Thursday, July 2, 2009

Spain to France

We left Santa Susanna and headed for El Bruc and El Vinya Nova, the restaurant John worked in over 16 years ago.

Along the way, well out of the way, we visted Tossa de Mar. Spectacular walled city by the sea on Costa Brava. Stunning ruins and the beach and Mediterranean. We hiked up and through the remains in 90+ degree weather....stifling hot we stopped at a beach side cafe for Sangria and Gellato, too hot to eat much else. Soon after John and I took a dip in the Med. John in his boxers of course and me, well very Euro...water was cool and refreshing and Riley sat on the beach in sheer horror of her parents. It put us in a great space for hitting the road.

Off to Montserrat. Montserrat is a spectacularly beautiful Benedictine monk mountain retreat about one hour North West from Barcelona. Not only is Montserrat Monastery of significant religious importance but the natural beauty surrounding the monastery is simply breathtaking. Atop a sheer cliff mountain is the monastery and words nor pictures give it justice. The Cathedral is so beautiful, it was surreal. The Monks were in mass while we visited and we popped in for a bit and heard the singing and mass in Latin. After a long walk we headed over the Mtn to El Bruc and then onto the dirt road that lead us to El Vinya Nova.

The house was built in the 1400's and it has been restored and added too in the last 10 years. The restaurant patio seats over 400 with another 300 inside, all under expansive trees which provide natural shade. We arrived around 8 and it was still very warm and we settled into the cottage for the night and took a tour of the place and soon were in the shade sipping ice cold cervesa's. Riley had already made fast friends with the 4 month old Boxer Puppy named Cherub. Soon we were seated with the owners Andreo and Turin for a meal that I cannot explain. Fresh bread toasted and brushed with the own olive oil, brushed tomato and salt was just the beginning. Wines paired with each course. Dinner stared at 10pm. A very traditional Catalon meal. Roasted vegetables, seafood, variety of meats, salad from the local garden and it goes on. John sampled Goat and I stuck with the vegetarian options and Riley was noshing on Croquettes made of some utterly delicious concoction. At midnight, Riley and I had to say good night... The 2nd bottle of Cava was coming out and that was it. John rolled in around 1:30.

The cottage was quaint and comfortable...but no air or fans. With all windows open was quite comfortable and we quickly dozed off. At 5 the Roosters were noisy and Cherub was waking Riley up for a pee break. She was good and took him out and we went back to sleep despite the roosters, chicken and now birds. Eating until midnight allows one to sleep late....I rolled out around 10 but John was up at 7 and Riley was asleep until past 11. We had some wonderful fruit and coffee and then J and R and Cherub set off to explore the property and changes to the place. I set off on a very hot run. All downhill to El Bruc, around the village and then up hill on the hot, dusty road. 5 miles and I was wiped out....cold shower, lots of water and time for lunch. A fresh salad with fruits and vegetables from the garden and the Paella. Andrea offered Cava but we had to get on the road so we stuck with Riley's wine with 0% alcohol. Refreshing and delicious. Riley was off with Cherub again and we said our thank yous and good byes.

We decided to head to Marseille and then work towards Monaco.