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L'Estartit, Spanje: Hotel Panorama, Medes Islands



Saturday April 19, 2014: Preparation and departure to our first stop at Lyon

Yesterday I already had a day of vacation, so I was responsible for all packing activities and to stow everything properly in the car. With a little baby like Arne itís not enough to pack the suitcase and leave. Nope, we need to take some toys and clothing and stuff for him only. I asked him: please make sure you take everything with you, but his reaction was not positive, so Iíll do everything for him. Before lunch I take all his stuff, which need to be put in the car later and in the afternoon Iím taking all our luggage. I forgot some things of Arne, so they need to be included with ours. Everything can be stowed quite easily in the car, although it takes some puzzle solving. Eventually the car is completely filled up, especially when Evy returns with Arne who came back from a night with grandpa in Boutersem. Everything is ready for tomorrow. Nona Linda prepares a meal and we enjoy Belgian endive and asparagus with eggs and smoked salmon. Then we feed the little one, go home and then go to bed. Evy goes to sleep very early, because sheís not feeling very well. I stay up for a while and watch some TV. At about ten thirty I go to sleep and then tomorrow is the day weíre leaving with the family to Spain. Weíve booked a hotel in LíEstartit, the north of Spain and a stop in Lyon. We get up at a bit before eight and give him his milk, make sure weíve checked everything and that everything has been packed and is in the car. An hour later we can leave and weíre on our way to the south.

First we drive to Brussels, once weíve passed that we call mum Linda and tell her everything is OK and we have left our home. Evy has sent some text messages, so everyone knows weíve left. The first drive is to the border of Luxemburg. Before we know it weíre in Luxemburg, itís not really far. We quickly fill the car up here and then we continue to the actual first stop to have lunch. We have a hamburger and he has potatoes with carrots, also very nice. Itís very busy, because everybody is stopping here at this time to eat and drink. We ask them to heat the two jars of food, he eats everything and then itís our turn. Everything is fast and within the hour we can already leave. From this point Evy is driving and she can only have 110 kilometres an hour until the first toll road. We had heard that the French police would be very strict, especially for foreigners, so we keep the counter to 120. We continue without problems to the first tool road, the one starting in Gye. Here we donít need to pay anything yet, we only need to take a ticket. OK, nice. Then we can drive 130 on the toll road. The quality of the road is very good, so we are making good progress. Weíre happy that Evy is paying attention when we reached Metz, otherwise we would have been in Lyon at nine or even later. The GPS was set to avoid tool roads. In France this would mean weíre taking route national and that can take a while. So we change the settings and now we should be there at about six. She just took down our driving time with three hours. Is she driving that fast?

At about four oíclock everybody indicates (even the on board computer of the Volkswagen) that itís time to take a break. We do this in the neighbourhood of Dijon on Aire de Dijon Brognon. Now itís time for the fruit for Arne, so it does not need to be heated. We try to give it to him this way, but itís no use. Heís not willing to eat. Weíre trying for half an hour already and we did not book any result. We just drink something and then continue to Lyon to our first night on vacation at the Novotel de Gerland. I now take over the wheel and we try to continue at 130 an hour. Sometimes it is OK, at other moments itís a bit more difficult. Traffic was low until now, but the closer we get to Lyon the busier it gets. A couple of kilometres before Lyon we have next toll house, Villefranche-Limas: 30,10 Euro. We had a nice trip on the autoroute du soleil. The road was good, because road works have finished on quite some spots and there were little to no interruptions. A bit before we actually reach Lyon we have a speed limit of 90, but in the end itís quite OK. The GPS takes us to the hotel without many problems. The hotel is located very close to the A6 and A7. These are the two routes we need. Very nice. We find the underground car park, pass two gates and find a spot. Arne was a bit moaning, because he was getting hungry, but we quickly find someone to heat the bottle of milk. Thanks dude. We go to our room and give him the milk and then we can check the surroundings for a restaurant. That is not so easy, because the hotel is a long distance from the centre and there are very few restaurants. So we must dine at the hotel. First we make a short walk along the RhŰne and then return to the hotel to eat. We enjoy the food: spaghetti and lamb with a glass of wine. Afterwards weíre pretty tired already, so we donít stay up late. Weíre happy everything is already installed in the room. I had done this when Arne was eating. Constructed the baby-bed we brought, because there were no more left at the hotel. We put Arne to bed and watch some TV and then go to sleep ourselves at about ten. We had a busy day with lots of kilometres and some hours behind the wheel, but everything went well and weíre happy we reached Lyon.

Sunday April 20, 2014: From Lyon to LíEstartit: Hotel Panorama

We wake up after a good night of rest, only about an hour Arne kept us awake, so thatís still OK. First we do the complete morning ritual: diaper, wash his face, and then we do the same and a bit later we can have breakfast. Everything is really well done here, breakfast looks great and we can start to leave the stress behind and start to enjoy our vacation. It will even be better when arrive in LíEstartit, but weíre having a good start. After breakfast we clean up everything and take it back to the car and then we can start our last drive to Spain. Perfect timing: we can leave at the same time as yesterday, but need to cover less distance. Super. Arne is happy in the back of the car. We exit Lyon via the A7; the location of the hotel is really perfect. First stop at the toll house of Vienne, only take a ticket and then continue. We donít lose a lot of time and in the cities you can only drive 110 or 90 an hour, but on toll roads the limit is 130. That goes pretty fast then. We pay the first time in Montpellier today, take another ticket and then head on. The second ticket is taken out of the machine by Evy, because sheís driving now since lunch. We stopped for a short lunch for us and Arne. Everything goes well and after an hour we leave Aire de Ambrussum. Itís a bit after one in the afternoon then and there are not so many kilometres left today. Evy will continue to Spain via the A9. We are driving along the Mediterranean, up and down and we can see the mountains in the distance. The landscape is beautiful, but itís raining and is cloudy, so weíre not heading to better weather. That does not really matter: we only want to reach our end destination. About two hours later we reach the border between France and Spain. Evy pays the next toll in Le Perthus (16,70) and this is the last one in France, because in a few kilometres weíll reach Spain. A bit further we need to take another toll ticket, but thatís in Spain: La Jonquera. From this point itís only fifty more kilometres and Evy hands over the driving responsibility back to me. Weíll need to take some smaller roads to LíEstartit. And indeed: after less than ten kilometres we need to exit the highway. Itís the exit at Figueres, known from Dali. We are now on a normal road and this way this can take indeed up to an hour. I lost concentration for a minute and I take the wrong turn. We admire the local nature and driving still goes well here. GPS only added ten minutes to the estimated arrival time. The landscape is beautiful and roads are still OK to drive. Spanish people are already going out of the way, so thatís a great advantage. We pass through small villages like Garrigas, Vilopriu, Palau (not the one from the tropical islands) and continue to Verges and LíEstartit. I stop in Verges, because Iíve seen a bird, called the hoopoe that is pretty rare. Heís not very rare here, but I have only seen the bird three times in total. Evy is looking with admiration to the orange, black-white bird and then we continue, because itís been enough now.

