Around the world. ( Part 3)

I love going to Europe.  It feels so different than North America.  It is rich in history. Everywhere I  stop to  take photos. They help to  keep the memories alive.

The first countries I visited in Europe are France, UK and Wales. Then Denmark, Switzerland , Italy and Spain. There is not a country I like best . They are all interesting to me. I wish I could see them all.

What is your favorite country  in Europe ? Is  the language a problem when you visit a country where you cannot speak the language ? Do you try to learn a few words before you go ?

I will share a few pictures taken during my trips in Europe.

Every time I have been to Switzerland , I enjoyed the green landscapes. So many nice places to see .  Spending time in Gruyeres was fantastic. Another time we went in the Canton of Valais and we did some hiking. The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces very scenic .

In Italy, the first city I visited was Rome ( I showed some pics from my 2003 trip in the previous post). In 2012, we went to Venice. It was a dream for me. I remember being so excited. We spent 4 days in the city walking everywhere and going to the islands of  Burano and Murano.  If you knew how  many pictures I took during that trip, you would not believe me.

In Italy, on other trips, we have been visiting the  Gran Paradiso National Park and  Turin. We discovered Piedmonte area and Cinque  Terre  ( on a walking trip). We really enjoyed Cinque Terre and went on hikes between the villages. We stayed in Vernazza one of the 5 villages of CT.  We also went to Genova,  Pisa, Lucca and Florence.

In 2015, at last, I went back to Paris after 23 years and this time my husband was with me. As French is my first language, there was no worry for me to get by.  On my bucket list was to go up to the very top of the Eiffel tower. The view was great.

On that trip we also visited the Bay of Arcachon, the Dune du Pilat, the lighthouse of Cordouan.  We even flew over the whole bay in a small airplane for 4.  So many great memories.

Bordeaux and  St-Emilion  were also part of that 2015 trip.

We were also lucky to visit Toulouse and  wonderful villages of the Haute-Garonne. Albi, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Carcassonne, Foix .  Here another collage for you.

Many  green vistas to see while we traveled in France.

Spain is another great country. We know quite well Barcelona as we have been more than once. We  walked on the  Camino for 11 days with a group and guides ( On Foot in Spain). You can find some posts on our walks here on my blog.

So many good memories . I can’t wait to discover more of Europe .

Thank you for reading my post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girona

For quite a long time I wanted to visit Girona, the capital of the province and one of the most interesting medieval cities in Spain. Finally , I was able to spend two days in that beautiful city in Catalonia.

We had booked a B & B in the old town, not far from the Cathedral, in the heart of the old Jewish  ghetto. The Pension Bellmirall was a good choice for us as it is well located . The building dates originally from the 14th century. It has been  restored and altered over the year. It felt like a museum as many paintings of the artist Isidre Vicens were on the walls. The artist lived in this house for many years and it still belongs to his daughter.

With a map it is easy to explore Girona.   And the only way to discover the particular charm of this city is on foot. You can wander for hours through the Call- the labyrinthine old quarter with its narrow, steep alleyways and lanes and its ancient stone houses which form a rampart chain along the Onyar river.  Every morning, we walked by the beautiful Cathedral. We could even hear the bells during the night. We were a little surprised they ring the bells all night long.  Every fifteen minutes !  The 14th-century Cathedral represents many architectural styles including Gothic and Romanesque but its most notably Catalàn baroque. The facade dates from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Cathedral contains many works of art displayed for the most in its museum.

We visited the inside and the cloister. It has an unusual trapezoidal layout.

In the museum, I enjoyed the tapestery of the Creation,  an unique piece  of Romanesque  embroidery,  dating from 11th-12th centuries and depicting humans and animals in the Garden of Eden.

Sometimes it is little details that catches your eyes. Like this door handle on the huge door.

Or what you see on the pavement…

We were lucky to have wonderful weather although it was October.

The extension of the Roman walls during the medieval ages enables visitors like us to stroll along a walkway following some sections of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe. You can get really nice views on the city.

We  adopted a bar by the Placa de la Independencia to get our apero. It was also a good time to taste some tapas.

The city of Girona is divided by the Onyar river. That means that we got to cross bridges and enjoy the view of the colorful houses along that river.

