Friday, July 16, 2010

And away we go...

Fair warning: this post might read a bit like a rambling diary entry (that's because it is).  It would take ages for me to recap every little thing from my past week and a half adventure, so I'll just give you the highlights and some great pics.  I am back in Paris and attempting to see and do everything I can before I leave on Monday so time is of the essence. Let's get started!

Traveling is hard, on anyone, but especially on solo travelers.  When I planned this trip I was excited at the opportunity of seeing so many places, but traveling for that long and moving around so much was hard on me.  I am now even more happy that I decided to spend the majority of my time in Paris- I wouldn't have it any other way!  I keep hearing myself refer to returning to Paris as going home- slip of the unconscious tongue?  Or maybe the extraneous traveling is just making me long for home (NY or otherwise).  I am excited to return to New York.  It look a long time for me to get to a place where thoughts of home and summer made me exceptionally happy and I take that as a sign that my trip was the perfect length and I am leaving on a high note.  But I digress, let me tell you about my adventures...

First stop, northern France, where I promptly arrived sick and had to spend a day in bed and terribly nauseous.  I'm still not sure what brought that on but I felt awful for hours.  The next day I got up early and went to visit Mont Saint Michel, a place I've been dying to see, it was completely magical.  I don't normally use words like that so you know this place was beyond beautiful and awe inspiring.  It was amazing!  The reason to visit this small village is to see the abbey at the top and when you reach it you have views of all of the surrounding land and water (its on the sea) and luckily for me I also experienced getting to the top while a choir was singing in the chapel.  Now that was a religious experience!

Then while I was waiting for the bus back to my hotel I saw a gang of horseback riders and a marching band!  What a wonderful and random place this was to visit...

Next it was off to Barcelona and to an apartment I will always wish I actually lived in...Seriously, this place was straight out of a home decor magazine and I wanted to move in from the start!  The neighborhood (El Borne) is a small area between Barceloneta (the beach) and the Old City and it is not only beautiful but full of creative young people and lots of expats.  It would definitely be the neighborhood I would chose if I ever lived here.

Barcelona...what can I say?  It wasn't exactly the beautiful, old world Spanish city I was imagining.  It was grittier than I had expected, but parts of it were incredibly majestic looking.  I guess I just didn't warm to it as quickly as I would have liked.  It took me a few days, but by the end of my time there I was coming around and started to enjoy the city more.  Maybe you just become accustomed to the heat or maybe its just a city that takes a little longer, a little more exploration to get to know and really appreciate.  Funky tapas bars, Mercado Boqueria, Santa Maria del Mar, Barceloneta beach, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia...These pictures show the Barcelona I began to fall for towards the end of my trip.

The beach was calling though, and after a few days in the city I left for a getaway in Cadaques, Spain.  It is only a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from Barcelona, which isn't too bad, except for the last 30 minutes of winding mountain roads where gorgeous scenery and death defying curves put your stomach in knots.  After a few minutes I really started to feel sick and just prayed that I wouldn't hurl on the bus- what a lovely experience that would be ha!

This small, sleepy fishing village is where Salvador Dali spent much of his time (there is even a statue in the middle of town), along with many other artists and it is still where artists like to come spend time today.  In the summer its a bit touristy, but I really enjoyed my time there.  The town's quiet beauty is idyllic; the sea, the whitewashed buildings and a rocky beach that locals and tourists alike all gather on during the hot summer days.  The atmosphere is easy and laid back and everyone seems very relaxed.  It was the perfect ending to my time in Spain.

Next follow me back to France in part deux of my trip diary...


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