McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Category: Spain (page 1 of 2)

Day 2-Merida, Spain and Evora, Portugal

What a difference 8 hours of sleep makes! Feeling much better today and that was good because we had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of walking to do.
We packed up our stuff and walked the 10 minutes back to our car in the city garage (since the tiny old town had no parking for visitors.) I even got yelled at a little in Spanish by a delivery driver this morning when we came back to load up suitcases for being in his way. haha Meh. whatever. It’s hard to get offended when you only understand half of what they say. I got the jist… you can’t park here. this is for deliveries only. ha I said “solo para dos minutos” -two minutes- and he rolled his eyes and walked away haha He wasn’t wrong… I just didn’t have another option! If you want tourist money, sometimes you have deal with tourist crap. ha

We drove towards Merida, Spain- a very important and strategic old Roman city….and by now, you know how I feel about anything Roman! So it was a good day 🙂

Along the way, we stopped at Los Barruecos- giant megalithic stones with engravings alongside this beautiful lake. It really was a neat protected area with tons of storks. It was a nice little detour off the interstate.

As we came into town we passed alongside the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miracle Aqueduct) that is AMAZINGly preserved….but it was hard to get a non-blurry photo- so here’s a Wikipedia one…just because it’s hard to explain how cool this aqueduct is.

We made a quick stop at the playground because #norah.

Our first site on foot was the Temple of Diana.

It has a Visigoth House built in the middle of it. Long story short, some important guy a long time ago thought he needed to construct his house on the temple foundation and it still stands there! ha
The town trees are all budding and look really cool right now. Other areas are lined with Orange trees. I want to pick and eat one so bad.

Streets lined with orange trees

We walked to another Roman excavation site, what appeared to be a theater, but I didn’t have good notes on it.

My own little Roman soldier.

Our last major stop in Merida was the site of the Roman amphitheater and the theater. Such well-preserved/reconstructed remains! The theater really was amazing.

After walking around these grounds for a while, we started back across town. It really was a pretty town.

Our last site before getting back to the car was the Roman bridge. The longest Roman bridge- in fact, the longest bridge known in the entire ancient world…. with something like 60 arches. Quite impressive. You can see in the photo that it continues on WAY past the trees on the right side. It used to run into the gate of the Alcazaba- an Arab fortress that was built when the city was conquered by the Arabs in the 800s.

On to the city of Evora we went. There were more Roman ruins there… but we were short on time and parking was an issue. We ended up in a lot outside the city walls at the Aqueduct of Evora

I tried to keep it fun for the girly because we had to wake her up from a nap to walk this city. Zombie. Baby. for sure. ha

We were headed to the Chapel of Bones. The story of this chapel is kind of neat. Basically, in the 1500s… there were over 40 cemeteries around Evora.. and that was valuable land needed to expand the city. So, the monks dug up the bodies and brought them here for relocation. However, instead of hiding them in a mass grave, they lined the walls of this chapel with over 5000 bodies and turned it into a point of solemn reflection where one could come and reflect in the face of death… ponder where their own soul was headed when their bones rested here with the rest. An inscription above the door reads: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or: “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.”
I have to say, I like where their heads were at. If there is one thing humans don’t think enough about, it’s just how finite our own existence is on this Earth… and if people though more about their numbered days, they would live a little bit more in each of them instead of on the auto-pilot mode we so often find ourselves. One day, sooner than we would like, our bones join all the others that came before us….Hey, maybe that Chapel did have a reflective property on me 🙂 High five to Franciscan Monks!

After that, it was a trek back to our car through town.

“Look, I’m a nun.” – Norah

It was time to head to Lisbon. We broke up the drive by stopping at the Almendras Standing stones. Sort of Portugal’s crappy stonehenge. But then again Stonehenge is a crappy stonehenge.,… don’t get me started. (I wasn’t impressed ha)

This area was full of tons of cork trees, most of which had been harvested. Apparently, you can harvest cork and it doesnt kill the tree… who knew?

We continued on to downtown Lisbon where we will stay the next 2 nights. I had read about this amazing “casual-dress seafood mecca” so after parking the car and getting checked in at the Lisbon Marriott (thank you hotel points from last summer’s work travel!) we headed out to the Marques de Palma on a 15 minute walk to see how great it was. It did not disappoint!

