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Catalunya, Cathars and Castles (and vino!)

Catalunya, Cathars and Castles (and vino!)

Old Jun 2nd, 2016, 06:50 PM
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Ceret and the Cherry Festival.

I've been busy with work so I don't have much time to post, but thought I would add a minor step in our trip.

As mentioned above, we realized we didn't have time to sidetrack to Collioure on our way back to Barelona for our final night before flying home.

We decided we would stop in Ceret for lunch as it was just before the Spanish border and not very far from the highway.

At first, my fellow travellers weren't too impressed at the numerous low rise apartment blocks on the outskirts. This wasn't the "cute town" that we had envisaged. But, as we drove closer to the old center, we realized that there was more to see. And, the cherry on top (pun intended) was that the annual Cherry Festival was underway.

The good news was that the town was lively and packed. The bad news was that the town was packed and we didn't really get a chance to enjoy it, just as it normally is. Since the town was so busy, we couldn't grab a seat on an outside terrace so we defaulted to the first reasonable restaurant we could find, with indoor seating. it was a restaurant associated with an old hotel. We had a lovely veal dish. It may not have been our first choice but let's just say that the french can do veal!

We quickly found our way back to our car, picking up some fresh 'cerises' along the way, and shimmied our way out of a tight parking spot to head along on our way.

Next post...arriving back in Barcelona.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 05:58 AM
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Enjoying your report!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 06:03 PM
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Thanks kansas!
It's difficult to know how much and what to include. Everyone has different interests.

I'm warming up to our final 12 hours in Barcelona and then I will work on a "driving" thread...since I would have appreciated knowing some of this before arriving and, well, let's just say that I was to share some of the "pain" and "enjoyment" with others!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 06:42 PM
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Arriving back in Barcelona

Thinking we were oh-so-wise now, we were making good time to arrive in Barcelona mid-afternoon. We actually did end up in the city in reasonable time, but we covered a massive amount of the city simply trying to get to Sants train station to drop off the vehicle. Tsk, tsk.

In our defense, the GPS is difficult to follow when you have multiple highway access roads practically overlying each other. We accidentally took exits that we weren’t meant to and accidentally turned where we weren’t supposed to. Upon approaching the train station we accidentally turned into the bus/taxi driveway and later took a lane into a parking garage and a motorbike parking lot! We could see where we wanted to end up but we couldn’t “get there from here”! Eventually we pulled over and I dashed to the Avis office to ask them how to return the car. It ended up being simple, but the specifics would have been helpful in advance!

Pheww. Safely back in BCN. We took a taxi for the short drive to Market Hotel, for our final night. The hotel was fine, however one of two rooms didn’t have working air conditioning and it was on the 1st floor (2nd floor for North Americans), overlooking the roof of a courtyard with stinking garbage, so opening the window for air wasn’t an option. We complained and the poor desk guy scrambled to satisfy us. In the end we were given 3 rooms for the price of 2.

We headed out to check out the San Antoni area. It was vibrant and had a number of bars/restaurants to choose from. Our first choice of tapas bar was closed, but we lucked into a great tapas bar, “Tast”, or “Taste”, on Para.llel. The tapas weren’t cheap but they were oh so good….the best we had in BCN. (Not a high bar as we didn’t go to that many tapas places.) We didn’t want to stuff ourselves though as we still wanted to hit a place for dinner.

Alas (who doesn’t like the word “alas”?) we were unsuccessful in finding another good place to eat dinner and we were starting to crash so we simply ended up back at the bar/terrace of the hotel for a snack. Ooops. Not a great choice…but we were too tired to care. (Their restaurant looked lovely though, so perhaps their main menu was better than their tapas choices.)

In the morning we simply hopped in a cab to the airport picked up some final vermut at the duty free and we were winging it back home before we knew it. (oh, and then there was the bit about ‘smuggling’ jamon iberico back to someone….but no more can be said.)

All in all it was a wonderful trip. The Catalans and the French were welcoming, friendly and helpful. The food was great (particularly in France…who would have thought?), the wine was good and cheap, the scenery and sites were interesting, the driving was ‘exciting’. To top it all off, I had wonderful travel companions, which made all the difference!
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Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 10:47 PM
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Next time in Barcelona and in the Sant Antoni area, you should know that many of the best restaurants in town are in and around Avinguda del Paral·lel, in the so called Barri Adrià (after the Adrià brothers who run the best restaurant in the world the past decade, El Bulli). Here you'll find Tickets, Rias de Galicia, Pakta, Bodegas 1900 etc. etc.
http://www.traveller.com.au/what-the...ng-next-gkmkfm
http://www.barcelonabook.com/tickets...estaurant.html
http://www.timeout.com/barcelona/bar...bs/bodega-1900
http://www.barcelonabook.com/pakta-restaurant.html

Or you could go for tapas with the locals in neighbouring Poble Sec, just on the other side of Paral·lel. http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/wv3/...to-bodega.html
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Old Jun 3rd, 2016, 11:03 PM
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... sorry, couldn't help myself: When you left Tas Gastro bar, you were 100 meters from both Tickets and Bodega 1900, and 30 meters from entering the great and local atmosphere food scene in Poble Sec on the other side of the road.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...Catalonia.html
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Old Jun 4th, 2016, 05:25 PM
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@kimhe, thanks for your comments. I'm sure they will be helpful to readers here!

I also want to thank you for pointing out the correct way to spell Paral.lel! I knew it was something like that but I was too busy to look it up.

Yes, I had heard of Tickets. Also, we actually did walk south of Paral.lel D) to check out Taverna Can Magarit on Concordia, but it wasn't open yet. (Yes it was super early! but we were just about to crash.) We wandered west through Poble Sec. It was a lovely sultry Saturday evening, one of the few warm evenings so far in spring so everyone was out. Families were hanging about, sitting on patios by the playground, watching their kids play. It truly was a local feel. I loved the vibe.

One of our group was concerned about the walk back to the hotel, and we were trying to figure out how to get to the Magic Fountain from there, but we couldn't find the entrance! I guess it wasn't meant to be. We really were exhausted and happy to just head back.

I would love to check out this area of Barcelona some more.
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Old Jun 5th, 2016, 12:57 AM
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You seem to be made for Barcelona
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Old Jun 6th, 2016, 07:16 PM
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Here's a link to our report about our 'adventures' renting and driving a car in Catalonia and Languedoc.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...experience.cfm

It definitely added to our experience!
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