Beach to Bullring in Barcelona

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Today, we started out at the Picasso Museum. In some ways, this has been a very Picasso-infused trip. From the 1890s as a boy through his death in 1973, he did his best work along the stretch of sea we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks. The Picasso Museum in Antibes explored his later work, especially pottery, while the Barcelona museum focuses on his earliest drawings, sketches, and paintings. Both are excellent, and I’m still not the biggest Picasso fan, I can definitely understand the genius behind some of the best art in the 20th Century.

Next, we headed down to the beach. I’m always going to be in favor of a beach that you can visit via subway. The Barcelona beach is exceptionally nice, a great place to stroll and take in the sea air.

The Barcelona Metro is the perfect teleportation machine to get around this diverse and busy city. Next up, we visited an old bullring that the Barcelonenos modified to be a surreal 5-story mall.

What a fun and unexpected city!

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Gothic Barcelona

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We started our first day in Barcelona at the must-see site for most of the 17 million visitors that visit the city every year, and as all of the other museums are closed on Monday, about half of that number descended on the Gaudi-designed masterpiece Sagrada Familia with us.

The church really is amazing and worth the admission price and crowds, but I’m not sure how “sacred” the place can feel with the crush of people all around. It has the feeling of a circus combined with an international photoshoot. I can’t imagine what it would be like in the real high-season, July and August.

We also explored Barcelona’s old gothic city, the marina, and Parc de Montjuic, with some tasty tapas on way back to the apartment. A fun day…

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Barcelona!

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Katherine and I just made it into the apartment in Barcelona, and this is the view from our window. This is a famous market but is under renovation this year.

Many thanks to Laura, Antonio, Guisey, Toy, Chicho, and Antonella for hosting us and putting up with all of our questions (in English, no less!) over the past week! It was sad to leave Sicily, but we know we will return someday.

Panarea

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For a change of pace, Katherine, Antonio, and I took the ferry over to Panarea, a nearby island to Salina. We walked around, got some sun, ate a granita, hung out a a beach, and viewed an archeological site. Panarea is a beautiful place, much smaller than Salina.

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Wonderful Salina

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We are having a great time catching up with friends in Salina. A lot of relaxing going on here.

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Laura organized a tour of a local winery, which was very interesting. They also produce capers, using this machine.

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Otherwise, it has been a lot of sun, sand, cooking, eating, drinking, and just chilling. Just what we needed after France.

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Salina!

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Made it to Salina! First, a crazy Ryanair flight from Marseille to Catania (Sicily), then a wonderful lunch and car ride to Milazzo (thank you, Guisy!), and then a ferry ride to Salina, where we were greeted by Laura, Antonio, and the gang. Perfect!

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French Riviera

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We drove the rest of the Riviera coastal road to St. Tropez, which included much of the beautiful scenery you might imagine. Traffic was not as bad as I imagined.

All in all, southern France is a wonderland of experiences, from the quiet and meaningful, to the crowded and surreal, from the ancient and overloaded, to the stunning yet sublime. Prepare to be amazed, if you make it here. It is easy to see why this is the most visited country on the most visited continent.

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Antibes

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Our stop in Antibes included finding a beautiful beach, studying dozens of Picasso drawings and paintings close up at the Picasso Museum, walking the sea ramparts, wandering through a packed Provencal market, roaming more medieval streets, looking at the yachts of millionaires and billionaires, and getting as close as I’ll ever get to a St. Tropez tan.

Needless to say, we had a great time in Antibes and would recommend it over Nice as a base to see the Riviera hotspots. Nice and Monaco are only minutes away by train, after all.

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