First things first, our waiter was so, so good. He saw how terrible our Portuguese was and said “may we converse in English?” OMG of course we can! haha and then explained everything to us in his perfect English. He explained that at this restaurant they bring things to the table automatically for starters….but you only pay for what you eat. If you don’t eat it or want it, you just tell them and they take it away. Clever… and I’m sure that it has gotten them in some trouble with unknowing tourists, because I wouldn’t have known! He brought a sweet crab dip with toasts, Iberico ham and aged sheep cheese along with a bread basket to our table. Of course, we consumed all of it. I think Norah ate the entire bread basket. I looked over at one point she had her eyes closed licking the olive oil off a piece of bread. (Did I mention we’ve turned our sweet child into a zombie this week? ha I hope it gets better)

We asked if they had a seafood platter or any kind of sampler… and our fantastic waiter just said “I will make something up for you” and that was that… ordered without ordering haha Then it arrived. The mother boatload of all fresh seafood. A whole lobster, 2 kinds of prawns, crab legs, barnacles, clams, some sort of conch that I swear the waiter called “bussom” but have no idea what it really was… just an amazing spread.

He also recommended a Vino Verde (green wine)- it’s a Portugal specialty. young fresh Albarino grapes with some fizz…. I drank basically the entire bottle. It was so good.

We sat next to Bonga. Apparently, he’s a folk and semba singer from Angola. We only know this because he had his CD on the table discussing with the guy he was eating with and we saw his face on the cover and Kegan made notes to stalk him later. ha

We were so full but Norah wanted dessert and Kegan actually was disappointed I wasn’t ordering dessert because he kind of wanted some… so we decided to get a menu. The waiter says “do you like chocolate?” -of course I do…so he says “we have the best chocolate cake in the world….See…it says it right there.” (and printed in the menu was “best in the world” beside it.) Now…I sort of have this thing with “best in the world”, “best coffee in town”, “world’s greatest flea market”…. like, if it was the best in the world… you wouldn’t need to advertise it, mmmkay? So, honestly… full bottle of wine Erin said “sure… let’s have that” so that I could have a giggle at the “world’s best chocolate cake”.

Let me tell you. It might have been the world’s best chocolate cake! hahaha It was flourless.. but it had a couple crunchy layers made from very thin meringue. It had a light chocolate mousse. It had ganache… wowza. I’m going to dream about that cake. Kegan tried it and ended up eating half of it because he got dessert envy after tasting it. Norah got a Paw Patrol ice cream cup…and the waiter went and dug her out a pink Skye cup because she said she REALLY wanted Skye. haha It was just overall a fantastic experience. I could not recommend this restaurant more and it was one of my top 10 meals ever.

Tomorrow we explore Lisbon on foot with a very full day….let’s see if we can get it all in!

Day 1 – Toledo and Caceres, Spain

Hello! It’s been a while! About the longest we’ve went between trips in years. Almost a full year since we went to Poland and Czech Republic. This trip is mostly Portugal with a little bit of Spain thrown in because the tickets Chicago to Madrid were sooo much cheaper than Indy to Lisbon.

Flying into Madrid was nice because there was one city we wanted to see on our last trip to Spain but couldn’t squeeze it in: Toledo. So, this gave us a perfect first day. We figured since our flight was 6pm-1am our “home time”… we’d likely be wrecked because we wouldn’t sleep on the plane… and we were right. Norah slept some… laid out across us. ha

We arrived and got our car with little fanfare…and we were off on the hour drive to Toledo. When we arrived, the parking lot I had picked and 2 others we passed were totally full… so that was annoying. We did find a garage which ended up being better anyway, but my whole planned out walking tour was wrecked. ha We grabbed a quick 45 minute nap in the parking garage and then drug our zombie child through the city. ha

We ended up parking near this amazing escalator that the city installed a few years ago. Since Toledo is an old fortified wall city, it was naturally built on top of the highest point around protected by a river on two sides as well. Great for protection, not so great for moving around in modern life from the rest of the world below. This multi level escalator took us from right outside our parking garage, right up to the old city…. and with all of the hills that were still part of the walk, we were very thankful!

The first stop we made was the Convento de Santo Domingo El Antiguo.

We were a little early, so had to wait around 10 minutes for the nuns to open the door. The big “to see” here is the first painting in Spain of El Greco, a famous painter from the Spanish Renaissance. He painted and sculpted many famous works that are all around Spain. But this “Resurrection” painting was his first and his lead tomb under the floor could be seen through a cracked glass viewing window in the floor. The very stern nun was giving me side-eye…so I tried to take quick no-flash photos, but they didn’t turn out. ha Very blurry. Here’s an internet photo.

