Leaving Girona for the Abbaye de Capservy, South of France

Abbaye de Capservy

Leaving Girona for the Abbaye de Capservy, South of France

Before we left Girona we had to take one more walk on the wall. Again there was no one on it.





I am sitting on an old fashioned toilet. It would be an interesting feel to bare it all and go to the bathroom like this, LOL! 

Did I remember to post the link to Casa Cundaro? Here it is in case I didn’t. http://www.casacundaro.com/english.html Casa Cundaro is attached to the Historic Hotel. Where we had to have one last superb breakfast.   

Look how narrow the streets of Girona’s old town are! I got out to take this picture of our car.

Before leaving we visited the Jewish museum in Girona. We learned so much there. For instance, I did not realize many Jews converted instead of leaving. If they left they were essentially abandoning their material wealth. They did convert, but they did not always stop practicing their old ways. They also kept their relationships with those who did not convert.   The museum has a large collection of gravestones. When Judaism was outlawed in Spain, the Jewish gravestones were removed. Many of these have since been unearthed as they have restored old buildings in Girona.   

         It was in the face of mass conversions without changes in religious practices that the inquisition took place. The Catholic Church wanted to make it prohibitive to live in Catholic countries if you were a practicing Jew. This did cause most people to become more obedient in practicing the Catholic faith. I have included a series of text panels from the museum with the photos.  



That is a man I wish I could sit and speak with! Asking him so many questions 😉



Thinking of you, my dear friend Michelle! We wish you were here with us!

There are Roman ruins in the museum too.   

 We had one last stop to make. Sophia and I needed a cup of the best tea of the trip.   http://www.teashop.eu/en/tea-shop-girona/

We decided to follow a circuitous path to France by driving to Collioure, France. We chose this route because it was the path of the Jewish diaspora from Girona in 1492. Since most people converted there was not a large number of people who left. It seems like a pattern. The Catholic Church converted the rulers, and the rulers forced people to convert or leave. Americans are most familiar with the treatment of people of the Jewish faith and the decimation or forced conversion of Native Americans. Interesting to me is that the most tolerant people, as a whole, of any country we have visited is the predominantly polytheistic people of India. Don’t you wish you could go back in time and see all the different cultures and people before the Romans conquered so many and before mass religions took hold? 1 month ago there was a threat to the Jewish museum in Girona so they now have guards posted at it permanently.

I LOVE history. I would like to go back to the time of the dinosaurs too! The only problem with that is, I would probably get eaten right away! When you drive through Europe you see castles on hilltops all the time. #AmericansLoveCastles   


We drove to France along a narrow, twisting road. There were grape vines on the hillside and cyclists on the road.  Shortly after passing the border into France, we came to the top of a pass and there was a wine stand with people tasting wine. LOL, that would not fly in the U.S. It was a windy road out of  the Spanish town of Cerbere. When he saw it, Sean said, “That is the most French thing ever!”   

When the Jews fleeing Spain got to Collioure they must have thought it would be wonderful to live in such a beautiful place. A couple of years later the French King told the Jews to convert or leave Collioure, so it was not to be.

We were headed to the Abbaye de Capservy. Our reason for driving to the south of France was to visit the restored castle of Carcasonne. Although we wanted to visit the castle, this time we chose to stay in an old abbey. http://www.abbayedecapservy.com/en/

When we arrived we were greeted by Odile and the 2 dogs in residence. Odile was making a special vegan meal just for us. The dinner consisted of a mound of rice, surrounded with smaller mounds of beans and various vegetable sides. French bread was also served, of course! The dessert was fresh fruit in a lemon agar jelly with elderberry. Days later we were still talking about the lovely abbey, the dinner (it was one of the best of the trip), and the wonderful hospitality of Odile. If you go be sure and have Odile make dinner for you. You will not regret it. You also get Lulu’s delicious wine and Odile’s conversation. Odile has two daughters who are both living in London. We met several people on this trip whose adult children are in London working because of a lack of jobs in their area. One of Odile’s daughters works in a castle as a tour guide. She loves it. While we were at the Abbaye, Odile’s daughter was interviewed on the radio about the castle and its history. I must email Odile and get the name of the castle!

  The Abbaye de Capservy has the main building where we stayed, a smaller house behind, and another house where another couple lives. Across from the Abbaye are fields of grapes.

    Odile, our wonderful host.  I love to look in people’s kitchens.

On the long driveway leading to the Abbaye, Sean put his hand out the window into stinging nettles. The Abbaye has a pool, Sean recovered by going for a swim. Unfortunately he popped the peace donut!   
The kids wanted to taste French wine in France.

Abbaye de Capservy

We stayed in a family room at the top of the Abbaye. The ceilings were short which for us adds to the charm. There were rooms with higher ceilings, but we preferred this one!

