Thursday, 29 May 2014

... catching up ...

Day 36 - Day 42 (San Sebastián - -> La Guardia --> Ruidabella ---> Canet de Mar)
(lots of excuses  - the best one being that castle walls were not built for wifi to go through)
(oh - and a warning - everyone's got a lot to say)

Yesterday we went on a train from near the camp ground to Barcelona.  It took an hour.  At Barcelona we had a walk then we went to a big market.  In the market I liked the look of the lollies.  At the end we got to choose our own lollies.  Mine was a rainbow sour strap.  In the market we ran into Mrs Woody..
After the market we went into a shop called Desigual.  In the shop I wanted to buy a top that said "grrrr".  When we coming back from Barcelona it was pouring.  There was thunder.  When we got back we had to run home in the rain.  I stepped in a big, muddy puddle and splashed Lily.  When we got back all our washing was dripping wet.
At Ruidabella we were staying in an apartment in a castle with 3 bedrooms.  In our apartment there were 5 rooms.  Outside the castle there was a jacuzzi.  It was very warm - it was 34 degrees in the jacuzzi.  Lily, Grace and I didn't want to get out.

It's been a busy few days.  We've driven through the "badlands" between La Guardia and Ruidabella - forlorn, abandoned towns in arid, bland desert country (reminiscent of bad cowboy movies and roadrunner cartoons), seen thousands of wind turbines sitting quite majestically atop hills (50% of Spain's energy is from renewable energy sources - Australia could learn from that!) and thousands more vineyards.   We've screeched to a halt several times as we come across stunning fields of poppies.  Jack's voice is ever present in the back seat - "it says 50 daddy, you need to slow down, way down" "its the third exit daddy"  "she said left daddy" and Margaret remains patient as she repeats far too often "if possible, do a u-turn".  The girls are silent as they power through Harry Potter on their ipads.  We've found less gelati and more ham.  We've bribed the children with lollies to walk  - round walled towns, along country fields to yet another closed for business Spanish town and through Boqueria (the most amazing market we've seen).  We've stayed in a castle with impenetrable walls, an 800 year old hotel with the most enourmous wine cellars and a campground.  We're drowning in wet washing, Iberian ham, indecipherable menus and our own stories.  We miss our pillows, our cats, our friends, real milk, proper breakfast and Asian greens (ok - that's just me) but we're still having a ball

On Thursday for our last day in San Sebastian daddy's plan was to go up the funicular to an 100 year old amusement park. It would have been amazing if it was open. Apparently according to a lady running a souvenir shop it was only open on weekends. Not that it bothered to say that on any of the signs that we saw. So we bought a packet of chips each and ate them. Then we went down the funicular again and walked slowly to the merry go round. Then we payed a visit to mummy's favourite coffee shop. After a potato and egg roll at home we wandered around in search for dinner. Grace managed to find paella which made her happy. I had ravioli with 4 cheese sauce. 
On the Friday we packed up and got in the car for La  Guardia. We wandered off exploring after stopping for lunch . It was nice lunch but we got lost and couldn't find the car. When we did get back Jack said he knew where it was all along. 
La guardia is a great place and it's 850 years old this year!! Jack found his new best friend. A man who worked where we were staying kept calling Jack Skippy and giving us lollies. It was funny. 
On Sunday we drove to castle Ruidabella. In the car we ended up eating the remains of my Easter chocolate to get us going, which was all we had until we found McDonald's. Jack was in heaven. 
The castle was quite big with thick walls and terrible wifi. After getting comfortable we walked a long 4.2 kilometres to Vimbodi under false pretence. Daddy said that if we walked all the way we would get some lollies. We all still think he knew there would be no lolly shop. We managed to get an ice cream at a man's shop who by the looks of it was just about to close. The best thing about the castle was the jacuzzi, we were in there for ages. Saying goodbye to the castle after a tour of it which was really interesting we hopped in the car to Canet de Mar. 
We only had a few stops for photos of poppies and wind turbines. Mummy's certain we aren't related to her because of a few moans from the backseat. 
At the campground we tried the pool which was cold when you got in but quite nice afterwards. Grace and I raced the length of the pool and back and Grace  who had stopped to check her toe hopped out of the pool ran to the other end jumped in and swam the rest! After we went to the playground next to the bar which was the only place you could get wifi so mummy was up there a lot. 
At Barcelona after the one hour train trip we went to a huge food market. It had almost everything. At the market we ran into Mrs Woody, Rhys and Josie. Then after we went into a shop called Tiger and also had a look at a building by Gaudi. We only knew that we were catching up with them because Daddy let slip accidentally that we were going to meet them in Barcelona. Before buying lollies we all chose something kind of healthy. I got a pineapple and mango smoothie. It was yummy. 
We finally got back to the camp ground after running through big puddles and getting really, really wet. We were glad to be somewhere dry and warm. 

