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Published: September 17th 2010
The week to ten days that I spend with two old friends, Jane and Mike, who I have known from my early 20's, is all about laughter, memories, food and beer. We have 35 years to catch up on and manage it very well. Friday, 27 August, 2010
Kathy has gone South, Stephen and Sue have flown to London and I take the train from Barcelona to Tarragona about 70 minutes south. The train is full, however I'm one of the lucky ones that manage to get a seat. It hugs the coast and I see lots of high rise apartments; the journey takes just over an hour and when I emerge from the carriage, Jane and Mike are waiting for me. Hugs and kisses over, we retire to a bar for a well deserved beer. The journey from Tarragona to their house is about 45 minutes. Mike has spent the past six years working on the house and has done a magic job, from building, plumbing and electrical wiring. It's solar powered with a generator, eco friendly and no bleach in the septic tank. Great job Mike!!!!
In the evening we drive into town for a
beer and I meet several of their Spanish friends including the owner of the bar and his wife (Adolfo and Montsie). I am welcomed and made to feel like one of the family. Saturday, 28 August,2010
Saturday is sight seeing day and first up we drive about 6km to the town of Miravet. This little village on the river is dominated by a castle. Although, in my opinion the renovation effort leaves a bit to be desired, perhaps they should get Mike on the job. Later, I am informed that it is a Templar storong-hold, taken from the Moors in the 10th century, and it is in turn taken from the Templars by the Christian Kings in 1307/1308 after a year long siege.
The Spanish Civil War ravaged Catalonia and some the fiercest fighting was in the Ebro Valley. I had read George Orwell's “Homage to Catalonia” in my 20's about the International Brigade; little did I know that I would visit the region 35 years later.
The Ebro valley is quite wonderful and surrounded by towering cliffs, I'm very impressed, and thoroughly enjoy the people I meet along the way. Anyway, back to Miravet, we
go to the bar and have tapas and beer; the beer becomes a bit of a ritual over the next six days. The tiki tour continues with a ferry ride across the river, followed by a visit the Hermitage Fontcalda and the village of Horta St Joan, where Picasso spent 2 years of his life.
In the evening, there's a festival on in the close-by town of Mora, so we drive in at around 10.00pm for some music and drinks. I find that festivals abound in Spain and any reason is a good reason. It's bed at around 1.30am, just a little later than I'm used to in NZ, however the Europeans are late-night people. Sunday, 28 August,2010
After our late night we stay indoors and watch Formula 1 and Hamilton wins. In the evening it's a BBQ with Montsie and Adolfo and a couple of Brits. A very nice evening and great food. Monday, 29 August, 2010
On Monday we drive to the beach and the town of Hospitalet D'Enfant Lunch where myself and Mike have we have Paella, while Jane enjoys a plate of sardines. I later get the opportunity to have Jane's
Paella and I must say that it is fantastic. We stop and have an ice-cream as we walk around town and later stop for coffee before heading home. In the evening it's more food and beer or was it Mike's appalling red wine. Tuesday, 30 August, 2010
Today, we have been invited to go sailing from the coastal town of Cala Fat, however there is no wind, just a large swell. We return to the harbor after about an hour and just sit on the boat and eat our sandwiches. It's then time for a dip in the Mediterranean Sea which is quite warm I couldn't come all this way and not have a swim. Then home, followed by a trip to the local bar and dinner and a movie Wednesday, 1 September, 2010
Our destination is Siurana, but along the way we stop in the old town of Falset for coffee, drive through the Priorat wine region and finally end up at this hilltop town. This was an old Moor fortress, built on top of a mountain that is today a rock climbing mecca. The story goes that rather than capitulate, the Moorish Queen rode
of the cliff to her death. Poor horse!!!
The village is spectacular and nothing is cordoned off, you can just creep slowly to the edge and look over the sides of these amazing drop-offs. I think that if this were anywhere else we would be fenced off. The day was quite overcast and my pictures are so, so, however it would be fantastic to visit again at sunrise or sunset. Another factoid about the area, supposedly the caves on the cliffs were used as Spanish Civil War hospitals, but I haven't been able to verify this.
On the way home we stop at an old Roman bridge. The stream has eroded the rocks and is quite lovely.
Oops, something to spoil the area, there is is a Nuclear plant on the Ebro River, so if you happen to catch a catfish, it will glow green. I think that this is the river that twas featured in the Robson Green show, Extreme Fishing, and he caught enormous catfish, now I know why.
In the evening we drive to a local bar for tapas and beer, what a great day out. Thursday, 2 September, 2010
Hermitage Font Caldo
Or at least the gorge near-by
& Mike drive me to the train station in Tarragona so that I can take me the Barcelona, it's full and people are pushing to get on. I end up standing for the 70 minute journey. The queuing theory is not alive and well in Spain, however people are helpful and point me to the correct Metro's so that I can reach Barcelona Nord bus station for my bus to Girona Airport. I make it to Girona airport with five hours to spare, eat and read my book before winging it to Marrakech. GONE TO MARRAKECH Thursday, 9 September, 2010 until Monday, 13 September
I'm back in Spain after a two hour flight with Ryan Air. It's 11.00pm and I take a bus into Barcelona. By the time I'm in Barcelona it is almost 1.00am and I don't have a hotel. Anyway, I hang out at the bus station for the night until 5.30am and then take the metro to Sants Estacio and a train to Tarragona. I arrive at 7.05am Friday morning and call Mike.
I spend the next four days just hanging out, eating, drinking and giving minor assists with the almond harvest.
On Saturday evening we visit British friends for a fine curry. Otherwise, it's just relaxing and enjoying the company of my friends.. Highlights are calamari and Jane's paella.
I have booked a Euro Lines bus ticket from Tarragona to Bordeaux for Monday evening 13th Sept. The bus arrives 1 hour late and finally makes it to Bordeaux 2 hours late.
A “very big thank you” to Jane and Mike for their wonderful hospitality..
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