The Grays on Tour - Europe 2014 travel blog

Mama at the Med...finally, it's been a life-long dream

Sitges township in the evening

My first sangria in Spain

The babies with St Bartholomew's church in the background


Our time in Paris drew to a close today. A busy but rewarding three days. We checked out of the apartment after a final cafe crema from our local tabac, and wandered down to the train station at Notre Dame. We made our way to the airport via a short stop around Gare du Nord. Not such an inspired choice I'm afraid....it was a welcome to the seedier side of Paris - dodgy looking characters & mothers with babies in front-packs begging. Amongst the proliferation of wedding garb tailors operating in the surrounding streets, we found another baguette and tried our first miille feuille (fancy custard square) in France. Tres bon!

As we waited at the airport for our flight to Spain, I reflected more deeply on our time in Paris...beyond the landmarks and the thrill of seeing my family enjoy another of the world's great cities!

- Paris is expensive! You can find pockets of value...but overall, you're paying tourist prices for everything...everywhere!

- the Parisiennes we came across were gracious of our efforts to parlez francais, and against reputation, were more than happy to converse with us in English, to the best of their ability.

- there is so much rich history & finery to absorb at the tourist attractions we visited, that photos and footage are essential for being able to take in the detail at a later point in time.

- the smell that emits from the boulangers is of heavenly descriptions...it makes Bourdeaux and La Cloche in town seem ordinary.

- small local food and produce shops seem to thrive & dominate, a refreshing difference to the demise of many fruiterers & butchers back in NZ in the last 15 years.

A quick flight, no customs or immigration requirements (love the benefits of the EU!), and here we are in Spain. We easily found the bus stop for our ride down to the seaside resort of Sitges...organising the tickets was a little more challenging. I've found not having learnt Spanish very un-nerving indeed...although I guess a few too many episodes of Dora have at least ensured that I have the most basic of manners at my disposal. My French is scratchy at best...but I didn't feel stressed going into the most basic of interactions....thankfully a nice smile and an effort using my phrase book goes a long way :).

Seeing the Med for the first time was special. Kahu & Kev took the plunge today after a swim at the hotel pool (we're staying right opposite the beach), and although they said it was cold, the Med and I will meet tomorrow. It has been beckoning me for a long time!

Sitges is gorgeous! Look it up online. The beaches are golden, the cobbled streets in the township all lead down to the Med, and the spring climate is warm. Thanks for the rec Mrs O'Connell! It was around 20 degrees when we arrived, and stayed that way late into the evening as we went in search of some Catalonian fare & Sangrias. Can I say that the sangria was superb at our restaurant of choice tonight, as was my traditional escalivada dish. Kev chose a local beer, Cervena, but had Sangria envy....

Adopting the authentic Spanish way, we ate late...poor Sis. She was so tired she had droopy eyes towards the end of dinner. She must've been genuinely tired too...she didn't request dessert ;)

Back to our marae styled room (two king beds lined up side by side) for a moe around 10.30pm.

Buenas noches, xx

DoD update: Kahu retains his Crown. On arrival at our Sitges hotel, he queried the baby sink in our bathroom...baby alright 'cos you sit on it Kahu - it's a bide! This is becoming quite an instructional trip in European cultural practices!



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