Friday, June 08, 2012

The France & Spain Tour 2011 - Day 7

And so, as night follows day and everybody follows Stephen Fry, Day 7 tends to follow Day 6.

Yes we're back to 2011 and back to my summer trip memories, photos and in this case, one short video.

On Day 7 we had a drive of 311 miles ahead of us as we were leaving our base in Provence, France and heading across the border to get to Barcelona, Spain. We were in the car for about 10 hours although we did stop frequently (no comment) and for lunch so there won't be any scenic photographs in this post.

Just saying.

Before breakfast and whilst waiting for Stephen and Daphne to get ready, I had a wander around the lovely Mas Pichony bed and breakfast, our lodgings for the previous few days. The owners had several cats, a large dog and a few horses as the grounds were extensive. They also had a lovely large swimming pool with surrounding areas for lounging and generally "chilling out".

Being prior to 8am, the light was beautiful and highlighted the wonderful outdoor setting for our breakfast, which we shared with half a dozen other guests.

With full stomachs, full suitcases and empty bladders (for now), we left Mas Pichony and headed for Spain. The route took us through the city of Avignon which, of course, required a drive past the 'pont' of musical fame. The 15th century French song was originally called "Sous Le Pont D'Avignon" (Under The Bridge of Avignon) as, back in the day, that's where people would gather to dance. Later for some reason, it changed to "Sur" which means "On" although I'd fear for anyone dancing on it as it only stretches half way across the Rhone !

Repeated floodings and bad rebuilds meant that over 300 years ago, the bridge was finally abandoned with only 4 of the original 22 arches remaining.

We didn't have the time, nor the inclination really, to stop, so these photos were taken from the car as we drove through the city and on past the bridge.

Heading south towards Barcelona, we planned on taking a short detour as we'd be passing about 50 miles from an old friend of mine from my days working in the IT dept of ASDA, the UK supermarket chain.

Miodrag Pasko had upped roots and moved to the small hillside area of Mas Fumats, overlooking the tourist town of Roses. Undeterred by being near the world famous (and frankly pretentious) restaurant of ElBulli, repeatedly voted the "best" in the world, Pasko opened up his own vastly superior restaurant in June 2006, Pasko's Balkan Grill, drawing on his heritage and bank loans to create an awesome menu which brings a taste of the Balkans to the local population, passing tourists and those who didn't get a reservation at ElBulli.

We arived about 2pm and were certainly ready for a late lunch. After showing us around his restaurant, Pasko and his lovely wife, Marija, served us a wonderful complimentary meal, after which it was hard to pass up having a siesta as we still had a long drive ahead of us.

I particularly liked the 'store cupboard' above as Pasko has shown a great eye for a business opportunity by stocking speciality food items from various nations. Have a closer look and spot your own.

Here is 'the man' himself, followed by a photo of his delightful daughter, Aleksija, and then a short video of Pasko, Marija, and their restaurant. And no, we're not twins !

After our meal and a relaxing chat over coffee, we left Pasko with our thanks ringing in his ears and made our way towards Barcelona. It was at this point that we experienced the first rain of our holiday, the first and, as it turned out, only experience.

On the way, we stopped at a petrol station/rest area and I took the opportunity to look at the Barcelona FC goodies on sale in the shop. And despite knowing I'd look like a prawn, I had to try on the hat. As well as knowing I'd NEVER find an occasion to wear it, it just wasn't me ! I think that was unanimous.

There was certainly no chance for any photography but at least the rain stopped as we entered the outskirts of the city. We passed rows and rows of huge apartment blocks and then came upon Barcelona's version of London's "Gherkin" building, the Torre Agbar.

We also got a tantalising glympse of the building we'd be visiting the following morning, Gaudi's iconic Sagrada Familia. More of that on the Day 8 post of course. Well, after I've written it !

We reached our Barcelona city centre hotel, the oddly named U232, at around 7pm so it had been a long day. Part of our reason for booking this hotel, apart from location, was that it has its own underground parking area. This was important as we were staying 3 nights there and didn't need to use the car again until we left.

We checked in and immediately set off to find somewhere to eat, although after our meal with Pasko, it was a light choice. We then explored the area around the hotel and found the nearest metro station to work out how to get our daily discounted tickets in the morning so we could use the underground transit system for the next 2 days.

We'd had a great day and once again, many thanks to Pasko for the meal, the company and the rain storm that followed. Two out of the three were hugely appreciated. The next day would be interesting to say the least and I'd be so glad once again that someone, somewhere, developed digital photography !

To be continued.........


Daphne said...

Lovely photos! That swimming pool was absolutely gorgeous - - and so was the burger at Pasko's!

Jennyta said...

Love that swimming pool!

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