Check out my previous posts from the Spain trip here. Check out the Worldschooling section of our blog.

Why they Chose Girona to Film the Game of Thrones, Girona, Spain


Why they Chose Girona to Film the Game of Thrones, Girona, Spain

I will not actually bore you with a written answer to that. The photos speak for themselves. Girona is magical. It is now one of my favorite towns I have visited of all time. The others are

  • The area around and walking up to Seigfreid’s castle in Germany: I walked up to this on a deserted old road, early in the morning, with only a handful of other people around. It was a magical misty morning. The castle and grounds had not been preserved. It felt like stepping back in time.
  • Amboise in France: This is the town that took in Leonardo da Vinci when he was kicked out of Italy for his heretical views. There are houses still in use that are carved into the surrounding rock walls. It also has a lovely castle that belonged to the Prince who took da Vinci in.
  • The Cliffs of Mohrer and the Burrens in Ireland: I cannot think of the name of the town we stayed in. It had a lovely inn in a small town very near to the Cliffs and Burren. It is an area with fields, stone walls, the Burrens and the Cliffs of Mohrer. There are small, abandoned castles and lots of sheep with their butts spray painted different colors.
  • Jaisalmer, India: I adored Jaiselmer! It is a magical place. It is still inhabited, so you can get a feel for how these forts used to function.
  • Both Eger and Sopron, Hungary: Eger has churches and cathedrals with a beautifully preserved muezzin. The wine dungeons are a fun experience. We stayed inside the old Roman walls in Sopron. Can you tell I like historical places?
  • An old castle we visited in the Ukraine: When my daughter-in-law’s father heard I love castles he took us to 2. The first one we went to was almost empty surrounded by stinging nettles. (Ouch!) It was the first time I could really imagine what it was like to be back in the Middle Ages!
  • Machu Picchu: We hiked in to Machu Picchu along the Santa Teresa trail. It is a magical way to get to one of the most spectacular places in the world.

Back to Girona

 Breakfast was at the Historic Hotel. It was delicious. We found the fruit and vegetables from Catalan to be some of the best we ever ate! There are several options for staying in Girona. We opted to stay in a historical family room. In the only Jewish residence still in use.

The following is from an interview with our Xave who with his family owns the Historic Hotel and Casa Cundaro. Girona was built in 1 before God (that is a quote). The Jewish quarter was established 8-9 centuries after God. It was designed so that the Christian District was higher on the hill than the Jewish Quarter. This area was walled, so if their families expanded and they needed more space they would block off lanes and build rooms there or build an arch over the lane and then build rooms on top. That was the only way they could expand. The dining room of the Historic Hotel have stones in its walls that were used to build walls by the Romans.

Casa Cundara was owned by a family and passed down for generations. We would learn at the Jewish Museum a couple of days later that the family would have had to convert to Christianity in order for that to happen. The family stopped using it, and it was bought by their neighbors, the current owners. When the new owners bought it they wanted to put a jacuzzi in the garden area. When they began the project, they found something buried under the garden. They had to call archaeologists in when they excavated it. They found 2 houses with a street running between them. They dated what they found to Roman times. They also discovered a mezuzah that is over 1000 years old. (I know it shows a menorah not a mezuzah.)

One of the reasons Girona looks as it does, is that when movies and TV shows are made there, the town uses the revenue to continue the restoration of the historic district. Xave asked if we had seen Perfume. We had not, but I have read the book. I asked if the people from the Game of Thrones had contacted him about staying there. They called him when we were eating breakfast. This is where I would want to stay if I were them!

 It is no surprise to learn a lot of bike riders come here. It is lovely, quiet, and hilly. These are photos of some of the famous cyclists who have stayed here.

 Girona is a walled city. We woke the kids and walked the wall. There were very few people. One of the most surprising things about Girona is how few people there are visiting it. Lucky for us but surprising. It is so special! The walls and the town they surround are a mix of Roman walls and structures, buildings and walls built by the many rulers since then, and more modern work that has been done to make the structures sound.

 The cathedral tolls the hour. In case you are wondering, Sean is not wearing the same shirt. He has taken James’ shirt!

   The lady bugs we saw had an elongated shape. One of my biology professors once told us that people call this the age of man. It would be more correct to call it the age of the beetle. (Lady bugs are beetles.)

Sophia and I love tea. When we found a tea shop, we had to have some. The shop owner was very kind to us, and his English was perfect. We even treated ourselves to some tea for the rest of the trip.

 Then we visited the highest rated vegan restaurant in town. It was delicious!

 We spent some of the day wandering around Girona. There are stairs all through Girona. It is exercise getting around. There are people running the steps all through Girona.

I thought of you Sharon and Laurel when I saw these.



There is a old wall and a new wall. In the evening we walked the old wall.

Check out my previous Spain post here.

