Spain and Home Again

Well I’ve been home for two days now and have just about settled back in and finished with the jet lag.  I’ll pick up where I left off Tuesday night when the Internet was giving me trouble.  Here are a few more pictures from the Sunset Cruise on the catamaran, Magic.

Here’s the street entertainer who was playing when we disembarked from our cruise,

the suburbs of Roses — daytime and nighttime:

I also took some nice shots from the harbour cruise in Barcelona which took place in daylight and never got the time to post them.

At bedtime Tuesday, I started to feel ill.  Whether it was something I ate, or drank, or just nerves about making all my connections the next day, I don’t know, but in the morning I was fine, up on time, and early to the bus station.  The lady at the counter said, “Why don’t you just take the bus directly to the Barcelona airport?  It’s much faster and you don’t have to make any switches.”  So that’s what I did.  Piece of cake!

Things went smoothly at the Barcelona airport.  While waiting for my flight, I heard them call for a flight to Casablanca.  Ooh!  Maybe next year!  The bus from Montreal to Ottawa was about a half hour late but eventually we all got on board and headed home.  A very long day.  I was up at 1:10 am Ottawa time and got to bed and 11:45 pm Ottawa time.  Felt good to be home and very happy that my family kept in touch with me while I was away.  I would go back again but do things a little differently another time.  I would definitely want a room with a view and a balcony in Roses.  I never rented a car and there were some places I didn’t get to see I’d like to go back and have another go at.  But all in all, a fabulous vacation!  Here are some favourite photos!

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Roses Final Day

Beautiful day again today — a perfect beach day.  I checked out one of the cruises first thing this morning and then had my final time on the beach and in the sea.  There was only one thing I wanted to pick up on my final day and I was able to get exactly what I wanted.  I had a lovely lunch at Si Tapas (I ate there several times this week but kept forgetting to take a picture) and this time had the yogurt and fruit dessert which was fabulous.  You’ll have to take my word for it.

This afternoon I was able, with some help from the front desk, to print out my boarding pass for tomorrow.  I’ll have to be up quite early and leave before breakfast to make all my connections.  I was considering whether or not to leave a wake-up call when I realized there’s no phone in my room so I’ll have to rely on the alarm on my iPad.  I’ve actually been practising for the last couple of days but I realized I will have to leave early in case of a delay somewhere, otherwise I could miss my connection and be late for checking in my baggage.

After a bit of a rest, I headed off for my Sunset Cruise.  The boat is called Magic and she’s about a 60 or 70’ catamaran.  A breeze came up this evening so we were able to sail for the whole cruise once we were out of the harbour.  It was delightful and I think you’ll enjoy my pictures.  Walking back to the hotel, I was able to get a photo of an entertainer and one of the hillside lights after dark.  Long day ahead tomorrow, so I won’t likely be writing a post.

Having some trouble with the Internet connection so will only put up what I’ve been able to upload so far and will post the others later.

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Roses Day 5

What a gorgeous day at the beach!  It was sunny and hot and breezy, the water cool and refreshing, and the hum of different languages in the background made it a sleepy and tranquil day.  Here’s me in my new Costa Brava swim cover-up.  Nice not to have to walk through the hotel lobby and restaurant in my swim suit or to change my clothes at the beach.  Here’s a picture of the boats I was mentioning yesterday but didn’t have a picture of.

Looks like fun, doesn’t it?  There were lots of windsurfers today, as well.  I was at the beach until about 2:30 pm, then returned to my room to change, pick up some money and I headed out for a few souvenirs for family and a bite to eat.  I found a little restaurant on La Rambla where they made authentic Indian chicken curry and nan; the rest of their menu looked a lot like McDonalds’ so I stuck with the curry.

