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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Spanish Holiday

You can either read the post below, or watch the video summary (10 seconds per day) here:  http://youtu.be/JpsqieuM0bQ

Saturday (travel travel travel)
After an early breakfast, we piled in John's car to head to Luton airport. Our holiday had started (well, if you didn't count the cheeky wine I had Friday afternoon before we drove to Wednesbury). Eventually, after two hours drive, 15 minutes in the bus, a lunch break, queuing for half an hour, a two hour flight and a coach ride for forty minutes, we arrived at the hotel we'd call home for the next seven days; Hotel Royal Sun.

Our stay is "all inclusive" - as much food and drink as we care to have... And that includes alcohol! Don't think I'll be keeping track of my food this week.. and I'll cross my fingers that the scales aren't too mean on our return.

Today was a day for local exploring. In the morning we wandered along Santa Susanna's main straight and in the afternoon we explored the shops in the next "town", Malgrat (although you really can't tell where one "town" ends and the next begins!)

The first couple of tourist shops were really interesting - I love seeing what kitschy souvenirs are on offer - but after a while everything became a bit same-y. I still managed to buy myself a new hat (it's a hat winter for me) and looked at dozens of handbags (mine is on its last legs and apparently Spain is a good place to buy them).

Between all this looking and shopping we found time for our meals at the hotel, a drink by the beach (at the back of our hotel), a drink at the hotel John and Gwen stayed in last year (same chain so it didn't cost us anything), and a scenic ride on a little train (we thought it just went up and down the main straight... apparently not!). We were pretty worn out by the end of the evening so we didn't get up and join the (mostly line-) dancers in the bar, even though the live singer was pretty good.. she was also very good at pretending to play the keyboard. ;-)

Monday (markets!)
Up early today to head to Blanes (bla-ness) for the market. Everybody loves a good street market! There was something for everyone - clothes, handbags, scarves, toys, jackets and more. The market stretched along the path beside the beach and seemed to go on forever. There were bargains to be had if you were lucky/could be bothered rummaging (I found a pair of €5 shoes that match my green dress, and a €6 grey jumper for work).

After a substantial snack (that we had to pay for!  There weren't any of the chain hotels there), we made our way back to Santa Susanna and the lads had a swim in the sea. It wasn't warm enough for me -  the morning had been lovely but the clouds covered the sun as soon as we got back to the hotel. :-( hopefully tomorrow will be good and I'll get to go for a swim.

Tuesday (sunshine and cocktails)
(Happy birthday Dad)
Made the most of the sunshine today and spent most of the day by the pool. We went for a quick dip early on (brrrr! Had to keep moving or it felt too cold!) and then spent the rest of the morning on the loungers drying out and warming up. We also made the most of the "cocktail of the day" - a mixture of peach and kiwi schnapps with some lemonade. :-)

Late afternoon we went for a swim in the Med. The sand is like tiny little pebbles so it hurt to walk on but is easier to dust off. :-) The sea was warmer than the pool and got deep really quickly - after two steps I couldn't touch the bottom! It was really relaxing to just bob around for a while and then lay on a towel in the evening sun. This is what holidays should be like!

(Happy birthday Gwen)
Cava for breakfast for Gwen's birthday (and most days this week ;-) ) and then up the coast to Calella for the day. Spent the morning wandering along the pedestrianised high street looking for bargains. There were plenty of bag shops but the ones we went in had really pushy sales people. I'm sure you know the type - they follow you around, rearranging everything you touch and every time you pick something up to look at it they tell you how wonderful it is. Needless to say, none of us bought anything. :-)

We headed to the local chain hotel for a morning drink (it looked really close but the map lied - it took AGES to get to!) and ended up having a few to make up for the walk. :-) We didn't have as many as some people had obviously had and we were happy to be staying in a different hotel. =-O

On the way back we took the train one stop past Santa Susanna and I bought the handbag I'd seen on Sunday (at least it was still there). By the time we got back to the hotel we were all pretty tired. But we still had time for a celebratory pastry with a little candle for Gwen (including singing, even though she told us to shush. :-) you can't shush a birthday!)

Thursday (an excursion)
A slightly earlier start today so we could spend the day in Montserrat, a monastery on the top of a mountain.

The coach journey took about 90 minutes and was broken up by some facts about Montserrat from our tour guide, Annalise. For example, Mont = mountain, serrat = sawn, The sawn mountain - sawn by angels.

Montserrat is a holy place because back in the 10th century someone saw the light of the Virgin Mary in the hills. Monks came to the place and lived in the caves for years, until an Abbott came along and built the monastery (completed in 1026).

People who made the Virgin Mary statues decided they needed money, so they placed the statues along the roads and spread rumors that it was lucky for people to leave money at these statues. People would leave money and all their belongings! Initially the monks condemned this, saying it was a lie. But then saw that it was a good way of raising money and installed the Madonna. People have been making pilgrimages since!

Rather than driving all the way, we caught the rack railway up the mountain and had a few hours to explore. Unfortunately we missed the boys singing live because there were too many people in the church (and they only sing for 10 minutes!).. but the views were amazing! And we'd been able to hear a recording of the boys as part of the audiovisual visit included in our ticket. Also included was a tasting of some of the liquor that the monks make - it was fairly regimented, no time for contemplation of the flavors, just one shot after the other: herbs, walnut, hazelnut & Catalan Creme. We would have bought a small bottle but they only had large ones so we bought flavoured chocolate instead. :-)

The time disappeared and before we knew it we were back in the bus and on the way back to the hotel. Needless to say, we are all tired (but happy) and won't be staying up late tonight!

Initially B & I were going to go to Barcelona today but when we saw the weather we decided to leave it for another trip. After low- to mid-20s for most of the week, today is cold and wet (expected top 13 degrees!). I didn't bring clothes for this weather!! After a lot of deliberation, we headed back to Calella for the morning (we had to pick up our embroidered towel souvenir) and had a relaxing lunch for two (Gwen and John stayed at the hotel).

The hotel's evening entertainment was probably the best of the week - a flamenco show. Watching three talented dancers strutting their stuff was a fab way to finish the holiday. It's back to the UK tomorrow.

Another day of traveling - the reverse of last week. :-)

I'm not looking forward to going back to work on Monday - I've got a very busy week coming up. I'll add some photos to this post once I've had a chance to go through them. And hopefully I'll remember to write another update next week. :-)

Your turn!

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