October 16, 2010
I am very happy with my silicon earplugs! They truly block out about 80% of the noise. I sleep very well in spite of the revelry that lasts until 2am. But everyone else suffers. H says that the earplugs hurt so he doesn’t use them. And the Hartleys don’t find them as effective.
I wake up and I can’t believe that it’s 9am; our alarm malfunctioned—and we are to check out at 10! We scurry around and are actually ready to go in 45 minutes. Cat fixes us all breakfast and we rehash the night before. H says: What the drummer lacked in skill he made up for in stamina. Cat says: H doesn’t say much at breakfast but what he says is good! At least the sewer smell has substantially gotten better.
The check-out lady arrives and speaks French (she’s from Morocco). So Cat gives her an earful about our problems. She also says that no one has complained about the noise. Oh, I give up on all this turmoil!
Our 1st stop on the way home is a great factory outlet mall. Clothing is France is incredibly expensive! And clothing sales are heavily regulated. The idea is that no retailer should have any advantage over other retailers. So clothing sales are only allowed on a few authorized days of the year—everyone has sales at the same time. This is the place draws both Spanish and French shoppers.
I buy a few L’Occitane items (a bath and skincare line from Provence that I particularly like) at greatly reduced prices; and H buys two Timberline shirts (regularly 60E for 15E). We were happy with our reduced-price purchases that we bargains even with the current exchange rate. We also make a stop at Starbucks for coffee, hot chocolate and pastries. This 11am coffee and pastry stop each day is getting to be a nice habit!
Girona is our next stop. We have a quick tour of the town’s medieval centre.
There is really a lot to see: Roman ruins, a cathedral and historical museum. But those sites must wait for another visit. We search for a place for lunch as we wander the streets and alley-ways. Catherine eschews the 20E menu restaurants—she remembers how inexpensive Barcelona was. We finally find a little place off the beaten path, Bar la Pedra (18 Carrer Mercaders), that has the 10E menu Cat has been searching for.
Our 1st course was a delicious salad: greens with a nice large slice of goat cheese, apples, bacon, walnuts, small dried berries or grapes and the dressing was olive oil and reduced pomegranate juice. For our 2nd course, Stephan had squid with rice and the rest of us had cannelloni stuffed with meat and béchamel sauce. Both courses were delicious! The wine tasted like it was the “paint scraped from the walls” as Stephen said. So the guys ordered beer. Dessert was not exciting—purchased ice cream cups with coffee liqueur for the 3 of us and Stephen had peaches in syrup from “a tin.” But for 10E each it was very good for Girona.
Last thoughts on Barcelona:
- Very clean city
- Few beggars; no homeless
- Friendly people
- Don’t need to know much Spanish; most people are happy to communicate in English
- Not expensive—10E lunches including a glass of wine are not uncommon
- Very colorful graffiti and garage door art
- Best market in the world per the Hartleys—I think Stephan said they’ve been in nearly 30 countries (it’s best market we’ve ever seen but we’ve not been around the world)
We arrive home at 6:30 and look forward to relaxing for the evening. It is lots colder than when we left. We even have to turn on the heat. But we sleep like babies with only the noise of the wind.