Our last day of the trip. Met Pam and Bruce for breakfast at 8:30. About an hour later we left hotel and walked to Mercat Santa Catarina, a farmers market. Really much nicer than the Boqueria we had been to the other day. Wider aisles, nicer meats/fish and produce and it was not crowded.

From there we walked back to La Rambla and headed to the waterfront. Looked at the sailboats and small boats. Were not on the side of the harbor that has the big cruise ships. Then walked along the waterfront and found a nice place to eat, La Cascades des Lletbes, where I had wonderful black rice (squid ink) with squid and razor clams. After a leisurely lunch, we continued walking.

Went to Palau de la Musica Catalana to see its beautiful architecture. Really interesting, colorful. And about 3:00 we headed back to hotel for rest, bathroom break, water/beer on the terrace. About 4:00, we headed out again on a futile search for a shop that sold regular bicycle clothing. So retraced some of our earlier steps. Back to hotel at around 5:00 and meeting for dinner at 7:00 nearby.

Nice day. Nice week. Nice weeks. Nice trip. 

And an addendum ... how far we walked, climbed:

Spain 2017     Flights
  Miles Steps Climbed
10/2/17 0.57  1,435 1
10/3/17 4  13,932 19
10/4/17 3.5  12,807 3
10/5/17 2.5  8,897 12
10/6/17 3.3  11,561 14
10/7/17 2.6  9,153 8
10/8/17 3.1  10,419 11
10/9/17 5  17,708 5
10/10/17 2.6  7,157 2
10/11/17 4.5  12,380 17
10/12/17 2.6  6,656 1
10/13/17 4.1  11,174 9
10/14/17 4.2  11,248 1
10/15/17 3.2  9,452 18
10/16/17 2.8  7,530 9
10/17/17 5.1  14,419 1
10/18/17 0.5  1,325  
Total 54.17  167,253 131
Group 42.57  134,527 103

The challenge this morning was to get our car out of where it was parked since it was mostly blocked by someone who parked sideways in the aisle behind us and was nowhere to be seen. Bruce did an admirable job extricating the car. Drove from Girona to Montserrat arriving around noon. Last 10 miles were on twisting turning mountain roads as we climbed way above the valley to the Abbey and Basilica of Montserrat. Many arrive from the valley on a tram or bus. First hurdle was to find a parking spot with the huge number of buses and cars already there. Parked in almost the lowest lot and walked about 1km to where all the building are.

The mountains that surround all this are high and beautiful. Long views into the valley below. And Montserrat is big enough with lots of things there and could handle all the people. Even though there is a world-class museum and other exhibits to see, we opted to just spend time in the basilica itself and it was well-worth doing that. Tough to try to encapsulate the scope of what is up there. Hotels, restaurants, winery, museum, exhibitions, basilica. And there is the tram from the valley, a gondola from another part of the valley, and a cog-wheel railroad going almost straight up a mountain from where we were.

Drove back another route (the one the buses use) to the valley and then back to Barcelona and picked up Bruce’s bag, camera, passport. Taxi to hotel. Got there about 5:00 and met downstairs for wine at 6:00 and had tapas and more wine on the terrace at 7:00 getting to our rooms about 9:00.

Tomorrow is a free day and we’re not sure where we’re going at this point. Been a long two days, but every part of it was wonderful.

And yesterday we did 11,100 steps, 4.1 miles, 9 floors.

It’s the last day of the Strabo trip. Only Pam, Bruce, and I are extending a few days. This was a free day for us to do whatever we wanted. After breakfast, most of us assembled at 10:00 and took two taxis up to Gaudi Casa Batllo. Huge line out front. All we really wanted to do is to shoot pictures of the façade, which we did.

Then we walked to the Sagrada Familia so that we could go on all sides and take exterior shots, something we had no time to do yesterday. It’s fascinating to see all the details. There are words all over various sides of the façade. And small towers are adorned with fruits and vegetables. You have to keep looking and you see more and more details and words.

By then, there were six of us (had started out with eight). Took taxi back to hotel since it was after 1:00 already. Met on the terrace for some lunch and at 3:00 headed out walking again. Went to the Boqueria, the huge covered market and series of places to eat right off La Rambla. All the meat, fish, produce, nuts, mushrooms, candy you can imagine. It was extremely crowded and, after awhile, both the smell and the crush of people were too much and we left.

We wandered around the narrow streets, many of which we had been on a few times already. Stopped for espresso and a huge cookie at Petritxol Xocoa and continued wandering. Got back to hotel just before 5:00.

