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Traveling Europe ~ One City at a Time ~ Barcelona

Welcome to part two of our European tour! After leaving Paris we traveled to Barcelona, Spain by high speed train. It took us about 6 1/2 hours to travel the 500+ miles. We enjoyed first class accommodations and wonderful views of the countryside as we rode along the tracks.

Our purpose for visiting Spain was my Yoga Trapeze training at the Yogabody Studios in Barcelona. We arrived Monday evening at our flat in the Gracia region of the city; a wonderful neighborhood filled with tradition. There was a lovely little square nearby, and a bakery, on the corner, with delicious empanadas.

Our flat:

I was not able to see as much of Barcelona as Dave was since I was in training most of the time we were there. We did a LOT of walking though. Each morning I left the flat a bit before 7:00 am to get to the studio before class began at 7:30 am. Dave usually walked with me, then he’d walk back to Gracia. Then he’d walk back to the studio to meet me for our break, and this went on 3 times each day. The training schedule was 2 hours of training, 2 hour break, 2 hours of training, 2 hour break, 2 hours of training, 1 1/2 hour break, 1 1/2 hour lecture. Whew. . .we finished about 8:00 each night.

There are 3 Yogabody studios in Barcelona, but nearly all of our training was at Yogabody 3:

During the walk to the studios in the morning one of the landmarks was this cathedral:

It was lovely lit in reds. There is a square just in front of it with a fountain, though you can’t see that in this shot.

We did have one day of touring the city together, which we spent at La Sagrada Familia. Designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, the project began in 1883 and he labored on it for 43 years. When he died in 1926 the church was about 20% complete. The work was stopped during the Spanish Civil War and began again in the 1950s.

La Sagrada Familia

Today, the work continues, funded exclusively by private donation and entry fees. It is anticipated that the church will be finished in 2026, for the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. The detail is amazing both inside and out.

We climbed one of the towers for this amazing view of the city:

Recently watching an episode of Blindspot, which was filmed in Barcelona, I noticed several familiar places, including La Sagrada Familia.

Visiting in early December allowed us to enjoy the festive lights on display at night.

One local landmark that I didn’t find particularly appealing, but couldn’t really go unnoticed was La Torre Agbar-

For those interested in learning more about this structure, click this link.

As the week went on we began to appreciate the opportunities to walk around the city enjoying the sights.

Again, we will need to return because there is still so much we didn’t get to visit, including the Picasso museum, the Gaudi homes, the Cathedral of Barcelona, the many quaint neighborhoods, and of course, the Mediterranean.

In our time there we saw little sign of the Catalan Independence Movement, except for the occasional flag draped over a balcony.

After our 6 nights in Barcelona we began the trek to Monte Carlo, Monaco. This train adventure proved to be long and exhausting, but so worth the journey.

Adeu per ara!

Traveling Europe – One City at a Time – Paris

Many of you may know that Dave and I traveled to Europe recently. The idea for this trip began when I registered for a Yoga Trapeze training in Barcelona. Eventually, we realized that going to Europe for a few days and being busy with the training the entire time made no sense, so we expanded the trip to two weeks and elected to visit several other places. Ultimately we elected to start our trip in Paris and end it in Rome. I’ve decided to share our trip with you one city at a time. Let’s begin at the beginning – Paris.

We flew Delta into Charles de Gaulle airport. As a night flight we left Boston at 7:00 PM and arrived Paris at 8:30 AM. Paris is 6 hours ahead of our Eastern Standard Time, so the flight was actually only 7.5 hours, non-stop. At 8:30 in the morning the last thing we wanted to do was stand in a long line, but that’s exactly what we had to do at customs. It took us over two hours to get through since they only had two customs officers working and the line must have had over 200 people in it. Once we managed to get through that ordeal we began to find our bearings, which meant finding the train that would take us to the neighborhood where our airbnb rental was. We had great directions from our host and made it to Montreuil where we had a flat for the next two days. It was raining and windy when we arrived, but we managed to find our place which was small, but very comfortable, and in a sweet little neighborhood. It took us about 3 hours to get to our flat from the time our plane landed.

Montreuil is the equivalent of a suburb and had a farmer’s market in the center of town. On Saturday one of the streets was lined with vendors selling local products and demonstrating local crafts. We bought some local cheese and fresh breads for our dinner.
On our second day we took the metro into Paris and began our adventure at Notre Dame Cathedral.

I think the pictures speak for themselves. Inside, the cathedral reminded me very much of the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. We were there on Sunday morning so did have the opportunity to see part of a service.

Next we ventured to the Arc de Triomphe. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. (

View from the top of the Arc de Triomphe to Des Avenue Champs Elyssees

We strolled down the most famous of Paris streets and enjoyed a lovely late lunch there.