I will have to visit Spain next time I come to Europe as we have only had time to visit the Basque region and Catalonia.   They are not in Spain apparently (both are chasing independence).  And we thought North/South parochialism is bad in Tasmania.
I am though impressed by how much of their  power comes from renewable energy - 54%.  Whoever sees Mr Hockey next please tell him wind turbines look much better than coal powered power stations.
Gobsmacked by Barcelona market and could not stop smiling at childrens faces when all the crabs, lobsters started moving and they asked what the tongue, tripe, brain, sheep eyes were.
DK 2721km  to AT 0 but great navigation.
Yes I do have blue nail polish applied poorly to large toenails!

On Tuesday evening we walked down to the beach.  To get down to the beach we had to walk through a channel and under the road.  Lily, Jack and I were sliding down the side of it.  It was hard to climb up the side of the channel. Then we had to run to the parents.  Then Lily and Jack started playing a game near the water.  I kept doing cartwheels and falling over.  Then I joined in.  I tried not to get my feet wet but in the end I got them wet.  Our feet started to hurt because instead of sand there was pebbles.  Lily, Jack and I found another channel to slide on.  Jack left after a while.  Lily and I tried sliding down the edge with our eyes was fun.  After the walk on the on the beach our feet felt really soft.  
Yesterday we caught a train from Canet de Mar to Barcelona.  We had to stand up all the way to Barcelona.  It took about an hour to get there.  As soon as we got there we started walking one way then Dad said we were going the wrong way.  So we started walking the other way.  After a while Dad admitted we were going the wrong way again.  For lunch we went to bakery.  I had frankfurter was yummy. 
We found a food was really big.  As soon as we walked in we past all the lollies....they looked really delicious.  In some lolly stands there were some lollies made out of marzipan.......they looked really cool.  Then we walked through all the fish stands (they stank).  Just before we left saw a stand with brains, hearts, heads  and tongues (it made me feel sick just thinking about it).  When we were leaving we got to choose a lolly......... I chose a long rainbow sour thing with white stuff in the was delicious.  
When we were going home it started raining.  We were lucky to get a seat on the train.  When we got to the train station it was still raining.  So we had to run in the rain all the way home.  We had to go through big puddles. When we were nearly home Jack went in a really big one and Dad had to pick him up and run with him.  In the camp ground a few meters from our cabin my pants fell down.
Grace =)

1 and 2.  La Guardia - celebrating 850 years of being an impressive walled town
3. We screech to a halt every time I see one of these fields
4, 5 and 6.  Castle Ruidabella - we stayed in a turreted tower like real princes and princesses and looked out over vineyards and farms.  The entrance was not so impressive!
7 and 8.  Canet de Mar beach on the night we arrived
9, 10 and 11. Iberian ham, fresh fish, marzipan and chillis at the market in Barcelona.
13.  The day ended in an impressive thunderstorm.  We were dripping as we got home.
14.   i-travelling

Thursday, 22 May 2014

....days in the Basque Country ...

Day 34 -35 ... Basque Country

On Tuesday we drove to Guggenheim Museum which is in Bilbao. The Guggenheim Museum is a bit like MONA. I liked looking and going though the sculpture called the matter of time made by Richard Serra.  The sculpture is made out of iron. 
Lily Jack and I got to go though a little maze made of glass ( you had to take you shoes off ).The point of it was trying to the middle of it and pick up the phone inside.  Jack and I banged in to the wall.  The man who went in after us got to the middle and pick up the phone.  
My favourite sculpture was the wish tree. You were allowed to write one.  Mum, Lily and Jack wrote one but Dad and I didn't. After we finished looking at all the sculptures we walked over the road to the park.  It was really big.  A few minutes before we left we got a ice-cream.  We ate it while we were playing ( Jack got his ice-cream all over the slide). 
On Wednesday Mummy found her new favourite cafe it's called GOGOKO GOXUAK.  I had a donut....... It was delicious.  
After we drove to Hondarribia.  We found a park to play at.  When we were leaving Dad drove the car along a bike track (he said he was just checking the car fitted in it).


