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Paris/Dordogne/SW France-Barcelona (summer 04)

Paris/Dordogne/SW France-Barcelona (summer 04)

Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:02 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi Progol...Well, you are better than I, because I never did a trip report from last summer. If you recall, we did the exact reverse of you; we began in Barcelona, stayed in Collioure, saw Carcassone, stayed in Albi, the Dordogne, then a little side trip to visit friends and our last few days were spent in Paris! It is great to read your report...you and your DH saw many of the sights we saw! Maybe I will sit down and write a brief report as well.
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:34 AM
  #22  
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Toni,
I don't know "normal", but I suspect that rain is normal in the Dordogne during the summer; after all, there is a reason it is SO lush! Just be prepared for changeable weather. However, this past summer began cool and wet in much of France, and that's not necessarily typical, as far as I know.
Paule
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 09:42 AM
  #23  
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Wren,
Of course I remember you! Would love to hear your impressions of the trip, too!
Paule
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 11:26 AM
  #24  
 
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I've been in the Dordogne in June nearly every year for the past 13, and I can remember only one really rainy one. There are thunderstorms a lot in summer, but it usually takes the storms hours and hours to wend their way slowly through the valley, and then there's usually a huge burst of rain that's over fairly quickly.

That said, weather is always unpredictable. Last June was cooler and rainier than normal. Last July was flawless - we had 21 days straight of brilliant sun and cloudless skies. The summer before, there were record-braking heat waves.

So be prepared for anything, but it will usuallly be lovely in June. The "lushness" of the area is far more atributable to the myriad springs in the cliffs and the alluvial plains than it is to frequent rain. It's actually historically been considered an arid, rocky, difficult area for agriculture.
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 01:15 PM
  #25  
 
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The highlight of our trip was the Dordogne without question...we loved everything progol is mentioning...the history, the castles, the food, the markets, the towns. St Cirq, I certainly see why you bought property there. It is an incredible place. We would love to work it in to this year's trip, but I think we will be north of there.
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 04:10 PM
  #26  
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Last section: Barcelona. Now I can say my trip is complete!
Paule
-------
Barcelona

The transition from France to Barcelona was stranger than expected; although we are NYers and love cities, this was an intense city that took some getting used to. We liked the city very much, but never quite fell in love with it as we both expected to. By the time we arrived in Barcelona (end of July), the cool weather became a distant memory, and the city was HOT. It was also the end of the trip, and it wouldíve been easier if we were a bit fresher. We were more aware of the crowds of tourists than anywhere else we visited. We are also not late night people, and Barcelona wakes up as we are winding down; itís a great place if you are young or love the night.

Maribelís guide was a godsend -- thank you Maribel, for all your work! I used that, the Lonely Planet Guide, and another small guide to Barcelona; her guidance was invaluable.

Highlights of the trip:

-Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi....amazing to see these buildings up close and personal. If you like Art Nouveau, you will love Gaudi; his work is flamboyant and extraordinary, kind of an Art Nouveau-plus ( called modernisme). We were especially lucky to see the recently-opened Casa Batillo, a small building built for one family that was an amazing experience inside as well as out. The more well-known Casa Mila has a fantastic exterior, but the interior of the apartment that is shown is much more conventional. The Parc Guell, of course, is not to be missed. Sagrada Familia (go early in high season) is thrilling to be in.

-Other modernisme works -Throughout the city you will see them; but donít miss the two other buildings on the same block as Casa Batillo. These 3 wildly contrasting exteriors were done by 3 of the top architects of the time.

-Walking the Rambla. We didnít have any trouble with theft, but we were on high alert with our bags. There isnít anything to SEE as much as it is an experience to have.

-Wandering the streets of the Barri Gotic (though some of the side streets were a little edgy, and Iíd make sure to walk where there are people). Many interesting shops to explore. There are Roman ruin remnants around the Cathedral, which we thought pretty interesting to see.

-Being on the beach! We didnít go swimming, but it is amazing to be able to go to a beach that is just part of the city.

-Walking the streets around Barcelonetta and discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was populated by locals and walking the waterfront

-Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza-- I wouldnít have seen this if it wasnít for Maribel; it is a wonderful private art collection, housed in the Monestir de Pedralbes, a serene location to visit as well. Itís on the Bus Turistic, otherwise itís difficult to get to.

-Riding the Bus Turistic, especially when we were tired! Itís great to get to places and to see the entire city; just remember to get off when you want to see something. They are one way routes, so you canít backtrack (although you can go around again if you really want to).

-Visiting the Boqueria, the food market. Beautiful produce. Open in the morning.

-Tapas, especially Txapela (recommended by Maribel, naturally!). Fun, innovative and inexpensive.

-Registering for grad school in an internet cafe at 10:30pm! As a 50-something, the idea of registering by internet still gets me-- but to be in Barcelona and be able to register for school was amazing!
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Jan 23rd, 2005, 04:13 PM
  #27  
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Did not live up to expectations:
-Picasso Museum. Waaay too crowded. We had a moderate wait to enter the museum, and then encountered too many tour groups! Could not enjoy anything because I kept running into crowds. It is a good museum, and what we did see (early Picasso) was interesting. But not easy to enjoy during high season.

-The city mood. Never got a feeling for it the way we have for Paris or other major cities. Donít know why, but suspect seeing it at the end of our trip didnít help. It was also the most crowded place we visited, so that didnít make it easier. I loved Rome, so who knows. One day I hope to get back and give it another chance.
-------
Missed, but wouldíve liked to have seen:
-Palau de la Musica Catalana - An art nouveau music theater. You need to make reservations at the theater, and we somehow couldnít quite fit it in. It looked like a great place.
-the Fundacio Miro
------
Hotel: Meson Castilla-- A good, moderately-priced hotel . The room was comfortable, if a bit faded; very good a/c and bathroom. The breakfast room is attractive, and they serve a pretty substantial buffet. We discovered the espresso machine-- much better than the regular coffee! Staff ranged from friendly to aloof. Excellent location, a short walk from the Ramblas but far enough away to feel removed from it.

Eating: Once again, we tended toward the moderate, and following Maribelís suggestions, we ate at 2 restaurants that were enjoyable: Tenorio (better of the 2) and La Dolce Herminia. Her descriptions of the food and service were pretty accurate, from our experience. The challenge for us was to eat no earlier than 9:30pm, and even that is considered early!

Other thoughts or suggestions:
-We walked a lot, but one really needs to use transportation to get around. The Bus Turistic is great for the sights, but there is also a pretty extensive public transportation system of subway and buses for other times.

-Donít eat on the Ramblas! We made the BIG mistake of walking into a tapas bar on the Ramblas; those little items added up to almost (gulp) $40.00 in no time. We kicked ourselves bigtime over this.

-Bus to the airport is convenient, runs frequently and is cheap. You donít need a taxi.

-The Barcelona airport is a good airport for shopping! Attractive shops, even reasonable prices-- a good way to end the trip and spend those unaccounted for euros.
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Jan 24th, 2005, 04:21 AM
  #28  
 
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Great read! Thanks for sharing your trip - you must have taken very detailed notes in order to remember so much.
We visited Perpignan, Carcassone, Coulliere and Barcelona last summer as well and this was a nice way to "relive" our trip too!
Merci.
4totravel is offline  
Jan 8th, 2010, 03:41 PM
  #29  
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I just finished re-reading my trip report from 2004...thought I'd share it with you all.

I was reading Isabel's post asking about Collioure, and remembered how much my husband and I enjoyed the city, so I reminisced over a trip that hardly feels like 5 1/2 years ago!

Hope you enjoy reading this!
Paule
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