I read on the beach, and I read at the restaurant, and I read during siesta time.  I’m worried now that this book isn’t going to last me to the plane.  This is the 2nd new book I’ve read since arriving in Spain and while totally different than the other one, it is just as fascinating.  It’s called Circling the Sun by Paula McLain and it’s a novel based on the true life of Beryl Markham.  She was the first female horse trainer to get her British license and also tried to fly the Atlantic from east to west from England to New York.  I could cheat and look her up on the Internet but I’d rather wait and see how the story ends.  It began with a real cliff-hanger of her losing altitude over the Atlantic. Can’t put it down.  I do have one other book that I brought from home, a birthday gift from a friend all about Casablanca, so I’ll have to make sure that goes into my purse for heading home.

I keep forgetting to take pictures of what I eat!  Tonight I had Peach Melba. It was served in a gian brandy snifter, the peaches and juice on the bottom, then the ice cream, mounds of whipped cream on top, and a wafer stick pushed into the top. It was totally scrumptious but I couldn’t quite finish it.  Took in some more shops along La Rambla before coming back to finish and post this blog before heading to bed.  Tomorrow’s my last day.  Can’t quite believe it.  Hasta mañana!

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Roses Day 4

Took a little bus excursion this morning to Castell de la Trinitat and some of the nearby towns.  There are lots of beaches, many smaller than the ones at Roses, but perhaps nicer than ours to take small children to and many with boats anchored not too far out.  There are lots of playgrounds and water amusements for children here including a boat that can be rented and has a big slide down it so kids can go down the slide or jump off the back of the boat.  In the plaza across from the beach there is a carousel and lots of kids are on electric scooters or those where your feet are side by side.  Lots of fun dodging them on the wide walkways along the beach.

Turns out that in July and August the Castell is only open from 5-10 pm so I didn’t get to go in.  Got a few pictures but perhaps the best will be the one I took from the city of Roses.  Got a nice shot of the lighthouse down in front of it.  Probably won’t go back as I don’t think there is much more to see than can be seen in photos online.

Arriving back in town, I explored further down the beach than I had been before.  Lots of “merchants” with their wares laid out on blankets on the pavement — mostly running shoes, track clothes and some purses and sunglasses — but some amazing sand art which I’m really glad I got to see.

Lunch was a place I had eaten before, in the middle of the plaza, and it was delicious. Only thing is, they don’t bring you the bill afterwards.  I sat and waited a good 10 minutes before I caught a waiter’s eye and he was annoyed because he was taking to two people who had just arrived.  He was telling them he had no tables and I was trying to tell him they could have mine if he’d bring me the bill.  I probably won’t go back now because I don’twant To sit at a table doing nothing.  Especially if people nearby start smoking which they’re allowed to do in restaurants in Spain.  Not very appetizing for me, though, and I have things to do and see.  I’ll write them up on Trip Advisor and give them high marks on the food.  Also, one of these pics is for my friend, Paul; he’ll know which one.

A bit of a frustrating time this afternoon as the Wi-Fi wouldn’t connect and I couldn’t get my pictures for my blog.  Had a bit of a read and a bit of a rest, then when I tried again, everything was working great.  Went out for dinner to a neat place that advertises ”take away”.  Cook was very nice and made me up a packet of croque monsieur and chips which I took with my bottle of water down to the pier along with a few hundred other people.  It was late — dinner here is usually between 8 and 10 pm — so the hillside was all lit up in the houses, spotlights were on the Castle, and lights were on a lot of the boats in the harbour.  Very pretty.  Then I spent a bit more time on La Ramble and picked up a small mosaic-finished zebra which I had noticed earlier in the week.

There are a number of things I had on my “to see” list and now I’ve only two days left and have to decide if I want to spend them travelling around on buses and inside monasteries and museums or if I just want to lie on the beach and maybe take the harbour cruise on a huge sailing catamaran.  It’s a tough choice.  I’ll let you know tomorrow which choice won out.

 

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Roses Day 3

What an incredibly beautiful resort town!  I’m trying to figure out how to spend the whole summer here.  Another gorgeous, partly cloudy day with people enjoying the shops and the beach and the food — very relaxing.  I took 72 pictures this morning and 68 of them were of La Ciutadella (the Citadel) so I’m only going to share a sampling of them.