On Tuesday we drove to Guggenheim Museum which is in Bilbao. We went to see a museum that Mummy said might be a bit like MONA. At first we couldn't find the entrance and when we asked a couple of people where it was they said it was back where we started. 
The first sculpture was called the matter of time. It was a few iron sculptures moulded into tunnels and spaces that you could walk into. It was fascinating looking at them and listening to the audio guide. 
Another really good sculpture was called tulips. It was stainless steel shaped like tulips and in different colours. 
My all time favourite thing was the wishing tree. It was a smallish tree with lots of slips of paper with wishes on them hanging on its branches. Jack, Mum and I made a wish. 
Another of my favourites was a glass maze that you could try and get to the middle. All the kids went in. As soon as we turned the first corner Jack took a wrong turn and ran into the wall. It made a loud noise and was quite funny. It was so loud the whole museum basically shook.  But we didn't get to the middle. When we went in for a second time it was Grace who ran into the wall. 
There was a park next to the museum so after when we left we had a play in the park. The parents said if we stayed in the park for five more minutes we could get an ice cream. Unfortunately Daddy was a bit unfair and said we had eight minutes left and that we had to go back to play. But then he gave in and gave me the money for ice creams. Jack managed to get his all over the slide and himself. Yesterday we went to Hondaribbia. We found an awesome park so we played there for a while. It had huge climbing frames and we played chasing for a bit on them. 
Back at San Sebastian we found Mummy's favourite coffee shop. Grace and I had a doughnut and Jack had a chocolate croissant. Mine was delicious. 

We drove to the Guggenheim museum. At the museum there was a maze that was made of glass. In the maze me andGrace  crashed into the walls. At the front of the museum was a giant puppy that daddy thought was a cat. Outside there was a playground. 

I love Spain...I love it because when you get to the end of a toll road there is a man to hand your ticket and money to...a man who smiles, does not reject a genuine euro note, will take any credit cards and is not even interested in Medicare cards. 

I also love Spain as being here means I do not have to deal with Medicare co-payments or the media and therefore everyone can see the stellar media performance by Bastian.

1.  3
2.  Wishing Tree (Yoko Ono)
3.  Puppy (Jeff Koons)
4.  Tulips (Jeff Koons) 
5.  They belong in a circus 

Monday, 19 May 2014

... San Sebastián ...


Days 31 - 33 San Sebasti├ín 

After dinner we walked down to the beach. The sun was just going down. It was very bright. 
At the beach there were loads of people. There was hardly any place to play soccer. When we got there, Grace and me went straight into the water. It was a bit cold. After that Grace and I were playing a game where you couldn't touch the foamy bits. Then we were swimming. 

Yesterday it was really hot.  We went down to the beach. There were millions of people. The tide was out really far.  We were right at the top of the beach so we had to run a long way.  As soon as we got there Jack and I went straight down to the water ( it was a bit cold ).  It took Lily a few minutes to decide if she wanted to come in with Jack and I ( but she said yes ).  Someone  had made a sculpture of the Simpsons.... It was really cool.  When we came back to the hotel we had a shower, then we left again we went down to the merry-go-round.  You had to get a ticket ( they were about 1. 50 each). Daddy paid for them. 

On Saturday afternoon we walked down to the beach. There was a big couch made out of sand with Simpsons on it. It was quite amazing. Grace and Jack swam in their clothes but I didn't want to.daddy said they should have stripped down to their undies. Only the parents thought it was a good idea.  Even though the water looked nice I didn't want to walk home with no towel dripping wet. After having showers at our apartment we went out for dinner at a Tapas bar. You got to choose some snacks off the counter or order a meal. One of the things we chose was a special ham roll. Jack loved it!  After dinner we all had an ice cream. I had mango. It was delicious. As we were walking home we saw an amazing sunset!!Yesterday it was so hot! We got our bathers and towels and walked down to the beach. Grace and Jack hopped straight in but I took some convincing to go in. It was nice when you got in. We stayed in the water for a bit and then I walked up to sun bake. It was lovely. After the beach mummy said she would buy us an ice cream and a ticket for the merry go round. It was fun. If you bought three tickets you got a free one. We are hoping daddy will buy two more then we will get to go on again!

