Sunday, November 14, 2010

Provence

My parents were in Europe at the height of the summer for a cruise around the Baltic, and we were fortunate enough to synchronize our schedules for mini-trips together both before and after their cruise. It was the first time in around 10 years that I actually travelled around with them (as opposed to them just visiting me in the different places I've lived since I left home),  and it was fun! I think we have to do this more often, Papa and Mom!

Two days after they arrived from Manila we flew to Marseilles, and from there, travelled around Provence. First stop was the elegant Aix-en Provence, with its tree-lined streets and yellow buildings.




From Aix, we took a bus to the ancient city of Arles, my favorite Provencal town. Not only was it pretty, but it was teeming with history.




We watched an actual bullfight in the Colosseum (Arles is one of the few places outside Spain where bull fights are still held - and allowed), and contrary to the "bloodless bull fights" trumpeted by the guide books, I SAW FOUR INNOCENT BULLS KILLED. It was primitive,  ghastly, but you can't stop watching.



We went on to Avignon, the grand city, dominated by the Palais des Papes, the world's largest Gothic palace. As you can tell from the name, the Pope stayed in Avignon sometime in the 1300s when he had to flee Rome.


Our last stop was sunny (very sunny) Marseilles, where we went to the Vieux Port and the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde



We ate well, of course, and L found out where I got my appetite.




Haute Provence


In July this year, L and I were invited by the Ds to their lovely hilltop summer home in Seillans. It was a very good weekend, experiencing how (some) French families spend their long summers. 

Before meeting with Mr. D early in the afternoon on a Saturday, L and I took a short trip from the Nice airport to the medieval town of Eze, with picture perfect, "Wow!" inducing views of the Cote d'Azur.




An hour from Nice was the D summer home. We had this view from the guest house, and olive trees and cicadas abounded.



The town of Seillans was charming as well. 



After two very restful days, L and I had to fly back via Nice. We took some time walking around there too.



Barcelona


(A card reader has been purchased, and I am back in business.)

Some photos from our trip to Barcelona in July of this year. L was there to speak at a conference, and I flew in for a long weekend. We were joined there by wonderful T and D, who shared many, bounteous, glorious meals with us.

La Rambla. Tricksters, Tourists and Tweeting Birds.


La Boqueria. Made me hungry, and probably one of the most fascinating markets I've ever seen.


La Sagrada Familia. An outside shot of the oldest part of the building.


Here's a shot of the inside. Gaudi wanted to recreate nature, and hence the tree-like columns. Hopefully I'll be able to see this when it's all done.


Park Guell. Gaudi's answer to the English garden.


We were there during the weekend of the World Cup Finals. On the Saturday before the match between Spain and Netherlands (yes, by coincidence, we had to be away from the Netherlands when it was playing the finals, and against Spain no less) there was a huge pro-Catalan, anti-Spain rally going on all over Barcelona:


and when Spain won the next day, the Catalans were all out on the streets again (because players from FC Barcelona won the game, as the people took pains to emphasize)


L and I being, naturally, L and myself, you can predict we were there primarily for the food. And yes, Spain is definitely becoming a rival to Italy over my (European) food heart.