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Friday, 29 May 2015

Project Puglia turned Catalunya+Andorra



My first project that’s not really one. It was on the go. All of it. See why.
To think I had all of my plans perfected for Puglia:
Day 1: Fly to Bari. Pick the car from the airport. Get to Matera and Castellanata. Have dinner in Alberobello and sleep at L'Isola Felice.
Day 2: Early visit to Polignano a Mare. Drive to Savelletri in search for sea urchin. Then, Brindisi, Lecce, Gallipoli. Have pizza at Il Forno – let’s just say that people from Taranto are said to travel the distance for the unique taste. Speaking of the Devil, next – Taranto, with its Ponte Girevole, its Corso Due Mari, its Castello Aragonese. Time permitted, Castel del Monte and Contrada san Leonardo [a.k.a. the search for dinosaurs] were last on the day’s list, to end at Saint Patrick [and yes! we were fully charged for the stay]. 
Day 3: Could a history buff miss Canne della Battaglia? Then, along Arco di San Felice, I had scheduled a feast for our eyes and soul and a proper goodbye in the fishing villages of Vieste and Peschici.
...
Full stop.
New paragraph.
Day 1: We booked our stay at Bird House [EUR 46.80/double room, breakfast included] from Otopeni Airport, while waiting to board. Off to a windy start, we took the shuttle from Barcelona Airport to Plaça de Catalunya (EUR 5.90/pp) and – after an exhausting walk on La Rambla, managed to find our accommodation and have an exquisite late dinner and 1 litre of sangria, which made it a bit too difficult to make plans for the following two days, as we ended up sleeping on the city maps. Hmmm... I didn’t quite fancy Barcelona. This was amongst my first thoughts.

Day 2: An early wake up and a shower were required. It was raining cats and dogs. We decided to go to Andorra [=one of my greatest travel dreams]. We booked our accommodation – Hotel Jaume I [EUR 50/double room, ensuite bathroom] and walked to Barcelona Sants Railway Station. We managed to buy our tickets to Andorra from the small bus stop located next to the railway station [EUR 49.50/pp, return] and were anxious to see our 46th country. I didn’t find the landscape of northern Catalunya strikingly beautiful or out-of-the-ordinary, but I did like the calmness of the people, their kindness, and their sense of humour once we reached Andorra la Vella. I felt in my element in this small Pyrenean state, where clouds seemed so close and several languages were used interchangeably. The rain eventually stopped, by the time we had a very tasty late lunch/early dinner and – with no agenda whatsoever – we decided to see the slopes, so we took a bus to Encamp. Sadly, the cable car had stopped working minutes before we got there. We ended up comparing discounts for winter apparel at several stores and then headed back to Andorra la Vella, only to find the city that seemed a bit asleep in the afternoon and quite deserted with a new vibrant coat on: thousands of people were out shopping, dining, chatting... what could we do but join them? And – although a bit tiring because I don’t like it when it’s crowded – it did feel relaxing in the end.    

Sunday walks, Barcelona
Day 3: Back from Andorra, I was apparently in no mood to explore Barcelona. However, the sun was shining, sides were preparing for the big match [Barcelona vs. Real Madrid], and we ended up walking at least 25 km: to the harbour, on La Rambla, to Casa Batlló [there were some kids trying some interactive games out in the street, all organised by the city hall – those were some nice moments], to Casa Milà, to Sagrada Familia [we managed to grab a bite, in the end – you will be surprised that it proved to be such a difficult task in the acclaimed food city of Barcelona – but we chose well], and then back to Plaça de Catalunya, hopping on a shuttle and managing to smile twice more in the airport – at the sight of a very cute dog buff [I didn’t even know that they made these!] and while glancing through very-very cute accessories that I recalled to have seen last in Paris, 2007.

Conclusion? [and my boyfriend agreed] These types of trips are no longer suited for us. We’ve probably outgrown them.  

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