Mediterranean Living, Welcome to Europe!
Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
19Trip End Jan 28, 2013
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We left Morocco at the International Casablanca Airport, in a plane bound for Lisbon in what looked like the plane we fly to Port Augusta in, a tiny 20 seater, self-serve meal international flight… no surprises then that our luggage went astray during our transit flight to Barcelona (it did turn up eventually, 7 days later and our backpacks have now travelled more miles than us!).
I was a bit edgy arriving into Spain, as it is known for the late nights, late mornings and siesta's. Siesta’s I could easily adapt to, but eating at 11pm….??? Well much to my own, and especially Glen’s surprise, having the sun set at 11pm meant that I could easily adapt to the new living regime of eating dinner late and hitting the tourist sites mid-morning (they don’t open until 10am anyway…).
We chose Barcelona as our first European destination for two reasons; 1) it was the gateway to southern France where we were meeting friends and, 2) Gaudi.
Ever since I had seen a documentary on the Gaudi architecture of Barcelona, it became a must-see city for me to visit, Glen had never seen nor heard of Gaudi, so it was great exploring the city together as it was like we were kids in a lolly shop, walking around with our eyes bulging at all the marvellous mosaic’d twisted turrets and chimneys, pastel coloured stained glass windows in designs that look a funky dress from the 60’s, plus the details of door handles and furniture that Gaudi also designed to match his architectural piece. The photos tell it all, but our favourites were certainly the most awesome church in the world, the Sagrada Familia and the coolest apartment block in history, the Casa Batllo. The most amazing thing is that when Gaudi designed the Sagrada Familia it was known that it would not be finished in his lifetime (1852-1926), the Spanish government today are still building the church and it is not expected to be finished for another 40years, that’s a church 200yrs in the making!
Five days later and still no luggage (Traveller’s tip… DON’T fly with TAP Portugal) we bought some new threads and headed for France. We made a brief stopover before the French Border at the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueras, the town where he was born. We have now been in Europe for 2 months and have done many galleries, cathedral’s and museums, but this one was fantastic and well worth effort the get to. We then jumped back onto the train and headed for the French border where we were met by Antione, the brother of our French friend Camille in Adelaide.
We had to blog about our time with Camille’s family, as it has been one of our most memorable parts of our trip and it was great to catch up again with friends that we had not seen in a while. To set the scene; we have an Aussie friend Damien, who’s French partner is Camille and they have a baby boy named Hugo. We had got to know Camille’s brother, Antione and her Mother, Genevieve in Adelaide during their visits. So it was great to catch up with everyone again and this time on French soil!
We firstly spent time at the French Mediterranean sea-side village of Banyuls-sur-mer where Camille works at would have to be one of the most beautifully located universities in the world. We were there pre-crazy season (summer) so had a wonderful time fitting into the French way of cheese, baguettes and aperitifs, while visiting beaches and quaint nearby villages and tasting the glorious southern French wines. Arrhhhh….
But, living in the 'real’ France for days was even more of a treat! After Banyuls we headed for Burzot in Ardeche (still southern France) with a stopover at a the Ardeche Aluna music festival on the way (yes we did drink that many beers (cue photo), but there was 12 of us by this stage with Camille’s sister, brothers and friends having met us on the road… and yes we have even kept 2 of plastic festival cups for all of our future picnics which we are still using!). The festival was a bit like Womad but with a haze of French vibe and smoke enveloping the whole scene, in the middle of absolutely nowhere France!
But back to Ardeche, Camille’s Mother, Genevieve and her husband Patrice welcomed us during the big family catch-up in their wonderful renovated farmhouse. We had glorious days and a good rest from all the travels while eating the most amazing home-cooked meals! Pure bliss! But as travellers do, we had to keep on travelling…. But we wanted to blog our thanks to Camille and her family and the wonderful time we spent with them and learning the art of slow Mediterranean/ French family lunches and afternoon country walks. An amazing time to spend in the ‘real’ non-touristy part of France with a family that loves life and gave us the taste of real France and their fantastic food!