We drive to Toroella de Montgri with the castle on a hill and then to our hotel. We quickly find our way to LíEstartit and park the car on a road next to the hotel close to the beach. Then we check in and confirm the parking spot (for five Euro per day), then to our room, feed Arne and then take everything to the room with the help of the pushchair. Iím doing very well, even if I say it myself. Two trips to the car and back to the room and unpacking will be delayed to tomorrow. We already want to walk around the village, take the pushchair and walk along the beach, we stop for an aperitif and then return to our hotel. Itís already eight in the evening, so we first give Arne his milk and then we go to the refectory of the hotel. And that is the correct naming, because itís not really cosy: huge with fluorescent lamps that make it even cosier, but the food is OK. We just arrived today, so we have dinner here: the hotel has half board included. At about nine we return to the room. Arne had fallen asleep in the restaurant, so we put him to bed and we write some reports and then go to bed too. Weíre tires, so the sleep will be good for us. At eleven weíre asleep. Tomorrow we plan a day of relaxation, swimming, making plans and relax. As from then weíll see tomorrow what weíll do.

Monday April 21, 2014: Relaxation day

We are not into a lot of action today. We adapt to the warm weather or rather the cold weather: in Belgium it was warmer the last couple of days and yes, we can use long trousers and a sweater. But heel yeah, shit happens. Mornings are always the same with Arne and then we go to have breakfast. We have the same table as yesterday evening and the food is OK, but it seems the choice is limited. We enjoy breakfast anyway. Most of the women here love Arne and his looks. Who did he inherit that from? Bacon and eggs, bread (really good) with cheese and ham, chorizo and other yummy stuff. Summary: there is enough and we enjoy breakfast. We then return to our room and the only thing we need to do is to create a planning for the rest of the week. But first we intend to ensure Arne gets used to water. We take everything to the ground floor where the inside swimming pool is located. We have a swimming diaper and swimming pants for him and quickly notice that itís nice and warm at the pool: we separately swim a bit and heís with us sitting in his Hydrokids swim seat. He seems to have fun, because heís smiling and even starts to kick his legs when you hold him without the swim seat. Itís really funny and cute, but Evy does not like it when he gets water in his mouth. If it doesnít kill you, it makes you stronger. Half an hour flies by, especially when youíre having fun. We use our towels to get dry, go to our room and take a shower. The cleaning lady has done her job and the floor is still wet when we arrive. Thanks a lot, muchas gracias.

Then itís time for Arne: vegetables with rice and then itís back to us. We try to use our Trotter-guide and free Wi-Fi (room: 410, password HHCTBDKM) to create some kind of planning. This is the plan for the next days.

Tuesday: Figueres: check out on Dali and then go to Roses for a walk. There is some confusion whether we can and need to reserve upfront for the museum, because the site indicates different things. You need to make a reservation, but you can only reserve as of 25 persons. Weíll see tomorrow.

Wednesday: I dive

Thursday: I dive again. Both days on the Medes-Islands with El Rei del Mar, the diving centre at the hotel. Is it a good choice? Weíll see.

Friday: Visit a couple of medieval villages south of LíEstartit.

Saturday: no plans yet, but maybe we go to the cava villages Cordoniu and Freixenet.

Sunday: a relaxing day.

Monday: day trip to Barcelona

Tuesday: Weíre not thinking of that day yet.

The days are pretty full, but not too busy, so weíre pretty satisfied with this. It was not the idea to fill up the days completely from morning to evening, because everything depends on the weather and what Arne allows us to do: maybe the latter takes priority over the first. Our second task of the day is already complete. We look at some other possibilities too, but the schedule is already busy and weíre here only ten days which makes it difficult to cram everything in these days. Then we take a break, make our reports and then itís again time to eat for our little guy. Evy gives one jar of fruit, then another and then a yoghurt type of thing. He was hungry. Then we go outside, because the sun is visible between the clouds. Itís not a lot and not really warm, but itís better than with the wind and the clouds. We love the walk, even find an ATM and a place to have a drink. We take our first aperitif of the day: mojito and caipirinha. Just taking a moment to cherish the sun, the drink and the tranquillity of the vacation. We even decide to eat something here, because we saw that everything they have served was looking good.

We order half a litre of wine, just house wine, I take two tapas (anchovy and stuffed peppers with seafood) and some fries. Evy has pork chops with vegetables and we like it a lot and can surely recommend Taverna Can Bernat. Until Arne decides we had enough. But timing was not so bad after all. I just finished the tapas, ask the lady to heat his food and when Iím starting to feed Arne, they bring Evyís food. We then finish the wine, pay the bill, because theyíre already closing down: itís only seven thirty, which is strange. We choose another route to the hotel and almost all shops are closed. We do find a small supermarket where we can buy some drinks and some chips: right across the street from the hotel. And then we understand: today is Easter Monday and itís normal that many shops are closed today or closing earlier than usual. We go back to the room, have a drink, write the reports, Evy continues her hand work and at about ten oíclock we go to sleep. See you all tomorrow.

Tuesday April 22, 2014: Figueres, Cap de Creus and Rosas

After a worse night than the day before we get up at seven thirty. First the usual stuff to take care of Arne and then we can go to the breakfast table. We eat what is available and thatís the same than the days before. A large hotel, large kitchen and there is little variation, but itís good enough: especially the brown bread is very nice. After our breakfast we take everything to drive to Figueres: a lot of things for Arne and for us. We leave in pouring rain for forty kilometres by car. This time we donít take the small roads as when we arrived, but use a national road with speed limit to 100. After forty-five minutes we arrive at the centre of Figueres and then we look for a parking space. Suddenly a red wall with large eggs arises at our right side, ten metres further we see a sign for a parking place, so we check it out if there are free spaces. And yes, weíre lucky. The spaces are narrow, so I need to check how I can manoeuvre between the concrete walls and then we can go into town. Up the stairs and then we look for the entrance of the museum. Itís raining still, but not that hard anymore. In these circumstances weíre not waiting in the queue to enter the museum. There is a long queue of about forty metres and it is not moving fast. So we walk around, pass by the house of Dali, because heís the central topic of Figueres of course. The museum looks nice even from the outside, everywhere in the shops, restaurants we see posters, paintings and everywhere there is in some way a reference to him.

