Tuesday, 7 July 2015

30/05/2015 - 01/07/2015 Paris to San Sebastian

30/05/2015 - Paris to Amiens

Well the Big Fella didn't get much sleep last night - he was worried about our car that we were to pick up.  He needn't of worried after we found our way around the airport and got to the correct counter, there was no problems - back to driving on the other side of the ride.  As we were driving up to our first roundabout, I may have some little concerns as Dave is looking the wrong way for on coming traffic.  But other than that, that was the only problem we had, the Big Fella was back to driving on the other side of the ride very easily.

The drive to Amiens was a little bit over an hour, and we both arrived unscathed.  Amiens is a city in Northern France and is the capital of the Somme department in Picardy.  The Amiens Cathedral is the tallest of the large, classic, Gothic Churches of the 13th century and the largest in France of its kind.  It is a World Heritage Site.  The Cathedral was just breath taking and so unexpected.  The Cathedral was built to hold the alleged skull of John the Baptist - however it was not on display whilst we were there, it goes on display for a couple of months starting in mid June. We thoroughly enjoyed our stop over in Amiens.

31/05/2015 - Amiens to Normandy Region

Well I still haven't got over this wee cold that I've picked up - so my lack of planning for this day really showed - we may of got lost a few times and missed a couple of sights, but at the end of the day, Dave was still talking to me.  We were to drive around to a few of the sights of the Battle of the Somme, we got to two of the important sites for us.  We visited the Australian Memorial and the Adelaide Cemetery.

The Australian Memorial really tore at the heart strings.  I must admit my knowledge of this battle was very limited I didn't realise that in less than seven weeks of fighting three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties.  Of these 6,800 men were killed or died of wounds.  It was a loss comparable with the casualties sustained by the the Australians over eight months in Gallipoli in 1915.

Between March 1916 and November 1918 more that 295,000 Australians served in the Australian Imperial Force in France and Belgium.  Of these there was around 132,000 casualties and 46,000 lost their lives.
To mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the body of an unknown Australia soldier was recovered from the Adelaide Cemetery in France and bought home to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  To read the eulogy that Paul Keating gave click on the link - https://www.awm.gov.au/talks-speeches/keating-remembrance-day-1993/ - it really is a fantastic eulogy.

Well after an emotional day, you would of thought that I would have a nice room booked for a well earned rest.  Well lets just say I had a room booked, the best asset this bnb room had was the view, that was pretty good, we looked straight out onto the English Channel, but thats were the good stuff ended. The room doesn't have an ensuite or even a toilet - not good for me who frequents the lavatory a few times a night.  The house is described as 'Art Noveau' mmm, basically it has more bikes inside lining most of the walls than what Dave will ever own - and it is full of (what I would call) junk, it was heavily cluttered and not very clean.  The door handles were falling off.  There was not enough hot water left when I went to have my shower, just what I needed.  Dave did get a hot shower but he was taken upstairs to use the upstair shower, apparently he was getting a bit worried he needed to go through several doors/curtains, to find it.  Oh well our room was clean with a great view.  We did wander about 20 metres down by the sea where we had our best meal to date, so all in all not too bad.  So my first experience of Airbnb not so good - but I will try again.

01/06/2015 - Normandy Region and Mont Saint Michel

We had a delicious breakfast and a great chat with our host - so in the end it wasn't a bad place to stay.  This morning we head off to see the Bayeux Tapestry.  The tapestry is an embroidered cloth nearly 79 meters long and tells the story of the events leading up to the Norman conquest.  It was made in the 1070s.

After the Bayeux Tapestry we head onto the Normandy Beaches to see the memorial dedicated to the American Soldiers who liberated France.  Omaha beach was the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944.

From Omaha beach we headed onto Mont Saint Michel.  Mont Saint Michel is one of France's most recognised landmarks and the Abbey is just enormous with many stairs.  However, I don't think we could of done enough stairs to make up for the food we have been eating.  Oh I love France, the cheeses, the baguettes, the croissants, the cider, the ice cream and the list just keeps going, the food is delicious, though our waist lines and clothes are not.  The recommended drink of choice at the restaurant that we went to was cider and I think with carrot juice, mmm didn't sound so good, but was yummy.  We both had the recommended omelet, well it was huge, it was the size of a dinner plate, needless to say though no challenge for Dave and I we both cleaned our plates.