At 6:00 we got into three taxis and went up to the Hotel Miramar outside restaurant overlooking the city for a sunset/blue hour shoot. Good stuff, but we were disappointed that none of the churches including the Sagrada Familia were lit. Left there about 8:30 and took taxis back to the hotel where we met on the terrace for lovely tapas and wine and a farewell to those leaving. Got back to the room at 11:00 to start downloading, shower/shave, get “packed” for our road trip tomorrow, etc.

11,300 steps, 4.2 miles today. Been a good day and good trip with wonderful companions who are friends.

Had breakfast with the few remaining trip people who were all leaving today for home. Bruce, Pam, and I took a taxi around 8:45 over to the Hertz office near the Sant railway station. Then we walked over to the garage where the cars were and down five floors to the car itself. It was a Kia SUV, but we found out the GPS didn’t work and we really needed it. So Bruce went back to the Hertz office and they gave us another car, a nice BMW. In switching our stuff from one car to the other, Bruce forgot his camera pack which also had his passport in it. We didn’t figure that out until we were already at our destination. But it all worked out since someone had turned it in to the Hertz office and we picked it up fully intact the next afternoon.

We drove to Girona using the GPS. When we got to the city and passed through the “new” part, we wound this way and that way and this way and that way over narrow streets barely wide enough for a car much less the pedestrians along the way. Arrive at Hotel Historic, which is a wonderful place. The family who owns it have bee refurbishing it for 13 years and figure there are another two to go. Old building with very modern interior finishes. Marble floors in all the hallways and stair. Showers with electronic controls in the rooms. This is the place to stay if one is going to Girona.

Got there about noon, but spent some time on the phone with Hertz regarding Bruce’s things. At 1:00, we met Tina, our Milk and Honey guide, at the Museum of Jewish History. Tina did a wonderful job giving us the full history of the Jews here and in general through the expulsion in 1492. Lots of history and facts and interesting stuff. We then walked through the streets that had been the “call,” Jewish section. Learned that Mont Juic in Barcelona as well as in Girona are ”mountain of the Jews” since they were where the Jewish cemeteries were into the 15th Century.

We saw the cathedral, another basilica, the city walls, went up and down and up and down 9,500 steps, 3.2 miles, equivalent of 18 floors by the end of the day. Crossed the river and walked through parts the new city. There is a bridge designed by Eiffel. Four-hour tour jam packed with great stuff. Bid Tina goodbye around 5:00 and walked back to the hotel. Went out again about 6:00 and down down down near the river to have dinner at La Tasca. Good food. More octopus!

To bed early … around 10:00. Montserrat tomorrow.

Very long and wonderful day. Left here at 9:30 and didn’t get back until 6:00. Saw the “major sites” of Barcelona. Yesterday and today, our guide, Charo, filled us in on the political situation here. You see basic Catalonian or Spanish flags on buildings where the occupants do not want independence and a version of the Catalonian flag that besides the yellow and orange stripes has a triangle in either blue or orange with a star in it. Inspiration for this part of the flag is Cuba and its flag/revolution. On another front, bullfighting is outlawed in Catalonia. So the old bullring has been converted to a shopping mall!

Our first stop today was Casa Mila “La Pedrera,” one of the main Gaudi houses. Spent time on the roof and in its “attic” to see some of the wonders there. Figure we were at each of these stops at least 60-90 minutes. Next to Parc Montjuic on a hill overlooking the city. It’s also the site of the Olympics from 1992 with buildings from then like the stadium where the Rolling Stones just performed.

Down we went to San Pau Art Nouveau Site with its beautiful building that was once a hospital. We ate lunch right there at the 1902 Restaurant. Had to hurry since we had 2:00 tickets for the Sagrada Familia. There is no way to really describe this place. It’s immensely tall and has glorious orange windows on the west an blue ones on the east, so there is color and light throughout. Went up in a lift in one of the towers for views and then walked down 400 steps back to the bottom. After that, I spent almost an hour wandering back and forth inside taking images.

Last stop of the day was Park Guell where Gaudi designed the whole park. It’s something out of a great imagination. Wandered here and there wondering.

Back to the hotel at 6:00. Met Kathy, Carol, Teddie, and John and walked into the old city for tapas at El Pintxo and more walking and gelato and walking back to hotel. Tomorrow is a free day and the last day for all but the three of us who are staying some extra days. Meeting around 10:00 to wander around with Kathy and others.

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