Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Western Med

(Days 4-10 are missing because it was difficult to post from the boat, but we are summing it up for you and will post soon. Check back for the sailing part of our trip)
Days 11-13

  • Drive to France
  • Montpellier
  • Nimes
  • Uzes
  • Barcelona

This part of our journey had really no plan at all – totally Jason’s style.  All we did was book a car from Barcelona airport on Saturday knowing we needed to be back to that airport to fly home on Tuesday, but in between was totally decided last minute each day.

Day 11
We began with an early flight out of Palma to Barcelona, which was like nothing either of us had ever encountered.  There was NO AIR CONDITIONING on the entire flight! Okay, it’s just a 30 min flight, but we sat on the tarmac for 45 min in a full plane in August heat in Spain, it got HOT in there.

We finally got our car, which Jason loved driving because it was a stick shift and handled great.  We had no plan so first things first, we headed out of Barcelona to a little shore town called Calella to grab lunch and wifi to make a plan.  We decided today’s plan was to get to Montpellier.  Jason had fond memories of this town from his time covering the Tour de France 10 years ago, so we booked a hotel and had a destination.  Meanwhile, I should mention that this little restaurant was excellent.  They took such good care of my allergies here and were really lovely.

The drive was really beautiful, especially in southern France, but pictures just don't do it any justice.

After some traffic, we arrived at Montpellier, and it’s quite a town! It’s so pretty and has such a unique vibe.  It’s full of young people and vacationing French people, not really many foreigners at all.  The architecture is stunning, both old and new, but the city has a grittiness to it, maybe it’s French hipster? We walked as much as I could, then sat for a delicious steak dinner under an awning at a place called Chez Borris while it started to gently rain around us.  It was beautiful!

Day 12
I can’t believe all that we saw and did today.  We went to bed thinking we would be heading to Carcassonne today to stay in a fancy hotel near the castle, but I woke at 6:30 and did some research, only to read that Carcassonne is super touristy, inauthentic, and really not our speed, we assumed it was like Rhodes, so we made another plan.  We decided to go north a slight bit more to see the Roman ruins in Nimes and the little town of Uzes.  With our plan made, we decided to grab breakfast and stroll the town of Montpellier a little more, which was really lovely.  It was a Sunday morning, so the shops were all closed, but the little streets were really so pretty, and we found this wonderful coffee shop, too.

Once we got our bags, first stop was to see the remains of Via Domitia at Ambrussum.  We had heard of this road, Via Domitia, when we were in Rome, they told us the soldiers build this road throughout southern Europe to connect Italy to Spain, and they lined the road with fruiting trees to provide food and shade along the way.  Well here in France, there are parts of this road still intact, and we walked on it, a 1,900 year old road.  From it, we could see the remains of a bridge that was built, and it was so beautiful!

pics of Via Domitia

Ancient road

There were several of these arches, connected to make one large bridge.

We didn’t go further at Ambrussum because we wanted to save my foot for Nimes, so we left and drove on.  Nimes was really something.  Immediately we noticed that this must be a wealthy city, the homes, the apartment buildings, the streets, everything was so well maintained and beautiful.  The ruins were really interesting, too, so cool to see the ruins incorporated into a thriving city, just sitting in the center of a plaza would be a large theater, or incorporated into a lovely 17th Century park would be a temple.  It was really beautiful and interesting how proud this city is of it's Roman heritage.

one of the beautiful homes with a tree growing through!

view from the top of the tower above
My foot couldn’t take anymore, so we decided to skip the amphitheater and head to Uzes, hoping to see the amphitheater tomorrow.

So far, Uzes has been the highlight of this trip, believe it or not.  First of all, the drive to it was spectacular, with wineries, olive groves, and tree lined streets, but the town itself was really special.  If you’ve ever read Pillars of the Earth, you would love this town, it’s a Medieval walled city just like in the book, but the wall no longer stands, now where the wall was there is a boulevard that circles the little town.  The streets and building, though, are really stunning.  We got to our hotel, which is a private mansion turned hotel, so pretty!

Beautiful square

We ended our walk with the most romantic and delicious dinner

We got a lot into one day, we crashed in our comfy bed and plan to walk this town a little more tomorrow before we have to head back to Barcelona.

Day 13
Our last day before we fly home tomorrow was bizarre.  So Jason wasn't feeling great, and because of that, we didn't do much other than drive back to Barcelona.

First, we walked our little town a bit more.

From the top of one of the towers in the town, you can get a view of the tight, maze like streets of the city.

And we did make one pitstop to see the amphitheater we missed yesterday in Nimes.

And along the way we saw cool castles, monasteries,  and other beautiful buildings.  They were hard to get a picture of.

But the really strange part was that when we got to our hotel in Barcelona, John from our sailing trip walked up to us at check in!  Apparently they had booked the same hotel for this night.  They were supposed to be traveling through northern Spain, but last minute decided to spend more time in Barcelona and picked the same hotel as we did.  If Jason wasn't feeling sick, forcing us to drive straight without stopping to see more stuff, and if John's iron in his room didn't break, forcing him to come to reception to ask for a new one, we would never have seen them or known we were both/ all in the same hotel!  Fortune on our side, we went for dinner together for a last night in Spain, had a glass of port at the hotel, and went to bed.  Tomorrow we fly home.