Photo by Mini M&M
Some days plans do not turn out as we expected. On this day the place we were going to stay for the night no longer existed. So we decided to continue travelling in the hope that we would find somewhere suitable.
We came to a seaside town called Peniscola. We thought there was a possible site here but were having a little trouble finding it when we came to the main street along the beachfront. Even though we had nowhere to stay the night and it was getting late we had to stop and go for a walk along the beach and to the castle.
The town is obviously a tourist town that is very popular in summer, but when we were there it was mostly deserted. There was apartment building after apartment building standing empty just waiting for the influx of tourists.
We walked along the beach where a sand sculptor had begun to create a new sandcastle, to the town centre where there was an open area with some mosaic covered sculptures – one of a sea dragon that Mini M&M took some great photos of.
We then continued on to the castle on the headland. Like previous forts we had visited this one had a village inside. There is one entrance for cars to get in which is narrow and steep – glad we didn’t drive Max up here.
Roadway through the wall. You enter by making a 90degree turn into the doorway the photo is taken from and then drive through and then turn left 90 degrees and go uphill.
The castle was built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century. It was turned into a Papal palace and Pope Benedict XIII lived here during the schism in the Catholic church (I actually remember about that from Church History).
The kids and a Pope
We walked back to Max and by now it was quite late so we decided to take our chances and sleep on the beachfront for the night expecting that we may be moved on during the night even though there were no signs saying you could not stay there.
Next morning we got up as normal and headed off. As I pulled away the rear of Max swung and hit a bin and knocked out the tail light so I pulled back in about 50 metres from where we had stayed to fix it. Fortunately it was not broken and I was able to put it back in. While I was doing this the police stopped to tell us we could not park there, but when he saw I was fixing the light he said I could continue doing that but after that I would not be able to park even during the day.
After we left Barcelona we were driving through the countryside and decided to pull into a little village for lunch. We discovered a playground so Legoboy, Bookworm and SWTTM stayed there while Mini M&M and I went for a walk around the village.
It was a pretty village with an old church that was being restored.
I think the village was called L’arboc Del Penedes. We also found a building called La Giralda which is apparently a copy of a building in Seville.
We headed back into the city centre and finished off our day at the maritime museum which is housed in the old ship yards dating back to the 1300’s. The reproduction Spanish war ship was very impressive.
We walked through La Rambla again and visited another Gaudi building then caught another train then tram home.
We decided that the Church was wonderful but maybe the rest of Gaudi’s work was just wacky.
After Sagrada Familia we headed to Park Guell which was a housing estate designed by Gaudi – only thing is he died before it was finished so they turned it into a park.
The park is high on a hill so after about 6 set of escalators (the kids walked up the stairs next to the escalator but us oldies knew how much walking we would be doing so took the easy option)up the hill and stairs as well we reached the park.
The park is right at the top.
From the top of the park there is a fantastic view of Barcelona. The park is really quite strange but beautiful at the same time.
On our second day in Barcelona we discovered the Metro stop we should have discovered on the first day – just a few wrong turns from where we were.
We became Metro and tram pros – we caught seven different trains and one tram. Even though it was a Sunday the longest wait we had was 4 ½ minutes for a train (they have a helpful little countdown timer) and we just turned up each time.
First up we headed to Sagrada Familia a church designed by Anton Gaudi. The church was started in 1909 and is still not completed although they are working on it. There are four faces to the church the birth, death, resurrection and Glory of Christ. Gaudi started with the birth and this is the only one which was completed before his death. He started with the birth because he felt the public would like this better – rather than starting with the death. The resurrection and Glory are yet to be started and the death of Christ is still under construction.
In the photos you can see the spires some of which have been completed – these represent the 12 Apostles. If you look at the photo of the model you will see that there is to be a larger central spire that will be 174 metres tall – this represents Christ.
The design of the church is incredibly detailed and everything has meaning. The interior is designed to give the feeling of being in a forest and to highlight Gods creation.
The more you look the more you see. It is a little hard to explain so hopefully the photos will express a little how the design and workmanship in this building can bring glory to God.
Some of the doors had text from the Gospels on them. They also included a square with numbers in it, this was in a number of the sculptures as well – if someone could tell us what this is it would be great.
We saw this street sign as we were walking to the train in Barcelona and thought it was pretty funny.
Barcelona is probably the biggest city we have visited so far.
We arrived in Barcelona about 3pm so decided we had some time to go exploring.