Our accommodation for the night was in a secure gated area and you need a code to get into the gate, this fact would of been nice to know when we booked the hotel.  So Dave had to keep doing the block, while I walked into the area to find our hotel and then obtain the code.  There was no way you were going to get a code by using the intercom.

02/06/2015 - 05/06/2015 - Mont St Michel to Perpignan

The scenery is just stunning and so much greener than I had expected.  We have found ourselves looking for McDonalds - we know what our coffee is going to taste like there and we get reliable wifi.

Dave has been doing a great job driving, other than looking the wrong way at roundabouts, minor issue. Okay I have to confess, I have lost my licence somewhere in Paris, which means that I am unable to drive - damn…

We drove over the Millau Viaduct (bridge) - the tallest bridge in the world with one mast summit 343m high - Dave was impressed - me yep its a bridge.

The Big Fella is still pointing out the mobile phone towers - enough already.

After about 7 hours on the road we arrived safely in Perpignon and we were happy to see that our point of contact for our studio apartment was Australian.  I could put my hands away for awhile and actually have a conversation with someone other than Dave.

The next day we headed out to Collioure with Bobbie and Brant.  Collioure is a small port where the waters of the Mediterranean meet the rocks of the Pyrenees mountains.  We had such a wonderful day, walking along the front and just taking it all.

That evening we were invited over to friends of Bobbie and Brant's for pre dinner drinks before heading out for dinner.  We had a fabulous meal whilst consuming a fairly large amount of alcohol.

The next morning was a bit slow, but we all crammed into the Citroen and headed off to Ceret.

05/06/2015 -19/06/2015 - Ceret

Well our first impression driving into Ceret is Wow.  Ceret is  a small village at the foothills of the Pyrenees.  It is just gorgeous, the streets are lined with restaurants and bars, my style of town.  I can see why the Haylday's (Ross and Liz) have bought a gorgeous apartment here, it has such a great feel and vibe.  One of the bars/restaurants is named after Pablo Picasso - who lived here from 1911 - 1912.

We have had a fantastic 2 weeks here in Ceret.  We have been wining and dining at many great restaurants and have also had some fabulous meals and drinks at Ross and Liz's - they are just wonderful hosts and we have appreciated every bit of their great hospitality.

It was so wonderful to catch up with our great friends Bobbie and Brant as well.

We have also managed to fit in a couple of golf games, seen the blessing of the horses, dinned in the streets.  Went to visit the Costa Brava coastline - sensational, beautiful beach and once again great food and wine - can't tell you the name it's Ross and Liz's secret...

Unfortunately I wasn't hundred percent for a couple of days here, Spring had sprung and so had my hay fever.  And even worse the Big Fella has had some sort of flu for nearly two weeks now, it has really knocked him around.  So after a round of antibiotics and it still hadn't shifted it was off to the Clinic for some more drugs - luckily Liz was there as I really don't think my charades would of worked. We had originally planned to leave Ceret on the 12th June, but the Big Fella needed a rest.  Oh yes mention the game of golf and the Big Fella immediately starts to feel better.

19/06/2015 - Ceret to Tarragona

After leaving Ceret we headed to Cadaques a really cute white washed village around a rocky bay.  We had a lovely couple of hours just walking along the sea shore and taking in the sights.

We left Cadaques and headed onto Tarragona and decided to head down to the beach for a look around.  Well, as we wandered around we realised that this was definitely a topless beach - no problems, but as we walked down this beach (its only about 200 metres long) it finally dawns on us that the other end of the beach is a nudist beach.  Dave's a happy man, so he decides he's feeling a bit better and would like to wander to the restaurant right on the beach, and have a beer.  Well about 5 hours later and dinner he decides that its time to go back to the hotel, by now the beach is now deserted.  He has come away asking if I'd like to get a set of DD's - I told him I'd rather spend the money on alcohol, gambling and cigarettes.  Oh yeah I forgot to mention, I haven't given up the cigs (again) - they are way to cheap, it would be ridiculous to give them up.

20/06/2015 - Tarragona to Valencia.

The next day we awake to a beautiful day and decide to head on down to the beach and this time go for a swim, the water is crystal clear and not too bad temperature wise.  So after a quick shower we are back on the road again heading to Valencia.

On our drive to Valencia we decided to pick up some fruit - you would of thought we'd pick oranges but no not Dave and I we went for Peaches and Bananas - and the sad thing is we both love oranges.   The drive into Valencia was different, it took us about 1 hour to find our hotel, when the navigation system was telling us it was only 400 meters away.  There are many one way very narrow streets and we seemed to keep taking the wrong turn, it would then take us about 10 minutes to get back to where we starteds - as you can imagine the Big Fella was a happy man - NOT.

