It was a beautiful day in Cannes today. La Croisette is the walk along the water front.  Duke said that now that he is 65 he can sit and watch the world go by. We are talking about Duke so I don’t think so!!!

We walked along the promenade watching the people, the fancy shops and the big yachts. 

 We had a fantastic dinner at a restaurant called Mome. The service was great, the atmosphere nice and the food delicious. 

Afterwards we checked out the film festival hall and the casino. 

Aix en Provence to Cannes

Duke’s 65th Birthday!!! It seems entirely appropriate that we spend it traveling! This morning we took a train to Marseille. I think it is interesting that McDonald’s in the Marseille train screen has touch screens where you can order and pay .

From Marseille we caught a train along the French Mediterranean coast to Cannes.  What beautiful country, lots of wine grape vines,  old farm houses, and because today was a beautiful sunny day lovely Mediterranean coastline and sparkling blue water. 

In Cannes we explored a bit . We had a late lunch of mussels and fries. 

and had a marvelous steak dinner to celebrate the Birthday Boy!

The raspberries flambé with ice cream were spectacular. 

Aix en Provence

We spent today doing laundry and exploring Aix en Provence. I think Aix is one of the most beautiful towns in the world. And the sun was shining today which makes it even more beautiful. 

We had crepes and coffee mid morning. 

We tasted nougat and bought some. 

This afternoon we visited Cezanne’s studio. The painter Cezanne was born and raised in Aix. At the end of his life he came back to Aix. He built a studio and painted here for the last five years of his life. The studio was built so that its big north facing windows provided excellent light for painting. He was not famous when he was living. After he died his son found it difficult to sell his painting. The studio was not changed after he died. It has many of his things in it. The English speaking guide was very good at helping us understand a little bit about Cezanne and his work and how the studio was a part of that work. 

Carry le Rouet to Aix en Provence

This morning the owner of the guest house we were staying in drove us to the train station. We caught a train to Marseille and then changed trains for Aix en Provence. 

Many of the train stations in France have had pianos for people to play. 

In Marseille I saw something I have never seen before, a pedal powered charging station. 

In Aix we are staying with the wonderful family that Allison lived with when she studied in France. On the way to their house we walked through the old center of Aix and stopped for lunch. We ordered mussels with a Roquefort sauce and a salad Nicoise. They were both wonderful. There were about 50 mussels in the mussel bucket. 

As I mentioned a few days ago, my iPhone has been acting up. They have an Apple Store in Aix. I made an appointment for 5pm for the Genius Bar. It turns out my screen problem is a known problem. It cost me €155 to get a new phone and it took a couple of hours to get set up but I’m back in business. 

Barcelona, Spain to Arles, France

We decided to get an early train out of Barcelona this morning. Our train left at 7:20. We changed trained in Nimes and got to Arles at around 1:30.  This is Duke’s first trip to France. It is his second new country of this trip. 

This is in many ways the beginning of phase two of our trip. We are out of Spain and of course don’t have a car any more. It also means I don’t have Duke’s fluent Spanish to rely on. I speak a bit of French but nothing like Duke speaks Spanish. 

When we got to Arles we were standing looking at a big map outside the train station when an American behind us asked us where we were from. We told him and asked him the same. He said near Sacramento. He said when he had to evacuate because of the Oroville Dam situation he decided he might as well head to France!

From the train station we walked to our hotel which is a bit out of the center of Arles. After resting some we walked around the old town.  Arles is on the Rhone River. They have an enormous Roman Arena and a ruined Roman Theater. In addition Vincent Van Gough began living in Arles in 1888 and painted more than 200 paintings here. Although none of them are still in Arles there are plaques all over Arles showing where some of Van Gough’s famous paintings were painted. 

For dinner we shared a cheese and charcuterie sampler. After that we tasted a few more cheeses. They were all incredibly good. 

Barcelona Day 2

Barcelona is an amazing city. Today we did the hop on hop off bus tour of the city. It made me realize that there is so much to do here that I could spend another week or two here and still not see everything I want to see!
We started out the day with coffee and a croissant. Then we started the bus tour. Our first stop was at  Gaudi’s Basilca de La Sagrada Familia. They started work on the Basilica in the 1800’s and they are still working on it!

As we were walking around the Basilica it was fun to see a bunch of people playing a game, maybe lawn bowling? All the balls seemed to be made out of iron. Many people had ribbons with magnets on them so they could pick up the balls without bending over. 

After Sagrada Familia our next stop was the Park Güell. We got off the bus and walked up to the look out.  Gaudi had a home here for many years. 

The tour had two loops, the blue loop and the red loop.  After completing the blue loop we had a beer and pizza lunch. 

We learned on the tour that Barcelona has more motorcycles and mopeds than any other town in Spain. 

I thought this shop where you could have a three-D image of yourself printed was pretty cool. 

And I thought this ad in the main square for flights from Oakland direct to Barcelona on Norwegian Air was pretty amazing too. 

The rest of the tour took us past all the Olympic sights, the harbor, and the exhibit halls where the giant Mobile World Congress (MWC17) will be held this week. As I said it all made me realize how much there is to see and do in Barcelona. 

We had originally hoped to spend three nights in Barcelona but the Mobil World Congress which is the biggest conference of  mobile devices in the world meant that hotel rates were hiked through the roof starting Sunday night. So we will catch a train to France in the morning. 

We had another wonderful dinner tonight. We went to L’Antic Bicol Del Gòtic and shared salad, appetiser, main course, dessert and coffee. With a bottle of wine the whole meal cost us €70. 

Andorra to Barcelona

We got a fairly early start this morning on our drive to Barcelona. We wanted to return our car by 12:30 to avoid paying for another day. It rained all the way from Andorra to Barcelona. Then we spent an hour driving in circles in heavy city traffic trying to find the rental car place. Finally we parked and walked a long way on foot in the rain and finally found it. I was soaked but we did get the car back in time. 

Our hotel is in the Gothic Quarter. We had a fun time exploring this afternoon. 

For dinner we ate pasta and empanadas at a lovely little restaurant with only five tables. 

Then we went for a stroll down La Rambla. We have seen and heard a lot more English speakers here than anywhere else we have been. We also notice a lot more young people than anywhere else, and noticeably more smokers.