A Travellerspoint blog

Hola from Spain

From top to bottom and back

sunny 20 °C

Since the last entry we've seen all shades of Spain and loved them all. San Sebastain (San Ban), would have to be the foodie capital of the world and there are more Michelin stars here per sqm than anywhere else. We were absolutely in our element roaming from one amazing tapas experience to the next through the energy filled cobble stone lanes of this seaside town. Thanks to our friends at Pension Bella Artes for all your tips.

We left the coast to head across to Zaragoza and down to the metropolis of Madrid. Our GPS didn't seem up to speed with Madrid traffic conditions so it took us 2 hours to get to our hotel. This gave us a really good look at this bustling city at night, full of people, monuments, fountains, cafes and bars. We ventured out and got into a bit of this Madrid nightlife via the San Migual market. We arrived at 11pm to see this in full flight with food, wine, beer and produce. There're not joking when they say that everything happens late here in Spain. It was still going strong when we left after midnight.

Through the following day we saw the palace, the Museo del Prado and the peaceful Parque del Ben retiro. At the latter we took occasion to gently row around the estanque lake and take in the sun. This mild exertion set us up for siesta time before we took on one of the best Paella restaurants in the city. A big tick off the food list here with a wonderful seafood paella.

From Madrid we headed south and were blown away with the mix of endless olive groves, jagged mountains, Islamic architecture and simple delicious food. As you head south, you can definitely see the increasing influence of Islam dating back to the 8th century and feel the 700 year struggle with Christianity over this peninsula. While the Christians won in the end, they couldn't remove the traces in the buldings or food and this culture seems stronger than ever. Cordoba gave us song in the streets, flower boxes and bull's tail stew; Seville showed us the power and passion of flamenco; and the beautiful hill top town of Grenada transported us back to Damascus.

A long drive up the coast to Valencia for a pit stop and their famous oranges brings us to Barcalona in Catalunya. A wander down one of Europe's busiest parades in La Rambla, lunch and a siesta was a perfect lead into a highlight on our wedding wishing well - watching Barcalona FC play Malaga at Nou Camp. A great crowd full of song, waving banners and flags delivered the home team to 4-1 win (capped off with a Messi hat trick, 2 direct penalties and one majestic chip over the keeper, to regather and slot home!!). Late night tapas capped off great night.

We head back into the south of France for a few days before Italy - can't wait. There are some updated photos on the right hand panel under 'more photos'. Hope all is well and keep in touch.
Buenos Dias xx

Posted by cpleehoneymoon 01:53 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Across the Pyranees

North to south of France and into Spain

semi-overcast 16 °C

Paris got us off to a great start and it just keeps getting better. We picked up the car in the centre of Paris and decided to do a few laps of the Arc de Triomphe to test out my European driving. Test passed, we headed to the Champagne region and Reims. Catching a tour at Mumm gave us a new appreciation for how real grand crus champagne is made and a chance to taste some of the best examples.

From here we headed north into Normandy to see where the boys landed on d-day. While we're a generation removed and the event has been stylized by Spielberg, standing on the sand is both a somber and inspiring experience. From Omaha Beach we moved west to Mont St. Michel, easily one of the most spectacular slights on the planet. While driving through Norman farmland, she appears on the horizon like a fantasy novel castle. A towering cathedral and battlements rising vertically out of the mud flats makes for a breathtaking scene only matched by walking around it and taking in the view.

Moving south, we entered the Loire Valley and the home of the Chateau. We saw grand and austere, but the favourite was Azay-le-Rideau, a stunning 16th century Chateau surrounded by moat lake, a bubbling river and lush gardens. Winning the European lottery and calling this our weekender is now the plan.

Further south brings us to a favourite so far, the Bordeaux wine region. We got out of the main towns and stayed in a little hilltop B&B / private house at Pujols with home cooked meals and local wine (thanks Jonica for the tip). This was our launching pad to explore the wineries of St.Emilion, taste great wine and meet passionate people.

Overall, the French countryside is stunning, from rolling hills in the north to multi-coloured forrests in the middle and old vine fields in the south. The people have also been much friendlier than we expected, more open and accommodating than their reputation would suggest. We only saw that French 'assertiveness' when an English speaking tourist wanted something in a hurry and got frustrated that everyone didn't speak perfect English - my reaction would have been less pleasant. The French highlight so far however has to be the cuisine: escargot, fois gras, steak tartare, quiche, flambé, croque Monsieur, camonbert, creme brûlée, chocolate eclair and casserole have all featured with the daily intake of croissant, baguette and cafe. Tres magnifique!