I will keep very good memories of this time spent in Girona. If you have a chance to visit, I know you will like it also.

Thank you for your visit on my blog, Fun and Life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cadaqués, Figueres and Callela (Spain)

Today, I will write about  cities on the coast of Spain.  The Costa Brava, also called Wild Coast” or “Rough Coast”, is  a coastal region of Catalonia  in northeastern Spain.

Cadaqués , is the first resort on the Costa Brava  once you have left France  behind you. It used to be a simple fisherman village.  Salvador Dali came often here as did many other artists. It was pleasant to wander  around to satisfy  our curiosity.  Dozen of small coves with a narrow street running along the water’s edge, crystal-blue  water, fishing boats on the sandy beaches, old whitewashed houses, narrow twisting streets and a 16th century parish up on a hill.

Another village is called Calella de Palafrugell. In fact I am not sure you should call this place a village or a town. It is a more quiet  place than Cadaqués but it might be busier during summer time as there is a nice beach. I went there to visit a friend who goes there every year. We did not spent much time  but what I saw was lovely.

We met the artist Rodolfo Candelaria. He has a few of his art in the village. As he was eating at the same restaurant as us and my friend knew him I had the chance to say hello and take a photo of him.

We spent time in Empuriabrava where you can see nearly 24 kilometers of canals. This is the largest residential marina in the world. We walked on the beach and had lunch.

Finally,  we stopped in Figueres.  Figueres is not on the coast. It is the birthplace of the surrealist Salvador  Dali  (1904-1989). We wanted to see the original architecture of the museum and theater. We only had time to see the outside.

I like visiting Spain and exploring new places. Do you like Costa Brava?  Have you been there ?  On my next post I will share  photographs from another Spanish city. Thank you for visiting my blog. Hasta luego.

 

 

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Perpignan and Collioure (France)

It is October. We are lucky to have good weather for this trip in Southern France. We first have a short visit in Perpignan.

“Perpignan is a southern French city near the Mediterranean coast and the border with Spain. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Majorca during the 13th century, and a significant Catalan influence is evident in its medieval core.”

In the hall of the City hall, we see a sculpture of Aristide  Maillot called The Méditerranée.

I enjoy walking in the city, looking at the buildings.

We visit the church – église Saint-Jean.

Porte Notre-Dame. (below)

Soon it is time for lunch and then more km ( by car)  to get to Collioure where we are going to spend the night.

“Collioure is a town on the Mediterranean coast of southern France. On the sea, the medieval Château Royal de Collioure offers dramatic coastal views. The bell tower of 17th-century Notre-Dame-des-Anges Church was once a lighthouse. The Modern Art Museum includes paintings by Henri Matisse.”

Collioure is a very charming seaside village who offers 31 flavors of pastel houses and 6 petite pebbled beaches.

It is good to take our time and capture all this. We also take a ride with “le petit train” to see the view from the hill top.

We can see the windmill built in 1344 originally used for grain but today it grinds out olive oil.

Charming village. We  have  sangria made with local wine.

Collioure is only 24km/15 miles from the Spanish border and shares a common history and independent attitude with its Catalan siblings across the border.

The story will continue  next week. Thanks for reading and comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the GR-65. Day 9 ( last day)

Saturday September 30. Lauzerte to Moissac. This day will be over 30km.

A difficult day as it starts with rain as soon as we leave the gite in Lauzerte. We are wearing our raincoat. We have a cover on our backpack but we really hope the clouds are going to get tired to spray on us.

I don’t want to take photos with  my camera. It is in a plastic bag in my pocket. I try to take pictures with my cellular but really I will take very few that day. But when I see this building I want a photo. This must  be a dovecote ( where pigeons or dove can stay).

We walk, we walk and we do not find a place to shelter for our lunch. We do not want to waist time  as we think it would be better to arrive  and rest. But it is our last day on the trail and we keep thinking about the arrival.

We see a few pilgrims  who, like us, have to deal with the muddy and slippery  trail. Without walking sticks it is not easy to climb the step trail.

We have booked a hotel room for this last night. I am quite happy to get in  Moissac.

We have been there a few days before this adventure. It is where I bought my créantiale and now I have many stamps on it. In France we do not have to show our créantiale when we sleep in a gite  but in Spain the pilgrims need to have one.