The rain does not stop, so we enter a restaurant, tapas bar to have a drink and a snack. At the same time weíre serving Arneís lunch too. A very friendly guy from the bar helps us inside, because itís very narrow and then when weíre seated he heats up the food for Arne and after he finishes itís our turn. A local beer, San Miguel, a cola and some jamon, calamari and local meat balls. The portions are small, but thatís good, because we were not really hungry yet. Itís already past twelve, so we discuss what the next plans are. We surely are not going to stay here, because the queue is even twenty metres longer now. So weíll leave it for another time. We take the car to Roses, but our first stop is a monastery. We need to leave the main road for eight kilometres and then head back, so not that far. Itís called Monastir de Sant Pere de Rodes. The drive is magnificent. Suddenly I stop very suddenly, because I see something special on the road: a large black salamander with yellow spots and stripes. Itís a funny animal. We then head further towards the summit, sometimes see it and then we donít. We park close to the monastery and make a short walk up and down to the monastery. Itís a very nice walk. Now we see the monastery, then we donít, because the mountains and the buildings are not visible through a thick fog. It takes us fifteen minutes each way and we enjoy the tranquillity. The only thing we hear is the sound of the birds and the rest is peace and quiet. When we arrive at the monastery we turn back. Weíre not planning on paying entrance fees, so we take the same path back to the car.

We have some more time, so we stop on our way down, at kilometre pole two of eight. Here is a small parking space and there are places where you can have a barbecue. We lift the pushchair over the stairs and make a stroll. We thought the paths were better for an all-terrain pushchair, but thatís only the from-the-car-view. We enjoy the view over the surrounding area and then continue to Rosas. We want to taste the atmosphere here and enjoy the sun. Itís pretty warm in the meantime, because the car board computer indicates 21 degrees. We park the car just outside the centre and walk to the harbour. We actually donít reach the harbour, because we halt a moment to have a drink. We had not brought anything to drink with us, so we need to make sure weíre not thirsty. While we have a drink, Arne can eat and then we walk further. We had seen that there is a nice walk described in the Trotter, but we just walk about. At four thirty we go back towards LíEstartit. The first couple of kilometres we take small roads and pass through small villages, but then we can take the C-31 to Toroella de Montgri. From here itís only a small stretch to the hotel. We rest a bit, keep Arne busy, write our travel reports, look at our pictures and then we look for a good restaurant not too far away. We find this only thirty metres from the hotel: Restaurant Bravo. Thatís very nice as it becomes clear. There is nobody, really calm and we order two tapas (jamon and grilled sardines) with a bottle of Sangre de Toro and then seafood paella. Man, this tastes great! Unbelievably tasty. We almost eat everything, so it canít be bad, can it.

After dinner we return to our room, watch Champions League (Atletico Madrid Ė Chelsea), look at the bright night and the stars from our balcony and at about eleven we go to bed. It was a very nice day already, better weather than before, so we really enjoyed ourselves. Tomorrow is a day of diving for me, so Iím looking forward to that.

Wednesday April 23, 2014: Illes Medes: two dives on the islands

Yes, great, diving! I already had done one dive in The Netherlands this year, but that was mainly to just get the equipment checked before I came here. We meet downstairs at the hotel. Everything is arranged pretty professional when storage is needed. When it relates to information what needs to be done, I receive little to no info. I need to ask the instructors everything. Earlier we had a quick breakfast and now Iím just waiting for information. So I go to someone of the diving centre and try to find out more. All equipment needs to be loaded to a small van and then we need to walk to the boat. Luckily a French guy is helping out, so I follow his lead and weíll see where we get to: hopefully close to the boat. I quickly say goodbye to Evy and Arne and then we walk for about twenty minutes to the harbour. Along the beach and then to the harbour and then we stop half way because there are more divers present. One of the instructors asks me if itís OK that I dive with him for the first dive: yeah, sure no problem. Heís accompanying a French family and weíll be diving together. According to the short information I receive, it will be a shallow dive and not too long. We leave immediately and after less than ten minutes weíre at the diving spot. I forgot the name at this moment, but Iíll ask later on.

Everybody is ready and we can start the dive. During our briefing the instructor told us it will be pretty simple: from the boat an underwater rock, keeping the wall on our left hand side and when turning back the other way around. Indeed, nice and easy. I notice immediately that the visibility is not so good: there are floating things in the water and that causes some dust, but Iím not complaining: the visibility is fifteen meters. Because Iím used to The Netherlands, this is ridiculously good. We just diving like a train behind the instructor and he takes us in the right direction. After five minutes we already see the first bass and many more will follow here. There are many small fish that are rapidly moving. Those are small blennies, the long striped blenny and the black-faced blenny. The nice part is that these species are beautiful, but they appear and disappear very quickly, when coming closer with the camera. Then the instructor shows us a moray eel and then the first nudibranch: itís rather a flatworm, but it doesnít matter. The next nudibranch is spotted too; my dive is already a success. The leopard sea slug is a funny one: the white one with the brown stripes. We constantly dive along some kind of white plants, but Iím not really sure what they are. Half way during our dive we reach the rock that was discussed during the briefing and itís indeed the same way back, only not so deep. Iím really having fun and am taking some pictures. Iím especially happy I have brought my dry suit, because the water here is only fourteen degrees, so pretty chilly. Our way back goes faster, because some divers in our group are getting cold and thatís not really remarkable. We pass a large rock where the anchor for the buoy is, dive five minutes further and then five back. We donít spot anything special anymore, but Iím just enjoying myself. A large anemone, a type of coral and the small damselfish who are hanging over the rocks here: a beautiful view with the sunbeams gliding down through the water. A great start for diving and it lasted still a bit over fifty minutes.

Then we head back by boat, on foot, give everything a place in the storage room and then I go to our room: Iím very happy with this first dive: an easy one to tart with is always nice. We need to feed Arne and then we go and grab a bite too. We walk along the beach and have lunch at Gran Cafť, where they speak Dutch. Nice touch! We have a salad and drink something and then return to the hotel. I need to be back at the diving centre at two thirty and weíre well on time. First a quick stop in our room and then load everything on the truck and walk to the harbour where we can board the boat. Itís the second, better third time we take this walk and weíll know this by the end of the day. This afternoon the instructor is not diving, so Iím diving together with two French ladies. The diving spot is Dofi Nord, because there is a bronze status of a dolphin at the end of a long tunnel, but we wonít reach it today. We receive a briefing, decide the three of us which part weíre going to dive and then we prepare everything to start our second dive of the day.

