Category Archives: Europe 2015

Jen & Geoff’s trip to Spain (Barcelona), France and Croatia May/June 2015

Albert to Bailleul

Yesterday we started the day with a scenic trip to the railway station ( a few wrong turns) so that Richard could catch his train to Lille to connect with the Eurostar.  Geoff and I went to see the enormous Lochnagar Crater at La Boiselle and a small, private museum nearby which features some interesting displays and tons of stuff, (weapons, shells, helmets etc) which have been found, and are still being found, in the area.  In the afternoon we drove to Peronne to see the Historial Museum of the Great War which is housed in the Chateau de Peronne.

Today we left Albert and drove to Bullecourt and Fromelles where there is a new, modern museum, the Battle of Fromelles Museum, which is focussed on the most recently discovered war-dead on the edge of Pheasant Wood.  With the aid of modern technology, many of them have been identified and they are all buried in the small cemetery alongside the museum.

We are in Bailleul for the night and the town has a distinctly Flemish air which is hardly surprising since we are not far from the Belgian border.  Geoff is having a rest while I catch up on my writing.  Poor Geoff has a dreadful cough and cold and really isn’t well.  We are hoping for a change of menu tonight.  I never thought I would say it but we are getting quite bored with the French food on offer in the places we have been.  Symptom of being on the tourist trail, I think, and of travelling in general when you can’t have exactly what you fancy.  Boo hoo!  One thing I have really enjoyed is scallops.  I love them and they are reasonably inexpensive and have been cooked to perfection every time I have ordered them.  Strawberries and cherries are in season and just delicious, so we buy them whenever we see them.  Spanish apricots have also been good.  Was I complaining about the food???  I think I just want a home-cooked meal.


The Lochnagar Crater which measures 91m in diameter and has a depth of 21m


Recovered weapons


Australian memorial at Bullecourt





Springvale South to Barcelona via Doha

I am putting it on record that Barcelona is a very long way from Melbourne.  Maybe I am getting old but I think this last flight was the most tiring I have ever done.  We flew Qatar Airways and it was very cramped and the food was truly terrible.  By the time we had located our hostel and showered it was 5.30pm and we decided to take a nap before going for a walk.  We woke at midnight, in spite of setting a two-hour alarm, so slept on and commenced our Barcelona adventure the next day.

Barcelona is a truly beautiful city with marvellous architecture and a nice, relaxed vibe.  We took a couple of bus tours to take in as much as we could and we did a lot of walking.  It was hot, ( 25-29 deg ) – rather different to Melbourne, I gather.  We have fallen in love with Antoni Gaudi and would have loved to have had more time to explore his creations.  He must have been an extraordinary person – it’s easy to see why Spain is so proud of him.  Apparently he lived a very austere life and he was very devout.  Somehow, his buildings reflect his faith and his love of nature, from which he took inspiration, but, at the same time they are full of humour and whimsy.  I love their playfulness.

We took a guided tour through the Sagrada Familia, his most famous and still unfinished work. It was commenced in 1882 and although Gaudi was not the original architect, he played an active role in directing the construction until his death in 1926.  The giant Basilica is extraordinary enough from the outside but the interior is breathtakingly beautiful.  There are more towers under construction including a huge central tower so the building is further embellished with the addition of many huge cranes which is rather appropriate since the old and the new seem to cohabit quite comfortably in Gaudi’s world.  We also visited Park Guell, which is a magical place of amazing buildings and sculptures and tile work designed by Gaudi. Everything is so colourful. It’s great fun.

We generally had lovely food in Spain and quickly realised that it would take longer than we had to work our way through all the tapas possibilities.  I am also a sangria convert.  It’s a lovely summer drink.