This week, our final week of our three month journey in Spain and France, saw lots of swimming in the pool and the beach, lots of churros, some festivals, some big walks (for me), the football, lots of reading and readjusting to city/suburban life.
Here’s what we got up to in Week 13…
Where We Went…
Random Air Show at Mataro
On Sunday morning, we jumped on the train and headed a couple of stops south to Mataro where they were very generously hosting a free air show. And the place was packed. And the previously unsighted Spanish bogan was out in force (but of course, better dressed than the Australian version). Everyone was crowded onto the beach and with the sun out, I quickly lost my patience with the crowd and a little with my family. The F18 fighter jet arrived just in time, the beautiful sound soothing my soul and I returned to my usual ‘calm’ self. We followed the airshow with a little lunch in town and it made for a very nice day.
Tossa de Mar
We visited this town three years ago and thought it was worth another visit. It is stunning place, with a castle at one end and deep blue waters. We didn’t really do anything other than sit on the beach, swim, read and eat the beautiful sandwiches I had prepared…em, ham and cheese, anyone? I attempted a spot of paddle boarding, but the water was a bit choppy and the paddleboard had no fins, so I keep falling off (that was my excuse anyway). I think this was the last day the girls let us go to the beach as a family (I want the pool, sand is yuck, too much sun, were a few of the so called reasons).
This is an amazingly situated monastery, nestled amongst little rock peaks of the Montserrat range that I visited the week before hiking. This time, we took the express, the cable car to the top in 5 minutes. The girls loved the ride and I think this was probably the best part. The mini-city has catholic significance but no real significance for us. Brigit said ‘wouldn’t God prefer us to see the mountains and appreciate it’s beauty and not have all this stuff built over it.” I couldn’t agree more. At least the fog had cleared this week and we got to see all the beautiful peaks.
Lunch at Terracotta
On a wet day and after some retail therapy or depression (why do all shopping centres around the world feel exactly the same, just like airports…?), I found a little restaurant in a nearby village called Terracotta. It was a beauty. The wine was beautiful (although I probably didn’t need half a bottle at lunch) and food simply inspired. After some great starters, we had a ripping piece of aged beef, which you finished off on the stone grill at the table. So so succulent. Then the desserts just got better…with the chocolate coulant, perfection. With the girls also gobbling up everything and acting like little ladies, it was an unexpected perfect family lunch.
Churros at Mataro
I couldn’t help myself. With only a few days left in Spain, I started to panic about not being able to eat churros and it had been at least a month since my last tasting. After the big lunch above, Brigit dropped the girls and I in Mataro as she had some work calls to make. We headed to the beach for a play on the play equipment but it wasn’t long before I was pushing the girls (not very hard for once) in the search of the perfect churro. And boy, did we find it. This was a proper churros place, which basically just made churros. They were crunchy, super fresh and tasted of Spain dipped into proper hot chocolate. The girls destroyed them, so we had to get another serving, even though we had already had dessert with lunch. No complaints, especially with the bill totally €5 (yes that was 12 churros and a cup of pure hot chocolate). I am going to miss this place.
A final mountain hike (Turo de l’Home, 1703m)
I took one final hike in the mountains of Spain. I am going to miss them very much. Small and big, rolling and steep, rocky and green…so much variety and beauty. Started in a little town called Montseny before dawn with nice clear skies. I headed up and up in a dirt road through the forest as up above I could see that the clouds were closing in. Ah, well, it is still nice to be in this countryside and this is great fitness for my soon to be 40 year old body. As I neared the peak, it was a total whiteout, windy and getting a little chilly (don’t worry father, I had two jackets with me). 50m from the top, I saw a little glimpse of the surrounding hills through the clouds and I madly snapped photos. But also as if Spain wanted to give me one last show, the clouds cleared to reveal absolute beauty. Just so blessed, so lucky and so in love with the mountains. I saw another peak, so headed to that as well and turned my 10km hike into a 17km one. I was very sore, but a sneaky coffee and croissant, soothed me as always.