At the start one of the ladies has some problems to descend, but that is soon over and we dive towards the entrance of the tunnel, so back up a bit, because we were at nine metres and the entrance to the tunnel is at five metres depth: all the efforts to equalize for nothing. It doesnít really matter because I took a fifteen litre tank this afternoon. We swim to the entrance and one of the ladies starts to look a bit in panic, not really clear, but this means weíre not going through the tunnel. There is plenty of life to spot on this side too, so no problem at all. The first thing I see is a dahlia anemone, but I wanted to make sure Iím spotting nudibranchs, because also my two buddies wanted to spot nudibranchs. And yes, there is the first one already: a leopard sea slug, smaller than the one of this morning, but quite nice. We follow the wall at our right hand side and donít dive deeper than fifteen metres and we take it very slowly. We see a beautiful swim through and itís really great how the sun is playing on the reef here. A lonely bream is feeding from the ricks and we slowly continue our dive. We are mainly focused on nudibranchs and other small things. I spot a couple, really beautiful creatures, but the rest of the dive is not very special. We spot some corals, mainly red ones, really great. I continue the dive with Elyseťe and Christelle, two nice divers who are not looking for depth and are interested in nudibranchs. Thatís a great combination. In total we spot about five different species and the last one is the most beautiful one: a white body, yellow and white tentacles on the front and on the back purple-red with white-blue tips. A great find. Just before that I saw another dahlia anemone and a yellow anemone that was eating a nudibranch, also a strange sight. We again dive about fifty minutes and itís almost at the end now. The dive is great, but tomorrow there are two more and hopefully the best still has to come.

We take our equipment off and talk about the dive, wait for the last divers to return and then we can leave. The trip to the harbour is very short and in less than ten minutes weíre there. Everything is loaded onto the truck, we walk back to the hotel and then store everything for tomorrow. I then return to the room to my two loved ones, talk about our day and especially the afternoon and what I saw during the dive and then itís time to take a shower and a bath. I take Arne with me under the shower and then itís time for his last meal of the day and we start to look for something to eat too. We donít walk too far, only two blocks and there we find a great restaurant Villa Tascons and there we eat and have a drink. First we have a collection of local tapas and then I have scampi and Evy has mixed grill. During our vacation you need to do whatever you like. The lady of the restaurant explains to Evy there is a mercado tomorrow and that she needs to go and take a look. Sheíll certainly do that tomorrow. We walk back to the hotel and then watch some TV and go to sleep. Itís getting late and tomorrow early morning Iíll be starting the day with another dive.

Thursday April 24, 2014: Illes Medes: Pedra de Deu and Medaillot

Pedra de Deu is a small island situated just at the northern point of the Meda Gran and descends in the shape of a pyramid covered with gorgonians down to 40m. Most common species: Violescent sea-whip (Gorgonian), red coral, groupers, sea bream, congers.

Medallot itís a dive with easy orientation. We will just go round the small island trying to perform an ascending spiral following the vertical walls. The most common species in the area: sea whips, red coral, invertebrates, lobsters, groupers, cow bream, sea bream and many blennies.

These are the two diving spots weíre visiting today: the first one before lunch, the second one in the afternoon, but Iím already going ahead of everything now. First thing today we wake up after a short night, especially for me, because since yesterday I have a cold, wake up in the middle of the night and then I canít get to sleep again because of my sinuses and then I start thinking that I might not be able to dive today. It all took over an hour, so I donít really get up relaxed. Try to relax and get a refreshing shower this morning and I hope everything will work out perfectly. Iíll explain to the guide that it can be difficult and I might need to end the dive early. But first thereís breakfast, prepare for the dive, load everything and then leave to the harbour. Now I donít have any questions anymore, because everything is the same as yesterday, only the group Iím going with, is a different one. A large group of French divers who are causing a fuzz quite often. We walk to the harbour, now Evy and Arne join me, then we say goodbye for about two hours and Ií boarding the vessel and Evy and Arne are going to the market. After less than ten minutes weíre there and Iím diving with Olivier and Anna. They did not have a problem to take me with them. It turns out theyíre already coming here for many years and have been diving here for many years too. The start is not so good, because I was seated too far away from them. When theyíre already prepared, I still need to start. But everything is OK and we can start the dive.

The briefing had no real value for Olivier, because he knew the spot as good as the guide. We descend to about ten metres and then continue along the wall to the abyss. But first I already spot something. Iím thrilled when I see the dondice banyulensis, because this is one of the most beautiful nudibranchs here. Really magnificent: this dive is already now a huge success. Some translate it as Lady Godiva. In Dutch itís known as Burning Fire. And indeed the nudibranch looks like that. Marvellous orange tips, really a great find. I really wanted to see this and so mission accomplished. Great. We then continue to deeper places and see some gorgonians, yellow and red ones. We see an octopus who shows the eyes and arms from a cavity. Iím already very happy. A couple of metres further Olivier sees a moray eel, again, great find. And then I see another species of a nudibranch: itís really amazing, or is this just luck? This time itís a blue one with yellow stripes: it is a great nature reserve to spot nudibranchs here. From this last species I even see two at the same time. The whole part of the dive we see damselfish and red basses eating and then we reach the gorgonians. Whow, what the hell is this. In the canyon at thirty metres depth, that continues to even forty, I see that both sides left and right and also the top side is overgrown with gorgonians. Itís difficult to describe, but it is so beautiful: I had no idea that the Mediterranean would supply with me this abundance. A magnificent view. The canyon is completely filled with them, you really need to pay attention where you dive and ensure you donít hit one. It takes only three seconds to destroy one of thirty centimetres that needed as much years to become that big. Iím really thrilled I have seen this.

Weíre below thirty metres now and our dive is already a while going on, so we donít need to stay here too long. We swim towards the shallower rocks. We steadily dive shallower until about twenty metres and then see a scorpionfish. First spot this dive, so thatís nice. The fish is rather large: this is really an amazing dive. Between the rocks I spot some kind of crab, a dahlia anemone, a baby-nudibranch that I canít identify. Then I see a red headed blenny, looks like a relative of the yellow version I saw. Super, great, amazing. Weíre not swimming that deep any longer, so we are ending the dive. Or not. At about eight metres we see a huge bass, so we go and take a look. We go back down to the fish, then finish our safety stop and then go to the surface. Itís only a swim of ten metres to the boat and then we can straighten everything out and head back to the mainland. Again the same principle. Everything from the boat onto the truck and we walk back, drop everything off and then return to the room. The two Swiss are diving this afternoon too so Iím happy I can join them then too.