First, a picture of the courtyard that is part of the breakfast area of my hotel.  I didn’t get a good shot of it yesterday and it’s quite charming.  One of those pink flowers fell down right into my purse while I was eating so I’m flattening it and keeping it.  They make something at some of the cafés here called a French omelet and so I might eat breakfast out tomorrow and have one.  I miss having eggs in the morning.

Before going to the Citadel, I stopped at the tourist information centre and got everything I need to know about visiting the Dali Museum in Figueres and the Castell de la Trinitat.  I also managed to get the bus and train schedule for Wednesday morning when I have to get from Roses to the Barcelona Airport.  Feeling much better about that.

Here is a plan of La Ciutadella (not my picture but from El Rincon de Byron’s website about the Citadel, just to give you an idea of where my pictures are taken.  I will try to keep them in order from the entrance around to the right counterclockwise through the Citadel. There’s one picture obviously taken from up high because I was very brave and walked along the top of the citadel wall.  I was really impressed with both the ruins and the museum.  It was pretty noisy at times because they’re having a rock concert in there tonight and they were testing the system.

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I now have a system for the beach.   I take nothing of value in my purse, leave my room key at the front desk, take my bamboo mat, a bottle of water, and wear my new poncho beach cover (orange), and park everything close to the water where I can keep an eye on it.  Head into the water for a swim and then when I come out, I head for my grassy spot on the little knoll and get a bit of sun while I read or sketch.  Today I read and had a really relaxing time.  Appropriately, this book I picked up at the Montreal airport is about a dig in Scotland where some archaeologists are looking for evidence of the lost Ninth Legion of Rome.  It’s called The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley (a Canadian, I’ve found out) and it’s really interesting.

For dinner this evening I went to a restaurant I saw my first night here called L’Entrecot.  I wasn’t hungry enough to go there for dinner last night but decided to give it a try tonight.  Of course, I was drawn by the architecture — so different from anything else I’ve seen in town.  I ordered steak tartare which I’ve never had before and while it was quite tasty I’m not sure I’d order it again.  There’s an upstairs inside overlooking the patio which begins in street and extends inside into the courtyard.  They have a pulley system that will draw an awning across the courtyard should it rain.  It was a very pleasant atmosphere; I enjoyed watching the families having fun, taking photos, and enjoying the bustle going by in La Rambla.

Tomorrow I hope to take a bus up to Castell de la Trinitat.  Hasta la vista!

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Roses Day 2

What a great day! First, another puzzle.  See if you know what this is a picture of.  I’ve never seen one before.  The complete picture will appear at the end of the post and may surprise you.

Began the day with breakfast.  Lovely setting and some good food but nowhere near as great as the buffet in Barcelona.  Huge slabs of watermelon (never a favourite of mine) and cocoanut and other fruit not cut up at all.  A nice courtyard outside but there wasn’t enough seating for the size of the hotel.  A number of us had to wait several minutes for openings and then for staff to clear the dirty dishes and put down new cloths so we could have our turn.

There were notices up today that there would be no water between 3 and 6 pm — so a good time to have a siesta!  Back to this morning.  To answer my sister, the ground under the bay is sandy but the water is quite cold.  May or may not get to swim but will certainly be enjoying the beach.

I walked down to where they sell the tickets for the little train the drives through the town and up the mountain and got all the information.  I walked La Rambla a little slower and actually looked at things of interest.  I bought a bamboo mat (I have one in the car at home from the Dollarama) and sat on a grassy knoll on the beach and did a bit of sketching then lay back and enjoyed the day.

I dropped my mat in my hotel room before heading back to get the train.  Apparently there was some trouble on the road and the train was going to be a bit late, so I walked up the road to have a look at La Ciutadella which is quite large.  I think I see where you go in and may try to do that tomorrow.

This is a picture of the sky just before we headed off on our little tourist train.  Fortunately, the rain held off until after we got back and we got great panoramic views of the whole area of the Bay of Roses.  I couldn’t get over the variety of cacti growing here.  Also, there is a valley of  beautiful, classic Spanish houses that the driver told me is a ghost town 10 months of the year — people only live there In July and August and then it totally closes down.  There are vineyards in the background and the new wine will come out in September.  Here are some of the pictures I took from the train of plants and neat architecture.