San Sebastián is known as a great place to visit - without there being much to do (except beach, walk and eat ...perfect for us!)
Yesterday we shared the beach with 10000 "friends" ... so unlike our Tassie beaches (sadly the water temp was more Bridport than Fiji)
Loving the pintxos (tapas) bars, the late night gelato, the old town and the slow mornings... I could get used to this 

Beautiful beaches, sparkling water, memorable sunsets. All described above better than I can but what everyone meant to say was they had a ROSS swim.

PS ... to be fair it was only the adults who had a Ross swim...our kids are far hardier 

PPS's 9.22 pm ....we're heading out for gelati

Saturday, 17 May 2014

... rest day ...

Day 31 - San Sebasti├ín 

Daddy drove down a road you weren't allowed to. Then he nearly got a ticket. 
Today we had a kick with the ball at the beach. Grace and I ended up swimming in our clothes. We were soaked. 

No comment or I could blame Margaret.

Serious i-business, soccer training on the beach at 7pm (we're keeping Spanish hours already) and a group selfie for Sarah. 
We're liking Spain so far (after we got over the whole driving down the pedestrian mall thing).

Thursday, 15 May 2014

... last days in the Dordogne ...

Day 28, 29 - Dordogne region

We drove to the river. We took a van to the drop off place. We had to paddle 15 km. I was in the canoe with Grace and Daddy. I mostly did all the work. Mummy wasn't doing much work and neither was Grace. We stopped for lunch. We had a walnut pie- it was yummy. It had caramel under the walnuts. When we were just going to go we saw a water snake. 
Yesterday we went to Castelnaud. The catapaults were very big except one that was small. We had to play a game about rescuing a prisoner. Lily and Grace lost a life but I didn't. I got a poster of the castle. 

For the past few days we have been very busy. On Wednesday we had three icecreams!! The first one we had at Sarlat. We got to choose two different flavours. I chose raspberry and chocolate. It was yummy! 
Then we drove to Castelnaud. It was really fun looking at all the weapons and armour. We had a look at a video that showed you how to use the catapaults. One thing I learnt from it is that they could only fire two shots every hour! In one of the rooms the was a game and you had to rescue a person to win a prize. We had three lives and Grace and I lost ours but Jack won(with my help). He won a poster which had the castle on it. When we got back to the square where we were staying we went to have an ice cream. I had salted caramel. It was yummy! 
For dinner we went to Galerie M. I had pasta it was really yummy. For dessert we had icecream. I had chocolate. 
On Thursday we drove down to the river to get a van to where the boats were. Mummy and I were in a boat and the other three were in another. We had to paddle 15km. A bit after halfway we stopped to have a late lunch. The bread, tapenade, tomato dip, avocado and cheese were yummy but the yummiest thing was the walnut pie. It was delicious!!! It had caramel down the bottom and walnuts up the top.
Just before we left a group of paddlers came in and just as they were about to land some kind of water snake came up and all the girls on the canoes screamed. It was freaky and funny at the same time. As we left we raced each other to the end. Everyone sort of agreed that Mummy and I won except for Jack. When we got back to the place where we were staying we sat down on the chairs and either read, played on devices or something else. A bit later we all went out for ice cream. I had salted caramel again. I just love it!!!

Today we drove to Port D'Enveaux to hire some canoes. We took a bus to our starting point. Daddy, Jack and I were in one canoe. Mummy and Lily were in the other one. The canoe trip was 15km. My favourite part was lying down and watching while Daddy and Jack paddled.
We stopped just near a bridge for lunch. We had bread, cheese, avocado and tapenades. Then when we finished we had a walnut pie. It had caramel all through it and walnuts- it was delicious. 
When we were getting back in the canoes I spotted a sea snake. I was a bit scared to get back in the canoe in case there was another one. 
Yesterday we went to Castelnaud. It's an old castle and is really big. We got to see lots of the weapons they used to use to defend it from attackers. Lily, Jack and I played a computer game where you had to rescue someone. We had 3 lives. Lily went first and died. I did the same. Then Jack was the last one and he won a prize. He had to remember a password to tell the lady at the ticket office to get the prize. The password was Alix de Turenne. The prize was a poster of the castle. 

