Spain 2011


"Saturday. Hotel 1898 in Barcelona."

"Underground pool."

"Rooftop pool."

"My travelling companions enjoying the rooftop cafe."

"Sunday. Left Barcelona around noon for our drive up the coast to Aiguablava. Stopover - Tossa de Mar - a pleasant little seaside town with an old castle on a hill. Yes, that is the color of the sea."

"Cannon in the castle."

"More of castle."

"Julia and Maureen exploring the castle."

"Interpretive center atop the hill near the castle."

"Entry to Interpretive Center."

"Tree inside Interpretive Center."

"Lighthouse atop Interpretive Center."

"Found a promising restaurant. Right next to the beach, with gentle breeze wafting in off the sea."

"Paella. Also, cava sangria."

"Maureen and friend."

"Bread."

"On our way into town, not understanding the signs, we started driving down these side streets. We couldn't seem to find our way off, and we could not back out, as another car followed us down the street. The streets got narrower and narrower, also more and more full of people. Great way to see the shops. Great fun - watching pedestrians plastering themselves to walls to avoid being run over."

"Church in town."

"Bell tower."

"Back Street."

"Time for some shopping."

"Trying on hats."

"And shorts."

"Carrer Hou?"

"After a hazardous but scenic drive along the wild coast (Costa Brava), we arrived at the Parador Aiguablava, strikingly situated on a peninsula near the town of Begur."

"Inside feels a bit like the Bar Harbor Inn - wide halls with creaky wooden floors."

"View of the town from my balcony."

"Close-up of house."

"Inlet below the hotel. I spent quite a bit of time sitting on my balcony, enjoying the weather (72 degrees, pleasant breeze), looking at the town, listening to the sound of birds and seagulls."

"Boat in inlet below the hotel."

"MRG: Did you go in the water? Maureen: Yes, why do you ask?"

"Creepy art at the Parador."

"Monday. Excursion from Aigublava to nearby Begur - artsy, pedestrian-only village surrounding an old hill-top fortification."

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"Some nice houses."

"Steep pathways."

"Lots of narrow, twisty streets."

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"Interesting architectural details."

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"Cat cafe."

"Hotel in town."

"Upper Part of hotel."

"Detail."

"'Made with love.' Sign on Maureen's future hotel."

"Lots of scenes for avid shutterbugs."

"Potable water."

"Town square in Begur."

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"Fortification on the hill in the center of the town."

"Atop the fortification. By, the way, that's the Catalan flag."

"Art on the hill."

"'The answer is in the wind - the words of love are invisible sculptures.'"

"Later that afternoon, it was off to Callela on the coast for a look at a Botanical Garden at an old estate."

"Steps."

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"Artwork."

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"Daisies."

"Cactus Garden."

"Another cactus."

"Plant"

"Steps."

"Graffitti plant. No one knows how those markings grow there."

"Enjoying the garden."

"Some folks messing around in a boat in an inlet below the Garden."

"Garden walk."

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"Quick stop in the town of Calella."

"Time to relax with a cup of coffee at a shorefront cafe."

"Tuesday. First up was a brief stop in Figueras to get a sim card for Maureen's iPad. Also a visit to the Dali Museum. One hour 30 minute in line, then 10 minutes inside, after which I got kicked out for carrying a backpack."

"Onward to Besalu, a medieval town to the West of Figueras."

"Yuppified house."

"House before yuppification."

"Shopping arcade."

"Fortification on bridge into town."

"Fortification at the other end of the bridge."

"Church tower."

"Parador de Vic, our HQ for the next two nights. Clean, newish building."

"Great setting on a mountain lake in the Pyrenees."

"Quiet and peaceful."

"Wednesday. Off for a 3.7 km hike from the parador (red dot on map) to an abandoned monastery (located on a bluff at the end of the peninsula to the North of the red dot)."

"The monastery was a nice reward for the hike."

"Monastery."

"Maureen and her wine."

"Monastery."

"Interior of the church."

"Quick stop at the monastery eatery before starting back. Maureen and Julia were even more entertaining than usual. (To tell the truth, I think that they were a bit tipsy from the Sangria.)"

"View from my balcony."

"Sadly, the food at the Parador was inedible. Not just unfamiliar or bland or uninteresting. I mean inedible. So it was off to the town of Vic for a dinner at El Bohemi, a Catalan tapas restaurant. Located in the shadow of an ancient Roman temple. Lots of very good food."

"Thursday. Excursion from La Seu d'Urgell to Andorra. Crossing the border a little spooky due to soldiers with machine guns and heavy chains."

"Andorra la Vella."

"Old government building."

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"Maureen relaxing."

"House in Andorra la Vella."

"Art."

"Art?"

"Stopped in hotel for rest stop. I thought the bowtie was a nice touch."

"Not to be outdone by the men, the women had a nice touch of their own."

"Maureen and Julia decided they needed to look in this store for some reason."

"Meanwhile, I watched a helicopter practicing mountain rescue operations above the city."

"Off to find a restaurant in Sant Cristofol, a sleepy hamlet up in the hills. All we knew is that it was near this Church, visible for miles around."

"No restaurant, but we found the church."

"Julia at the Church with a view of the valley floor."

"Back into the town to look once again for the restaurant."

"Found it! Known for good food. And also hugs given to customers by gay proprietors. No hugs offered on this visit. Fine by me."

"We arrived at 2:59, and they closed at 3:00. Nevertheless, they were happy to seat us."

"Turns out the proprietors are English, and the place is more an English pub than anything else. Fish and chips and ale for me."

"Julia and Maureen on the bench outside the restaurant."

"Back to Spain with nothing to do. So it was off for a hike in the outskirts of La Seu d'Urgell."

"Church on a hill."

"Hiking along a stream."

"Our destination."

"Time to switch shoes."

"Horses."

"Photo op."

"House."

"Julia letting me know they are ready to go. Off to a restaurant just outside of town"

"Julia at the restaurant."

"Maureen."

"Maureen flirting with Bambi."

"Saturday. Thinking of Maureen's mom."

"Solsana - lots of narrow, winding streets."

"More winding streets."

"A bit of greenery."

"Design Detail."

"Design Detail."

"I was struck by the wood carving and the curved window on this storefront."

"My companions once again."

"Parador de Cardona, dominating a mountaintop 1000 feet above the valley floor. I would not want to be an invader trying to climb that terrain with 200 pounds of armor on my back."

"Entrance."

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"Cafeteria on the patio."

"Patio."

"View from the tower."

"Tough guy on guard."

"Walk down to the village."

"Leaving Julia behind in the tower."

"The way back up."

"And up."

"Courtyard."

"Entrance to Dining Hall."

"Inside."

"Waiting area."

"Cathedral."

"Altar."

"Crypt."

"Tomb."

"Salt mine."

"Salt miner."

"Another miner."

"Support in salt mine."

"Montserrat."

"Funicular at Montserrat."

"View from above."

"Interior at Montserrat."