My Favorite Fountain

During my travels I have seen many lovely fountains.

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I’ve seen the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. I’ve seen fountains in Trafalgar Square. I’ve seen the fountains of Place des Quinconces in Bordeaux. I’ve seen the Fountain of Neptune in Florence. I’ve seen the Trevi Fountain… both the Vegas version and real one in Rome.

I’ve seen fountains all over the world

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But I discovered my favorite fountain in Barcelona’s Parc de la Ciutadella, the Cascada Fountain.

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Perhaps one of the reasons it was so impressive was that I wasn’t even expecting it. Touring the park was on my sight seeing list for Barcelona, and I think I had read beforehand that there was a fountain in the park, but I hadn’t seen pictures, and hadn’t really taken note of it as being a big deal.

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Then Michael and I found ourselves wandering around the park trying to find the stop for the Bus Turistic (FYI, I suck at reading maps) and stumbled upon the fountain. It was one of the first things we saw in Barcelona, and one of my favorites!

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It was amazing!  I’ve never seen a fountain quite like it.  Imagine how awesome it would be to walk by this every day!

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I think Canada needs more fountains like this.

Park Guell – The Place That Started It All

As I mentioned previously, it was seeing the colourfulness of Park Guell that solidified Barcelona as my birthday vacation destination.  I guess it’s time to show you why I loved it so much!

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The famed stairway at the Main Entrance of the Park. Hard to get a picture without a million tourists in it.

As a side note and a word to the wise, if you are planning on visiting Park Guell, you now have to buy tickets for a specific time to see the cool stuff in the park.  They call it the “Monumental Zone” and only let 400 people in every 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know this ahead of time.

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Trencadis (mosaics made from broken ceramic pieces) with views of Barcelona all the way to the sea

I thought I was all prepared for my trip and that my travel guru Rick Steves had told me everything I needed to know in his Barcelona book, and at the time of its printing the entire park was free, no reservations needed.  I learned a valuable lesson: when using a guidebook, always check their website for updates BEFORE you go.  Had I done that, I would have found out I could have reserved a time slot and bought my ticket online, saving me time and confusion.

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Despite my unintentional lack of planning ahead, I did manage to get a ticket for the Monumental Zone… I just had to wait two hours to get in, which gave me ample time to roam around the rest of the park, see a couple of giant rats, and contemplate how anyone could stand Barcelona’s heat in July or August as the security guard informed me that yes, it did get hotter in those months than it was on that particular sweltering day in September, and the temperature was actually getting to a level he could tolerate.  Yikes!

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The park is the work of famed architect Antoni Gaudi.  It was originally intended to be an upscale residential area for the wealthy but it didn’t really take off and was later turned into a park.

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Besides the wonderful colours, stunning views of Barcelona all the way to the ocean, beautiful trencadis, and feeling like I was in a Dr Seus book, Park Guell has an amazing abundance of greenery!  It feels especially tropical and junglelike with all the palm trees everywhere.  It was probably the most vibrant place we visited.  The colours just seemed to pop!

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Park Guell, and its famed dragon, lived up to my expectations and was definitely worth the unexpected wait (and horrendously long walk from the Sagrada Familia because someone refused to get a cab or bus).  It’s the most unique park I’ve ever been to and one of my favourites!

 

So Many Places… How Does One Choose?

Probably about six or seven years ago I made a list of places I wanted to travel.  The list is now ever growing, especially thanks to seeing cool places on The Amazing Race or Bachelorette and Pinterest.  I’ve made it to four of the top five countries from my original list, and six of the original top ten.  I’d say that’s not too shabby.

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View of Barcelona’s port from Montjuic

I’m very lucky to be able to travel so often.  Ever since finishing treatment for lymphoma almost four years ago, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel at least twice a year.  Usually somewhere tropical in the spring and to Europe in the fall.

I had such a hard time deciding where to go this year!

Last year Michael turned thirty so he got to pick where we went and he knew he wanted to go to London so he could go to Portsmouth and see the Victory and all things Admiral Nelson.

But me… I couldn’t make a decision on where I wanted to spend my birthday.  I went to the library and pretty much took out every travel book they had for countries along the Mediterranean.  I flip flopped back and forth.  Maybe we should go back to southern Italy?  Or maybe back to southern France?  No, we should definitely go to Greece.  No, wait, Spain.  Greece. No, Italy.  No, Greece.  Greece.

And then I was so overwhelmed trying to pick just three Greek Islands out of the hundreds that exist.  I still couldn’t decide.

