Girona, Minerve, Carcassonne, a couple domestic stops, and home.
A few travel thoughts
My family members are rock stars. They made 45 nights away from home in 20 different locations an adventure of a lifetime! They trust me with travel planning and seem to enjoy the choices I make. They have endurance, patience, tolerance, curiosity, and open-mindedness - the qualities of all-star travelers. I'm so proud of them and get teary-eyed just thinking about this trip coming to an end.
Renting apartments in Europe
We stayed in 10 different Airbnb and Homeaway apartments. We liked all of our apartments but can offer the following suggestions for all renters.
1. People like a place in the bathroom to put their stuff. A shelf, chair, hook, or whatever. I know European bathrooms are small but it is nice to leave a few personal items somewhere besides the floor.
2. There needs to be more than one mirror in an apartment that sleeps 6. Please put mirrors in the bedrooms or on other walls.
3. I know Europeans aren't big on air conditioning. That's fine. But if you're renting your place to the world, please offer a couple of cheap electric fans. Not all of us are used to sleeping in 80 degree nights.
4. Spring for a new kitchen sponge. Add it to the rental rate if necessary.
5. If you have lamps and clocks, check to make sure they work. I can't tell you how many lamps we tried to use that either didn't have a light bulb or just flat out didn't work.
These are small gripes but would make a difference in a weary traveler's stay.
Now back to the blog...
Girona, Spain and on to Carcassonne, France
We left Barcelona on a quiet Sunday morning for the town of Girona. Girona is a big cycling town so DH was intrigued. We found parking and hiked along the historic city walls. It was a neat urban hike with lots of stairs and look-outs. Climbing to the top of things is really my favorite thing so this trail hit the mark.
We found something that reminded us of home. Go Ducks!
We enjoyed the narrow streets and relaxed feel of this town after the hustle and bustle of Barcelona. After a little shopping and gelato, we drove further north into France for a quick picnic. By this point, we were eager to get rid of groceries that we had accumulated over the course of this long trip.
Once we arrived in Carcassonne, we found parking after a little struggle and checked into our last apartment at the top of an older building. There were so many stairs.
We wandered around a bit on this quiet Sunday and decided on a recommended Italian place for dinner. Tripadvisor has served us well on most of our trip. This place was no exception. The caprese salad was probably the best I've ever had.
We were wearing down and ready for a quiet night of sleep. Unfortunately, the local teenagers on the street below had other ideas and kept us awake with loud music and talking. We finally got some rest and were eager to explore the fortress of Carcassonne tomorrow.
Minerve and Carcassonne
We began our day with a cute little bakery about 15 minutes from the center of Carcassonne. There was even a cute French cat.
After a challenging and windy drive up some very narrow roads, we finally made it to the picturesque village of Minerve. Minerve is set in a canyon protected from attackers and nature's elements.
After a delicious lunch in a nearby town, we headed back to explore the Carcassonne old city in hopes that the hordes of tourists might have left for the day. Luckily, many were leaving the city making our exploring much more pleasant and accessible.
The charming and scenic old city reminded us of Mont St. Michel. We loved wandering around and remembering that this was really our last day sight-seeing in Europe.
We finally walked back to the apartment, packed up and prepared for our last road trip to Geneva, Switzerland.
Geneva (sort of) and home
We drove around 6 hours on France's expensive toll roads to a town just outside of Geneva. We picked a town on the French side to save money. On the way, we stopped in one French town famous for its nougat.
We drove on and arrived at a regular hotel where we could pack and relax one last time. I found a nearby grocery store where I got teary-eyed once again. So many cheeses left untasted. I really was quite emotional in this random French grocery store as I reflected on our amazing journey.
DH washed his wonderful car in preparation for its long 9-10 week journey back to the US.
It's hard to believe that our trip is nearly over. On the way to Oregon, we will stop in Washington DC to see dear friends for one short night. We will also stop in Fargo, North Dakota for four nights for a family reunion. So even though the European part of our trip is over, there is a bit of fun left in the US.
For now, the 2017 portion of the blog is complete. It is finished without any concrete plans for future trips. Even though I'm excited to return home, I know I'll be happiest when I have new plane tickets in hand. So until next time, goodbye, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, tchau, and adios.