriend (who’s name regrettably escapes me!) and we have great conversations with him about urban gardening, he is even familiar with Oakland and the farming movement going on there! Everyone is super nice and it’s again another early night and early morning so we can meet our rideshare to Lyon.

Figueres

 

 

We took a bus from Cadaques to Figueres. Figueres is a city with a Dali history as well, there is a great museum there that is unfortunately closed on Monday’s… Yet another reason for us to return! We have trouble finding our hotel, but on the way we pass the Dali Museum and it’s huge eggs and big dome. Once we find the hotel we are exhausted and stay until dark, then we are ready to explore the city…ImageWe hear there is a castle on the hill above the town and set out to find it. We come to a park and walk in, then straight up a trail which leads to another trail that seems to go along the castle walls. We decide to walk the trail around… and it is a very long hike by moonlight! We can see below to what looks like a moat and we see the towers and walls rising up. After about an hour we reach an area that is lit up, the main entrance and we can finally take some photos!

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Image We hadn’t walked the entire perimeter, but most of the way, so we take the main road back to the town. Below is an arial view of the Castle de Sant Ferran, crazy huh?Image

 

after that hike we needed beers and a little something to eat so we found a place and went in for a snack. We needed to turn in early for our car share to take us to Toulouse in the AM…

A hike in Port Lligat and a day in Cadaques

 

We leave Casa Dali and walk along the shore, checking out so many cool shells and sea creature skeletons.

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ImageWe walk across the bay to see the house from afar, there is a big blue box in the water directly across the bay from Dali’s house and we wonder what might be in it… we then continue up and down short cliffs to small beaches, we have the bay to ourselves!

 

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ImageWe take a path off a beach and follow along a path of stones, down stone stairs leading to caves cut into the cliff face, the caves can’t be accessed because they are filled with crazy crashing waves, but they are nice to look at.

Image We go back up the stairs and see a stone wall with a door cut out, the trail leads to the door and we walk through, reaching a cliff overlooking the sea

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Quite the little hike! The trail ends there so we walk back towards Casa Dali and then back to Cadaques. ImageThe town gets the nickname “Kittyques” from me that day because there are so many cats, everywhere! There 6 cats in the photo above, 4 more that are out of the frame. We keep seeing kitties everywhere and it’s pretty delightful! There is a cat sanctuary in town so the cats are well taken care of.ImageYep there are plenty of pups too, this guy was hanging out watching the waves with us as we had our coffee.

ImageIt was sad to leave this idillic town, but the following day we had a last look around then hopped on the bus to the next town…

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Casa Dalí

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We wake up early to catch a bus from Barcelona to the town of seaside Spanish town of Cadaquez. The ride takes us through highways, gives way to roads and roundabouts, goes through small towns, finally leading to the sea. We turn towards terraced green hills that wind around  and around, giving a peek of the sea below. There are plenty of olive trees and cacti growing in the hills and the terracing of the hills defines how steep they are. It’s a thrilling winding ride and arriving into town the white houses on hills against the blue sea is refreshing.

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We find our little hotel and then walk to Casa-Museo Dali, it’s in an even smaller Costa Brava port town, Port Lligat, it’s just a 15 minute walk through this gorgeous place to reach it.

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Excitedly we follow the signs for Casa Dali. We come to an amazing terraced olive grove overlooking the sea. Boats on the water and an island help complete the dream view! We see a couple of cats standing guard at the garden gate and looking down to the house below the grove we can now see the sculpture of 2 large silver heads and realize the cats are actually hanging out in Dali’s olive grove. Image

We continue down the road and down a cobblestone street reaching the shore and the front of the house. The house is in a bay and there are many little colorful boats along the rocky shore outside the house. Image

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The home of Dali is actually a group of fishermens homes he bought one at a time and made into a surrealist seaside escape. We join our tour, with one other couple and we are lead into the house. It’s a full on tour, with commentary on the objects, architecture, history and insights into the life of Dali and his partner Gala. They obviously lived an inspiring life here.ImageImage The guide noted, Dali was obsessed with immortality, the symbolism is often found in his art and quite present in his home. Swans and bunches of yellow immortelle flowers are symbols used in the library. You absolutely feel he and Gala’s spirits are in and around the home, I can see why they would want to spend an eternity there!

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We are guided from each amazing room to the next. The dining room was so beautiful!

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While Dali’s art is beautifully strange and haunting his home is actually quite comfortable and almost kitsch with small collections, knick knacks and artifacts and funky or bright fabrics used on the simple furniture. The white plaster walls and striking ocean views give the place that effortless, relaxed feel only found in seaside homes. Image

Below are photos from Dali’s studio. The paintings were his last and everything in the home is left as it was when he was last there.Image

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Below, the stairway leading up to the models room…

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The Yellow Room…Image

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Dali and Gala’s bedroom…

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There are plenty of surprises too! A domed room designed by Dali for his dear Gala, the room is cozy and round, couches circle the room and have pretty pillows and stuffed animals placed here and there. The room has a trick! If you stand in the center your voice surrounds your head and fills your ears, you can whisper and a person across the room can hear you. It’s so fun! Image

I imagine great moments were shared in this little sitting room!

