16 April 2018

Cruisin' in Catalonia

We are SO close to Spain!
(In fact, we flew in to Barcelona this time.)

It's weird - I never knew that the Pyrenees are SO close to the Mediterranean.
In fact, on a clear day, you can see both the Pyrenees AND the Mediterranean - from a small hilltop in our village.

We left the rain to the boat.
 (much appreciated, but enough is enough)
Headed south.

There's a tiny corner of the world between France and Spain.
Between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, called Catalonia.

Stan on the hunt for morning coffee.
Catalunya, in Catalan. 
Some say it means "Land of Castles". I like that.

At one point in history, a long time ago, it was all part of France. 

Despite last year's impassioned bid for Catalan independence, it's still considered an "autonomous community" on the Spanish side. Not independent, at least for now.

The issue is contentious.
But Catalonia is not only in Spain.

There's French Catalonia, too. 
It stretches across the Pyrenees. 
And - Catalonia - whoever it belongs to - is beautiful.

Look at that light - no wonder it attracts artistic types. 

They speak Catalan, which is similar to the old language in our area, Occitan. 

Many of the signs (and menus) are in Catalan in Spain. 

(In France, everything must be in French. Period.
It helps unite the country.
It used to be a fractious assembly of diverse regions and languages.
Not all that long ago.)

I've never really spent any time in the Pyrenees.
They're SERIOUS mountains!

But - it's still snowing there, so we head to the coast.
To Collioure, just north of the Spanish border.  

Neat old castle and ramparts and harbor on the Mediterranean.
Even a windmill.

Dali lived here. (A friend of ours lived next door to him-)
Matisse. Picasso. Braque. Various writers.
It's a ridiculously artistic place.

Glad to be here in early spring - summer must be VERY crowded.

The capital of Catalonia - on the Spanish side - is Barcelona.
We find an evening Mozart concert in a HUGE cathedral. 

Just looking up at the incredible interior, with the music - so cool. 

Imagining HOW they built these amazing buildings - in the 1300's. 
No power tools.
I know - that's such a cliché, but - still. 

And a sidewalk café.
In the welcome morning sunshine. 

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