Arne is eating and when heís finished we also have lunch. A small spaghetti bolognese with cola and mojito (thatís for Evy). After about an hour weíre done and return to the room. I rest a little bit, because Iím tired. The short break is good then I start preparing again for the fourth and last dive here. Go down to the diving centre, put all the gear on the truck, walk to the harbour and wait until the boat arrives. This time Iíve taken a seat closer to Olivier and Anna so we can start the dive at the same time. Everything goes well and we can start. We jump from the boat and descend, diving around a rock that is visible from the mainland: Medaillot is the name of the spot. The idea is to make a couple of turns around the rock and then come back to the surface. When we see some small anemones this means weíre at the correct side of the rock to find the boat easily. We received a good explanation during the briefing and we start with the rock at our right hand side. We immediately descend to the deep, about thirty metres and then we start our first round. Or not. We stop close to a scorpionfish, the same as the one we saw this morning, I stop to spot a lobster, but I donít have the time to show it to the other two, because otherwise theyíre going to leave me behind. And thatís not what we want. We see plenty of gorgonians, not the size of this morning. Many nudibranchs or better flatworms, the blue one with the white strips and then brown one but theyíre beautiful. We also look at the surface from time to time and then see the damselfish and the basses hanging alongside the rock, they look like small balls going with the flow. There is not a lot of current, so thatís very nice. On land and during the boat trip here there was quite some wind, but we notice nothing from that here during the dive.

And then there is again a nudibranch moment for me. A Flabelina ischitana is wrapped around a piece of algae with the purple body, the red tentacles and on top the white dots. Great, I spotted another species today. Itís really great what you can see here, especially nudibranchs. Iíve never seen this in the Mediterranean Sea, not on Malta, not in Greece; these were the countries I had been diving earlier. Stop here for a couple of moments and then dive closer to my buddies. In a small cave I see a moray eel and because weíre located here itís called the Mediterranean moray eel. We see the same kinds of coral and fish. And another moray eel and a tube worm. On one rock there are even five or six tubes next to each other. I also see the eggs of a nudibranch, theyíre orange and thatís also beautiful to see, almost as beautiful as the nudibranchs themselves. We see other divers and they point us to an octopus. He has been hiding in a cavity and that means photo-time. Another moray eel and then weíve passed the shadow already twice. This means that we need to see the sun a last time and then should see the anemone that the guide described during briefing. And indeed, at about six metres depth we see dozens of anemones and we now know that the dive has almost ended. Just before we reached this stretch we saw a group of small fish going apart as if somethingís wrong. And that was the case: a large predator was seen. I donít know which one, but itís a big and beautiful fish: a dark head and body and a blue stripe along the side. He passes by me a couple of metres away, but heís so fast I canít take any good pictures. And then itís finished for the day and this vacation. We dive back to the boat, get on it. Or better: we use the elevator on board to get in: really very luxurious: on the lift, the crew is helping you with your fins, really great service. Then the trip goes back to the harbour over a rough sea and we walk back to the hotel. I immediately take all my gear back to the room.

When Iím back in our room Iím very happy I can see Evy and Arne back and after a shower and the baby-bottle we prepare for supper. Because we had a busy day, walking, diving, shopping and the sea-air that makes you tired, we stay at the hotel. I have a cold, so weíre not paying a lot of money for food when I canít even taste it. We have a drink and eat something and then go back to the room. Arne goes to bed and we watch some football on the TV and then go to bed at about ten oíclock. Tomorrow weíre going to visit some villages from the Middle Ages. Weíre looking forward to it; it can be really great. Hopefully the weather is not going to be a problem. The forecasts are not that good. Sleep tight Estartit.

Friday April 25, 2014: Theme of the day: Dali and medieval villages

The morning sun wakes us after a good night and we can get up with a happy face. Arne has his milk and we prepare for a day out and we take him too of course. Immediately after breakfast we leave and thatís at about ten. We directly drive to our first stop of the day: Pubol. The museum Casa-Museu Castell Gala Dali is located here. A mouth full just to say that this was the castle of Daliís wife, now turned into a museum. Itís not far away from LíEstartit, only twenty kilometres and we arrive there pretty quickly. We park the car, check things out with Arne, but quickly learn that itís not allowed to take the pushchair inside. So Evy uses the baby sling to carry Arne and we go inside: the first museum of Arne and itís one of Dali; hopefully everything turns out well with our baby. The castle is in Pubol, but the village is nothing more than a couple of houses. We pay eight Euro entrance fee and check out what there is to see. We start with the museum and see the different rooms in the castle, bathroom, kitchen, bedroom and dining room. There are quite some rooms in here, but they all are small. We look at the collection of dresses and the wardrobe of Gala. These dresses have quite a modern look. Everywhere we see pictures of Dali, some with a normal expression on his face on the others he has completely mad eyes. A nice museum. We also check out the garage on the ground floor and there are still two cars: one old Datsun and a Cadillac with a Monťgasque license plate. Great car. We continue the walk to the garden and there we see the two famous statues of the eliphants of Dali, then the pond that is actually a swimming pool. The water comes in the pool through the head of a sea-devil. The last thing we visit here is the crypt where Gala is buried. There is also a second grave, but Dali wanted to be buried in Figueres. Nice call, considering that Gala was his wife and muse.

After an hour weíve seen everything here, we get out and sit down on a terrace right across the street, restaurant Can Bosch and have a drink. We also ask them to heat the vegetables of Arne and he eats everything very nice. Then itís time to leave here. Our next stop is Ullastret. According to the travel guide Trotter we should be able to visit excavations, ruins of an old Iberian city. We see streets, swimming pools, sleeping quarters and even a temple, at least the ruins. We walk around here a while and now I am carrying Arne. The Iberian tribe Indigetes have built all this and you can clearly see the influence of the Greek, especially in the museum. There are vases, coins and other finds for which you can clearly notice the Greek influence. Apparently also of the Romans and the ancient Egyptian god Bes. Itís a nice museum and you can see many things here: glasses, jewels, coins. We check everything out and like this museum. I did not even know that there were Iberian tribes going back to the second century after Christ, but then I remembered history lessons and the time when I learnt ancient Greek and Latin. We stay here for half an hour and when we come back outside we notice that there is a very hard wind. The views are great here, but we donít like the wind, so letís go somewhere else.