He’s known for really long and drawn out figures, white pale skin… and my personal favorite piece of trivia about El Greco is that when he saw Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel- he said something along the lines of “I met Michaelangelo. He was a good guy. But the guy can’t paint.” hahaha

We walked around the winding streets of Toledo taking in the architecture and very VERY old buildings. Some of these buildings have been standing since the 1100s. Toledo is known as the city of 3 cultures because unlike most of the word where Arabs, Christians and Jews have battled each of other for total dominance of a city, Toledo is a rare find in that there were Arabs, Jews and Christians all living together in different sectors of the city.

One awesome example of architecture that remains in is the Siragoga de Santa Maria La Blanca. Built in 1180-it’s the oldest synagogue in Europe. It was by Islamic architects, for Jewish use, sanctioned to be built in a Christian kingdom. Now, all of that warm fuzzy feeling to then ruin it.. In the late 1300s, a priest incited a massacre of the Jews in the city of Toledo killing almost all of them, stole the synagogue and called it a church and the Catholic Church today still owns it, much to Jewish displeasure…

We also saw the Cathedral, the Capilla de San Pedro

We walked through Plaza Zocodorer.. which disappointingly these days was just concrete blocks and a Burger King and McDonalds logo highlighted on one end. Theis plaza used to be the meat market. Animals were brought through ere for auction, slaughter,etc and it has a long history as a market. Also, they burned a few people here in the Inquisition. Today, it’s just tour guide companies and chain food. Sort of sad. Bring back the burning!

Just off the plaza we did find a statue of my friend Cervantes- the author of Don Quixote.

For lunch we ate at Taberna El Botero..which was FANTASTIC… but for the record, a poor decision to sit down to a quiet warm slow paced lunch on zero sleep. Norah basically fell asleep in her plate of food and we were both struggling to keep our eyes open by the end. We shared the croquettes- each one was different. One was squid ink, another salted codfish, another tomato… all were fantastic. Also, we had a blood sausage samosa starter and a plate of steak slices (which I forgot to photograph. #foodieprobs)

We napped a quick nap in the parking garage again and headed out for the 2.5 hour drive to our hotel for the evening. We stopped just outside of town to get a great panoramic view of the city of Toledo.

We stayed in Old Town Caceres, Spain at a nice little boutique hotel. Next door was the restaurant Jose Marquez, which had Galician Beef- a specialty of dry aged beef- usually of an older cow-sometimes even 10 year old cows! grilled with salt only, served rare with french fries and and grilled blistered hot peppers. Also, my favorite thing in Spain is gazpacho… and so we both got a glass of gazpacho along with sharing the Galician steak. Norah ordered Calamari…and then proceeded to eat 1 ring.

Girlie was sleepy. haha she was being very good so we had said she could get ice cream for dessert….but she even agreed to just eat ice cream tomorrow if she could go to sleep a little quicker. haha

All in all, a bit of a short day…but knocked another city off of our to-see list. Tomorrow we’ll see the old Roman ruin towns of Merida and Evora and end in Lisbon..so lots of walking, lots of driving to get over to the coast!

Days 9 and 10- Belmonte Castle, Sierra Nevadas, Almagruz Cuevas and Alicante

Before we left the hotel (which had memory foam beds! hallelujah! haha) we let Norah go for a quick swim. Swimming has been-by far- the highlight of her trip.

Kegan tried to get rid of his Irish farmer’s tan.

You can see the Belmonte castle from the hotel pool

This castle is in such good shape because it was never finished and therefore never attacked or used as a stronghold. Construction began in the late 1400s. That’s the exterior walls and the enhanced curtain wall you can see on the exterior.

The interior, however, wasn’t finished until the 1800’s, by Napoleon’s nephew-Napoleon III and his wife. Hence the brick and arches on the interior.

While we were there, a knight was showing a group of kids how to fight with swords like a knight. Can you imagine giving a kid on a US field trip a real sword and letting him swing it at somebody? People would lose their minds. haha

The ceilings of the rooms and hallways were so intricate… they were amazing.

