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10 May 2016 : Istanbul            jump to this page > > >
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Culture shock ...and I thought I was shock-proof, culture-wise. My first reaction (to the airport) is: okay that we are only here for three hours.

Arriving 25 minutes early, they had no gate for us, so they parked on the tarmac and bussed us into the most crowded gate area I have ever seen. Finally finding the first class lounge (about a mile away through bustling corridors; a masterpiece of surfaces, but with awesome food!) we finally felt like we had enough air to breathe. Soft chairs, a little dark. Our bodies think it's 6am, but the clock says 5pm.

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Although long, the flight was easy. Attentive, smiling, amused staff kept feeding us. The amenities were more than adequate (could have had more bathrooms). For airline food, it felt like the 1980s: A for effort, but a steak or an omelette that's been in the warmer for 12 hours tends not to be spectacular.
The best thing: the cameras pointing forward and down. We watched sunset over the cloudy Canadian Rockies ...and the glow of the first in northern Alberta. The glow never left the northern sky all night long, but it was the glow of the late Spring sun over the top of the world.



What do you suppose the yellow fields are?


Off to Barcelona!

13 May 2016 : Barcelona            jump to this page > > >
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Our goal for today was to go to Gaudi's magnificent Sagrada Familia Basilica, widely agreed by everyone to be Barcelona's crown jewel. And apparently, they were all there!

We arrived by the so-called Hop On Hop Off bus ...what a bad joke that is! What happens is that people camp in the seats upstairs in the double decker bus and never get off ... so one waits in vain at the hop-on stop, or rides downstairs and sees little. Luckily, by the time we got to Sagrada Familia, we had gotten seats on top ... so we could see the blocks long line waiting for tickets, and the mob in front (actually in back) of the magnificent building.

We did not get off the bus. Maybe what we saw last time was enough? We could see that construction was continuing apace. Maybe we'll try again first thing tomorrow morning?

14 May 2016 : Barcelona            jump to this page > > >
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So what if we did get a little lost transiting the Barri Gotíc on our way home? We got to walk past a bit of the Roman Wall left over from 200 CE, and here's Rochelle waiting for the photographer to get in the elevator. She's fuzzy in the picture, but that's just bad lighting. There can be no doubt that the photographer was himself a little fuzzy from lunch...


16 May 2016 : Collioure            jump to this page > > >
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Travel day. We packed and left our lovely flat and found a taxi who zipped us to Barcelona Sants, the big new train station. The taxista and I transacted our whole business in Español, and I felt very comfortable. There wasn't much too it, but it wasn't awkward for either of us, and for me that's saying a lot! Got the lingo, must be time to leave Spain!

Sants is huge and busy, feels more like an airport ...and there's scanning of all your baggage and goodies (somewhat relaxed compared to TSA; one of the checkers was singing to another one, and when I smiled at him, he winked back), then scanning your tickets, checking your documents...

And then we're on the train, very plane-like, comfortable seats and little tray tables. We had a lovely sandwedge -- a triangular croissant-like thingy with lovely ham and cheese and lots of seeds. We had talked with a couple from SoCal in the waiting room, and they were relying on the train for food and were grumbling about their choices. I guess we have learned something about traveling.

Then we smoothly moved out through tunnels, outsquirts of high-rise apartments, the usual railroad-side squalor, and finally we were zipping along through the country...

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Changing countries, it's interesting to see what's understood and valued, and what's being missed ... and of course, we get the perspective on what we are missing, too. This trip mostly ran through far-northern Spain (but we haven't left Catalunya!) and there were regimented rows of trees, not much forest, lots of open fields, sheep, tumble down houses...

Then, through a long tunnel under the Pyrénées and the border, and we're in France. Many more vineyards, almost no trees, more tucked in, and look:

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PVs as far as we could see!

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an anonymous river village


After passing (rapidly! 295 Km/hr) through lots of villages, changing to a slow train in Perpignan, more villages, the first view of the sea ... and dragged our bags down the cobbled street 400 meters to the town square. More our scale, I think. 

More to come. It's time to go find dinner.

19 May 2016 : Collioure            jump to this page > > >
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Rochelle caught Michael walking along the D68 looking for flower pictures

next group : Céret

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