The view is from our balcony – taken seconds before we marched out to have a bath in the warm waters of the Atlantic.
Oh, it‘s a hard life!
When Michael and I travelled all around the world in 2010 in six months I actually had launched my very first blog. Unfortunately, we did not pay attention to it later when Apple discontinued the blog service and the complete website got lost. Now I found out that thanks to a synchronisation with Facebook a lot of my texts are still there! Let me try to recollect all those memories and re-live that once-in-a-life-time experience. So stay tuned when the first entries appear.
After extensive travel planning and based on an All-Around-The-World Plane Ticket by One World (British Airways, LAN, Cathay Pacific, etc.) we came up with the following route:
- Brazil (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Vitoria)
- Buenos Aires
- Peru (Cuzco & Lima)
- Colombia (Cartagena & Bogota)
- Santiago de Chile
- San Francisco
- China round trip (Beijing, Shanghai, Xian)
- Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima)
- Thailand (Phuket)
- New Zealand (Christchurch)
- Australia (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne)
Here is a selection of panoramic photos Michael took in 2017.
I made a selection of our favourite selfies Michael took last year during our sabbatical.
Cava is the protected name for sparkling wine that is produced in Catalonia – its production process is similar to Champagne, however, more reasonably priced than the French one. Sant Sadurni d´Anoia is the town – just 45 minutes away from Barcelona – where 90% of the Cava production takes place.
So, for the 75th birthday of Michael´s father we planned a surprise day in the wine area. We could easily get there by train (45 minutes, 2,70 Euro per person one way ticket) and our first destination was a 15 minutes walk away from the train station. Sant Sadurni is also home of Freixenet – the largest Cava producer for the German market and since recently also 100% owned by Henkell, part of Dr. Oetker (Germany) – we passed quickly by their huge facilities for Cava mass production before arriving to Giró i Giró.
Giró i Giró
Giró i Giró is a traditional family run winery (since 1926) that only produces 60,000 bottles per year. After an excellent private tour through their premises and their storage place we got a better understanding of the fermentation and bottling process.
The next highlight was the Cava tasting – we were able to try out 6 different exquisite ecological Cavas, several of them have received renowned medals (such as the SELECTE 2008). Giró i Giró has a lovely courtyard where to host the wine tasting. On weekends it is even possible to rent a spot at the barbecue. You only pay 9 Euro and get a bottle of Cava with it and can bring your own food for the day. This is great offer and lots of families from Barcelona and the surroundings take advantage of this for a family get together.
Restaurant El Centre
Quite tipsy we continued to the fantastic Restaurant El Centre in the middle of the sleepy town of Sant Sadurni. It was an amazing experience and I can only confirm how they present themselves on their website: “The textures, colors and flavors are paramount in our dishes, cooked with the best ingredients of Catalan cuisine and continuing to advance with our own proposals of the season, an environment designed to satisfy all the senses.”
We had a 4-course menu with an excellent service and per person half a bottle of Cava or wine for stunning 22 Euro. Merrily and with high spirits we left the restaurant to continue to the final part of this day trip out of Barcelona.
Simón Coll Xocolaters
Just a few streets further we entered the chocolate museum of Simón Coll Xocolaters, producer of artisan chocolate since 1840. Next to getting a glimpse into their production process, they also provided a fine explanation of the origin of cacao and its fermentation process. We also learned: Combine Cava and Chocolate for a gourmet experience!
Sant Sadurni d´Anoia
Before heading back to the station we strolled a little bit through the sleepy town – being the center of Cava production in the whole world! Enjoy some snapshots and stay tuned, we are busy with packaging this into a The Barcelona Feeling private tour!
PS: Check out The Barcelona Feeling – Private Guided Tours and discover more than the usual!
It was my tenth visit to San Francisco – for me it is like home no. 4 (after Dortmund, Amsterdam and Barcelona). The outline of the city on the hills, the skyline (now added with the Salesforce Tower) and of course the Golden Gate Bridge are all remarkable features.
Having visited several other major cities in the USA, like New York, Los Angeles or Washington I also value the laid back and liberal atmosphere that you can easily compare to an Amsterdam.
Its general geographic situation to many other interesting areas like Yosemite (4 hours drive), wine country (2 hours) and Silicon Valley (2 hours) offer so many possibilities for trips out of town so that you can easily spend an extensive holiday in the Bay Area.
So here are a few highlights what we did during this year´s visit:
TESLA tour, test drive and trying TURO
As Michael is a fanatic with TESLA cars he managed to get us tickets for a factory tour in Fremont. In one of the many online Forums he is following somebody helped him arranging those tickets who are very difficult to obtain. To get there in style Michael also rented us a brand new TESLA Model 3. As there are no rental car companies at the moment who offer any TESLAS he used a new shared economy platform called TURO, where private car owners can rent out their cars to other people and earn money with it.
We had already a test drive in a Model S in Amsterdam a few years ago and also used several times the Tesla taxis to the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, however we never had a Tesla available for a full day that even had the autopilot function. For me it was quite unnerving to see the car operating on its own at a speed of 100km/h in the middle of the rush hour with frequent stop and go´s. But in the end the technology is very promising and I guess you need to trust it and overcome certain fears one may have with new technology. In the end I call this progress in the ever changing world.
