I just returned yesterday from a whirlwind vacation that landed me in 5 cities and 2 countries!! It was a blast and a great way to end the year and start a new one! The day after Christmas my dad arrived in Logroño and we prepared to leave the next day on a road trip out east to visit some of the coastal cities and Barcelona! We rented a car to drive over to Girona where we would be staying for two days before going to Barcelona!
We got to Girona in the late afternoon and we toured around to see what we could before it got too dark! We walked through the beautiful Jewish quarter as well as along the river! It was a lot different from what I had originally expected it to be like! We also checked out the Christmas markets and the main plaza downtown!
The following day we planned to do two road trips! We traveled first to Roses. This is a small coastal town north of Girona. It was recommended by Mercedes and Eduardo so we thought we should check it out! It was really beautiful and neat to drive around the mountainous villages to get great views! Unfortunately since it was off season there were not very many people out and about and not a whole lot open! We managed to walk around the main center of town and then later drove up to the top of the mountain to visit some ruins and hike around! We had this great view!
After our tour of the city we stopped to tour a bodega on our way out! We ended up getting some advice from the owner to visit another costal town called Cadaques. So we decided to head there for lunch! It ended up being so cute and quaint and definitely worth the windy mountain drive!
Then it was on to Barcelona! We drove about two hours to our hotel and then took off to the city for some exploring! Our first stop was the much anticipated Sagrada Familia! It is one thing to see the outside as it is one of the most famous cathedrals in Spain but to go inside was something else! It like nothing I imagined it would be…so unbelievable! The work is impressive and to think it’s not even near being finished yet…
We also walked around the gothic quarter of Barcelona and found many tiny twisty roads to get lost in! We eventually made it to the place my parents have been talking about since last year when they visited Barcelona. A bar owned a man named Santi! They had been dying to go back so we found it and stopped for a drink! We also walked around Las Ramblas to check out the shopping street with the famous name!
On our last day in Barcelona we first did a hike up to Park Guell! We stopped and got some breakfast to eat up in the park! We got some great views of the city from the top! The park was nice and a lot bigger than I imagined! We wandered through most of it checking out another one of Gaudi’s famous works and even ran into a roll tide family…haha! Later we headed towards the boardwalk area to visit the beach and the waterfront of Barcelona! Fish and gelato were on the menu that night 🙂
Then it was time to say goodbye to my family because their vacation was ending but mine was just getting started! Bright and early we headed to the airport and I caught a flight to Paris to meet up with two of my friends! I arrived in Paris and was to meet my two friends in the Sheraton Hotel in the airport! I made it to the hotel and waited for a good hour or so before I began to panic that I was not going to be able to find them! But eventually I met up with them and we were picked up by our friend George 🙂 he drove us to his village outside of France for a customary longggggg European lunch! We then got a driving tour of Paris before he dropped us off at our apartment in the city! We got settled into our apartment and then quickly got ready because it was New Years Eve and we were ready to celebrate because we were in PARIS!!! With a bottle of champagne, some glasses, and warm gear we began our adventure out into the city to find a place to celebrate! We ended up near the Eiffel Tower but boy was it crowded!! Right after midnight we began our adventure home!! Everyone was cold and wet and we didn’t feel like spending anymore time surrounded by crowds out in the cold! We attempted to take the metro home but…the metro was free all night, and we were in one of the most popular spots in the whole city…so it didn’t go as planned! After about 2 hours or so we eventually made it home all in one piece but that’s not to say we all weren’t traumatized a little!! Happy to be home we made some dinner and hung out for a while before getting ready for our first sigh seeing day in Paris!
We walked around the city before we spotted one of those tour buses that takes you around the city and you can hop on and off! We decided this would be fun to do so we hopped on to begin our tour! Our first stop off the tour was in the Montmartre neighborhood! We got off here to explore the Sacre Coeur and the bohemian neighborhood! We climbed up all the way to the top of the hill where the basilica is and got a great view of Paris!