La Pedrera in Barcelona driving to Girona, Spain

La Pedrera

La Pedrera in Barcelona driving to Girona, Spain

Barcelona is a wonderful city to recover from jet lag. It is small enough so it isn’t overwhelming. The food is wonderful, even for those who have dietary restrictions. There is a mix of Roman ruins, multi-century Spanish architecture, and Gaudi! & then there are the people!!! Everyone we met was warm and welcoming.

We bought 2 adult soccer shirts and a shirt for the baby on the way. We already have two granddaughters. Mike and Kate are expecting a baby boy. Kate’s dad is a big Messi fan. Sean put one on.

 Today we left Barcelona for the North. We will not be going to Morocco. Instead we are going to the south of France & Portugal. Before we left Barcelona, Jim, Sean, and I got up and went to La Pedrera. You can go inside to see it. Sophia did not want to get up and go. (We won’t let that happen again. It was totally worth getting up for.)

   Antonin Gaudi was born in 1852 into a family of coppersmiths.  He moved to Barcelona to study teaching. He became interested in Utopian society and socialism. He studied architecture. I don’t know why he switched from teaching to architecture. His first architectural projects focused on buildings for proletariat. He began working on the cathedral Basilica de Sagrada Familia. He became enomored with the Catholic faith. After working on the project he converted both his political beliefs and his faith. He spent the rest of his life as a passionate advocate for Catholicism. When you are inside La Pedrera it feels like you are walking through a Dr Suess book. The roof has 13 chimneys + some vents all with interesting shapes. His designs were inspired by nature.


The tops of these chimneys are broken champagne bottles!

It is hard to stop taking photos. Each turn is cooler than the last! Some of these are from the rooftop to the buildings across the way.

He would do things like hang strands of wire upside down, examine their shape in a mirror, and mimic the shape they make draping down.

 The attic of La Pedrera is structured like a snake’s skeleton.

 His chairs and door handles are ergonomically designed. Gaudi would have a peron grab clay and then squeeze it and make a mold so that the door handle would be perfect for them. La Pedrera was originally designed for one prominent family. Eventually it was divided into apartments. Today much of it is still private apartments. These are a series of photos showing how an apartment would be decorated during Gaudi’s time.

                               We took a cab to the airport where we rented a car, left Barcelona, and drove to Girona. The taxi ride was funny because there was not enough room in the cab we hailed, so Sean and Jim had luggage piled in their lap. We went back and forth about taking a train or driving and opted to drive.

   I forgot to tell you a funny story. Everyone took a shower before I did. When I went into the shower, I noticed there were 3 bottles in there. Can you tell what they all have in them?

In case you cannot. There is bath soap, hand soap, and hand lotion. I asked who used lotion on their hair. LOL, Sean thought it was conditioner.

We rented a room in the historic district on the hill. (More on that tomorrow.) Girona is like stepping back in time. Sophia had never been to Europe, so she had never been to one of these old towns. Her entire face lit up. We would wait until the next day to explore Girona. We wandered around getting our bearings, marveling at the surroundings. Girona is in the Catalan region. Many of the signs are in Catalan. With our Spanish as bad as it is, it was confusing. We could not figure out how to get to our hotel so we hired a taxi to show us the way. It was worth every penny!



I love old cobbled streets!

Sean’s Barcelona jersey has people wanting to talk soccer with him. When we told Akmed, the person checking us in, Sean rowed instead, he told us it was called remar. El rema y esquia. Akmed was excited to hear Sean rowed because his best friend married a rower and the two moved to San Diego so he could row. “Do you know Bernard Stomporowski,” he asked. No, we do not.

 Sean had his favorite dish on the trip so far, a potato dish with sauce. While eating potatoes, soccer was on. We learned that if Girona wins 2 more games they will move up to Division 1. There are three divisions and they are fluid as to which teams are in it. Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville are always in the top because they are so good. There are 6 teams in each division. (I hope that is correct.) Our memory is sketchy on that detail. The other slots in Division 1 are very competitive. Both Bilbao and Barcelona are in the Catalan area. It was a great year for soccer in Catalan. Sean loves graffiti.

We met a group of Venezualans at the Harlem Club. The next day we saw one of them, Maximillano Fugues, with his wife, Lia del Sol, and mother-in-law in Girona. “Did you know the Game of Thrones is going to be filmed in Girona next season,” Maximillano asked. We did not. I looked it up and it is. When you visit here you will understand why they would use this location. http://www.thelocal.es/20150527/game-of-thrones-to-shoot-in-spain-again

     There are many expats from Venezuala in Spain. We were told many of them are here because they feel Venezuala has become a dictatorship, and all the educated young people who can leave do. Jim asked what was going to happen to Venezuala after all the smart young people left. Jim was told, “Tell the last one to turn out the lights.”

We also learned the Spanish love Cuba. I cannot wait to visit there!

Check out yesterdays post here.