Taking advantage of our dashy red Model 3 we drove to the new Apple headquarters with its flashy visitor center (what a design!). Unfortunately, you cannot get onto the new campus, so a photo shoot from the visitor center had to do.
Bike the Bridge
One of our favourite activities is to rent bicycles in San Francisco and bike the Golden Gate Bridge and further to Tiburon which is a good 30 km ride. With perfect weather condition (22°C) we enjoyed the day out of town and returned in the evening by ferry to San Francisco. This is a must-do activity!
San Francisco Salsa Sunday
Another recurring event we visited was the Salsa Sunday at El Rio down in the Mission. This LGBT party has been running for 33 years! Finally we could practice a bit our Salsa skills as we have been taking classes in Barcelona since the beginning of this year. Olé!
PS: Visiting Barcelona this year and looking for some activities? Discover more than the usual with The Barcelona Feeling. https://thebarcelonafeeling.com
We arrived to the Nevada Falls after a quite tiring climb of 600 meters in altitude. As we had not planned to go on a longer hike we had no water or snacks with us. Too bad! The top of Nevada Falls is the perfect pick-nick spot.
After more than five hours we reached the car and were quite happy to have our first break. The bears did not steal our bananas nor our water (we had stowed it away according to the rules).
Like for the first night our accomodation for the second night was located just outside the park. After some Mexican food we were happy to call it a day and rest before heading to San Francisco the next day…. to be continued.
PS: Discover The Barcelona Feeling – Exclusive Guided Tours in Barcelona and surroundings. https://thebarcelonafeeling.com
Last Tuesday we arrived to San Francisco and immediately took a rental car so we could drive to the Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is one of the most famous US national parks and just about a 4 hour drive East of San Francisco. We spent a full day in the park and it was such an amazing time!
Luckily there are visionaries in this world that are ahead of their time. Abraham Lincoln was the first president who declared the valley of Yosemite as protected area in 1864. Later John Muir was able to convince President Roosevelt to protect an even larger natural area. With this the first US national park was born. Once you escape from the touristic main road (a two lane one-way road that runs in a circle through the valley) you can discover the treasures of this magnificent natural park.
We parked the car on a parking space at the end of the valley that is accessible by vehicles and wanted to go for a shorter walk – however, we were so much taken by the whole area that we finally ended up with doing a hike of more than five hours.
Luckily we noticed the signs on the car park explaining the precautions you have to take against bears as they still live freely in the nature in Yosemite. It is important to follow the rules in order not to make bears used to human food – they easily get addicted and become aggressive once having tasted what humans eat.
Our original destination was the Vernal Falls – however, soon we decided to even climb up to the Nevada Falls. From the car park at 1200m altitude we gradually climbed up thus to 1800m. A few signs help to find the way. We had no rain that day but the clouds made the lighting for taking photos somewhat difficult. Nevertheless, Michael took many amazing photographs.
The higher we got the more spectacular the views got. Only topped by the sight of a bear along the way. It was approximately 10 meters away from the hiking path. Friendly looking and being in the middle of its lunch it hardly cared if we passed by. When a few more people approached Michael was able to make below awesome snapshot:
As the bear was not a fully grown one yet, and on the other hand also not a young one anymore where his mother could be around (and lead to a potentially dangerous situation) – we continued our way with a good feeling.
Eventually, we made it to the top part and were rewarded with breathtaking sights.
…to be continued.
PS: In case you are travelling to Barcelona this summer, check out the private tours of The Barcelona Feeling (https://thebarcelonafeeling.com)
Happy Sant Jordi!
Sant Jordi is an important festive day in Catalonia celebrated to honor St. George. It is also known as the Day of the Rose or Day of the Book. Each year on April 23 men traditionally make a gift to their sweetheart in the form of a rose, women give a book to their beloved one – “a rose for love and a book forever.” This is why you will encounter a vast amount of rose and book sellers on the streets of Barcelona throughout this day.
Tomorrow we will head to San Francisco. It will be my 10th visit to this awesome city. Looking forward to meet our friends, discover new areas (Yosemite national park! New APPLE headquarters! Visit to the TESLA factory) and just enjoy life (it is also a party city). So stay tuned for my blogs! In the meantime some past photos 🙂
Dolores Park in 2010my parents joining us in 2010 for a week
Going for a walk with the parentsmy first visit in 2005Michael’s first visit in June 2005 and cycling around the Bay Areaalso during my first trip in 2005 meeting Craig again with his lovely daughter Serafina
Last week we decided to discover an area of Barcelona where we never had been before. We looked at the Barcelona metro map and took the most remote point the metro would bring us. Line 11 (light green line) is an indirect extension of the yellow line (L4) and connects the remote quarter of Torre Baró with the transportation network. It is rather new and they chose a light railway system to build the 5 stations long metro line. In the future it may get extended to some satellite cities. Here are some snapshots from out walk.