Indulging in the food and architecture of Barcelona and the Costa Brava.
View of Llafranc, Catalunya, Spain, from San Sebastian.
We left the delicious bakeries and cafes of France for, well, more delicious bakeries, cafes and tapas bars in Spain. This was our last stop before returning to New York for my sister Karen's marriage to Charlie, who happens to be of Catalan heritage as well as an amazing professional chef. Good food is definitely in his blood!
During our first week in Barcelona, Elizabeth's parents Ken and Cheryl joined us. Together we explored the city's alley ways and highlights, including the Picasso museum, the Olympic village and many of Antoni Gaudi's masterpieces. We happened to be in Barcelona during the city's annual week long La Merce Festival, which features local music, dance and crafts. Little did we know the music ranging from salsa to techno would be playing below our hotel room windows until 3 a.m. each night!
Enjoying gelato with Cheryl and Ken.
La Boqueria on Las Ramblas sells delicious fruits and veggies.
Our first dinner in Barcelona at the tapas restaurant and wine bar "Astrolabi-Tinto i co" owned by friends of our Spanish biking friends Isi and Zaida who we met in South Africa. You can check out Isi and Zaida's blog at:http://www.getjealous.com/isidro
I turned 36 in Barcelona! Elizabeth took me to a dance studio for flamenco lessons, but we got stood up by the teacher. As a consolation, I pleasantly found a unique, new wedding ring made by a local artist. I topped the day off with some profiteroles. Yum!
Ken and Cheryl got me a bike tour of Barcelona for my birthday.
We saw traditional dancing in one of Barcelona's many plazas as part of the festival.
Charming ally ways of downtown.
Interesting railing on Gaudi's Casa Milà.
Gaudi's Casa Batllo.
Gaudi's masterpiece Sagrada Familia. Construction started in 1883 and is expected to be finished in 2026. The construction has been interrupted by war and money woes, ultimately being passed on to various famous architects. The size and detail of the church is magnificent.
Sagrada Familia ceiling.
One of many stained glass windows.
Steeples from a window inside Sagrada Familia.
Men at work throughout the church.
Stairway inside one of the church steeples.
Gaudi's Park de Guell.
The Chernacks love Olympic villages. Elizabeth and Ken went swimming in the Barcelona Olympic pool on the hill of Montjuic overlooking the city.
Ken representing team USA.
From Barcelona, Elizabeth and I decided to visit the Costa Brava region in northern Catalunya. Inspired by cousins Pat and Ellen and our Spanish friends Isi and Zaida, we left most of our luggage in the city, rented bikes and rode through the area from the ocean up into the foot hills of the Pyrenees for six days.
The first few kilometers were straight up San Sebastian. The view was well worth it, but we began to worry about the difficulty of the rest of the ride! Luckily this turned out to be the most difficult hill.
Getting our bearings, beachside.
Each town we passed has an old district built in the middle ages.
The Catalunya region has embraced biking. An old railway trail has been converted into a bike trail called the Vie Verda. The old stations along the route have been preserved and converted into information centers and bathrooms. The region has well marked bike routes on the roads, as well, where we saw many wannabe Alberto Contadors!
We turned away from the coast and headed toward the historical cities Girona and Olot on the Vie Verda.
The old town of Amer on the way to Girona.
Old train station sign.
Girona is a small city with a charming old Jewish quarter built in the middle ages.
We then headed for the volcanic landscape of Olot, climbing the Coll de Bas and descending into the picturesque Bas valley.
Nothing like a little help from a stranger.
Finally, we headed back the way we came and did some relaxing in Sant Feliu de Guixols!
Relaxing on the beach after six days of biking. And for the record, we aren't naked.
We arrived in San Feliu de Guixols to another kind of biker convention.
We returned to Barcelona for one day before flying back to the states for my sister's wedding. A brief intermission to our travels before returning to South America for a final seven weeks.
We capped off our stay in Barcelona with, what else, churros y chocolate y suizo, a delicious donut stick dunked in pure hot chocolate with whipped cream. Mmmm!!!