The Bucket List Blog – Chapter 5: France & Spain

This would be my first overseas road trip and what a trip it was!  It had all the elements of a Thelma and Louise experience, except we didn’t kill anyone, including ourselves – oh ok, the only similarity was that it was two women in a top down convertible, going on a road trip to get away from it all.

The trip started in France – actually, no, the trip started in the UK.  I sneakily booked my ticket to the UK so that I could spend a couple of nights with Dan (only did Dan this time, not London as well) and then headed off to Gatwick where I met Annabel.  We flew to Toulouse and that is where all the fun started.  First of all, even though we had been told that no-one speaks English in France, we didn’t really believe it, I mean after all, everyone speaks English right.  Wrong!  Not even the people at the airport.  So there was an issue with the deposit for the car, and we also needed to hire a satnav and all of this contributed to it getting later and later, with the worry that we would arrive at our destination in the dark.  Anyway, we finally get the car, and head out onto the freeway, but everything is on the wrong side of the road.  Annabel is driving in what she thinks is the slow lane, but everyone is hooting at us and pulling the middle finger.  It took us a while to realise that because everything was done in reverse, so too was the fast lane!  We got hopelessly lost on our way there and had to stop at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere to ask for directions – so mainly hand gestures were used.  I cannot even remember how we actually managed to find the place, but we did, and as I recall it was dusk, so we made it just in time.

We spent a few lovely days in Mauvezin with my family, eating, swimming, drinking and generally just having a chilled time.  Photos here under to prove it!

The house (mansion) we stayed in. Annabel and I were in the servants quarters section which was still bloody marvellous
Chilling – writing in my journal, which is in SA so I have to write everything in this blog from memory!
Drinking
Intellectualising – I’m sure I just had that out for the photo opportunity
Swimming
Each family had a night to cook. On our night Annabel made her mom’s famous chicken stew in wine which went down a treat.  Here I am preparing food for 12 adults and 8 kids, thank goodness we only had to do it once!
The area was alive with sunflowers as well … fields and fields as far as the eye could see, very beautiful!

After 3 days we were on our way to Barcelona.  We decided to take the scenic route over the Pyrenees which took us about 6 hours.  We had every type of weather on that trip.  One minute we had the top down of the car, the next we were being attacked by hail.  There were cows in the road and at some points we couldn’t even see the weather was so bad.  All on the wrong side of the road – nail biting stuff I tell ya!  Anyway, we clearly lived to tell the tale as here we are.

We spent a week in Barcelona which was amazing, a must see city!  We did the hop on, hop off bus tour which is a really good way to get around the city and get a feel for where everything is.  We didn’t do this because we only did the bus a few days in, but a good idea would be to do the bus on the first day, don’t get off but get a feel for the areas and then use it to hop on, hop off when you know exactly where you want to go.  From tanning naked on the beach, to exploring the food market, to the best wine tasting experience of my life, Barcelona was a blast!  Colourful, exciting and busy.  Here are some pics in no particular order.

Our ride! About to set off for our next adventure
Evidence of said treacherous drive – there were cows at every turn! Note that we are on the cliff hanging side of the road, which made it even worse!
Evidence photo No. 2 – words cannot describe …
Our first meal in Barcelona – the first of lots of tapas meals!
Duff beer – for anyone who loves the Simpsons!

Famous food market in Barcelona, La Rambla. I loved the colours most of all! So bright and cheerful
Our spoils from the food market – more tapas!

Spent just 2 days on the beach, and tanned topless, but obviously couldn’t put the topless photos on here! There is evidence though! 😉
Much of the architecture in Barcelona was created by Gaudi. This building for example is situated between two very ordinary buildings – they are dotted everywhere. Fascinating!
In case this photo is not self-explanatory. Very happy Maria – burnt and drinking beer, life is good!
Cheese and wine pairing – part of our wine tasting experience
Me acting very fancy – think I pulled it off! In Spain, you are actually expected to drink the wine, not swirl and spit. Also they give you such generous ‘tastes’ – like half a glass each time.

 

I’ve done a lot of wine tours/tasting in my time and this one stuck out because of the vast history, dating back far longer than any South African vineyard can boast. It was also immense and we had to travel around by underground train which was very exciting too! It really was a WOW experience.
Our last tasting of the day – CAVA! Which is the Spanish version of champagne. Have loved the Freixenet Cava ever since. And it’s not tooooo expensive at Tesco!
Another building by Gaudi taken while on our bus tour
Paella!!! We ate quite a bit of this too!

All in all a fun and educational holiday experience.  In keeping with what I want to take away from holidays it had all the elements I desire.  Sun, sea, fun, good food, good drink, with a wee bit of culture in the mix!

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