We get in the car and drive without a real target. Weíll see where the road takes us. First we head for Bisbal díEmporda, drive through and then pass a couple of medieval mini-villages and we drive to the centre of one of them: CruÔlles. Itís a magnificent medieval village just like the others and is located on a hill and that provides great views. We spot two hoopoes and we stop to watch these beautiful birds. Itís great weíve already seen three of them this vacation. We drive on without a real cause and decide to stop in Peratallada. We park the car just outside the centre and via small paths we walk to the main square. The streets are so narrow and the houses look old, itís really impressive. Large arcades cover the streets and the walls are overgrown with climbing plants, a great view. We think weíve chosen one of the most beautiful villages here and think itís a very good idea. The streets are paved with cobblestones and itís funny to see how much Arne is having fun racing over these stones in the pushchair: heís having a great time and we enjoy the great architecture of this village. We almost see every corner of the villages and watch the buildings and streets. After a walk of about twenty minutes we want to have a drink and itís also time for Arne. He eats his fruit and soft cheese. We have a sandwich with bacon and a hamburger. Both are very tasty and we drink a beer and a cola: this is not really a punishment. We have chosen a great place: out of the wind in a great scenery between houses that are very old. A couple of houses are now a place for a restaurant and there are many tourists. Weíre not surprised, because the atmosphere that is around every corner is super. Old lanterns are still hanging from the walls, the fences are new, but are a perfect match to all other things. After our late lunch we have no clue what to do next, so we pass by a village Pals on our way, a beautiful village, but we donít stop. Drive through Bergus, but that is too busy for us, so we take the car back to LíEstartit and half an hour later weíre there.

We park the car and go to our room. We finish some of our reports and then prepare for dinner. Evy and Arne take a shower and then we feed Arne. Iím not very hungry and am a bit tired, so we decided to stay here at the hotel. Arne falls asleep, we return to the room at nine thirty and check out the pictures and then go to sleep at about eleven. Weíre pretty tired too. We go to bed after a short break on our balcony where we saw two ferries passing by. If they stop here it will be too busy tomorrow, but hopefully they will continue to Rosas or even further. Goodnight everyone.

Saturday April 26, 2014: Before lunch take it easy, Peralada in the afternoon

At seven thirty we wake up, perform our standard things in the morning and have breakfast. Before noon we had nothing planned so we considered having a stroll through LíEstartit. And thatís what weíll do. We take everything and walk along the water. We pass the harbour, all the restaurants where weíve been the last couple of days. We think itís really beautiful here. You can see the sea and the islands and behind the village there are a couple of hills climbing into the sky, really very nice. And then there is everything that weíve seen in this area: itís really a great destination. At the end of the harbour there is a small and quiet bay where people were snorkelling a couple of days, but now the sea is flat. When we left the hotel at about ten it was a bit chilly, but by lunch time itís getting warmer: the forecast said it would be a great day. We enjoy the view and I check out some of the diving shops here, but thereís not really something that I need. And only buy something because itís cheaper here, is not very wise. We take a break from time to time and are reaching the two hours weíre walking. Around lunch time it gets busier, because everybody is enjoying the weather. This morning we were almost completely alone here. Now itís even better and nicer. We take it easy and return to our room for Arne. Itís more comfortable for us here than at a restaurant.

After Arne has eaten itís time for action, or better to drive to Peralada. This is a village that we know from the cava Perelada (so not identical to the name of the village) and itís only one hour away. We take the car and it takes us about forty five minutes to get there. Itís not that far away from Figueres, so we knew the way already. We arrive at the village and look for a place to park. That goes pretty fast. We check what there is. Weíve read that the park is worth a visit. We can enter partially and see the castle with the two towers overgrown with plants and we hope we can see everything, but the park is not open today. Letís take a look at the museum then. We find the entrance of the staff, but not the one for the visitors, so I guess itís closed today. So we head into the village. We walk through the streets, have the impression this is an old nice village, but itís not comparable to Peretallada yesterday. Itís nice, but nothing special. A church, a couple of steep roads, a square where tomorrow there will be a large party and so we return to the cava shop. We donít have the possibility today to have a tour or tastings. Bad luck, but we did not know upfront that we would come here and certainly not when.

So we go and have lunch, because itís almost three oíclock and all three of us want to eat. We order a pizza and a spaghetti (macaroni) bolognese. The pizza is made the same as margarita and then they add some stuff, because they did not have the pizza I wanted. That does not really matter, because itís tasty and we drink cola and a beer. And when Arne is finished our food is there. Just on time to not get cold. We enjoy the food and then pay the bill and pass by the cava shop here. We buy six normal bottles of cava brut, three rosada and then three bottles of red wine: 5 fincas. We did not even know that they also had wine here, so letís try it. We leave the two cartons here and will pick them up with the car, otherwise it will be very hard to carry them to the parking. Thatís not a problem. Just before we leave they even help us to put everything in the trunk. If the park and the museum was open, it would take a bit more time, but now after two hours weíve seen it all and itís time to return to LíEstartit. It takes about the same time to get there. We park the car in the five-Euro-per-day parking of the hotel and head to our room. We want to eat something afterwards and we leave at about eight.

We go down the hotel street, not to the sea this time, but we want to try one of the other streets whether we can find something nice there. We quickly see a nice terrace and restaurant. We can eat outside, because that was not yet possible the last days. And we really enjoy everything here. First we order drinks and what do we see here on the menu: yes, indeed the bottle of Perelada 5 Fincas. So we certainly need to taste. We now also know what profit the restaurant has on the wine, but itís well earned. First we have sword razors, then haddock and veal. Both are the best. And then we also have a desert: sorbet and strawberries in chocolate, amazing. And that for eighty Euro for the both of us. Les Corones is a very good restaurant. Then we start to get tired and return to the hotel. We watch some TV and go to sleep at eleven.

Sunday April 27, 2014: Barcelona

Today we have the big trip to Barcelona. Weíre in the neighbourhood, so we think we need to visit the city. We are having some thoughts, because everybody (Trotter, websites) were telling people with foreign license plates not to park their cars in the city. Weíre going to try anyway, not just on the street, but a parking underground with security. We found one close to Arc de Triomf, Place CommerÁal. This looks OK. We leave here at about nine after breakfast and after weíve taken all our and Arneís stuff. We first drive to Toroella, then Verges and then to Gerona and then the highway to Barcelona. In Verges the GPS directs us to the small roads we were following the day we arrived. We look surprised, but weíll see where it takes us. We follow the small roads and via a couple of mini-villages we arrive on a larger road and within half an hour we reach the AP7 to Barcelona. We take a ticket for the toll and continue. The trip goes fast at 130 kilometres an hour, we pass Lloret de Mar, but donít stop. We reach Barcelona after one hour and forty-five minutes. Itís a strange feeling because you think you are there, but thereís still twenty kilometres to go. From one highway to the next and that way weíll get there. It would have been easier when we would have taken the correct route the first time, but in the end we find everything easily, also the parking under the Arc de Triomf, park without any problem and then can start our Barcelona-tour.

