Our week in Spain included time in Barcelona, Sant Feliu de Guixols, and Tarragona. Our time in Barcelona, was short, only a few hours waiting for the bus to Sant Feliu, during which time we saw the outside of the Sagrada Familia. Our next two towns were delightful, and definitely places to return to if and when we come back. My Spanish held up in a pretty comfortable way, and this time in Spain, we only rented a car for final portion (when we discovered the train tickets from Tarragona to Madrid were all sold out!).
1. Sant Feliu de Guixols and the Costa Brava
2. A weekend with the Franks
3. Spanish Classes for the masses in Tarragona
4. An European amusement park visit at PortAventura
1. Mosquitos at night
1. Sant Feliu de Guixols and the Costa Brava - We loved this town and the entire coastline. Our airbnb location was just a 5-minute walk from the beach and the boardwalk. The walking only city center was lovely. The beach was lovely. Trail "Cami de Ronda" was well marked, well travelled and made for an excellent morning hike, with dips in the ocean and view in the coves and cliffs. Our timing was great to get the good weather but avoid the high summer crowds. The size of the town (compared to the others we saw further north) was perfect, being small and cozy with no high-rise buildings or chain hotels to mar up the skyline.
2. A weekend with the Franks - We invited our good friends the Franks to visit us from France, and Todd and Linda drove down with their daughter Emily. We lived together for 4 years in Brunei, and we've visited them many times since. We had a grand time together, and I'm sure we'll get together again in the future.
3. Spanish Classes for the masses - We took some Spanish classes from English Tarragona, and Megan and I were in the advanced class, and Tera and Jacob were in the beginner class. The advanced teacher knew some of the same people that my sister taught when she was a missionary in Tarragona 35 years ago! Crazy coincidence. Tera and Jacob's teacher was a little more frustrating, but they enjoyed the classes overall. We took 3 mornings of class to pair with our sightseeing in the city.
4. A European amusement park visit at PortAventura - Our last full day in Tarragona, we took the bus out to the major amusement park PortAventura. It was an impressive place, with a wonderful amusement park Disney-ish feel, and the roller coasters were worth waiting for. Especially the 4th fastest roller coaster in the world at Ferrariland. I took a book and let the family ride all they wanted, while I read.
1. Mosquitos at night - One lowlight in Sant Feliu de Guixols were the mosquitos at night. The weather was so beautiful as to want the doors and windows open. But the mosquitos were annoying buggers that left us all with bites we didn't care for.
Friday June 2 – Sant Feliu de Guixols – What a delightful town this is! Our Airbnb was just a 3 minute walk from the beach boardwalk, and the main town beachside and walking squares. Today, we went on a hike along the Cami de Ronda to the Southwest of the town. We hiked a little over 4 miles, to the top of the hill to the Hermitage of Saint Elmo, and back down into town. We spent the rest of the day in the apartment catching up on all the wifi that we lacked on the cruise. Todd and Linda and Emily Franks arrived Friday evening and we went out to dinner.
Saturday June 3 – We got up early-ish, and Todd and Emily and Megan and Jacob and I jumped into the ocean and swam over to the beach, while Tera and Linda carried our stuff for us. Then we had breakfast in town, and began our walk to the northeast along the Cami de Ronda. We took our time and explored and stopped and sat and swam. We hiked for about 4 hours, and only got about 4 miles. We made it as far as Platja Sa Conca, and had lunch. Then Linda and Tera turned around and walked back, and Todd and I and the kids tried to take the bus back, and after 45 minutes of waiting, we simply called a taxi. We played games and had dinner in town that evening.
Sunday June 4 – We woke up and rented Kayaks to paddle around in the ocean and cliffs and coves and such, and then returned to check-out of the Airbnb and bid goodbye to the Franks, and grabbed the bus and then the train to Barcelona, then Tarragona. We took the AVE train which hit 300 km/hr (super-fast). And taxi-ed from the train station to our little Airbnb in the walking area of Tarragona, which was a wonderful place to be.
Monday June 5 – Tarragona - We walked about 10 minutes to English Tarragona, where we had 90 minutes of English lessons, in two groups, Tera and Jacob, and Dad and Megan. Afterwards, one of the Spanish teachers took us on a walking tour of Tarragona, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the apartment lounging and browsing and reading. Dad ran a 10k out and about in the city.
Tuesday June 6 – We repeated the morning, this time with 3 hours of class, then walked back by way of the main Cathedral and we entered and wandered. Then returned back to the Airbnb.
Wednesday June 7 – We repeated the morning again, and then took the bus up to see the Roman aquaduct. It was either incredible well restored, or really well preserved! After returning to the Airbnb, Dad and Mom took a 4-mile hike along the Cami de Ronda path along the beaches and coastline. Then Dad went back out with Megan to run a 5k into the heart of the city and back.
Thursday June 8 – We hopped on a bus that took us to Portaventura amusement park. It was mostly roller-coaster chasing, and we had a great time on the big ones. We also saw a couple of shows with some amazing acrobatic work. In the early evening, we went over to the Ferrariland park to ride the 4th fastest roller coaster in the world. Then we took the bus back home.
Friday June 9 – We met the (4) Tarragona sister missionaries for a breakfast of Churros and Hot Chocolate, then Erik when to go get the rental car and we drove to Madrid, about a 6 hour drive. We stopped in Alcala de Henares, the birthplace of Cervantes, and walked around the old city for about 45 minutes. What an incredibly charming town, like most towns in Europe honestly. Then we drove into Madrid, found our Hostel, and Tera, Erik and Jacob went back out for a chicken paella dinner.
Saturday June 10 - Madrid - We went to the Prado Museum for the morning and walked through some Madrid plazas, and drove to the temple to have a look and then drove to the airport to fly to Malta