Daily Archives: July 31, 2018

Europe Day 12 to 17 : Barcelona & Montserrat

After a short train ride from Perpignan, we arrived at our hotel in Barcelona Spain and were ready for a new adventure.  Just a few days before leaving home, I had changed our hotel to one in the Fira area of Barcelona which is a business district and less touristy.  The location was convenient to the Metro, walking distance to a supermarket & restaurants and it had a beautiful rooftop pool and bar to spend my afternoons and one day of work.

While we did visit the usual tourist sites like Sagrada Famiglia, La Pedrera, Las Ramblas and Barceloneta, we spent most of our time relaxing and walking the quieter neighborhoods.  My son and I both don’t like crowded tourist zones, so spending time in the not so busy restaurants or just eating food from the market in the room while watching the World Cup or Wimbledon championships was just fine by us.

The main food draw in Barcelona and in Spain is of course Tapas.  And we had plenty.  The problem for us was that by this time, we had gotten tired of eating out and while the tapas were all delicious, we still didn’t find any bold flavors with the exception of a few dishes like the spicy coconut curry muscles at Casa Varela and the Sausage & beans stew at Cal Pep.  We did enjoy some wonderful meals throughout the city.

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Mussels in Spicy Coconut Curry at Casa Varela – a small neighborhood restaurant

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Sausage & White Bean Stew with a Balsamic Glaze at Cal Pep in Gothic Quarter

On one of our days, we took the train and cable car to Montserrat which is about a 1 hour train ride from Barcelona.  Montserrat is beautiful and well worth a visit.  We hiked several trails and burned off some of the calories of the past several days. There isn’t much to eat at Montserrat so I recommend packing a picnic as we did.

One of my favorite things to do during our five day stay was simply to relax at the rooftop pool & bar of our hotel and watch the city below move through the day.  A true vacation must include true down time without scheduling activities every minute of every day.  Well relaxed and feeling like staying in Barcelona for another month, we prepared for our next journey to Madrid.

Europe Day 11 : Limoges – Carcassonne – Perpignan

The day came to leave our friends in Limoges and continue our journey to the next destination.  Our original plans to get an early start was modified when my friends requested that I cook Indian food for them for lunch before leaving.  I was not going to deny their request given the hospitality they had shown us for so many days.

After a trip to the market for all the ingredients I would need, I made chicken curry, stir fried zucchini, cucumber raita and rice.  We paired it all with Champagne to celebrate our friendship and some wonderful cheeses, and lingered over our final conversations.

Lunch complete, we said our goodbyes and hit the road towards Carcassone, a medieval fort city in Southern France.  Although holiday traffic delayed us, we managed to get a few hours to climb the walls and explore this beautiful site.

As the sun started setting, we headed to our destination for the evening, Perpignan; a city I had not been to before.  It is located on the Southern end of France, close to the border of Spain and we intended it simply as a stopping point to drop off the rental car, get a night’s rest and get on the train towards Barcelona. But as we spent the few hours we had walking and exploring the streets, I found it to be a beautiful city with an interesting vibe and made note to return some day to spend more time.  It was also where we had our most favorite restaurant meal of the trip – PIZZA!!!!

Yes, it was late and yes, we were very hungry but our love for this pizza at Le Napoli, which was a short walk from our hotel, had nothing to do with those two factors.  It was just really great pizza.  I ordered the margarita and the my son opted for the one with prosciutto & parmigiano and we both finished every single morsel of each individual pies.  The crust was thin, crispy, chewy and perfect as was the flavor of the pizza itself.  Our server was friendly and charming and although we were tired from our long day, we lingered with a carafe of wine in the warm summer night just feeling very relaxed.  Our train to Barcelona wasn’t until quite late into the morning and there was no rush to get to sleep……

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