When we exit the underground parking we see there is a huge festival taking place: there are stalls everywhere with food, drinks, things to do and things to buy. We walk towards the arc through the crowd and then we try to find our way through the small streets. Eventually I have success in doing that, find the correct orientation and walk to the PlaÁa de Catalunya. Here starts (or ends) the Ramblas and we need to see that. We use subway stations to find our correct orientation and arrive on the ramblas that way. The crowd is even bigger here, but itís a nice atmosphere. We need to adapt, because we come from the peace of LíEstartit and need to adapt to the crowds in a huge city, not as easy as we think. Weíre half way down the ramblas, are thirsty and Arne is hungry and we still havenít found a nice place. And then hidden we see a tavern, cafe, cafeteria. Letís check this out. Arne can eat and so can we: jamon croquettes and chicken wings with San Miguel and a cola. I donít remember the name of the place, but Iíll need to find it. Itís really a nice place. Restaurant La Xenirola. The jamons hang from the ceiling as in more places here and they really look tasty. From here we take the route on the ramblas to the coast and donít really stop on the way, weíre just checking out everything here: we only stop at the mime artists at the end of the road. Some are artists, not all of them, some are ridiculous, but some can really perform.

From here our walk takes us through small streets parallel to the main sea boulevard and in the end weíll reach our destination too. We pass a square the Placa de la MercŤ where we have a fountain and a church, the Church of Our Lady of Mercy and we like it here. Until now our first impression of Barcelona is that itís a mega-city, hectic and pretty dirty on the roads and on the houses. A lot of walls are ruined by the graffiti, not beautiful painting, but just the Ďpainterí tags and that is ugly. Maybe itís also related to the bad situation of the road in general. What makes everything worth the visit are the different beautiful buildings, the church we just saw, the cathedral weíre heading to. Half way down Via Laietana we indeed see the cathedral, on the left a large sign of Gaudi, although he has nothing to do with it. The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia (Catalan: Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulŗlia, Spanish: Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia), also known as Barcelona Cathedral, is the Gothic cathedral and seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain. The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century. The cloister, which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) was completed in 1448. In the late 19th century, the neo-Gothic faÁade was constructed over the nondescript exterior that was common to Catalan churches. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals, both domestic and mythical. We canít enter the cathedral, because you need to be properly dressed and that means the knees and shoulders need to be covered. So we just rest here and continue towards Sagrada Familia. From the cathedral itís only an hour to get there. We take a small detour to the Pedrera de Gaudi, but we canít see a thing, everything is covered. The queue is about an hour long and weíre not doing that, so we head for Sagrada Familia.

The BasŪlica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada FamŪlia (English: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family), is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni GaudŪ (1852Ė1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral which must be the seat of a bishop. Construction of Sagrada FamŪlia had commenced in 1882 and GaudŪ became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. GaudŪ devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada FamŪlia's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of GaudŪ's death. The basŪlica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona: over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona's cathedral, over GaudŪ's design itself, over the possibility that work after GaudŪ's death disregarded his design, and the recent proposal to build an underground tunnel of Spain's high-speed rail link to France which could disturb its stability. Describing Sagrada FamŪlia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said, "It is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art" and Paul Goldberger called it, "The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages."

Via the Pau Claris and the ProvanÁa we make our way to the basilica. Because we did not know about the works in progress we were a bit disappointed that everything is surrounded with cranes, but if you know all about it, itís not surprising that theyíre still building. Two cranes, lot of sculptures and walls are covered, but you can see how big and beautiful it is. Here in the park at the base of Sagrada Familia the six months old Arne eats his fruit and we take pictures, have a drink, have an ice cream and then start our return to the parking. We walk for about half an hour and then we reach Arc de Triomf. We take some more pictures and then we go underground and hope everything is still OK. And yes, weíre lucky, no broken windows, no damage, great! Or rather: should this not be normal. We pay almost seventeen Euro and then leave back to LíEstartit. Now itís a lot easier, just follow Gerona and weíll get there. First leave Barcelona (toll of 1.61 Euro) then take a ticket a bit further and then drive and drive. We drive until we need to leave the highway at Gerona Norte. Now navigation software sends us again on a different route. Toll is now 8.10, this morning it was 9.85, so not that much anyway. We enjoy the ride and are home at about six thirty: one and a half hours, not so bad.

We donít do a lot anymore the rest of the day, because weíre pretty tired of our trip. We take a shower, write our reports, play around, have dinner at eight, then watch some pictures on TV and then go to bed at ten thirty.

Monday April 28, 2014: Easy-going with the family

Today thereís nothing planned. At first we thought we would take a boat excursion or go to a bird park, but weíre going to keep it slowly today, so weíre totally relaxed when leaving tomorrow. Arne wakes us up at about seven, so he immediately gets his milk and we can go to the breakfast table. Weíve had enough of this type of breakfast, but yeah itís only breakfast. Food gurus will now start to shout that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We take it easy, return to our room after breakfast and take everything to have a swim in the pool. We brought everything for ourselves and for Arne to swim. It looks as if he does not like it today at the start, but eventually it becomes clear he likes water and the pool. We play in the pool for about half an hour, not too long, because there is too much chloride in the water and then go back to the room. We take a shower and then it is lunch time for Arne, mashed vegetables. He eats everything well and then itís our turn. We take a walk to the end of the boulevard and sit down to enjoy the good weather. Apart from the first couple of days, the weather has been nice. We have a snack at the Dutch bar where we were earlier this week. I have a sandwich burger and Evy has a salad with chicken. This time theyíve put the grilled meat on a skewer, but itís as good as the first time. We have a drink and then walk back to the hotel.

