May 29, 2012

Portugal, Spain, France

I wanted to share a few more photos from our journey in Europe - since I did take a few thousand. For this post, here are some photos of the first 3 countries we visited on the trip.

Punta Del Gada, Portugal

 Our boat was in port on this beautiful island for one day, the only port of call for the entire trip after leaving the states.  We were excited to get off the boat and find our land legs and it was so much fun to explore this tiny island for the day.

We found a bike rental shop and rented a couple of mountain bikes for the day and set off to explore!

It is a beautiful island and we had a great day together finding off-road trails leading by old farms and small villages all along the coast.

Barcelona, Spain

A few days later the boat landed at 5 a.m. and we were free to disembark and begin our adventure!

After eating as much as we could of the breakfast buffet, knowing we had to start paying for all our food again from then on, we disembarked and explored Barcelona.

We were planning to just get to a bus station after seeing a couple sights, and were not really that excited about seeing the city since we usually prefer the rural settings - but we fell in love with Barcelona.

It is a beautiful city full of amazing architecture, great markets, and most importantly - very affordable, freshly made churros. YUM.

Ruins of Peyrepertuse 


We took a bus from Barcelona early that afternoon and headed across the border into France to pick up our rental car. From there we set course for Carcassonne, France where we planned to spend the night, but got sidetracked by a couple of castle ruins in the hills and had a great time exploring them with no one else there!

Roman Aqueduct - Pont Du Gard
We finally made it to Carcassonne after dark and after a little pleading I managed to talk an understandably tired Geoff (it was after 10) to go walk around this castle city with me. The lights around the castle at night were magical, I have loved seeing old castle ruins even in pictures since I was a kid and this place was just too good to be true. We walked all the way around the 2 1/2 mile castle exterior, and explored briefly inside the walls of the city. The lurking shadows and golden cast of the lights illuminating this 11th century stone fortress created a dramatic blend of mystery and awe.
Roman Theater in Orange, France
After the castles it just kept getting better as we drove through beautiful countryside and explored amazing Roman ruins. I had no idea how many amazing jewels southern France was hiding! Roman sites were everywhere - some of the best preserved I've ever seen!

Just when it couldn't get any better for me we spent a day traveling the Cotes du Rhone wine roads, visiting vineyards and markets and enjoying some of the most peaceful places I've ever seen.  There were vineyards everywhere we looked in France, but this region in particular stole my heart with its old, fruitful vines crisscrossing valleys and hills with endless views. My favorite biblical illustrations relate to vines, vineyards, wine, etc. so it suffices to say - I loved France. 
My favorite vineyard sat a hill overlooking the valley
 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my father's glory, that you bear fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

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