We hopped on the bus later to explore more of the city and on our way we saw a Chipotle!! We could not believe it!! Sadly it wasn’t open because it was New Year’s Day but we knew we would eventually go back there before we left! We continued exploring and saw the Lourve and the Tuileries gardens! Lucky for us it was the nicest day we had in Paris!!
We hopped back on the bus one last time for a nigh time ride around the Champs Elysees! The best part was that while we were riding the bus down this famous street we got to listen to a wonderful song that sang about the Champs Elysees through the bus speakers and it just made the experience that much better! Feel free to check out the song here and pretend you are in Paris driving down the street! The street is filled with Christmas markets where you can find just about anything!
We began our day by heading to one of the indoor markets in the city to pick up some breakfast and then we headed for another bus tour of some areas we hadn’t seen before in Paris! We saw the Pantheon, the University, and the Latin quarter.We got off around lunch time and found a cute Thai place for lunch! Paris was all about eating the exotic foods we are not so privileged too in Logro! That afternoon we took the bus down the Champs Elysees one more time…honestly just to listen to our favorite song and this time got out near the Arc de Triumph and went underneath it for some great views!
In front of Champs Elysees!
Our last stop of the night was to Laduree for the famous macaroons! The place was extremely crowded and we had to wait in the line but these cookies were worth it!! We got 8 different flavors and later that night divided them all up so everyone could try each one! It was my first time ever having macaroons and they were delicious!!
It was time for a day trip out to Versailles to see the palace! we got up early to make sure we could beat the crowds but ended up spending a lot of time confused in route as we had to take the metro and train to get there! But we made it…and there weren’t that many long lines so no worries! The place was FULL of tourists but that’s what we get for traveling around the holidays! It didn’t really stop us from enjoying the elaborate palace and gardens! Unfortunately nothing was working in the gardens and there were not any beautiful flowers but we still got to take in the beautiful landscape and the large size of the place! After we toured the palace we walked around and saw Marie Antoinette’s estate which was also beautiful! They weren’t joking when they said you can spend 5 hours + visiting everything!
Outside the front of the Palace
After our tour we headed back to the city and went to Chipotle for lunch!! It was everything we hoped it would be and some of the workers were even American! We were all a little terrified about the idea of having to order our lunch in french at an American chain! Later we wanted to walk around the Latin quarter to experience it at night! Since this is one of the most hopping areas of town there is a lot going on and a lot to see! This area is where all the students live and it also has a million different restaurants and bars!
Our last day in Paris we decided to go on two walking tours! The first tour was through the Montmartre district! This is the bohemian neighborhood which is home to the Moulin Rouge! Our tour guide was great and a local that lived in the area so she took us to many local places and filled us in on something interesting I don’t think we would’ve ever noticed ourselves! Throughout this district there is a lot of street art all over the walls and on the sides of buildings and its very neat! In this neighborhood there are lots of art studios and this is where a lot of the artists live.
Street in Montmartre
Later we headed over to Notre Dame where our second tour was supposed to meet. This tour was of the Latin Quarter…or the left bank. This tour was also great because we saw many things we had never seen before! These included the Pantheon, the oldest church in Paris, the University, and the oldest tree in Paris! We also learned that this district is where most of the students live and they often live in the apartments on the very top floor. They are generally very tiny and can cost 600 euros a month!! Yikes! After our tour we met up with a friend of Emily who lives in France. She took us to a popular crepe and gelato place! I finally got to eat the french crepe I had been dying to have the whole trip!! It was so delicious! Sadly that was the end of our trip to the city of lights! Although we were sad to leave…we couldn’t believe how ready we were to hear Spanish again and to be able to understand the simple things of everyday life! I never thought I would say that but after being surrounded by french for 5 days we were more than ready!
Now its back to Logroño for the spring! Only five more months here in Spain! I know they are going to fly by!!