At the hotel we play with Arne, enjoy the view and the beautiful weather and actually donít do a lot anymore. We write some more reports and check the older ones, enjoy the pictures weíve taken and take it easy. We have decided to do nothing anymore and at about seven itís almost time to go for dinner. First we feed Arne and then go. It seems as if weíve done nothing else apart from swimming, walks and eat and actually this is the case, but above everything weíve enjoyed our last day here. When we had the paella last time there was another type on the menu and weíre trying that tonight. I thought it was paella de Catalonia, but actually itís of Valencia. The waiter says itís almost the same, only the name of a different region. So I suggest we try it: paella with chicken, duck and rabbit and what do you think: it tastes great. As an appetizer (tapas) we have squid rings, anchovy and tomato bread, really great. We have a bottle of red wine with it and donít stay up very late. We have the theme today to ENJOY. From the point of view of the costs this is no problem, because itís not very expensive. Also itís not very busy. After dinner with desert this time we return to the room and rest a bit from a day of rest and relaxation. We go to bed on time, because tomorrow we have a serious trip to Lyon and therefore we need to be OK. A part of the cases are already prepared for the trip and is already in the car, so there is not very much to do tomorrow.

Tuesday April 29, 2014: Trip back to Lyon

We do everything in the morning like before: milk for Arne, breakfast for us and then we need to pack, so weíre able to leave on time. We can quickly pack the rest and put it in the car. I need to descend three times to transport everything to the ground floor. There I load everything in the back of the car and I load it the same way as earlier and that seems to work out fine. We only have the two cartons of cava and they take some extra space, but everything fits well inside. As if the car was constructed for us. Weíre finished at about nine and only need to check out at the reception. Thatís done quickly, because everything was available at the reception and our friend MasterCard is paying for everything anyway. The hotel was good, the only thing we found was that they could provide more information in general and that the people at the restaurant could be a bit friendlier. The Spanish women here almost look like police officers, although I need to admit that half way our stay here it got better. And yes, breakfast could be better, but all in all it was a good hotel, especially big rooms and large balcony. Weíre glad we stayed here and can return with a happy face. We could have stayed here longer, but our friend Cartouche is waiting for our return. We missed him of course.

At a bit after ten we leave here and drive to Toroella; there we fill up the gas tank a last time and normally that should be enough until Belgium unless there are traffic jams on our way back, but during the week that should normally not be a problem. Once we leave the gas station Evy takes the wheel, because she preferred not to drive onto the very busy road in Estartit and then we head for Figueres. There we take the highway and take a ticket for the toll in Spain. It wonít take long, because half an hour later we leave the country and only pay a couple of Euros. The A7 is not very expensive. And then we drive to Lyon. Iím driving these last kilometres, because I like driving in traffic jams abroad in big cities. We continue in France and have our first stop in Aire de Narbonne-Vinassan. There itís time for Arneís lunch. He eats very well and one hour later weíre back on the road already. We also take something for us to eat and drink and then take on the next hundreds of kilometres. Itís going well, not as good as our inward journey, but still OK. During the weekend when we came here most of the road works were not active, but now they are. That means a speed limit of 110 or 90 (sometimes even 70) and it goes slower than when they were not here. Makes sense huh? There are also more cars now and we especially notice more trucks.

As said itís going well and at about three oíclock weíre about hundred kilometres from Lyon. We give Arne his fruits, drink a coffee and then continue towards Lyon. Now we donít take the wrong direction like we did the first time and leave the highway on time. We see on our GPS that there is a traffic jam in 1.2 kilometres and get off the highway two hundred metres further. Good planning I would say. We cross the bridge, continue to the roundabout and then easily find the parking. We did well and had luck not being in any traffic jams, so weíre quite happy. Last week we asked for a childrenís bed, so we can leave ours in the car. Only our stuff, a couple of things for Arne and the pushchair. We check in and go to our room. Everything is perfectly OK. Weíre early and well on time to explore the surroundings here. But in this part of the city there is not a lot to see, only the River RhŰne. There is a pedestrian walk along the river and we follow this to the other side than last week. We see many people jogging, watch the swans and the baby ducks that are swimming in the water. A pleasant walk of about an hour and then we go to the restaurant at the hotel. We have the same things as before, because we liked it a lot. Now we also have a bottle of Saint Emilion and then a dessert (cheese and moelleux). They have a great chef here. Then we return to our room and watch some soccer. Although itís not a nice game. Real Madrid beats Bayern Munich in the Champions League. I regret that the best playing team loses, but Iím not really objective. We go to bed after the game.

Wednesday April 30, 2014: The last stretch home

We donít want to leave too late from Lyon, because it will be a long day anyway, so we get up on time, give Arne his milk and then get ready for our own breakfast. The showers at the hotel are very good, so we enjoy that and then have breakfast. We only need to return to the room to pick some things up and then can start the last part to the north of France, Luxembourg and Belgium. We check out, load everything in the car, have a chat at the reception and see that Arne has success with the women. Then we get out of the parking lot and drive through busy Lyon. Itís not even that bad, because itís not very busy and after a couple of kilometres weíre on the A6 north. I continue driving until lunch; we were lucky with traffic and had some bad weather, but mostly just cloudy and no rain. We think thatís really nice, because when it rains youíre only allowed to drive at 110 per hour and not 130. Everything goes well and we look for a place to eat and to feed Arne. We find this in Aire de Langres-Noidant. Also here we donít spend a lot of time and after an hour we can already continue. We had a good lunch and then Evy takes the wheel and sheíll do this until Luxembourg. We donít want to stop a lot, so we continue as long as we can. When we pass the last toll (Gye, close to Nancy) itís about time to stop, but we want to continue until Luxembourg. We reach it easily. Arne was getting hungry and already we were giving him some cookies. Itís not too difficult to keep him quiet and once weíre there at about four thirty he can have his fruit. He eats everything without any problem. We can also use a break and from here Iím driving again. We drive through the busy traffic of Luxembourg, because it got busier from Nancy and in Metz itís busy like hell. Weíre in the middle of rush hour, but weíre never standing still.

We stop at the first Total gas station in Belgium and there fill up and here it starts to rain heavily. This is not so funny, because itís dangerous; from time to time you have no visibility and then there are some idiots passing you when youíre already doing 130. Everything is OK, no traffic jams, some slower traffic, but not to a standstill. And then we arrive at the ring way of Brussels: disaster strikes. Then youíve covered 1200 kilometres and then it takes forty-five minutes between Sint Stevens Woluwe and the exit to the A12. Unbelievable. Evy needs to give cookies to Arne as I did earlier, because in the end weíre home an hour later than expected. Thatís not very good. The better part is that once weíre home mum Linda comes to our place eats fries with us and has a drink. And she has done some groceries for our return home, which earns a thank you. The report of today is pretty short, because not a lot has happened: mainly driving and driving, but thatís it. In the meantime weíve already scheduled our next vacation too, so weíre already looking forward to that.