  

Norah learned about medieval toilets. haha

As we headed out of town, I saw these guys riding out on their conquest.  If you aren’t familiar with Don Quixote, or you’ve forgotten the excerpts we were forced to read in school, a perfectly normal Spanish gentleman, in a fit of madness decides he is a knight and names himself Don Quixote and decides to ride off to right various wrongs in the world. Sancho Panza, his squire, accompanies Don Quixote and spends most of the book saving the crazy knight, taking punishment and beatings for Don Quixote’s antics or playing the straight character to Don Quixote’s funny man. They fight windmills he thinks are giants, gets himself in heaps of trouble and eventually dies but not before recovering his sanity and denouncing all of his former acts of chivalry.   Honestly, I have NO IDEA why this is considered a great book… haha but some of the themes are amusing.

We saw someone who was having a much worse day than we were. lol

We climbed another mountain near a giant river canyon to get to El Santuario Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza, a church carved in the rock face of a mountain, built where a natural cave had formed. The story is that there was a picture in the rock of the Virgin… but when they tried to cut it out and move it into town, it became super heavy for its size, telling the people that it wanted to stay here in it’s grotto to be worshipped. So, they built her a church.  It was such a beautiful area, but HOT…I think it was 100 degrees and sunny. No complaints. haha I haven’t seen REAL sun in over a year until this week- so I’m soaking it up.

Norah has this new thing for posing with statues, mimicking them. This is “sad face donation box boy”. lol

Hey look, I went on vacation, too! 🙂

We ate at the restaurant on the property and it was soooo surprisingly good.

Andalusian Gazpacho has been something we’ve ordered everywhere we can. SO AMAZING. who knew cold tomato soup could be so addicting. I can’t wait for all of my tomatoes to be going nuts so we can start making this daily at home.

Kegan ordered the grilled rabbit… because… well, he could. It literally came out as a whole rabbit. Liver, kidneys, legs, tenderloin… it was crazy. But it was fantastic. Needless to say, after all of this food, we didn’t eat dinner tonight.

We headed southwest again, reaching the middle of nowhere, where we were scheduled for a night of “rustic tourism”. haha We booked a cave for the evening.

 

These caves have been around over 1000 years… Caves dug by hand in the rocks for homes. Around 400 years ago, people started making multi-room homes, some of which go 6 or 7 stories up into the mountain side…. and in the last 100 years, people have started building common amenities into the homes such as electricity, plumbing and big windowed fronts. This is the type we rented, a full house set in the base of the hillside.

All 6 or 7 of the cave houses are set around a common pool and patio area. Such a beautiful and peaceful view. It would be the best family or friends retreat to rent them all and hang out in the common areas. So… if anyone’s up for that, just let me know. 🙂

  

Day 10

Started the morning out with a swim before heading out.

The guy who runs the cave houses also has a museum and other more primitive cave houses you can visit. He’s got a great thing going there and you can tell he has invested a lot into the property. I asked him how long he had owned it and if I understood him correctly, his wife’s aunt won the lottery years ago and bought thousands of acres in the area. She gave the land with the caves there to her niece (his wife) 20 years or so ago and he has paid for and done all of the restoration works on the houses and added the museum components. Very neat place.

Norah got to use a pick axe on the cave wall to carve some more. She thought that was super impressive.

We didn’t have breakfast and it was 1pm…so we were hungry. I started using google maps to try and locate a decent restaurant along the way for a decent sit-down lunch. We hit the jackpot.

Olives to start, gazpacho we ordered, because we have decided gazpacho is life this week. haha

But the star of the hour… the T-bone. This wasn’t just dumb luck. I had seen Google images of this T-bone before we got here, so I asked the waiter to be sure that the “T-bone” was what I was seeing online. He confirmed, so we ordered. He says “that is for two people..” so we said OK… but highly doubted him and figured he was thinking a light lunch…. but no, he was definitely right.

As soon as we ordered, we heard the bandsaw fire up in the back… which is ALWAYS a good sign in a restaurant. Out came this 2.5 inch t-bone cut of meat, lightly seared on the outside, totally rare all the way through, coated in a coarse pyramid salt and sliced into thin strips still attached to the bone.

Then they brought out a second sizzling hot cast iron plate that they rubbed a hunk of beef fat on to grease it. You take your strips of rare amazing beef and fry them yourself to your liking. AMAZING!

We found out the reason the beef was so good is because Spain has different laws about their beef. In the UK, US and most other EU countries- the steer are killed and butchered at no more than 4 years old. In Spain, they can butcher beef as old as 17 years old… in fact, Spain buys 3-4 year old milk cows from other EU countries and then lets them retire to pasture for 5-6 more years before butchering.  Turns out cows get old and fat just like we get old and fat… and the aged beef has much better marbling and a beefier flavor.

