Jet Lag! Barcelona, Spain to Aix-En-Provence, France

April 11-17, 2012

Barcelona, home to the crazy architecture of Antoni Gaudi and the Modernista movement.

Impulse trip to Europe!


First stop: Barcelona, which we missed back in 2007 when we spent three weeks traveling across Spain.



We are heavily jet-lagged the first night for dinner together with our 2009 Mongolia travel buddy Dominique, and finally we meet his wonderful partner, Ammal.






Goudy, at Gaudi's Dragon Gate.




Gaudi started construction on the La Sagrada Familia in 1883 and continued working on it until his death in 1926.  Still under construction, expected completion is 2026!



Catenary arches under the terrace of Casa Milà.




Casa Milà, built between 1906 and 1912, es fantástico!



"Everything comes from the great book of nature." -Antoni Gaudi



Parc Güell was a tad mobbed by turistas on our day there...





Traveling an hour northeast by train from Barcelona we arrive at Girona, an ancient, walkable, rainy city known for its delicious Catalan food, swarms of bicyclists (Was that Lance Armstrong?), and easy access to the Costa Brava.






Liza finds her car, a shiny new Fiat 500, and we drive it northwest to the town of Cadaques, situated on a rocky promontory along the Mediterranean coast. After a windy hike at Cap de Crues (easternmost part of Spain) we discover Casa Dali -- Salvador Dali's home and now museum in Portlligat. The tour through the house where he lived for 50 years is a magical mystery tour par excellence.



“Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure -- that of being Salvador Dali.


At the age of six I wanted to be a cook. At seven I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since.




Take me, I am the drug; take me, I am hallucinogenic.” -Salvador Dali



The TGV takes us past the snowy Pyrenees, through the lush farmland of southern France to Aix-En-Provence. Packed with foreign exchange students and a bit touristy, Aix is a beautiful old city that seems quintessential Provence. We have another apartment rented through airbnb, and revel at the Tuesday market -- the bread, the wine, the cheese!
Mark wants one! The Twizy is Renault's first electric vehicle...

Aix was also the birthplace and home to the Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. We visit his studio, and walk to a viewpoint of Montagne Sainte Victoire, to get a sense of the place where he painted during the last five years of his life.


"Art is a harmony parallel with nature. For an Impressionist to paint from nature is not to paint the subject, but to realize sensations." -Paul Cézanne


Infinity (2010), Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Along the road between Aix-En-Provence and Digne-Les-Bains, is the Château La Coste, a vineyard and winery scattered with outdoor sculpture and art installations. When we arrive, the parking lot is nearly empty and we don't see anyone else as we wander the grounds and explore some inspired sculpture works. It feels like this place is yet to be discovered...
Drop (2009), Tom Shannon.










The Oak Room (2009), by Andy Goldsworthy, is entered by a mysterious portal built into a long stone wall that emerges from the earth. Inside is a circular subterranean room with a domed ceiling, built entirely with oak limbs. Now we're primed for our next adventure in Digne...