Fri 13 Apr 2012
Two weeks after St. Patrick's, Mom arrived.. well in Paris. So we had a little scheduling issue.. We planned our first day of adventures on the day of a country-wide strike in Spain. Mom's flight was supposed to connect in Paris and take her to Bilbao, but she got stuck in Paris, and me stuck at the Holiday Inn in Bilbao. After a stressful day of trying to change her tickets and communicate with no phones, we worked it out so that we met in Madrid the next day. What a relief it was when we finally saw eachother!
From Madrid, we made our way to Lisbon, Portugal. Our stay was perfect, just the right amount of time, not to rushed, and not too long (can vacation ever be too long?) However, 5 out of our 6 nights were spent in hostals right above bars (a jazz club, and then an Irish pub). But I mean.. I can't complain, we were in Portugal. We started out a few days in Lisbon. We explored the city, which included a trip to the Gulbekian museum (hope I am spelling that right) and the castle of Sao Jorge/Saint George.
There was somewhat of a parade going on while we were there...
a piece in the Gulbekian
We took a 40 minute train to Sintra, a beautiful, and most definitely, tourist spot. There was lots to see, but we spent most of our time exploring the streets on our own. We did try to hike up to this amazing Moorish castle which was WAYYY high up on a hill top. When we started, we knew the castle gates had already closed, so we just enjoyed the beautiful, mystical, magical hike on the way up.
And the walk through the fairy forest...
The next few days we spent in Cascais, a town right on the coast. I think this stay was the most relaxing. We toured the town by bike, did some shopping and site seeing, and spent some time just hanging out on the beach.
Boca del Infierno
An outdoor gym.. I would totally use one of these!
We spent our last night back in Lisbon, where we saw more sites and picked up some souvegneirs (don't know how to spell souveiners..) Our hostal was awesome on this night. They made us dinner for a small price, and we enjoyed a traditional Portuguese meal with other travelers. And finally, we weren't sleeping above a music blasting bar! We got some sleep before we headed back to San Sebastian.
Monument of the Discoveries
Torre de Belem
We had a few days in San Sebby before we took off for France. I showed mom some of the city, the beach. We hiked up Mount Urgull and went out to pintxos! We went to Easter Sunday mass at Buen Pastor Cathedral, and then we picked up our rental car and headed north, to the south of France!
After eating out so much, we decided to do a little home cookin!
The drive was longer than we anticipated, but absolutely gorgeous. The countryside was sweet and magical. Green lands spotted with yellow mustard fields.. beautiful castles and cathedrals in the center of old charming homes and villages. Later that night we made it to Avignon, where we spent the following day. We lucked out with gorgeous warm weather, and enjoyed wandering inside the walls of the city.
The Pope's Palace
Gardens near Pope's Palace
The next day, we drove back and stopped in Arles and Carcassone on the way. Carcassone was a really neat place, somewhere I'd definitely go back to.
Ampitheater in Arles
I saw Mom off at the Bilbao airport yesterday... Sad to see her go and realize my spring break was coming to an end! But it was a wonderful way to spend it, and I felt like we got to see alot!
Now for songs of the moment... On our road trip, I got to hear a lot of French music! So I will share some of my favorites:
Des Ricochet -Cool collaboration that is part of a UNICEF project
Elle Me Dit -Catchy song which translates to something about dancing and not wasting life away! Plus the video is really fun
Je L'aime a Mourir/La Quiero a Morir -A beautiful song by Shakira, sung and Spanish and French... Love her!