Friday, May 22, 2015

Final Day of the Circumnavigation of the Iberian Peninsula


Thursday, 21 May, 2015:

DAY XVII OF THE CIRCUMNAVIGATION
OF THE IBERIAN PENINSULA

Our great driving adventure was coming to a close but we still had one more day to enjoy the scenic beauty of Spain's Mediterranean coast.

Morning in Tarragona

Miami Beach?

Strong winds make driving near
large trucks exciting
  
Hillside haciendas

Building that wall must
have been a chore

Hilltop fortresses are everywhere

As are small farm outbuildings

Closer to Murcia . . .

 Nice finca

 The sunny coast of Spain

The church tower is usually the
tallest building in a Spanish town

Chapel

Fortress orchard

Closer to Murcia . . .

 Map at our Rest Stop

I need one of these in English

Turret by the A-7 highway

Strange goats

Closer to Murcia . . . 

One of Spain's many well
maintained highways

Love this juice company

But why is the sign's message all in English?

 Nesting cars?

 Little villages are a joy

Closer to Murcia . . . 

Old wall

Cow crossings are always
an issue in España

Random farmhouse

It's getting drier the
farther South we go

REALLY closer to Murcia . . . 

We were hungry and the thriving metropolis of Yecla was the next town on the highway, so we pulled off the road.

Yecla's Plaza de Toros

It's only 25 years old

 Plaza de Toros
Dedication Plaque

Ticket Booth on the Shady Side
of the Plaza de Toros

Lunch at the bar next door to
Yecla's Plaza de Toros

Interesting Motif

We liked their dual image logo

The food here was both good and hearty campesino fare.

 Less than an hour to go

 Abandoned, what if it
could tell us its story?

 Olive orchard

 More hilltop fortresses

 Imposing hill

A sleeping dragon?

 Almost home . . .

 Closer . . .

WE DID IT!!!

Laurie and I were together, in a car, for 17 days and did not kill each other!

Granted, in large part this was due to the gun purchasing laws in Spain, Portugal and France, which are much more stringent than those in the USA.

During our odyssey, we covered a whopping 3,156 miles/5.080 kilometers.

We enjoyed stops in the amazing cities of Nerja, Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Lisbon, Espinho, Santiago de Compostela, Avilés, Gijón, Llanes, Guernica, San Sebastian, St-Jean-de-Luz, Toulouse, Narbonne, Aix-en-Provence, Écully, Lyon, Pont du Gard, Le-Grau-de-Roi, Aigues-Mortes, Tarragona and, yes, even Yecla before returning to Murcia.

We saw incredible sights, ate fabulous food and rekindled friendships all over these three charming countries.

Unbelievably, when I weighed in this morning after all of this vacation madness, I had actually lost 0.6 kilos, about one pound!

Will wonders never cease in the EuroBall experience?

Now we are down to our last few days in Murcia before finally returning to California via Madrid. Lots of packing and goodbyes ahead of us here, but a lot of family and friends back home that we sorely miss too.

Coaching the 2015 Murcia Cobras was another GREAT EuroBall experience to be sure!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We Return to Spain, the Road to Tarragona


Wednesday, 20 May, 2015:

DAY XVI OF THE CIRCUMNAVIGATION
OF THE IBERIAN PENINSULA

We were on the road early (for us) today as we said adieu to Le-Grau-du-Roi in particular and France in general.

Our next stop was going to be the sunny Mediterranean city of Tarragona, Spain.

A Spanish city, chock full of Roman ruins, is just what we needed. 

We needed a few last FRENCH
croissants and pain au chocolates too!

 Let the lush scenery begin again

 We are near Perpignan
at the bottom of this map of France

 Today's first goal city was Barcelona.
It is Barcelone in French.

 FOLLOW THAT TRUCK!

We should be back in La Hacienda on Thursday afternoon.

Just another French village

Never been to Andora

Maybe another spontaneous detour was called for on this glorious day.

Last rest stop in France
  
HOLA ESPAÑA!!!

Spain has random castles too

Last chance for Andorra

We agreed that the extra four hours of driving was not necessary at this late point of the Circumnavigation.

Laurie agreed 100%. Me, not so much.

We pushed onward to our goal city. 

Tarragona it was -- almost there!

Our hotel is about a two minute
walk from the Med

Sant Jordi in Catalan
is St. George in English

 My mother would LOVE this hotel

The view from our balcony

Since it was a bit late for the beach, we opted to drive into Tarragona's city center/Roman ruins.

 The Romans founded the city of
Tarraco here in 218 B.C.

In 25 B.C., Augustus made this city of over 200,00 people (more than its current population) the capital of all of his new Tarraconensis province which roughly covered all of what is now Spain.

Not graffiti from Roman times
  
New wall, Roman wall
  
 Tarragona's University

 Love going uphill

Not Roman old but still
old nonetheless

Classic French car in Spain

Tarragona's spectacular Cathedral

The Cathedral is a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles and is incredibly huge inside.

Old arches

What went here back in the day?

 Nice window

 Centurions of Christianity

Too bad it wasn't raining

 Oversized Holy Water font

 Sparkling Window

Sant Jordi in action

 Interesting Cross

Gold is good

 Ancient Mural

Me . . .

. . . and my shadow!!!

Weaving and Stained Glass
  
Mary, Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Adoring the baby Jesus and the BVM

 An unknown but surely
important bishop

 Lion on guard with . . .

 . . . an Angel as backup

 How do you feel about slaying demons?

 Oh, I see . . .

Rapt attention

The Annunciation

No guess on this one

GREAT ceiling!!!

YIKES!!!

Holy Mother of . . .

A bit ostentatious for me

Even the Cathedral's floor
was outstanding!

 Above the Main Altar

 How long did this take to build?

 Classic Dome

The Assumption

That is Laurie in the pink sweater.
I told you that this Cathedral
was HUGE!!!

More ornate floor patterns

Truly a magnificent structure. We were both glad that we entered as the exterior really gave no clue as to the wonders inside the Cathedral.

The flag symbolizing many Catalans'
desire to separate from Spain

Reminiscent of many of the murals
on buildings in Lyon, France

 People actually now live inside
the Roman walls, from the looks of it

Really, really old

 Late lunch break

Such a relaxing little spot. Luck favored us one more time.

I like the painted poles that help
keep cars away from pedestrians

Comte is one of my favorite French cheeses

Ben Todd would smile at this

Tarragona is a colorful city

 Ancient spigots

The old Roman Marketplace

 Part of a long forgotten building
on the Fòrum Provincial

 Typical narrow streets

Chocolate is any language is GOOD!

Another of Laurie's doors

The sky was amazingly blue today

 Andy, Jenn and Kevin live in Las Vegas

Nevada that is, not this bar in Tarragona.

Leaving the old Roman Quarter

Jesus is always BIG in Spain

 The Med looked great
from the Roman walls

 Meanwhile, we went back to our hotel
in order to . . .

. . . check out our nearby beach

Another remarkable day on the road. The Circumnavigation will be complete tomorrow.


Final Circumnavigation Tour Stop: Murcia, Spain