8/25/12 - 8/28/12 92 °F
We decided to modify the final leg of our return trip due to the train schedules which would not allow us to travel from Italy through France and end up in Spain all on the same day. It would actually take almost two full days of travel. Sometimes being at the mercy of train schedules just doesn't work. So we decided to return the rental car in Nice and fly to Barcelona. Not too much more money, and it saved at least a full day of travel.
At the Nice airport, we were reminded of two things: first, the number of private jets at the airport is only outnumbered by the number of mega yachts lining the French Riviera. Sheeesh! That's a lot of jets! Second, the budget airline we were flying, Vueling (a subsidiary of Spain's "Iberia Air"), has a lot to learn about efficiency (as does most of Spain). The line to check-in luggage could have been the subject of a comedy routine, except it's not very funny when you're standing there for 40 minutes. Likewise, the line to board the aircraft. How hard is it to check passengers' boarding passes? It was the first time that the security line was quicker and easier than the check-in and boarding lines. No wonder Spain's economy is in the tank... between late breakfasts, long siestas, late night dining and revelry, and this example of complete inefficiency, Spain could learn a thing or two from America or Germany. Likewise, we could learn a thing or two about enjoying life and taking it a little easier. It's all about balance.
Our final stop of our journey was the lovely seaside town of Sitges, just 15 miles south of Barcelona. I had only heard of this town in passing and from friends; one in particular said that we must go and that it was his favorite vacation spot in Europe. It sounded the perfect place to relax after our hectic travel pace, with absolutely no sites to see and nothing to do but to lie on the beach. Now that's a vacation!
Our hotel was right on the beach, and our room had a nice balcony from which we could survey the whole coastline. The weather was perfect, much cooler than Rome at about 92 F, and the water was perfect as well, with light waves crashing onto the shore. It turns out that this weekend was the end of their "Fiesta Mayor" (or Major Festival), and the beaches and streets were packed. In the evening we strolled along the beachfront which were lined with vendor stalls filled with arts and crafts, jewelry, toys, foods, sausages, cheeses, fresh baked bread, chocolates, etc. Tons of people strolled along with us. Live music filled the air.
We were looking forward to some nightlife, but most of the bars and clubs did not open until 10:00 or 11:00 pm, or even 1:00am. A little too late for us after a full day of travel. However, the city would not sleep. I don't know if it's like that every Saturday night, or if it was just because of the festival, but people were up and loud walking the beachfront all night long until 6:00 am. Music continued well into the night. While it made for a festive atmosphere, it did not make for a good night's sleep.
The next day shone bright and beautiful and it was time to hit the beach. The beach chairs and umbrellas were quickly reserved as the crowds rolled in. Turns out, Sitges is the Provincetown/Key West of Spain, and the beach quickly filled in with bikini clad bronzed bodies -- both men and topless women. The water felt great and the waves were just right for some body surfing. A little too much fun resulted in a bit of a sunburn, but it was a price willfully paid. Thankfully, also, the evening revelry over the next two nights was much quieter, and we had a restful last few days.
A wonderfull relaxing couple of days was the perfect ending to an epic adventure. While we were a little sad that our "Awesome Epic Endless Summer" was indeed coming to an end, we were also ready to be back home. It had been the trip of a lifetime -- three weeks on a 4500 mile New England road trip, plus three weeks exploring the Mediterranean coastline through Spain, France and Italy. We saw a lot and learned a lot - about cities, towns and sites; about history; about wine; about different cultures and people; and about ourselves. We were lucky indeed, and thankful. But it was time to say Adios, Au Revoir, and Arrivederci, and time to say hello to home. Our own bed never looked so good!
Thanks to all who joined us on this trip via this blog. We hope you enjoyed our rambling and our observations. We certainly enjoyed the trip and regaling our stories. Till our next travel adventure...