I have said it before, but I love French breakfasts! Our breakfast this morning at Villa Marambat included the usual things like croissants and coffee but we also had homemade yogurts and figs from their tree.
After breakfast we went for a walk nearby.
Our drive today was short, only about sixty kilometers. Even with driving the back roads and a stop for a snack it only took us a couple of hours. We are in wine country. We are seeing lots of wineries and vineyards.
Labastide-d’Armagnac is a small town. We are staying in a wonderful Chambres de Hôtes, Villa des Remparts. It right next to the main square.
We had coffee on the square, walked around a bit and then sat by the fire and read.
For dinner tonight we sat outside overlooking the square.
I uploaded my second video of the trip. You can see it on YouTube here. I’m about two weeks behind in creating videos. I already miss playing cards with Brian and JoAnn but I guess I can use that time to edit videos. I do enjoy creating them.
I received my French vaccination passport!! What a relief! I sent my paperwork in September 3 so it took a little over 3 weeks to get. Without it I would have had to be tested every three days while we are in France. I had a covid test before I left Barcelona so I could ride the train. While we were on the train my QR code arrived!!
We took a taxi to the train station and had coffee there while we waited for our train.
We took the high speed train into France and then changed to a local train to Toulouse where we rented a car and drove about an hour west to the little town of Marambat.
We have seen many fields of sunflowers over the last two weeks but for the first time we finally saw a field being harvested.
We are staying in a wonderful old French house, Villa Marambat. It was used by the resistance during the war. The owners Aline and Jean Pierre have been very welcoming.
For a casual dinner Aline suggested a restaurant, Lou BAR’ataclau, in the nearby town of Vic-Fezensac. It was perfect. The waiter recommended a bottle of wine and offered to make us a charcuterie to share. As we watched the lady across the street close her shutters for the night I thought that except for the kinds of cars the street probably hasn’t changed much since WWII.
After 25 tries to get just the right selfie I finally got this one.
Today was a busy day. We started out with Brian and JoAnn getting their covid tests. they cost €35 each.
The lab people told them to come back in an hour for the results so we went to find some breakfast.
Even though we expected the results to be negative it was nice to get confirmation.
Next we got tickets to the Barcelona Bus Turístic hop on hop off bus tour.
We got off at the Sagrada Familia with plenty of time to walk around before our 11:45 tour. The tour guide told us that although they had planned to finish the church by the hundredth anniversary of Gaudy’s death, because of the pandemic the goal is now 2030. In the model in the picture below you can see what is still to be done to finish the church.
When we left the Sagrada Familia we finished out bus tour. We sat outside on top. When we were in the sun it was quite hot.
For dinner we ate at El Salon. We have eaten there once before on a trip a few years ago. Our meal was excellent then and was this time too.
This is our last night with Brian and JoAnn. We have had so much fun together. The adventure was a wonderful experience we will always remember.
This morning we left Lleida and returned to Barcelona. We returned the car at the same place that we picked it up, Sants Train Station.
On our trip through the French and Spanish Pyrenees we traveled 1,413 miles and had lots of adventures. We never got lost but we made a lot of u-turns. We drove on narrow country roads and multi lane freeways. We saw a lot of sheep, goats and cattle. It was a wonderful trip.
After taking a taxi to our hotel and checking in we went out to explore. We needed to find a place for covid tests. Brian and JoAnn need them to re-enter the U.S. and since I still haven’t received my French vaccine passport that I applied for a month ago, I will probably need a covid test to board the train for France on Tuesday. We found a lab that will do the test pretty much anytime for $35.
We figured out our plans for tomorrow and then went to the Barcelona City Museum. We found out that if we made a reservation and entered after 3pm the museum would be free. After using our phones to book the reservations we needed to wait until our reservation time so we stopped for drinks.
The Barcelona City museum is one of my favorite museums anywhere. In 1931 when they were moving an old building to the site they discovered Roman and medieval ruins below ground. Archaeologists came in and the ruins were uncovered. The museum has a display on the top floor that explains how and why Barcelona was founded and grew. Then you go downstairs and walk through the remains of the Roman city and later the remains of the Medieval city. I’ve been to the museum at least three times but it always fascinated me.
For dinner we went back to Patagonia Restaurant, the Argentine steak house that Duke and I ate at our first night in Barcelona.
Our plan today was to stop on our way to Lleida and do a canyon hike that Duke had researched. Unfortunately today is Saturday and when we got to the trailhead they asked if we had a reservation. They told us the parking was full.
We decided to drive up into the hills nearby, survey the situation and make a new plan. We had driven almost three hours already and it was still about an hour more to get to Lleida. We couldn’t find any other good hikes nearby so we decided to just go to Lleida and explore the town
We have stayed at the Parador in Lleida before. It is one of the newest Parsdors. It is built in a seventeenth century convent.
Soon after we arrived we went out and explored the town. The Parador is right next to the old castle and church that sit on a hill in the middle of Lleida.
The old cathedral was probably built from the 12th century to the 15th century over the remains of a mosque. During the war of the Spanish succession it was turned into a military barracks. It was only in 1948 that it quit being used by the military.
The cloister is apparently one of the largest in Europe
We went to the very top of the old castle ruins
This will be our last night in a parador for this trip and our last Parador dinner. The restaurant is in the former chapel of the convent.
We had one of our best Parador meals.
The deserts were especially photo worthy. They called mine Oops I dropped “el mel i mató”. I wasn’t quite sure what it would be. El mel i mató means honey and curd in Catalan. It had honey ice cream, sugar crystal paper, something like cream cheese and cookie crumbs. It was really good.
Sunday we will return to Barcelona and turn in our car.