There was a tram stop right outside where we were staying but we had been told that we could catch a train if we walked a little further down the road to the Metro (underground train), unfortunately something got lost in translation and we couldn’t find the Metro so we caught a tram anyway (which we think we paid for). We realised we were heading in the wrong direction so got off and then found a Metro stop that got us kind of close to where we wanted to go.
First trip on the Metro
We had a tourist map from the place we were staying so had a very rough idea of the direction we should be heading in.
We wandered around through some old parts of the city. We visited a Cathedral and part of an old Roman wall. We ended up at La Rambla a mall which is full of restaurants and street performers. It was very busy with people everywhere.
I think this is Barcelona Cathedral.
A bit of someones fence
Some good looking doors
At the end of La Rambla is a monument to Christopher Colombus.
For some reason there were a lot of American tourists here.
We decided to try a little restaurant down one of the side streets off La Rambla. It was about 7:30 when we arrived and we were the only people there which was a little worrying. There were about 8 staff that we saw (presumably there were some in the kitchen also) so we figured it must get busy sometime. We had a nice meal – just pizza – and had the place to ourselves the whole time. As we were about to leave about 9pm people started to arrive.
The waiter had nothing to do – we were the only ones here so he took photos
As we walked back to the Metro the streets were full of people each way we went. We had heard that the Spanish like to come out at night, and that was definitely our experience.
9pm in a little side street
The place we stopped for the night in Leucate (Fr) looked out over the Mediterranean which was nice. The weather is beginning to warm up as we head further south and we took the opportunity to roll out the awning and enjoy lunch outside. I thought it was to hot to sit in the sun, but there are people everywhere sitting baking in the sun. We are both very young and very white compared to most others in motorhomes – they are mostly older from northern Europe and have obviously spent a lot of time in the Spanish and Southern French sun.
Today we are heading for Spain (our 8th country for this trip – 7th European country). We drove along the coast through a landscape that was extremely stoney and covered in vineyards, the road was also very windy with steep sides. SWTTM did not like this much as some parts had either no guardrails or very small ones.
Just before Spain we stopped for a look around a little seaside village called Collioure.
We knew we had made it to Spain because we rounded a corner to be met by Spanish police with big guns – welcome to Spain!! – they didn’t stop us so they mustn’t have been looking for carazy Aussies in motorhomes that day.
We took a little detour and as we drove along this small road we came across a group of cars and vans parked blocking one side of the road. A little further on where two cars covered in sheets with a bunch of people standing around. We had to come back past here 10 minutes later and as we drove up one guy ran to the cars and started to get the sheets out of the back of one, I think he was going to cover them up again but we were too fast but not fast enough to get a photo. It was obviously a photo shoot for Mercedes Benz – so if you see an add for Mercedes with two wagons on the top of a seaside cliff let us know, we may have been there.
We stayed our first night in Spain in Figueres.
As you can see the road is windy.
We continued our travels through the south of France to a city called Carcassonne. We had been told about Carcassonne while we were staying at Aigues-Mortes in a if you think this fort is cool you should see Carcassonne kind of way.
On the way to the castle we went through an old part of the city which was pretty narrow, but Jack was guiding us so we knew we should be OK. The problem started when the narrow street we were driving down was having some road work done so was closed – we had to make a turn and this street was really narrow. I may have said this before, but Max is a little like a cat and if the mirrors fit the rest of him will also. The street had cars parked down one side with a small footpath opposite. When my Max’s mirrors were almost brushing against the cars I had no choice but to put two wheels up onto the footpath and drive along like this until we could get back onto the road we were supposed to be on – a little stressful at the time wondering if we would get to a point where we would need to reverse out of here, but funny in hindsight.
Carcassonne was everything we had been told. It is a real fairytale castle with towers, turrets and walls and you kind of wait expecting Rapunzel to let down her hair, or maybe a princess to be trapped in one of the towers.
Like kids in a candy store
Like Aigues-Mortes, Carcassonne has a village inside that still has people living in it. It also has heaps of shops and resaurants. You always have to keep a look out to scooters and cars as they make their way through the narrow streets where you are walking.
There is also a church in here and we were fascinated with the detailed sculptures all around the outside.
We spent a number of hours walking through the village and then a few more walking around the outside between the two walls of the castle. The sun was beginning to set as we walked around so it was very pretty and enhanced the whole fairytale castle thing.
We camped just down the road from the castle and next morning moved just down the road and had breakfast overlooking it.
We have a friend in Queensland, Ben who is very clever with his hands and makes some great art out of wire, soft drink cans and timber. We have seen a few pieces here in Europe that have reminded us of him so I thought I would share them here for him.