Off to Barcelona and one kilo down!

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We’re going to Barcelona for six days on a home exchange in February. I can’t wait. Apart from our trip to Australia in September, we haven’t been out of the country for a whole year. We haven’t even gone anywhere except Paris and Blois during that time which means that I’m travel-starved.

Blois from the cycle path on the banks of the Loire
Blois from the cycle path on the banks of the Loire

During the same twelve month period in 2011, we went to Seville, to the south-west of France, to Normandy, to Angers and Loche in the Loire Valley, then on a four-week trip to Croatia in the summer that included 9 countries. After that, we went to “Wet” Champagne, then back to the Loire where we found Closerie Falaiseau. And we spent Christmas in Normandy.

Seville during orange season
Seville during orange season

So you can see why I’m so excited. One of the reasons I love living in Paris is its proximity to so many other countries. Over the years, we’ve been to Italy several times and have now started visting Spain. Ah yes, I forgot to mention Madrid in my list. We went there last March on our first home exchange. But it feels so long ago.

Harrap's Spanish method by Michel Thomas
Harrap’s Spanish method by Michel Thomas

Now that we’ve booked the airfares (we’re travelling with Easy Jet for the first time), Relationnel has started reading the guide book. He decides on how we fill our days, acts the tour guide and writes up the travel dairy while I organise accommodation, do the talking, find places to eat, take the photos, write blog posts and occasionally contribute to the diary. So I’d better start listening to my Spanish tapes again. I use Harraps’ Michel Thomas method. It’s a very effective, entirely audio method which exists for other languages as well. You can download ten free lessons to test it.

Our Spanish travel diary waiting for Barcelona!
Our Spanish travel diary waiting for Barcelona!

I’ve checked the temperatures which should be 10 or 12°C during the day and it should be sunny which is fine by me. It’s 3°C and overcast in Paris at the moment. I’m not sure our home exchanger is getting the best deal, though she will have an unhindered view of the Palais Royal gardens. So any advice on places to see (particularly off the beaten track), things to do, tips for avoiding queues and things, and, especially, places to eat, are very welcome.

Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie Paris 1er arrondissement
Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie Paris 1er arrondissement

And while we’re on the subject of eating, how’s the diet going? I’ve managed to lose a kilo this week, despite the galette des rois, an apéritif at Le Meurice (where I stuck to the olives and nuts and ignored the cheesy things), dinner at Le Mesturet (without dessert or café gourmand) and lunch at Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie (duck and café gourmand, I have to confess).

Finishing off the foie gras in Paris
Finishing off the foie gras in Paris

The main things that have changed this week are my greater intake of fresh fish from the market and no afternoon tea. I’ve also had fresh citrus fruit for breakfast as opposed to orange juice. I’ve been having a small portion of carbs at lunchtime and just protein and vegetables at night. Maybe a bit less wine as well. We also finished off our Christmas chocolates in Blois. We weren’t eating a lot, but two with coffee at lunch and dinner every day is definitely too much! The foie gras is finished too. There’s still the Christmas cake, but it’ll last a while yet.

Le Comptoir de la Gourmandise, restaurant and gourmet food store, 34 rue Montmartre, 75001 Paris, 01 42 33 31 32
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13 thoughts on “Off to Barcelona and one kilo down!”

  1. 1. That’s what happens when you buy a holiday home — you never get to go anywhere else — similar to being an expat — your holidays are always back ‘home’.
    2. I trust the home exchanger coming to Paris has been given meticulous instructions on the care of maidenhair ferns, or are you confidently expecting it to be dead by then?

    1. 1. I’ve decreed a total ban on any more renovations until we’re living there. We decided in advance that last year would be devoted to Blois, but that’s definitely finished now!
      2. Don’t depress me. But we’re only going for 6 days so it might survive. Every time I think of you, I go and spray it!

  2. Bon voyage! Your next trip sounds wonderful. Will be interested in what you think of Easy Jet (we haven’t used it yet, either) … and so interesting re your reference to Michel Thomas as I recently read a brilliant review of his French learning program.

    Like you I *love* living in Europe (UK, Paris …) because of the proximity of other countries and interesting places! It really is so dramatically different from living in Australia, beautiful as that is … sigh.

    Cheers and see you soon. Take care and safe travels.

    1. Thanks Carolyn. Relationnel really improved his English with Michel Thomas and I’ve used both the Italian and Spanish courses now. They correspond so well to today’s on-the-move media-focussed public!

      Looking forward to seeing you in March.

  3. I will follow the comments on this post very closely, as I am also bound for a week-end in Barcelona in February! I’m going with a friend, her teenage daughter and my own teenage daughter. 🙂
    Two things I think you should know:
    I’ve been told by a friend who went last month that they really don’t speak Spanish in Barcelona. They understand it, of course, but they reply in French or English if you don’t speak Catalan.
    Also, Easyjet allows only one carry-on in total, no “personal item” except your coat. That means your handbag must fit inside the carry-on! I flew to Nantes with Easyjet in October and I was really lucky that I had left some space in my carry-on for a few books I wanted to borrow from my friend in Nantes. Otherwise I would have had to check the bag and pay an additional fee.

    1. I had forgotten about the Catalan. It’ll be great if they speak French to Relationnel! I won’t have to do all the talking.
      Thanks for the tip on Easyjet. We’ve paid for one suitcase in the hold but will each have cabin baggage.
      Two teenagers in tow sounds a bit of a handful!

      1. The only person I actually know from Barcelona only speaks Catalan and English. He doesn’t speak French, even though his girlfriend is French. They communicate in English. I’ve no idea how typical he is (quite possibly not very…)

  4. Barcelona is wonderful – I spent a week there last June, staying in a little hotel on Las Ramblas – so convenient for everything. Do go on the ‘hop-on hop-off’ bus tours – there are 3 different routes, all starting at Playa Catalunya. I particularly recommend the Blue Route which takes you round all the wonderful Gaudi buildings. Get off at Sagrada Familia cathedral (watch out for pickpockets) and it is well worth going inside even if there is a queue. It is amazing. Also get off at Parc Guell and explore. You are going at a good time of year – you won’t have queues everywhere. Enjoy!

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