As one website we looked at put it “We’ve been eating Channing Tatum but we need to start appreciating Gérard DePardieu.” haha   I now appreciate it. If Kegan ever gets his restaurant, this will be a specialty item available to order in advance.

We then headed towards Alicante since our flight out in the morning is from this airport. We wanted to hit a few local wineries today…but everything we passed was closed! So the wine tour was a bust.

We then decided it was time to head to our hotel… only to discover I never booked one! haha We promised Norah some pool time so I was in a frantic search to find one with a pool. Which you would think wouldn’t be hard, but being 10 minutes from the beach, finding a hotel with parking AND a pool was almost impossible. Finally located one and arrived. Turns out they had a “spa pool”…which turns out is a hot tub. that already had 4 other people in it when we arrived. So that was a bust. Overall, the hotel is terrible. haha we got Norah a hamburger tonight that was literally raw inside. Not a great way to end the Spain trip, but just trying to keep all of the other fantastic parts of the trip fresh in my mind to ignore how bad this evening has been 🙂  We head out in the morning so I’ll post one more time as a wrap-up/hindsight post for my thoughts so far on Spain.

 

 

Day 8-Prades Mountains and Belmonte

We left Barcelona area after stopping at a bakery for breakfast, headed out to the mountains for a lengthy drive.  I wanted to get a good snapshot of Spain this trip, just getting the major highlights of all the various areas. We originally planned for 3 weeks, but that was before I started a remote support position full time and before I had tons of summer gardening/work to do in Ireland…so we decided to shorten it to 11 days. That meant cutting out a lot of lazy beach days and seeing the very south of Spain. But, I wanted to at least see it a little bit… so we bypassed some city days to drive down the coast to the Grenada area.

Next trip to the area will be Portugal and the the Southwestern corner of Spain.

Our drive took us near the town of Siurana, so we drove the winding mountain road to go to the very top of a mountain to see what we could see.

We continued on down south through the Prades Mountains, winding along and climbing more mountain roads.

We hit the area of Valencia along the interstate and it was a way bigger metro area than I thought it was… tons of coastal towns that have grown together.. sorta like Tijuana, San Diego, LA and on up… just cityscape for a hundred miles.

We ended in the La Mancha area in a tiny town called Belmonte. I literally found this hotel last night before going to sleep. We had originally planned to go all the way to Grenada and see the Alhambra Palace… but I underestimated the distances between towns in Spain…and apparently tickets to the Alhambra Palace sell out weeks in advance. So… we changed our plans. Since our hotel in Barcelona didn’t have good wifi, didn’t have parking, didn’t have air conditioning and had PLENTY of honking horns and scooters outside our open windows all night…not to mention terrible mattresses… I was kinda sick of “slummin’ it” and wanted a nice hotel for the night. We DEFINITELY got our money’s worth in Belmonte.

Don Quixote could of had a heck of a time fighting today’s windmills.

The famous historic windmills of La Mancha

La Collegiata church in the town.

The hotel was an very old monastery that was in ruins when they completed this full renovation project on it.

My only complaint was that we had to have 3 twin beds. ha Norah thought it was hilarious and wanted to have the middle bed between us both.

They even have open areas where you can view the ruins under the hotel.

We had fantastic dinner in the hotel restaurant including pâté, shrimp and mango salad, tuna tataki, and sow cheeks.

Tomorrow is more driving and nature, ending with sleeping in a CAVE!

Days 6 and 7- Figueres, Montserrat and Barcelona

Today we headed towards the town of Figueres, the hometown of artist Salvador Dalí. In town is the home he built and where he died and is buried underneath the stage area of the old theatre that was converted into the museum house.

I was pretty excited about this. This is the largest collection of Dalí works anywhere in the world, the second largest being in St. Petersburg, Florida and I’ve been 3 different times- twice in the old museum and once in the new massive museum there. This was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. ha

I love Dalí’s art. I get it. I don’t really “get” a lot of modern art. I can’t really tell you much about Picasso’s Blue period…or why Jackson Pollack paintings are worth millions when I can do the same thing. (I know, art people will always say “but you didn’t. that’s the key”… but I don’t get it. ha)

I love the Renaissance art. The oils, the human form, the details and the textures…. I love seeing the evolution of Christian themed paintings as painters evolved throughout the 1200s to the 1600s. But Dalí, as weird and as sexually perverse as he was….I can put my mind in a state to appreciate his craziness. His entire persona was created and curated to perplex and get a rise out of people. He’s probably my favorite artist,  definitely my favorite modern artist.