All day the rain doesn’t stop. It would be our most difficult day. Our feet are wet and I feel cold. The warm shower is the best thing to do when we get to the room shortly after 3 pm.   We rest and later we choose a restaurant close by our hotel. We indulge in pizza and red wine.

Celebration. We have done more than 250 km in 9  days.

The next morning, we have time to wander in the city. It is not raining anymore!

The  abbaye Saint-Pierre . Since 1998,  the church and cloisters have had international protection as part of a World Heritage Site “Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France “.

I really like the sculptures of the French artist Toutain.

Now that this adventure is finished , we will return to Toulouse for two nights and  continue our traveling  in   Southern France  and Spain ( Catalonia) . More to come next week! Thanks for reading.

 

 

On the Gr65. Day 8

Each day, we are ready earlier. It means  two things. We are getting stronger  and we sleep so well that we are ready to start  walking as early as possible. When we leave the gite it is still a bit dark  ( shortly after 8 AM) . The sky is wonderful. I need to capture  this moment.

We follow the road, the same road  we were able to see from our bedroom window.

We are enjoying the moment. Our body knows well that this is another day on our feet. How many km will we do on day 8 ?  29 km counting the steps we do when we arrive in Lauzerte.

But before we get there , we pass the town of Montcuq. We do not visit. We prefer to get going and have more time when we will get to our destination.

We stop later to have our picnic. We see donkeys and sunflowers. We also see a few pilgrims. It feels good to know we are not alone in that adventure.

We arrive in Lauzerte and we have to climb  a street to get to our gite. Les Figuiers.       A very friendly  couple  runs this gite. We have booked a room instead of sleeping in a dorm.  Each room has a name. Our room is called Marguerite  and we have a great view on the area.

We have time to go to  the town center.  It means we have to climb a little more. But it is worthwhile. We are enjoying it very much , the Church, the square, the beer we are having with other pilgrims and the good weather. Is it possible to say we are having the time of our life ?

At  7 pm we have to be back in our gite for dinner. And it is quite a great dinner with  apero, soup, prosciutto and melon, sausage, ratatouille, cheese, desert and wine as we wish ! We are a good group at the table. Across the table is a man from Mexico. He does not speak French and not much English either. So I  have to communicate in Spanish with him and he shares with me the reason of his pilgrimage. He plans on walking all the way to Santiago in Spain.

Another great day. We feel fine. We are happy.

Thank you for reading and comments.

 

On the Gr65- Day 7

September 28.  Walking from Cahors to Lascabanes. Should be 22 km. But we will end up with 25km …

We  leave our CH. Walk by the side of the road.  We take some time to walk on the famous Valentré  Bridge, a fortified bridge of the 14th century. There are a few pilgrims coming from the other side. One of those offers  to take a pic of us.

And then we get on the trail. It is a big climb . When we are at the top we have a great view on the bridge and the city of Cahors.

Sometimes we walk without talking, sometimes we chat. I always take photos.

I try not to slow down our pace that is fairly fast.  Soon enough it is time to eat ( again). We don’t find a table so we just sit by the side of the trail and we enjoy our food. We see some pilgrims passing by.  The weather is quite warm. I like it.

We arrive in Lascabanes around 3 pm. The lady ( Cecile) in charge of the gite  Le Nid des Anges is there but soon she has to leave. She is a very friendly person and very busy . I  still think she was an angel  just like the name of her  hostel ( gîte d’étape). This gîte d’étape  used to be the presbytery of the church that is just beside.

We are like at home. We find our room, take our shower. We also walk in the village (very small). We have time to enjoy a local beer and talk with other pilgrims before we get to the church for a special celebration.

The priest likes to talk to the pilgrims and has a ritual of washing the feet as Jesus did to his apostles. In fact , he washes one feet.  We are a  little group of pilgrims in the church.

After it is time to enjoy a delicious dinner. At the table, French, Swiss and Canadian. We are in good spirit and feel like a big family.

What a great day !  We are happy and  thinking we only have two  more days to walk is also  exciting. It kind of gives us the energy we need to complete what we wanted to do for this time on the Camino.  The story of the next day will be posted next Friday. Thanks for reading.