Saturday, August 7, 2010
Day fourteen - return to Barcelona
With several hours of driving ahead of us, we made an early start and by 9:30 had already made it to Beziers and picked up the toll road that would take us all the way to Barcelona. We pulled off at a rest area for our usual breakfast of cafe creme and a croissant. The rest area was busy with French holiday makers and this was an indication of what the autoroute would be like. Things went well at first but from Narbonne to Perpignan we crawled along taking two hours to cover 100 Km. Once in Spain we sped along quite nicely with one more quick stop for a bite to eat and another coffee.
Returning the car required driving across the width of Barcelona and while technically this only involved three different roads, we managed to add in a lot of others. One huge roundabout refused to conform to our interpretation of our map and spat us out in the wrong direction. We also thought we would save a few dollars and bring the car back with a full tank of gas, thinking our route through town would surely take us by a gas station - not! Anyway we eventually handed back our car, a little dusty, still with a small chicken feather stuck to the windshield, and an additional 2300 Km on the odometer. It was a great car, a Renault Megane deisel six speed manual, reliable, responsive, just the right size and fun to drive.
We returned to the same hotel we had stayed in on our arrival two weeks ago, the Chic and Basic in the Born area. Once checked in we headed off to to the nearest metro stop and were soon enjoying the bustle around Placa de Catalunya. And shopping. The sales here are really fantstic and the fashion is amazing. Lots of stuff that we won’t see until next year. The street fashion is like something out of a magazine with lots of style and vibrancy.
We had previously discovered a little bistro specializing in ancient Catalan recipes and we returned there for dinner. The waiter brought toasted buns and asked us if we knew what to do with the accompanying tomatoes and garlic, but we needed no instructions in that ancient art! Next up we shared four dishes, monk fish, some sort of mashed potatoes, peas with shavings of duck, and a sort of cod and zuchinni stew. All very nice. Dessert was an almond and apple pie and quince with chevre. At this time we struck up a conversation with two women at the next table and had a lovely chat about our travels and shared experiences of Boston and Australia, before disappearing our separate ways.
Later we joined the throngs wandering about the streets of Barcelona, watching the endless parade: locals catching up with neighbours or meeting up with friends to eat and drink; travellers looking for excitement or, like us, just watching it all go by. We both love Barcelona for its vibrancy and colour and sense of style. We'll enjoy it for a few hours more tomorrow morning before flying home.