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Barcelona and Nimes

Leaving our friends and Spain

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We only spent 48 hours in Barcelona having been there a few years ago. Everyone except Diana traveled there from Granada. She stayed in Granada an extra day and then returned to Madrid and home. The most roundabout trip to Barcelona was easily Doug and Karen's. They drove back to Lisbon, Portugal to return their rent-a-car and then flew to Barcelona. Why, you ask, would they have taken an eight hour drive instead of the one hour flight? Remember the plane they missed way back in Seville? The least expensive way to deal with that issue turned out to be to rent a car, drive to Seville, and then use the car throughout Spain. However, dropping a car off in another country in Europe jumps the cost by hundreds of dollars, so they drove back to Lisbon, dropped off the car, and flew to Barcelona Tuesday morning. Homer and Wendy and the three of us also flew Tuesday morning but from Granada.
The others did more in Barcelona than we did; we mostly chilled and ate good food with them. We also visited the one place I will go back to anytime I can: Sagrada Familia. Personally, I think this is the most beautiful and interesting building in the world. Take a look at the pictures I've posted and see if you agree. They are scheduled to complete the church in 2026, and if they are anywhere close, I intend to come back and see the completed masterpiece.
After a lovely goodbye dinner with Wendy and Homer and Doug and Karen, the three of us headed out next day on a train to Nîmes. The train travel was excellent, and a little after 8 p.m. we arrived refreshed. After some searching for each other, we found our host, Jean Luc, who graciously escorted us from the train station to our apartment.
The walk was interesting on multiple accounts: first, the 10 minutes turned into nearly half an hour as we had to roll our heavy suitcases along cobblestone streets, but more importantly, we walked past a couple of unexpected treasures. Despite being a Thursday evening, Nîmes was hosting a festival and a French rock band that models itself after the Rolling Stones was playing a concert, specifically playing a concerts in the 2,000 year-old Roman arena. Turns out Nîmes has one of the world's largest and best preserved Roman arenas (think Coliseum). We all wished we could have attended the performance, but alas, the tickets were sold out.
When we arrived at our apartment, it turned out to be on the third floor of a beautiful building overlooking the tree-lined canal. Everything about Jean Luc's place was delightful except dragging our large, 50 lb. suitcases up three flights of a small spiral staircase. The main staircase and elevator were being renovated. I could not help but think of "Big Bang Theory," but I suspect our alternative staircase was meant for servants, never for anything like a suitcase. To his credit, Jean Luc took one of the suitcases and marched to the top with it.
While in Nîmes, we enjoyed the city, touring the arena as well as a well-preserved Roman temple, climbing to the top of the guard tower in the old city wall with a magnificent view in all directions, and eating French dinners until midnight.
We also took a day trip to Avignon to see the Papal Palace that served the popes when they temporarily left Rome. A note on that, this was in the 1300's and the "palace" was a Medieval castle, stark and not a place I would have wanted to live. Nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing it and Avignon while being very happy about staying in Nîmes instead of the more touristy city.
The highlight of our time in Nîmes however was the day Jean Luc and his fiance, Arielle, picked us up and drove us to the beach town they live in. The town, La Grande Motte, reminded us a great deal of Santa Cruz, beach front, boardwalk rides and amusements, restaurants, and condos. Of course this was on the Mediterranean Sea, but the French appear to enjoy their beach towns much as the US does.
We spent a lovely day with our two hosts, even got a chance to go out on Jean Luc's boat (he's an avid fisherman), toured another town, Aigues-Mortes, a walled city that is famous for being the launching point of the first Crusade, and finished by having a lovely, late dinner with Jean Luc and Arielle.
Having our Airbnb hosts spend an entire day showing us around Provence was unexpected enough, but what made the day all the more interesting is that neither of them spoke English and none of us speak French. A few words each, but mostly we spent the day pantomiming or using our phones as translators. The five of us did tolerably well I think.
We recommend Nîmes as a good place to spend a few days, and if you have a car, there are a few other sights, such as a Roman aqueduct, that are within a 90 minute drive. We didn't see those, but if we had another day, that's how we would have spent it.

Posted by randjb 07:10 Archived in France Tagged barcelona granada jean sagrada familia avignon nimes luc arielle Comments (0)

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