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I sat down to have a lovely lunch just as the rain began to pour — thunder, lightning, the whole works.  I sat under an awning just out of reach of the rain and it felt great after the heat of the past week.  An enterprising young man was walking down the street with about a dozen folded umbrellas in one hand and one up over is his own head in his other hand.  Mine of course was back at the hotel so I just enjoyed my lunch and waited out the storm.

I retired via La Rambla and made a couple of purchases, then had a siesta.  Dinner here is from 8 til 10 so after working on my blog for a bit I went out to sample the night life.  I had a bite to eat at the corner café and listened to a street entertainer with an electric ukulele, a kazoo and her own voice.  She was very good — sang some songs in English like Dream a Little Dream of Me — and had a hat upside down on the ground.  Kids especially enjoyed going up and putting money in the hat.  The streets were well lit and there were lots of people out.

As promised, here is the answer to the puzzle:

 

 

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Barcelona Day 5; Roses Day 1

Well, it’s “So long, Barcelona” and “Hello, Roses!”  One of the cool things about Barcelona was the various tiling done on the sidewalk pavement.

The third one, I only saw in front of Casa Batllo.  In La Rambla and along the waterfront, there were rather neat rectangular cobbles but it was either take a picture or catch my bus.

I was very lucky with my hotel, Catalonia Sagrada Familia.  My room may have been small but my balcony was the largest one in the whole hotel.  I wondered how I would mark it in the picture but then realized the sun had done it for me.  My balcony was pretty much as big as my bedroom area.  The staff was really great, too — very helpful.  It seems pretty much standard in Barcelona that elevators are small and airless unless they’re in a very modern building.

Something else I really liked was where in sections of the downtown where they had beautiful old lamp stands, they incorporated the traffic lights in a very unobtrusive way.

The one thing that had concerned me about getting the train out of Barcelona was all the stairs in the underground before getting to the train part of the station but at every set of stairs, some kind man would politely grab my suitcases and put the, at the bottom for me until I came to a ramp and then there were elevators down at the train level.  Even at the bus station in Figueres, someone put my suitcases in the compartment under the bus for me when the driver just shook his head, turned his back, and climbed on the bus. He is the only person I’ve met so far who has been rather grumpy and uncommunicative.  I wasn’t sure where I would get off in Figueres so I showed him my ticket and address when I got on the bus and he just looked straight through the paper and ignored me.  Fortunately, I sat beside a lovely young lady who spoke English and knew Roses very well and told me two options for getting to my hotel.  (Nevertheless, I kept true to form and spent about an hour looking for the hotel (so I’ve already seen a lot of the town) despite doing what everyone told me to do.)  I finally sat down and had a rather late lunch and it turns out I was only one block away from my hotel.

Remember these?

This room is definitely about location — it is definitely without a view; however, the beach is literally across the road and breakfast is included.  The Wi-Fi here seems to be pretty slow and sometimes the signal isn’t very strong, so for now I guess it’s just blogging and email.

This is the view.  What you see is the whole courtyard and the lady in the room across opened her window to wring out bathing suits into it.  There are nicer rooms, it’s just that they’re all booked.  Of course, there’s no safe in the room, no ice or coke machine on site (they have their own restaurant downstairs after all), but they did kindly give me a container of ice (no little refrigerator or wine cooler like in the last place) and I’m using the tiniest glass from the bathroom but the room includes breakfast and ahh, the location!!  Great beach but check out the castle I’m going to visit up on the hill!

It seems every town I’ve been through so far or passed on the bus has a La Rambla — an outdoor shopping mall that goes through narrow inter-connecting alleyways — and Roses is no exception.  After settling into my room, I set out and took a lot of pictures and wandered La Rambla (not too far from my hotel, though), an even found a place where for €12 I can have Turkish fish called Garrarufa eat the dead skin off my feet and make them feel really good!  We’ll see.

 

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