As someone who, according to Jack, didn't do much paddling today, I'm wondering why my shoulders are so very achy already ... lucky the current actually did most of the hard yards!! I'm hoping the sparkling rose we're having with dinner tonight (escalopes de poulet avec creme et I know you're all only reading to find out about the food!) will ease the aches. 
The river was beautiful today...we floated down the river past deep green forests, tiny towns and huge chateaux sitting atop rocky outcrops. We actually paddled right past the places we visited yesterday. 
I'm very grateful to my Instagram friends who recommended the Jardins de Marqueyssac (top photo) ... the topiary was crazy beautiful ... all done with hand shears as the electric ones are too harsh on the leaves apparently. 
We leave for Spain tomorrow morning. So far David had driven 1261 km to my none...I'm fairly sure the odds won't be improving tomorrow (the shoulders!). He's called our GPS Margaret and is bring very careful to do everything she says!!

My children make me laugh. I did not call the GPS Margaret, I wanted to call it Gwendoline.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

...the bastide towns ...

Day 25, 26 - Monpazier region

Bastide games...a new soccer ball and lots more food sum up our last 48 hours.

Monpazier to Beaumont to Issigeac to Villereal to Monflaquin to Biron and back to Monpazier. 

They're all bastide (or walled) towns, all different and built around 800 years ago and all 15 minutes apart. 

Ideal geography to play word games in the car and keep 3 children (somewhat) fascinated. Of course a beer +/- ice cream in the town square works equally well as a bribe or reward for the walking too. 

Today we visited lots of little towns. Daddy promised it would only be 15 minutes between each one but it was longer because mummy kept taking photos. 
We weren't allowed to read in the car today but I really wanted to because I'm reading Harry Potter. 
When we got home we went to the square and had icecream. Then we played soccer. It was Daddy, Jack and I versing Lily and we won 20-17. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

... catching up with Mrs Woody ...

Day 24 ... Around Monpazier 

Our holidays plans are already in disarray; Lily has run out of reading material (suggestions anyone?), Grace has declared museums are boring and only for really old (like 60000 years old) people and Jack continues to hold a very long standing grudge against markets ...sigh!

But yesterday we had a plan to suit everyone...a catch up with one of the teachers from school and her family who are cycling through France (and have less luggage in their panniers than in one of our red bags!!!!).  We even managed a trip to the Sarlat markets to find provisions for our picnic lunch. None of us were brave enough to try foie gras though...maybe next time?

On Saturday it took over one hour to get to the camp ground. Then we went to the market. At the market the girls got lost. Then I got to have a piggy back ride. 

Today we drove to Sarlat to see Mrs Woody and her daughter Josie.  It took about an hour to get to the camp site.  One minute after we arrived we all walked down to the market.  It was really crowded.  We looked at lots of different stalls.  Lily, Josie and I wanted to get a friendship bracelet but we didn't.  After that we went to a park for lunch.  Lily, Jack Josie and I played chasings.  When we had finished we walked back to the camp ground to have a swim.  At first we were jumping in and splashing the parents and then we played Marco Polo.

On Saturday we drove for an hour to Sarlat to see Mrs Woody and and her daughter Josie. They are cycling around France. 
Just after we got there we walked down to the markets to get stuff for a picnic. We looked at lots of different stalls and Grace, Josie and I looked in a lot of different toy shops. We saw some cute bracelets and we almost bought them but we didn't. After that we slowly walked up to the park. 
The fourth picture is of us riding on Mrs Woody's bike. It was fun but a bit unstable. When we got to the park we all played chasings. Then we had to try and guess how much money a bag of dried fruit was. The only clue we got was that it was very expensive. I guessed $34 but it was $51!!!!! That's very expensive for dried fruit. 
When we had eaten too much( not much of the fruit) we walked up to there camp ground, got our bathers, got changed and hopped into the swimming pool. When the grown ups came we played who can get the parents wet. They didn't like it much. Then the grown ups left and Mrs Woody hopped in and we played Marco Polo for ages. When they came back they said they could hear us shouting from where they were. It was awesome!! 
When we said goodbye we were planning to meet up again at EuroDisney. Everyone sort of agreed because Josie's dad Rhys said mummy and daddy could rest and he and Mrs Woody would take us. Yay!!!!:):):)

I have started workbook 2 on counting and am progressing well. The trip to Sarlat created no roundabout issues and there are no motorway tolls in this part of The Dordogne. Policeman Jack was much happier!
Monpazier can be walked around on 15 minutes with stops. My type of town.