There is also a mirror in the yellow room that is placed so that Dali and Gala could watch the sunrise from their beds through the mirror…Image

more fun with mirrors at Casa Dali…Image

Outside in the gardens there are so many great sculptures and we hatched out of one!

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Of course there are areas we cannot go into and I guess the mystery is welcome as Dali’s art gives the same sense of mysteriousness. Besides the places we do see are so delightful and inspiring as it is, I am inspired for a lifetime! Image

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A simple pretty courtyard, is at the heart of the home. It’s protected from the wind and full with aromatic plants, it’s perfectly dreamy! You can understand why the visits are timed, if they weren’t people would just hang out there all day! Image

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Dali was no stranger to good times and his pool is made up like a party palace, complete with a fiberglass hot pink lips couch, a covered area with thrones, taxidermy animals and big Moroccan pillows, fountains and water features, all surrounding the pool.

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There is also a bbq area built into the plaster walls below the pool.Image

The pool area is the last section of the tour and we hang out for a long time, taking it all in and basking in the energy given off by the home.

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Our last day in Barcelona.

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Our last full day in beautiful Barcelona! We plan to visit Sagrada Familia, the magnificent Gaudi cathedral we stayed across from during our first few days. When we arrive there the line is crazy long and we realize we will not be able to visit anything else if we wait in line all day. So we decide to just skip it this time, just add this to the list of reasons to go back to Barcelona! We have lot’s of metro trips left on our metro passes, so we decide to go to the National art museum of  Catalonia where they offer free entry after 3pm on Saturdays (we always know the free museum days no matter where we are haha) The museum is at the end of a long beautiful stariway so we stroll the promenade and stop at the “magic fountain”. We see these giants walking down the stairs towards us! It is a really whimsical sight, we snap some photos, it actually seems like a family just out for a walk, no big parade procession, although it is worthy of such!

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Reeling from such a cool sight we walk up a very grand staircase just to the right of the main stairway up to the museum. These stairs are lined with tiled fountains, it’s windy and so the mist of the fountains surrounds us and makes the place seem ertheareal. We reach the museum entrance where there is a grand piano being played right outside the door. Entering the museum we first go the the area with  and we are totally blown away by the frescos they have somehow removed from their original places and replastered on the walls and enclaved in the museum…. The stories are vivid and at times brutal but always beautiful. There is so much color used and the faces and bodies of the characters are incredibly expressive. There are these great coves built to display the frescos… there are many of them, all sizes. There is a modern section we visit next, we discover artist we has never seen the work of before, and there is some very unique Gaudi designed furniture as well. Sculpture, furniture, photography, stained glass, and paintings from *******to******* are all on display.

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The museum itself is an architecturale wonder

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At the end of our visit we find a photography exhibit about the Spanish civil war…

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After the museum we decide to wander the Barri gothic quarter some more and find the remains of it’s former city walls.

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Here are a few shots I took the morning we left, it was sad to leave the apartment that was our comfortable home for a few days! I look forward to going back some day soon!

 

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Barcelona, day 5

This was a laundry day so we got a late start, getting outside just as the sun was setting.ImageArc de TriomfImageWe walk under the arch and into the Parc de la Ciutadella.ImageThere are two really cool, old conservatories, both filled with plants but abandoned looking.ImageTwo crazy girls were climbing this one to watch the sunset…Image

ImageThere is also a Zoo, Parlament de Catalunya, and a huge fountain in this park. Image

ImageAs the light fades we wander into Barre Gotic, an amazing neighborhood with tiny winding mazes of streets too narrow for cars, we go in with an few hours before meeting the cousin of our friend Marcos, Nathalie. We find a really unique speakeasy and hang out for a few hours, chatting with a tourist from Florida. With about an hour before we need to meet Nathalie we wander out into the labyrinth of streets and get very lost! It’s a bit funny because it seems everyone we ask doesn’t know the way to the place we are going, and a particular group has conflicting ways which to send us… after a crazy half hour thinking we will never get out of Barre Gotic, we arrive at the same time as Nathalie at a big fountain. She takes us to her favorite bar and it is lively but we find a table in the back, sitting, chatting, drinking beers for a while. We haven’t had dinner yet and we tell her we have been craving Mexican food… She knows a place and we are off!

ImageMmm tacos, burritos and Pacifico! They bar/restaurant is really authentic and colorful too, we are happy! Nathalie is a great tour guide and takes us to another bar where her friend works, we chat for a while and before we head home we are treated to free shots! A little shot of juice for Sierra since she is a lightweight 😉

Thanks for a fun night Nathalie!ImageImage

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