Barcelona day 4

Since we have about a week in Barcelona we are able to take things in slowly and relax about seeing every site. We find things in the neighborhood to do and find ourselves in the apartment often, going out for a few hours and then coming back to make food and relax. We really felt at home there!

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On day 4 we ventured over to the large market, La Boqueria. Walking there we pass through an area we had been before and realized just how central our apartment is to so many exciting neighborhoods. The metro is fast and efficient and saves tired feet but walking around a city really gives a different feel and familiarity with the place.

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La Boqueria is a sprawling indoor market with lot’s of treats being offered. Fruits and veggies of course but also entire stands devoted to every type of egg imaginable, charcuterie places, offal hawkers, mushroom dealers, fresh juice stands, sellers of fragrant and colorful spices, olive offerers, fish mongers, wine merchants, bakeries, dried fruit and trail mix hustlers and plenty of counters offering tapas or pizza to eat there or to go. It’s like a little food city!

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It’s pretty crowded and noisy but very colorful and beautiful. We made the rounds, stopping to pick up chorizo, lot’s of fresh veggies, a loaf of bread, dried strawberries (obsessed with these!), mushrooms and each a fruit juice (there were so many wonderful flavors to choose from!)

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The prices range from very expensive to very reasonable, cleverly some merchants offer samples and before you know it they are handing you a kilo worth of what you sampled! This is where a smile and “No.” comes in handy, otherwise you are about to buy a small bag of trail mix for 13 euro! Yeah, no! We try to avoid that stand as we continue to wander, in search of the cheapest chorizo. (We pick up a great chorizo eventually and we still carry it back to France with us after using it for 4 meals now! What a steal!)

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So with heavy bags we are ready to get back to the apartment for lunch… Passing through the narrow alleyways looking up at the plant filled balconies, admiring the street art, peeking in shops and snapping photos all the way. John crafts amazing sandwiches from our market treasures, oh he’s a good catch!

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We write a blog post, chill and then wander out to the streets in search of this chocolate drink with churros I keep hearing about. There are plenty of shops and places to look at, and we discover there are 2 more markets within walking distance. Neither as big as La Boqueria but big and going on daily. Such an exciting food culture in Spain!

We see a gadget store with a little party going on (people drinking beers in a store is universal for party with free beers, and possibly treats, I’m in!) the place is packed with people admiring art painted on skateboard decks. We squeeze in, find the treats, marcona almonds (my fave!), cupcakes and little fresh donuts, yum! We also find the beers and join right in! Great little detour and some great art to see. We leave after a while and find a few more open galleries filled with beautiful people and art.

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We never did find the churros and chocolate so we wander back home for dinner…

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Barcelona, Days 2 and 3

After day 1 we decided we need to see more of the city and decide to look for another place to stay, since our current spot is only available for 2 nights. We find a great apartment near the University through airbnb.com and book a room for 5 nights. We won’t check in until 3 so we pack up our stuff at the first apartment, they let us leave our bags there while we sightsee before moving to the next spot. So we take off for a few hours to see some Gaudi architecture…

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La Padrera (above)… The roof, which is covered in mosaic tiles, looks incredible but we didn’t go up, it’s 19. euro/person, more than what were paying per night for the rental! Yikes, maybe next time! Lot’s of great iron work all over the building and the glass and iron door!

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Casa Batillo, just 2 blocks down from the other, this building is more colorful. The face is covered in mosaics and check out the balconies and stained glass! In the first photo you can see (and I wish to have seen it up close) the incredible tiled facade at the roof top, again lot’s of amazing tiles, they are made to look like fish scales!

A local woman who saw we had a map out near the building stopped and told us a bit about the building, Gaudi, etc. She said when the construction was taking place, Gaudi was across the street as each mosaic took form, directing which piece would go where to create the epic works on the building. She also recommended we come back and see the building during the morning, when the sun is shining and reflecting on the tiles and mirrors placed on the building front.

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This building above is not by Gaudi, it’s just one of the many amazing buildings here in Barcelona. Look at those pretty glass sun rooms hanging over the sidewalk!

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Back to the first apartment we walk through the parks surrounding Sagrada Familia, stopping at a pond where you can see the entire cathedral reflected (nice tip given to us by another local!) We grab our stuff and are off to the new place…

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We get to the new apartment, where we are greeted by our lovely host, Virginia, she is a Barcelona native, around our age. We are the first airbnb guests and she is really excited, happily showing us around the beautiful apartment. Above is Gatito (kitty) in the living room. We are so excited about the place, the hostess and the location. We get settled and then head out for pizza and a very long walk…

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green parrots mingling with pigeons at Joan Miro park.

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Overlooking Joan Miro park from the top of what looks like an old stadium turned into a mall. We went up to the roof for the shot above and 2 below…

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Palau Nacional, there’s an art museum inside, we will go there on Saturday.

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Above and below are sculptures by Joan Miro, one of my favorite artists!

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Walking up from the Palau Nacional towards a castle on the top of a hill…

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The Castell de Montjuic is pretty amazing, surrounded by walls that are surrounded by gardens. It’s closed when we get up there but we walk all the way around, no tourists at this hour, just groups of runners! The castle overlooks the sea so a nice place to run.

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Above, looking up the wall, below a cute plant growing out of the wall.

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It’s dark and we are tired! We walk down from the castle, each spotting lightning in the clouds on our way. Then we take the bus back to the apartment, stopping at the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. We are welcomed home by our hostess and meet the other 2 roommates as well, chatting with everyone after dinner.

Day 2

The next day we wake up to pouring rain and rolling thunder. The house is empty so we make ourselves at home, reading, making snacks, catching up on blog posts, emails, etc. By evening we are ready to go outside, and the rain has stopped! We find a cozy looking spot for dinner and have a very nice meal!

