Last days before the trail
Jennifer started the day with her first full board meeting while traveling. Luckily it started at 8:30am Spain time so want too painful. But as that took up half the day, we had a very lazy day around the resort. Meals with Bob and Anna and cocktails by the beach we’re all very relaxing.
We drove north through about 20km of constant hairpin bends above the Mediterranean to a small town were we were met by Marcelo and his boat. From there we set off down the coast, skirting the cliffs we’d driven along but this time of deep green waters and looking up at the fabulous houses perched on the cliff-edges. We stopped in a couple of secluded bays for swimming, diving, and snorkeling. The water was incredibly clear and warm – just perfect really.
After a lunch of bread and jamón in a park, we drove on up into the hills to the town of Pals. Pals is a hill-top town with winding cobblestone streets, surmounted by a tall tower with enormous views of the surrounding country. There’s a church dating back to the 9th century; and a shop selling rather excellent ice-creams.
After exploring Pals we drove back to the coast to a lovely cove where a restaurant has terraces almost at the edge of the sea. The catch of the day could hardly have been more fresh. Ana, Bob and their friends have been incredibly good hosts and we’ve found places and food we’d have been unlikely to stumble upon without them – as well as great company.
A pleasant, lazy morning swimming in the Med was followed by lunch with everyone else and then we said our goodbyes and headed off to Barcelona.
The drive into Barcelona was about as stressful as you’d expect driving on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country but paled against navigating five incredibly tight floors of a parking lot to return the car. I had researched the car return and was somewhat disconcerted to find most of the recent reviews involved people getting mugged upon returning or picking up car, so we departed the drop-off looking like meerkats watching out for passing lions. But all was fine and we were soon a very nice hotel near the train station.
A short walk took us to us to the huge Montjuïc park which turned out to be stuffed full of Ukrainians celebrating their national day. The views of Barcelona from the top,of Montjuïc are fabulous. It was only a short walk back to the Plaza España where a former bullring has been converted into a shopping mall. The top terrace has great views of Barcelona and a range of restaurants where we had beers and tapas for dinner.
We had breakfast of coffee and a bocadillo in a little cafe we were led to by google reviews. Then it was on the train to Pamplona. Two things stand out about the train. The first is it operates as a train should – in other words it’s faster than a car – so we were hurtling along perfectly smoothly at 300kph. The second is we passed some amazing countryside with aqueducts in the valleys, castles on hilltops, and fields of corn and olive trees.
Our hotel in Pamplona looks out on the bull-running street and was used by Hemingway – so we are definitely in the Pamplona vibe. While there are no bulls to be seen, by 8pm the street was heaving with locals and visitors having drinks and pintas. We ran the crowds to practice pointing at interesting food. While my Spanish is fine for talking to people, food has way too many technical terms to understand the response – so pointing. We had meat and fish things in a couple of bars on the street and then desert in a bar on the main square while watching men in red berets playing a very basque fife and drum.
We’re getting so very close to the Camino now and excitement is rising.