Camp Nou and a our last night in Barcelona
On our last full day in Spain, I finally got to go to a La Liga game. Chloe and I jumped on the train and headed to Camp Nou, to watch Barcelona play Las Palmas. It was a very entertaining game in front of a mostly American, English and Australian crowd…that is what is seemed like anyway. And Chloe amazingly made it through the game without me pulling out the iPhone. The massive hot dog (no sugar bun and boiled dog here) helped keep her entertained and she enjoyed looking at the crowd take photos of themselves.
Brigit and Zara joined us in town for dinner. We hit up this highly rated TripAdvisor place, where you the atmosphere was as good as a long supermarket checkout queue and service just slow. The food was pretty good, but so small, that we now realised why the Dominos pizza joint nearby was so busy. Luckily, we managed to salvage the situation and find another place nearby. A cool little wine bar, with great food, great atmosphere and room for the kids to run around on the street. The blood sausage was the best.
Then regrettably, I choose to take the girls to get ice cream. Not only was the ice cream not up to my high standards, the ice cream on Chloe’s cone was poorly constructed and one lick saw the giant ball in slow motion, splatter all over the ground. I still didn’t expect the episode to follow. People coming running out of bars as Chloe started yelling and screaming and basically losing the plot. After a few minutes of trying to help her calm down (that was Brigit of course), then was no other option than to pick her kicking and screaming. The 30-minute walk to the train was very very unpleasant and we thought we had lost our beautiful Chloe. Luckily the rush to get the final train, cleared her mind and it was back to beautiful hugs all the way home.
I think I managed to see the sunrise everyday while we were here from our balcony or out walking. It is such a nice way to wake up and welcome the beauty of another day into our lives. And luckily in Spain the sun wasn’t rising until about 7.30am. There were some beauties. Here are my favourites…
Catalonian Culture Lessons
It’s 9am – let’s open a bottle of vino, dear…(Brigit)
The first morning of our stay at the beach, we spotted a couple in the flats across us, eating their breakfast and drinking… wine. I was horrified. But, it wasn’t the last time I’d see it.
In fact, every morning I would go out for a beach-side walk at around 9am and every morning, in every restaurant I passed, I would see normal, ordinary, functional people drinking wine for breakfast. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not just a glass of wine, but a bottle. And not champas – white wine and red wine! Crazy!
…this is not 9am…
Our reflections of a three month trip…
As I have said many times on this blog, we are totally blessed to be living this life. Thanks to Brigit taking her business online and the rest of us willing to travel with each other for three months, we get to have these unique family adventures. As you aware from it is not all easy going, sitting in a hammock sipping cocktails stuff (sometimes it is a wine or beer instead). Travelling with kids and partners for an extended period or even a short period is going to have many moments of conflict when one’s expectations are not meet. Learning to let go of your expectations and the ability to accept what happens, really is a path to travel happiness and happiness in general, but this is a lot easy to say than to practice. The perfect travel day for me is very different to Brigit and different again to the girls. Like life it is all about balance, giving everyone an opportunity to experience what they want and being considerate of others and being patience. These are virtues that I would like to have, and hopefully I am moving very gently towards them. Thanks for following our journey, it has been a pleasure having you along for the ride and I hope that everyone can make their travel dreams come true.
The beach was the perfect place to spend our last 2 weeks. We chilled out, enjoyed the sun and just took it easy. It was a nice transition into heading back home because it also felt like home, but it was still Spain, of course.
I also found myself ramping up working a little more (hiring another 2 team members and working on a few projects for the business), which actually felt really good. Of course, there’s a balance between being ‘in the moment’ with the holiday and getting excited about business opportunities, but for the most part, it felt right. Again, another one of those transitions.
All in all, the time in Spain was amazing and it was most definitely what we were meant to do. I am forever grateful for the fact that we can travel freely and easily as a family, and absolutely love our lifestyle!
It is back to Melbourne for us, where Chloe will return to school after a term off. Brigit will continue her love affair with teaching people Tarot. Zara will be Zara. We are thinking of an acting school for her…entertaining others, even when they don’t want to be entertained seems to be her thing. I will continue to be the best dad and husband I can be and work on expanding my life as a graphic designer. There are no big family trips planned in the near future, but I am sure we will get itchy feet again soon. We are so blessed in this life.