But then I started looking through the Lonely Planet Barcelona book and I saw pictures of the staircase and lizard and gingerbread houses of Park Guell and it was so colourful and beautiful, I knew I needed to see it!

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Park Guell

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Casa Batllo

Decision made!

With a few trips to Europe under out belts, Michael and I decided to plan our own itinerary this year.  We’ve done the bus tour thing in the past, and while a great way to see a lot in a short amount of time, and definitely easier because they handle all of the logistics, we wanted more freedom and time in the places we visited.

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Plaza de Espana

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View of Seville and its Cathedral from the rooftop terrace of our hotel

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Guadalquivir River in Seville

I picked Barcelona for Park Guell and its beaches.  I chose Seville, because while kinda far from Barcelona (but only a quick plane ride away!), I remembered seeing Plaza de Espana as a pit stop on The Amazing Race and it being so beautiful, and I knew I needed to see it.  Plus my sister had been there during her post university back packing trip, and I remember her saying how pretty it was.  And Mallorca because I really loved the pictures of all the little coves and beaches, and I needed to see the castle that was another Amazing Race pit stop.  The more I looked into it, the more interesting things I found to do in each place.

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Cala Pi, Mallorca

 

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View of Palma from Castell de Bellver ramparts

And even though I heard awful things about pit pockets in Spain, the only thing I ended up losing was my Purell.  I’m not sure if I just misplaced it, or if it was actually pit pocketed, but I blame the cold (which I’m still dealing with) I ended up with on not having hand sanitizer.  Apparently Europeans aren’t as germophobic as us North Americans, as I searched for a replacement with no luck.  I’ve never been so happy to see those little bottles of alcohol gel as I was at the Montreal airport!

I’m super glad with my choice to visit Spain!  I think it was the right decision.  There’s something about Southern Europe that really appeals to me.  I love the culture and the history… all amongst a tropical setting with beaches and palm trees.  It’s like all of my favorite things in one vacation destination!

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Sunrise over Badia de Palma, Mallorca

My mind is blown from all the amazing things that I saw and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Long Time, No Blog

Oh hello there.

No, I did not drop off the face of the earth.  I’m still around.  I’ve just been… busy?

Actually, I don’t know where time has gone.  I had extreme lack of motivation last winter and into the spring which made it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning, let alone keep a blog up and running.

I went to Hawaii (again).  It was beautiful (again).

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Then it was summer and even though my work schedule changed to working every other weekend instead of one in three (womp womp), it meant I had three days off the weekend I wasn’t working.  And lucky for me, both my parents and my sister have cottages next door to each other in PEI… my favorite place to be in the summer.

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I was so glad to be able to spend as much time over there this year because when my dad called me in March and told me my mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing and he didn’t think they’d be able to go to the cottage for the summer, I was heartbroken and mad at myself for not spending more time with them over there last year.  Thankfully, mom’s medications got changed around and she stabilized again, and they were able to spend the summer at the cottage after all.  It very well may have been the last summer that will happen and I am so grateful for every morning I sat on the deck with her, walk on the beach I took with her, and every ice cream at Frosty’s I ate with her.

So my summer was busy with work and cottage living.

And then September came and I turned thirty.  How did that happen?  Aren’t I still twenty-three?  Shouldn’t I have life figured out by now and be married or something?

Having a milestone birthday is a good excuse to travel (not that I need one).  But it did mean I got the final say in the destination.

And I picked Spain!

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Barcelona, Seville, and Mallorca specifically.  All places previously featured on the Amazing Race.  From now on, I only travel to destinations the Amazing Race has been to.  Just kidding.  But it did help give me ideas.  What really sealed the deal for me was seeing pictures of Park Guell in the Barcelona Lonely Planet book.  The colours!  I needed to see that mosaic lizard.

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So I’ve recently plummeted back to reality and I’m struggling with the fact that the seasons magically transitioned from summer to fall while I was sitting on a beach in Spain.  Why is it still dark when I get up in the morning and why is it getting dark earlier at night?  What am I going to do when Daylight Savings Time hits?  No more beach going until next year.  Do I really have to pack my bathing suits away?  Arg.

In an attempt to keep the fall blues at bay (I struggle with them every year), I’ve decided I need more hobbies and contact with people.  So my goal is to resume blogging.  It will keep me busy, and let me ramble on to an invisible audience.  That’s sort of like a conversation, right?  Or maybe more like talking to myself…

Welcome back!  Thanks for listening/reading!