Last night, we traversed across the Pyrenees into Spain and had tapas for dinner in San Sebastian. The mother and daugher of our pension took great care in explaining the best places and the best dishes so we were well placed for our late night adventure. As we head south, we're looking forward to the sights and excited about the culinary adventure that awaits.

Adios y hasta Luego,
CP & Lee

Posted by cpleehoneymoon 00:52 Archived in France Comments (1)

PARIS, Je t'aime


semi-overcast 13 °C

So much is said about Paris and we now now that it's all true. YES, Paris is that beautiful, YES the sights are that grand and YES it is that romantic. Something else is clear, Paris is the perfect place to start our honeymoon.

We arrived on Friday, opened the shutters of our room to see the Eiffel Tower rising over the rooftops of arrondissement 7. The tower hence was our natural first stop and when you turn the corner, there she is - you know you've arrived in France. We took the opportunity to walk up the first two sections, were able to take in all the major sights and get a sense of how Paris is put together. A rickety lift to the open air observation deck at the very top is one of those experiences that you don't forget.

From the tower, we walked passed the Palais de Chaillot up to the Arc de Triomphe and down des Champ-Elysees where it was about time to get into French cuisine. Our first foray was a success - sitting in a tightly packed bistro with the Arc in the background we had escargot and a classic french onion soup with baked gruyere cheese on top with a lovely bordeaux. This gave us the kick start for some shopping and stroll down to the Place de la Concorde and the peaceful Jardin des Tuileries. People of all ages hang out here in reclined chairs and catch up on the day over-looking the various ponds and gardens.

As our day was coming to a close, we got the Metro across to the Bastille. History buffs will know the significance of this area, but now it's all about pocket bars and eateries. We chose a little locally recommended place to enjoy more French faire and bordeaux. Our evening walk took us by the Siene to the Islands where we could see the best of Paris at night. Waking by Notre Dame and its gargoyles, we heading home and collapsed after our first full day.

Breakfast in Paris is simple & perfect - coissant, baguette & jam with coffee. Today is our day of culture and we start at the Louvre to be blown away by the shear size of the place. We navigate through to catch the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and countless other masterpieces, including a whole room of roman emperors just for me. For lunch, we got a tip that the top restaurants which are usually impossible to get into offer very reasonable lunch menus. We found a Michelin star restaurant with an interesting set menu - French fusion on the edge I think. It gave me the opportunity to taste really good Foie Gras so another tick on the cullinary list.

The afternoon was spent at the Musee d'Osay which is a bombardment of classics from the impressionist and art nouveau movements. We're not art experts but it's nice to spend time with some recongnised pieces and works that just look good without your having to study it. The art and the building itself was amazing. A siesta, another local restaurant (steak tartare - tick) and an evening stroll close out another perfect Paris day.

Yesterday, we want out to the Chateau de Versailles to experience one of the world most extravigant expressions of wealth and power. Size, gold lining and ebriodery are the key elements of the Chateau and the gardens equal it for scale and design. Sitting in the garden by a fountain and listening to soft classical music was the highlight. Another siesta, a wander down the Canal St Martin and a hideaway brasserie filled the evening before our 11pm slot at the Moulin Rouge. This late night show had a bit of everything - flesh, dancing, acrobats, modern disco, ballads and of course the can can. All enjoyed with a bottle of french champagne. Spectacular, spectacular.

Well, that's our Paris and it's exceeded already high expectations. This morning, we pick up our little car and head off the explore the country.
A bientot.

Posted by cpleehoneymoon 00:13 Archived in France Comments (0)


Join us and stay in touch

To our family and friends,
We're doing another blog so we can stay in touch while we're on our honeymoon.
On the right hand side of the page under 'Favourite Links' is a map, but as always we'll take one day at a time so this route may change.
Subscribe to the blog and you'll get updates emailed to you as we post them.

Overall, we land in Paris and will explore the wine regions and a few castles before heading over the Pyrenees and into Spain. Spain is all about the late night tapas and afternoon siestas with a bit of culture thrown in. We'll head back into France to experience the French riviera then across into Italy. From Como in the north, through Tuscany and down to Roma and the Amalfi, we can't wait to take in all that Italy has to offer.
We drop the car off in Bari for the ferry to Dubrovnik and a week in the torquise waters of Croatia.

We're both really looking forward to joining Lee's family in Bali for a wedding celebration before returning on the 2nd June.

We'll get messages on this blog and we have a global number for the trip = +447937082358.

See you on the other side.

Posted by cpleehoneymoon 19:47 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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