Going to Girona

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Girona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

Brushing up on the intriguing town of Girona, a 30 minute (fast) train ride from Barcelona, today. It’s the first time we’ve traveled on one of Spain’s fast trains, called AVE (bird), and yes, they speed us to Girona MUCH faster than we could drive there – like in a third of the time!
It’s a toss-up for my favorite view in the town – between the mountain-and-countryside vista from the cathedral, snow-capped Pyrenees in the distance, and the lazily curving river with its colorful overhanging houses. I think the river wins – spanned by several bridges, even one designed by Eiffel! Crossing the stone bridge on our way into the historic center from the train station (an easy ten minute walk) a Palm Sunday market’s spread out along the river, with elaborately fashioned palms bearing little resemblance to their simple origins. Families are eagerly  checking out the stalls, choosing just the right palms for each one to carry to church tomorrow.
We have just a few hours here before returning to Barcelona, and quickly walk through the town, enjoying the charming architecture, strolling the robust medieval wall and the Call, the ancient Jewish quarter, peeking in the shops under the arches – and finding, right under those arches, the best churros we’ve ever tasted! We’ll be back in a couple of weeks – our Music and Markets guests have to taste these!
Returning to Barcelona, we’re drawn inside a palm-frond-filled church by quiet singing – as the fronds sway, gently waved, the melodies recall the millenias – old Hosannas of the first Palm Sunday….the celebrations have already started!

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Hola Barcelona!

Friday, April 7, 2017
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

What fun this city is! We’ve planned a quick couple of days to brush up on our knowledge of Barcelona for next month’s Music and Markets Tour. We’re adding some new adventures, and including some vintage favorites, such as a walking tour of the Barri Gotic, the old town. Plaça Reial is hopping today, with outstanding young pianists performing their award-winning choices as we choose a place for lunch. A few minutes later an opera singer steps out on a balcony and serenades us – love it!
15 Nits, on the Plaça serves a delicious lunch at a bargain price – 11 euros for three courses! A great choice for the tour…
Our “R & D” days always include LOTS of walking, and we rack up as many steps today as we do on a New York City weekend! Last stop, the Magic Fountains of Montjuic, after a quick bite at a nearby tapas place – Pa amb Tomaquet shows up on nearly every menu: coca bread (rather like a ciabatta) rubbed with tomato, drizzled with olive oil. Simple but delicious!
The fountains are stupendous –  lavishly flowing water choreographed with snippets of music. We join hundreds, if not thousands, on the steps leading up Montjuic mountain and take it in…a first for us, and an experience perfect for a Music and Markets tour!

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Gardens from Cannes to Grasse

Thursday, April 6, 2017
The Riviera, France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
We’re looking ahead to summer –  why not join us on the fabulous Amalfi Coast , in Provence, or Amsterdam?

I just popped into the library today, here at home in northern Virginia…and remembered THIS library we stopped by in Cannes. A romantic neo-classic villa, surrounded by a lovely park (where creatives have designed some interesting garden features), it was originally built for the Baronne de Rothschild in 1881. Now THIS is a library where I’d linger, spending time in one gorgeous room after another!
Our final garden-filled day begins in Grasse, where on a hillside near town Lady Fortescue wrote Perfume from Provence as she designed a garden, Villa Fort France, with more than 500 varieties of plants and trees in the 1930s. The De Courcel family have lived in Villa Fort France since  1992, and this lovely property, more than any other we’ve visited, gives the feel of a warm and welcoming home, surrounded by beauty….oh for a chance to sit and enjoy! But of course we’ve much more to see today.
Grasse is renowned for its perfume industry, and a stop at the Fragonard Perfumery begins with a guided walk through the garden of sources for the fine fragrances produced here. Several of us don’t depart from the boutique adjoining the workrooms empty-handed! Peony is the 2017 flower, and adorns one tempting item after another.
The last garden of this wonderful tour provided by Cote d’Azur Tourism is La Mouissone. Olive groves spread across the terraced property and form the backbone of the garden, which is dotted with inviting sitting areas (and some large areas perfect for events such as weddings) and creative designs. Lady Lockett, whose family has owned the property since 1998, shows us around the gardens, then shares a delicious picnic with us, French wines and produce mingling with Melton Mowbray Pork Pies from her British home.
From every terrace there’s a fabulous view  – yet more temptation to just relax and stay a while! Speaking of which, there’s a lovely guest house for rent on the property! And lots of enjoyable activies – how about a bounce on the trampoline?!It’s time to say goodbye to France, as we head to Barcelona for the weekend so we stroll along the beach in Nice before flying away….we’ll hurry back to France next week!

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