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A rolling stone gathers no moss, but sure gets dirty!

Written by Jeff Drake
10 · 18 · 19

Well, in yet another clear case of “life interruptus,” my hopes for finishing my Alva Noe consciousness blog before leaving on our next overseas adventure have been dashed. Why? Because I was too damned lazy and besides, we are off to Europe tomorrow!

Amazingly, it has already been two years since we traveled to Switzerland and Italy with our good friends, Mike and Denise. And we are traveling with them once again, this time to France and Barcelona! We’ve got a travel plan packed chock full of adventures.  Our trip includes 6 days in Roussillon (a town in the Vaucluse department); a 1-day visit to the ancient fortress at Carcassonne and 5 days in Sarlat-la-Canéda (both are located in the Dordogne department). To the French, departments are the second-tier level of administrative government under regions, which are all under the national level. We’re renting a VRBO house in Roussillon and a charming B&B in Sarlat. In Barcelona we’re staying in a nice hotel in the el Born neighborhood, which is also next door to the Gothic neighborhood. Great food, great wine, great sites!

We already have tickets to a number of events and sites that we will be visiting. Research uncovered numerous warnings about trying to get into some of these places at the last minute. The ticket lines can take as long as two hours! No thank you! So, we booked in advance.

We’re going to attempt another truffle hunt! The truffle hunt we did in Italy was okay, but a bit of a bust. The land was ravaged with drought and nary a truffle was found. The dogs kept trying to run home in disgust. LOL! This time, however, we are more hopeful. The farm where we will be hunting truffles guarantees finding them (there is a small oak forest on their land) and includes a good meal (with truffles) and wine. I’m curious about the quality of the truffles. A pound of quality truffles can run $3,000 or more. I’ll be glad to get a taste!

We’re also dedicating a day to Vincent Van Gogh. We’ll be visiting Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence. This place looks like it is going to be quite “trippy”! We’ll also see the monastery where Van Gogh went slowly crazy. It’s supposed to be a cool experience because you can look out the windows and see some of the scenery that he painted.

There will, of course, be lots of Roman ruins to visit, including ancient monasteries and churches. Just last year we were in Portugal and Spain and got a look at an amazing Roman aqueduct. We’ll get a chance to see another one at Pont-du-Gard in Nimes. It’s still standing and is supposed to be even better than the one in Lisbon, which is mind-boggling, because that was spectacular.

Of course, a trip to Provence wouldn’t be complete without doing the traditional Cotes du Rhone wine driving tour (with visits to a few choice wineries)! So, that is on our agenda. Naturally, Trump saw fit to impose tariffs on French wine just as we arrive. Otherwise, it is supposed to be rather inexpensive to ship wine home from France. I’ll look into it, but I’m not hopeful. That said, we will certainly drink our fill, as the wine in France is all good!

Our house in Roussillon is near two very scenic places, the Verdon Gorge and the Ochre Trail. I am really looking forward to some wonderful photo opportunities!

There will also be a number of wonderful markets to visit everywhere we go, which is something we really love to do.

When we are in Sarlat we plan on visiting Josephine Baker’s Chateaux des Milandes. If you think this name sounds familiar, it should. We’ll also visit the famous Lascaux cave paintings in Montignac. Sadly, the crowds were too much for the health of the paintings, so they built a huge replica of the caves and paintings for us tourists. Not the same, of course, but looking at the pictures and Youtube, it still looks very impressive.

After France, we’re off to Barcelona for four days. Coincidentally, I just finished a book by Dan Brown, titled “Origins.” Remember him from “The Da Vinci Code”? This puzzle-solving adventure is located in Spain with much of the action taking place in Barcelona. One thing I love about his books is that while the basic plot is fiction, he always blends so much history and fascinating facts into his books. I always learn something! I think it was Timothy Leary who coined the term, “faction”, to describe a blend of fact and fiction. I think of Dan Brown’s books as faction. In any event, he has given me a perspective on some of the historical sites we’ll be visiting that I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere.

We’re going to do a Barcelona flamenco show! This will be Mike and Denise’s first flamenco show and our second. We watched a wonderful Flamenco show in Seville during our first visit to Spain way back in 1991 (this is our third trip to Spain. We love this country!). Lisa researched the reviews and locale and this is going to be quite a wonderful event, I think! The flamenco show, called “Gran Gala Flamenco” takes place in a visually stunning theater named, “la Musica Catalana Theatre.” Check out that venue! Yow!

No visit to Barcelona would be complete without seeing some of the amazing sites in the city, many of which owe their existence to a famous architect named, Antoni Gaudí. Places like Casa Batllo, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell.

I suspect this trip may be one that we won’t want to end!

Stay tuned!

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Jeff Drake

Retired IT consultant, world-traveler, hobby photographer, and philosopher.
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