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I got a ham and goat cheese sandwich with sweet onion relish, that’s a Catalan dish in the background: bread rubbed with tomato…

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We shared the bread and this appetizer of homemade meatballs atop truffled potatoes… and below John got the Hamburguesa, pretty much a hamberger patty with hashbrowns for a bun and topped with caramelized onions. This place was amazing!

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Barcelona, day 1

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This is the epic view from the balcony at the apartment where we rented a room for 2 nights. What a way to start the day, having breakfast with Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia so so close!

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We headed to an outdoor market, they sell everything from antiques, to housewares, books and big stuff like sinks, beds etc. Super crowded and lot’s of interesting things to see… Now we walk to the beach, passing very cool buildings and sculptures all the way.

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We reach the beach after stopping in a fancy hotel/casino (above) to pick up a city map.

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It’s a warm day, but not hot enough to jump in the lovely Mediterranean. We hop on a bus towards the main boulevard to have lunch…

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In the neighborhood there are lot’s of little streets and courtyards to discover after lunch.

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Guess which statue had a larger crowd. The angel or the devil?

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Next we take the metro up to the delightful Parc Guell, it’s a sprawling park set high above the city. The highest point has a a 360 degree view, looking out to the sea and up to the hills…

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ImageThere are so many playful pavilions, landscapes and magical dreams come to life!

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It’s windy on top of the world…

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You have never seen so many mosaics!

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My dream house, above!

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As the sun sets we leave the gorgeous park and head back to our little room across from Sagrada Familia, then Tapas and beer of course! Have to rest up for day 2…

xoxo,

Sierra

Agen and Agen and Agen!

The day after going to the hospital and getting a cast and some pain meds, Sierra felt more like recuperating than trekking with me to our planed trip to the city of Agen. I however gallantly strode forth!

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A lot of boring  pictures you might say. But I spent a long and lonely day with only a camera as a friend so look at ’em! (ref. post title)

Also i found a cool thrift store… Sierra would have loved it.

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First, spring flowers. Then, some bad news…

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And raspberry cheesecake!

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Now the bad news, Sierra’s Big Break…

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We had a big work day ahead of us, our hosts purchased 3 large grain silos and we went to pick them up.

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These are the culprits…

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After dismantling the largest silo the fateful decision was made to move the other 2 intact. While these monsters were being moved, Sierra’s right arm was caught between them and her wrist was broken. Our hostess Louisa quickly got Sierra to the nearest hospital. We are back at the house now with arm in a wrist to shoulder cast. Obviously saddened but not deterred, our trip will carry on!

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Enjouanisson

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Early one cold morning, just a day before the snow set in, we begin to heard 7 pregnant sheep and bring them (one-by-one) into some nice straw-laden stables we had prepared the day before. To our surprise we found the cute little guy pictured below already born and shivering in the sub-zero (celsius) temperatures. Since then there have been many more lambs born including 4 sets of twins and one of triplets! wow! Their portraits to come…

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Here are some random stills in and around this idillic farm.

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Harmonie the baker!

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Hobo, Happy and Hurcule the resident terriers.

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Meet Hefner. He’s Happy’s pup and brother to Hetti the girl pup who’s half his size with twice his toughness!

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Kevin the Kat, aka Meowler. An adventurous hunter.

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Putting the chickens to bed…

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A few days after the thaw we took a bike trip to the near-by town of Bassous. A small city with a large impressive tower built-in the 13th century and a church still standing from the 12th. A quaint and very charming little town where we shared a good meal and took these pictures.

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Our host Louisa drove us high up into the Pyrenees for a spa retreat where we spent a magical 2 hours basking in heated pools saunas and steam rooms… Wonderful! These are shots of our journey to the spa including our stop at a ski resort for sled rides with the kids.

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A few shots from a near-by park/campsite.

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And a former farmhouse slowly returning to the earth…

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One of our tasks was chicken processing with our hostess Louisa, a wonderful and patient teacher. Part of our work at Enjouanisson is to learn all aspects of life on a working farm. This included some processing of animals which are then used for food within the house and some sold at the local farmer’s market by our hosts.

– Warning these images may not be appropriate for all viewers!

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Winter’s last hurrah!

We woke up to a snow covered world today! There were flowers already blooming and just last week we were outside having brunch in the yard. But, the past 2 days it has been bitter cold and the forecast was warning of snow. We got the last of the expectant mother sheep into the barn yesterday in anticipation of the cold snap.

We put lot’s of extra bedding in with the rabbits yesterday as well, so glad we were able to anticipate what was coming. Today we gave all the pig houses more hay for warmth and put a heat lamp in with the chicks. Everyone should be cozier with more bedding and it actually feels a little warmer than it had been before the snow… plus snow is just so fun!

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8am from the kitchen window, drinking coffee and not looking forward to going out there.

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Of course an epic snowball fight broke out right after morning chores…

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John took the camera out and got some great shots of the animals in the snow.

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Yesterday the lake had a layer of ice on it, the ducks flew onto it and then had to waddle off on the ice, I think they were happy that they could swim today.

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These guys were snuggling in the hay keeping warm!

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The Princesses’ and their collective boyfriend, D’jango, way out in the field…

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Looks like they are embarking on a journey but I think they are actually just walking towards John… they love him, the feeling is mutual.

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D’Jango the boar, ladies man, he is on loan from another farmer.

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Hercule, the dogs love the snow!

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Polo and Ned, donkeys are not snow animals by nature, poor guys!

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The snow was mostly melted by the end of the day. It would be fun if it was a snow day all over again tomorrow.