We visited the Cathedral in Valencia, which supposedly holds the Holy Grail (the Chalice that Christ used in the last supper).  Once again it was a beautiful church with magnificent architecture.

We then wandered around the streets, and I must admit I didn't think I would find anything that would surprise me but yep we did, a vending machine in the main streets selling sex toys...

21/06/2015 - 23/06/2015 - Valencia to Granada

Onto Granada, our main reason for visiting to Granada was to see the Alhambra (a Muslim city that has been preserved since the 14th century).  If you want to get a ticket to the Alhambra you need to book a few weeks / months in advance, however you could pay a lot more and do a tour - guess what we had to do. The Alhambra was well worth seeing, the architecture was amazing.  One of the interesting facts was that the Muslims here were allowed to and did drink wine - they had there own vineyards.

23/06/2015 - Granada to La Herradura

After Granada we headed onto the coast for another couple of nights - La Herradura.  The Big Fella is still not very well and has been getting tired very easily, so a bit of a recoup is in order.  La Herradura is a town on the Mediterranean.  We had chosen a lovely hotel to stay at right across from the beach.  Well I knew I was going to enjoy this place, they offered you beverages yes wine or cava (sparkling wine) whilst checking in and then informed me that the bottles on the table were for anyone who was staying in the hotel and they would be replaced anytime they were empty - heaven.  So with a perfect view we settled in for a few nights.  We were excited to be back by the water again, and wandered down to the beach - not exactly what we would call a beach, there was no sand just lots of rocks and pebbles.  But hey it has its advantages no sand in places you don't need.  They had a few restaurants right on the beach, which we did visit - oh life is good.  Oh, we left the sunscreen in the car, so the Big Fella decided to use my Lancome makeup, it has 20+ sunscreen he says - well I don't think I'm going to see that bottle again, he's decided he likes it, says it feels nice on his skin, it would want to with the $'s it costs.

25/06/2015 - La Herradura to Gibraltor

From La Herradura we headed on over to Gibraltar to see and explore the Rock of Gibraltar.  The Rock of Gibraltar is an awesome rock that is about 426m high it has sheer cliffs on the northern and eastern side.  The ancient Greeks and Romans though this one on the two pillars of Hercules.  It is also known of the saying 'solid as the Rock of Gibraltar' used to describe something that is very safe of firm (a bit like my buttocks - hey Dave).

26/06/2015 - Granada to Salamanca

The next two days we stayed in a lovely town called Salamanca - it was more a university city and was a nice place for a stopover.

28/06/2015 - Salamanca to San Sebastian

From Salamanca it was off to San Sebastian - one of the cities I was really looking forward to visiting  and I was not disappointed wow wee.  I don't think I'm ever going to want to leave, it is just sensational and exactly what I was hoping for....

San Sebastian is known as the romance style so in the Big Fellas version of romance was to take me to McDonalds for dinner and then a walk along the river front - mmm not my idea of romance.

The picture above might help explain why Dave loves San Sebastian...

So far we have been enjoying our time in Spain - love that fact that anywhere you go you seem to be able to buy alcohol - even at McDonalds you can get a beer - don't think that would be wise to bring that in back home.  Wine costs around $3.00AUD for a glass and if you buy a bottle in the supermarket you can get a nice bottle for around $3.00AUD - that is if you know what you are buying.  We were finding it difficult to adjust to the hours of eating and opening of the shops etc, but hey when in Rome.  Most of the restaurants don't open until about 8:30 or 9:00pm for dinner, I'm normally having my hot chocolate by this time.  The shops close somewhere for around 3-4 hours in the early afternoon - so now thats our nap time.  We don't seem to be getting into bed until after midnight.  My charades haven't been improving and either is our Spanish, especially when a lot of their regions have their own version of Spanish or like in Basque another language - so confusing, we have ended up with some interesting meals though....

Also, when we have been grocery shopping at one of the larger stores, they normally have about 30 checkouts, the supervisor wears roller blades...

The Big Fella is starting to feel a lot better, he now thinks it was the antibiotics from the clinic that was making him feel unwell - once he finished with the antibiotics he has been feeling a lot better, so nice for him oh and me...

For more photos please click here.

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