Here is the link to my video with a few of the sites we saw in Barcelona and Valencia.
This morning we picked up a rental car in Valencia and drove 210 miles west to Almagro in the Spanish region of La Mancha. One of the highlights of our day was when we stopped at a grocery store in a small town to buy some picnic food for tomorrow. The staff behind the meat and deli counter were super friendly. They gave us cheese and ham to sample and showed us a few of the many things they stock.
The young woman behind the counter is a expert ham carver. She has competed in competitions and won many awards. She showed us her album.
The Parador we are staying at in Almagro is a former Franciscan convent that was originally built in 1603. It was expanded in the 17th and 18th centuries but was in ruins when in 1977 they began the work to make it a Parador. The reconstruction took seven years.
We spent quite a bit of time exploring after we arrived. We had our welcome drinks in the former wine cellar.
We had a delicious dinner in the Parador restaurant. We had steak for our main course and various yummy deserts.
This morning after breakfast we visited Barcelona Cathedral. They started building the Cathedral in 1298 and provisionally finished it in 1450.
Our train to Valencia left at noon so our visit to the Barcelona Museum had to be short. The Museum tells the history of Barcelona since prehistoric times. The archaeological ruins in the basement of the museum are really fascinating. There are the remains of Roman building from around 300 AD. On top of them are the remains of a Chapel from around 600 AD. As you walk through the ruins more and more recent buildings are revealed.
Our train to Valencia took about three and a half hours. It was a smooth and uneventful ride.
Valencia is a beautiful city. We spent a couple of hours walking around and admiring the squares and the buildings.
We had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.
This morning we took the metro out to the airport to meet our friendS Rick and Elaine who will be traveling with us for the next two weeks. After they checked into the hotel we went exploring. First we went to the cafeteria at the top of the Corte Inglés department store on Plaza Catalan. for coffee and pastries.
Next we strolled down Las Ramblas.
We stopped to rest our feet and people watch for a while. While we were sitting there we saw a seagull kill and start eating a pigeon. It was gory!
Next we went to the top of the Columbus Monument overlooking the harbor.
Next we Walked through the Gothic Quarter on our way back to our hotel.
For dinner we went to a restaurant called Raó. The atmosphere was great. The people were friendly and the food was wonderful. We had several small plates each of which we shared.
This morning after breakfast we went for a great hike from Cruz de Tejeda along the ridge top. We could see all the way down to where we stayed in Las Palmas in one direction and in the other direction we could see the island of Tenerife.
Along the way we had a nice chat with a couple from Yorkshire in England. When we mentioned we were going to Barcelona they said “Beware of the pickpockets!” We agreed because we also know people who have been robbed in Barcelona. Of course we always try to be very careful and aware.
When we got back to the Parador we packed up and checked out. We drove to the airport, turned in our rental car and got a flight to Barcelona where we are tonight.
In Barcelona we took the metro to our hotel. As we were changing trains we started up a series of escalators. Then the escalator stopped. There was a well dressed couple right behind us. I started to climb up the stopped escalator and the guy behind me helped with my suitcase. We got on the next escalator and then it stopped. This time the guy was up by Duke and the woman tried to help me. As I ran out of breath and insisted on stopping I looked up and saw Duke push the man away from him and yell very loudly “You’re a f***ing thief!” By the time I got to the top of the escalator the couple were heading up the next escalator. We regrouped and I asked Duke what happened. He said he had realized the man had his hand in Duke’s pocket. The couple were pickpockets! They were stopping the escalators as a diversion. Luckily we didn’t lose anything. It was a very disconcerting experience.
We found our hotel, rested a bit, then found a tapas bar for a great dinner.
This afternoon we rented a car and drove up into the center of Gran Canaria. We are staying at the Parador Cruz de Tejeda. It feels like we are at the very top of the island. We have magnificent views in every direction.
This morning we walked to El Corte Inglés department store. They have a post office where we bought stamps and mailed a couple of post cards. Then we went to their restaurant and had a bit of breakfast.
We wanted to have a picnic dinner tonight so we bought food in El Corte Inglés grocery store.
When we arrived at the Parador this was waiting for us in our room.
It’s a beautiful day here on Gran Canaria, a low of 62 and a high of 70. We started out the day by walking along the promenade to the auditorium at the south end.
Along the way we stopped for pastries and coffee.
Later we saw a churrería and stopped for more coffee and a churro.
We were resting in our room when we heard the children’s parade starting so we went down to watch.
Duke was really looking forward to seeing them mark the end of Carnival by burning the sardine. We found some seats in the bleachers and waited for the parade escorting the sardine to start. It was worth the wait. The end of the parade was the sardine followed by mourners in black.
We followed the sardine as it headed towards the beach. We were swept along by the crowd and were dumped onto the beach. Eventually the sardine was carried down to the water and loaded onto a barge.
Eventually they lit the sardine on fire and then the magnificent fire works show started.
As the fireworks were ending we found our way to an Italian restaurant overlooking the beach and had dinner. The pizza and ravioli were excellent.
Saturday we took a plane from the island of La Palma to the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. It was about a one hour flight. Here’s a link to my La Palma video.
We took the bus into Las Palmas de Gran Canaria where we are staying.
The big Carnival parade on Gran Canaria was Saturday night. Our hotel is right next to the parade route.
We stood in one place for a couple of hours watching the people with beautiful elaborate costumes go by. Then came a series of buses and semi trucks with rolling bars and lots of people on and following each one.
We watched a while, then walked around some, then went up to the restaurant at the top of our hotel to have dinner. The parade started around 6 and when we were eating at 10:30 it was still going on!
We took an 8 pm ferry Thursday night from the island of La Gomera to the Island of La Palma in the Canaries. With so late a departure we had all day to enjoy La Gomera. It was the clearest day we have had since we arrived. We could easily see Tenerife with the Teide Volcano across the channel.
We drove to Playa Santiago, the next town along the coast and had coffee overlooking the beach I tested the water and it seemed relatively warm.
We stopped at a viewpoint on our way back to San Sebastián. We could see how the trade wind clouds coming from the north east get stopped by the mountains. The sign at the viewpoint said that it is estimated that the volume of water provided by these clouds is five times what the area gets from rain.
We knew we would arrive at the Parador on La Palma after the dining room closed. The person at the front desk in La Gomero called La Palma and they said they would give us dinner in our room. We didn’t get to the Parador in La Palma until about 11pm but then we had a great dinner.