The whole town is like a dedication to it’s golden child and all of the modern artists who followed him.

In the courtyard is a Cadillac once owned by Al Capone. Supposedly if you insert a coin into a slot, it rains inside of the car.

Just inside the main atrium are my two favorite Dalí paintings:

The first, Gala Nude Looking at the Sea Which at 18 Metres Appears the President Lincoln. I love the “dual image” theme of a lot of Dalí works.

Second is The Hallucinogenic Toreador.

The Phantom Cart. Another favorite. This entire painting is under 12 inches or so wide, which makes it even better.

An alligator lamp… because he’s Dalí. haha

The quirkiest exhibit in the place: The Mae West Room

It’s based off of Dalí’s original painting from 30 years earlier:

When viewed from one vantage point, the room becomes the face of Mae West

The famous melting clocks from The Persistence of Memory.

After leaving Figueres, we tried to find an “Enchanted Forest” in a small village but just ended up on some dirt goat path and ending at a no trespassing sign, so we gave up and continued toward Barcelona. We did manage to find some good views around the town though.

Around this time we stopped for gas and drinks and we found some chocolate milk to try! We have a thing where we try all of the different chocolate milks available everywhere we travel. So far, Norway is head and shoulders above the competition. haha But Spain now is a close second for their chocolate milk.

Another thing I love here, they put the characters on the water bottles! So instead of Norah wanting juice because it has Elsa on it, she asks for the water because she wants to drink princess water. Thank you Spain for getting it! The US has the characters on all the sugary crap with corn syrup, Ireland has all the characters on products full of Splenda and artificial sweeteners (but less sugar! *eye roll*) but Spain finally got it right!.

We tried to find a giant church in Barcelona first to no avail… Google Maps was not our friend today and Barcelona traffic was bumper to bumper, so we headed outside of the city to the top of Montserrat.

After that, we went to our hotel and found a little cafe serving tapas and drinks. Norah had Burger King because we passed one where we had to leave our car.

We had some grilled octopus and potatoes, some pork ribs and crispy pig’s ears. And I drank an entire bottle of Tempranillo wine. So needless to say, I came back to the room and crashed. ha

Day 7

We slept in for the first day of the trip… and I think we all needed it. We are not early morning risers and we had been up, packed, breakfast and on the road by 9 am every day since we arrived… so today was nice. Would have been nicer if we had air conditioning in our room. I think it’s broken, but the not so helpful staff said that the room must just be too big. ha whatever. When in Spain, sweat your tail off I guess.

We stopped by a little local bakery and grabbed some pastries and coffees, walked back to our car and attempted to drive it into the city and find parking to see some Barcelona sights. Taxis were very high and apparently you can’t Uber in Barcelona… and public transport was going to take us almost 2 hours and 3 transfers. We decided to take our chances and if we couldn’t find parking, we would find something else to do. Turns out it wasn’t a huge issue.

Our first stop was Park Güell, a modern park designed by Antoni Gaudí back in the 1910s…

I always complain about the stairs- Barcelona knew I was coming haha they installed escalators outdoors!

  

There were numerous street vendors selling small items along the path, and Norah wanted a bird whistle. The whistles were made from clay, and when you fill them with water and blow into them, they make a chirping bird whistle sound. We may regret that purchase…

Our next stop was La Sagrada Familia, the most famous Gaudí work in Barcelona… trouble is, I didn’t know you had to buy advance tickets… so we didn’t get to go inside. I’ve gotten burned so many times on advanced tickets- there has never been something I couldn’t buy tickets for when we arrived…except now- this church.

  

Norah didn’t mind. She went and found a friend at the playground across the street and we sat and talked to the little girl’s parents for quite a while.

After that we got some ice cream to help cool off from the over 100 heat and sun… and headed back toward the hotel.

I had been wanted to check out a garden center if we passed one, hoping to find some citrus fruit seeds from Spain to try and grow them in Ireland in our polytunnel, so we stopped at a big center that had landscaping trees, live animals and other garden and home goods, but their seed selection was very minimal. Nothing I couldn’t get in Ireland.

We got back to the hotel, Norah had a quick nap after conking her forehead on a countertop. I answered some emails and we went swimming in the hotel pool. We had a boring evening here at the hotel restaurant, the highlight being that we all got strawberry ice cream for dessert for finishing our food. 🙂

 

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