So, after breaking my camera we made the executive decision to not replace it in Spain due to cost. We figured we would have a chance to look in the US where the cost would be more to our liking. After looking around at our options, I decided to get the same one I had just broken. I couldn’t find it in a shop so I ended up ordering it from Amazon.com and having it shipped here for $12 shipping. That is still a $188 savings over the duty-free cost here!
From Valencia we drove up the coast of Spain to a beachside town called Benicasim. It was more of a stopover point rather than a destination for us. The hotel looked decent online, but once we showed up, not so good. First of all reception had no record of our reservation and had to figure out where to put a family of four. Once that was sorted, two floors up she told us that the owners hadn’t paid the inspection fee for the lift so we would have to carry our bags up. Breakfast consisted of a prepackaged chocolate croissant and rubbish coffee. Also, the hotel was non-smoking but the pregnant receptionist and her boyfriend chain-smoked the whole time and smoke wafted up the steps where it could be smelled everywhere. I am sure glad we only had one night–and that it was cheap.
From Benicasim we drove up to Sitges, just south of Barcelona, where we stayed three nights. We took the main road, but stopped off to see things along the way. We attempted to see Pobles, a monastery, but it was closed January 1. We stopped off anyway and had a look around outside and got some fresh air. The region was beautiful and we loved touring through the area wishing we had more time!
We really only had two days to explore since we got in late the first night and our flight was leaving super early the third morning. Our hotel was really nice, at the very end of the promenade of Sitges. We spent our first whole day exploring the town of Girona which is northeast of Barcelona. Our original plan was to go much further, not realising the distances involved. Girona was a very pleasant surprise and actually one of the highlights of our trip. Girona
The next day was our day to explore Barcelona. After a drive into the city the day before we were a bit overwhelmed by the city. So much to see, too little time. Even in January it was completely overrun by tourists. It was also our last day of “holiday” per se. It was the last day of our European excursion and felt a little bit sad about it. Barcelona was too much to take in. Instead we spent much of our day walking the promenade of Sitges all the way from our hotel into the town and back. Once we got back to our hotel we packed up and drove into Barcelona to see Sagrada Familia at night. Simply Amazing. After seeing it so many times on telly and in magazines I thought I would have some familiarity. Nope. The place is massive. So much to see on it. I could have spent hours just looking at it and photographing it. After picking up a quick dinner we drove up to the tallest mountain in the area overlooking Barcelona. There is an amusement park up there and a church you can see for miles. The hill, Tibidabo, has the Sagrat Cor built on the top of it. It took nearly 60 years to built the church. Anyway, we couldn’t go in or anything, just wanted to see the city from the hill and the church that we could see for miles.
Once we got home we started the packing process again. It is never fun to get organised for an international flight with two kids. We also had to be up around 4am to be sure to leave the hotel 6ish for our 8am flight to Münich and then on to Charlotte, NC.
To be continued…(I may have some photos of the rest of the trip soon. Tom got the photos off of his Blackberry today, now I need to get them somehow).