Part 1 - Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Salamanca, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: "Oh, sorry. No breakfast today. You had breakfast yesterday." Mum believed this and turned around embarrassed almost colliding with the rest of us who were continuing up the stairs while laughing at the joke our hotel manager had made.
Well, we have all had our last night in France for a while. Amber and David are still going strong in Paris, but our little group is now heading deep into Spain. It didn't take us long to cross the Spanish border.
Saint Sebastian was the first hurdle of the day. Although we intended to explore this city, whatever road we tried to access the city and later the panoramic lookout was closed. Eventually we saw the reason: hundreds of marathon/triathlon competitors. The whole place had been shut down for this event and much to Claude's disgust, we gave up trying to find an alternate route and pressed on.
Next stop of the day was the city of Burgos, home to Spain's third largest cathedral. This city was far from shut down. Given the fantastic weather all the locals were out in force making parking a challenge. This city is just beautiful, however, with its wide pavementsm abd trees that provide shade in hot weather. Both sides of the river are lined with trees, bike tracks and walking paths. The square of the cathedral is vast and white. So many locals were streaming in for mass. Inside is quite unusual as there is no huge central nave; it is a vast space but it is divided into multiple chapels. The cathedral itself was finished in the 13th century and it has an impressive double cloister.
The main objective on ending our visit was to find somewhere to eat in the sun. Sun makes the world of difference in this place: the difference between pleasantly warm or freezing. The air itself really has no warmth at all. We had little choice but to use one of the restaurants that has all the dodgy tourist signs: situated close to a major tourist attraction; menus in multiple languages; pictures of the food. Needless to say, as it was Holy Sunday, there wasn't a whole lot of choice!
After a few more detours, we reached the final destination of the day, Salamanca. Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Spain and as such, it is completely buzzing. We entered the town in one of those surreal 'sea mists'. Everything looks so mysterious in a white shroud. For the first time, it was actually been cold as we went walking in the evening. Some better layering could be required for tomorrow.
The four of us got our first taste of Spanish vegetable paella this trip. Gemma is still not convinced that she likes it, but Dad and Gareth continue to insist that they have tried some great versions. Mum tried to order lemon sorbet for dessert and ended up with a lemon sorbet milkshake, "Oh mercy."
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: Paris, France
This morning was a grey day in Paris so a sleep in was definitely in order! No scrambled eggs today. Instead we went in search of a creperie for breakfast. A traditional European breakfast of orange juice, coffee, and bread with jam was enhanced by the addition of a cheese and tomato crepe. David and I both left feeling very full, ready for the day ahead.
After receiving intel from two separate people David decided that the first port of call should be a boutique macaroon shop called 'Laduree.' Winding our way through the streets of Saint Germain is fantastic. So many stores with so many expensive but delightful things in the shop windows! Shortly we found the macaron shop and soon after realised that it was the same branch as one of the stores that we bought macarons in Luxembourg! Based in Paris and clearly very popular, we joined the queue of other Parisians and purchased another assortment of treats!
From here we headed to a popular shopping centre but unfortunately, being Sunday, was closed so we sat in a nearby park and ate a macaron for condolences!
Nevertheless, while other things may have been closed on Sundays, the fresh food market was buzzing! Since planning our trip to Paris, and seeing them on an episode of Masterchef, David has wanted to buy ingredients from the market and cook a delicious meal so you can imagine his excitement when seeing an entire street of fresh food stalls! He was a bit like a deer in the headlights, not knowing which way to look or what to buy first. He suggested we do a lap, and I suggested that we just buy things as we went along. All in all, we bought vegetables, fruit and bread from five or six different stalls so we are clearly supporting the organic farmers of France which is nice.
The day was not yet over as we wanted to go to the Notre Dame for an organ recital. We walked in to what sounded like a sermon in French, sat down and waited for the service to conclude and the organ recital to begin. Alas, it did not conclude for what felt like an eternity, and when the priest did finally finish, we participated in a French singing prayer service. The organ did play however, so it wasn't all bad, but David and I were both quite confused as to what we were participating in! Apparently there is an organ recital on Tuesday, so maybe we can go to that one!
For dinner we decided to save our fresh produce for tomorrow evening and have some Indian cuisine instead.