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Archive for the ‘Trips’ Category

Alba-la-Romaine

Friday, May 25th, 2012

After the drive from Avignon, we arrived to Montélimar where Nick, Dana, and I met a last-minute addition to our upcoming tour of the Ardèche: Sylvain, one of my roommates from the study abroad in Delft. After four years, conversation with Sylvain picked up where it left off, and I was quite happy to have him join for the Eurotrip.

While in Chile, the owner of Ko’kayak (the company that Greg, Tiff, and I went with for sea kayaking) referred me to the Ardèche when I said that some friends and I would be making a visit to France. So, we used his great advice and added the Ardèche as a destination for the Eurotrip.

On the way to La Musardière, the specific bed and breakfast that we were referred to for its friendly owners and idyllic location, we passed through a small, quaint town named Alba-la-Romaine. Exploring the small streets of the town and the impressive views it provided was a welcome surprise. Also surprising was the fact that the château on the hill was open this particular Sunday evening for a local artist’s exhibition and wine tasting. Recognizing the need for wine on a day that all shops are closed, Sylvain pulled some strings and got us in for an enjoyable visit to the château on the hill.

Bonjour from Paris!

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

I do love my œufs!

Avignon

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Arriving to Avignon via car was quite easy with the help of GPS, but once inside the medieval walls with tight, one-way streets that were randomly closed for a festival, it became a distraction. As such, we were left to navigate ourselves via cached iPhone Google Maps, and luckily we stumbled into a parking structure close to the Regina Hotel, the 11th hour accommodation that Nick and I found on Hostelworld the night before.

The helpful receptionist at the Regina Hotel pointed us to Ginette et Marcel, a local restaurant in a local area that was exactly what we were looking for (i.e., something off the beaten track). G&M served up tasty ‘tartines,’ which are open-faced sandwiches with delicious toppings such as goat cheese and honey, mushrooms and cheese, etc.

We took a nice walking tour of Avignon on Sunday morning, and the impending storm provided a backdrop for some high contrast photos. We returned to G&M for lunch as it started to rain and afterwards hopped in the car for the traffic jammed drive to the Ardèche…

Marseille

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Nick, Dana, and I said goodbye to Stefano early Saturday morning and caught a flight Marseille, France where we rented a car and GPS. First stop: Marseille’s seaport, Vieux Port, where we parked the car and decided to walk to the basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde. Here we were rewarded with impressive views of Marseille, which is the second latest city in France after Paris. After a quick crêpe in the city center, we queued up Avignon in the GPS, our next stop on the tour of Southern France.

Barcelona

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Thursday afternoon Nick and I arrived to Barcelona where we met up with Stefano and Dana, two good friends from the study abroad in Delft – I’m happy to report that they are doing well and that some things, such as the camaraderie between good friends, never change.

Our two days in Barcelona were packed with activities, and left Nick and I wishing we had more time to enjoy the city. On Thursday, Stefano took us on an nice introductory tour with a stop at the huge Cathedral followed by a local bar for drinks, a tour of his apartment, an excellent restaurant for tapas, and a very good local flamenco show. Stefano’s reaction to the surprise gift of Speck from the Venice airport deli at the end of the night was exactly what I was hoping for.

Friday brought Dana, Nick, and I through the very touristy area of Las Ramblas to the Palau Güell, an impressive building architected by Antoni Gaudí. After that was a stop at Café Viena for the purported best sandwich in the world, and although good, I have to say that the Venice airport deli sandwiches were better. Also intermixed in the day were stops at the local and colorful markets of Santa Caterina and La Boqueria and the clothes store Zara, where I bought my new favorite shirt.

After all this, we attempted to visit Barcelona’s newest cathedral, Sagrada Família. Construction began in 1882, and it’s still under construction. Although very impressive on the outside, we unfortunately weren’t able to go inside due to a private, invitation only concert.

Stefano then met up with us and took us out for a local and enjoyable evening with sandwiches, tapas, and drinks at a number of his favorite spots. Nick and I ended the night early at our centrally located Airbnb apartment in Barcelona at 1:30am – we still needed to find accommodation for Saturday night in France; Act III was about to begin in a few hours…