We then continued all the way to the end of the street toward the Louvre. It was too late in the day to go into the museum, so now we have an excuse to go back.

Finally, we headed to Le Tour Eiffel, which we wanted to see at night.

It was quite impressive, though I have to say I enjoyed the views of the tower much more from a distance. Up close it loses some of iconic appeal. We did not venture to the top because 1. it was getting late, 2. there was a long line,(Le Tour Eiffel is the most visited paid monument in the world) and 3. it was too cold to stand outside in that long line. (Yet another reason to return to Paris.)

Upon our return to Montreuil we had a late, by our standards, dinner at a local restaurant. The next day we took the high-speed train from Paris to Barcelona. It was very enjoyable and I took the following pictures from the train.

Stay tuned for Barcelona next week, to be followed by Monte Carlo and Rome!

2018 Calendar!

NO, I haven’t forgotten to put together a Sweetwater Lane 2018 calendar! I have been working on it ferociously between my day job, my coursework, my yoga classes, my granddaughter, and family! WHEW, there’s a lot going on, and I love it. Life is such a great adventure.

So, here it comes – 2018! I’ve included the photographs you can expect to see in the new calendar below. Leave a comment here, or connect with me on Facebook or via email if you would like to order one, or two, or three. They do make great gifts for anyone who is passionate about the beauty of the Northeast Kingdom. This year’s price is the same – $20.00 each/$5.00 shipping and handling.

East Darling Hill Home

East Burke Dam – End of an Era

Burke Mountain Academy

Sugarhouse Road Colors

Pete’s Pond – Burke Hollow Road

Sweetwater Lane – Rainbow’s Begin & End

The Year of the Eagle

The Grass is Greener on Darling Hill

The Colors of Willoughby

Passing Through the Neighborhood

The Sweetest Sunrises are on Darling Hill

The Kelly Place on Darling Hill

View at Mountain View

The Long Trail Adventures

My sister is the real hiker having hiked many miles over the years and ventured off alone many times for days at a time. I am a minimalist day time hiker. . .occasionally. But when she asked me to do some hiking with her this summer I thought it was a great opportunity to try something new and spend time together.

Originally Marie’s request was for me to consider hiking the 100 Wild Miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine over 10 days. I considered this and began putting on some miles in my own neighborhood. I have miles of biking trails to explore right from home so began walking just for the sake of getting some miles under my belt. All was good for the first few weeks and then my left knee revolted in a BIG way. Suddenly it had decided that any weight bearing would be off limits, so I stopped my training walks, gathered the ice packs and went on the recuperation trail instead of the hiking trail.

After about three weeks and an unpleasant visit to the physician’s assistant I began walking again, but this time went very slowly. I got myself a good pair of hiking shoes, put on the pack and headed out again, eventually working back up to a few miles and a heftier pack. All was good, though my ankles, which must have had a conversation with my knee at some point, decided they were unhappy with my new plan. I ignored them and kept going. Marie suggested I use hiking poles, which would take some of the pressure off my legs. I did and it helped. Trust the experts.

Finally we decided to take on overnight practice hike to see if I was ready. Marie planned a Long Trail hike over Mt. Belvedere, Tillotson Peak, and Haystack Mt. We hiked from Eden Crossing to the Tillotson Camp where we spent the night.The next day we went over Tillotson Peak and Haystack to Hazen’s Notch for a total of about 10 miles. My first thought when done was ‘there is no way I could do that for ten days in a row.’ I found the hike challenging, particularly the second day descending Haystack. It was incredibly steep and I kept reminding myself how lucky we were that it wasn’t raining. It would have been treacherous in the rain. The camping part was great. The weather was perfect – 70 degrees, not many bugs, and Marie had a tent that was comfortable. This was the first time I had officially camped out in about 25 years.

Though I had decided I clearly wasn’t ready for a 100 mile adventure, we did go on another overnight trip a couple of weeks later. This time Marie chose Jay Peak and Doll Peak – a few miles north of our first hike. I had climbed Jay Peak on a day hike a few years ago, so I was feeling more confident about this one. The climb from Vt route 242 to the top of Jay was much easier than the Belvedere hike. We continued hiking to the Laura Woodward camp and spent the night there. This day at that elevation was incredibly windy and bit on the chilly side. We attempted to start a camp fire, but it was a challenge to keep it going with damp wood and so much wind. We settled into our tent about 7:30 pm – before dark, but had a great nights sleep and headed out early to climb Doll Peak and finish at Vt. route 105.

Again, the Jay Peak hike was about 10 miles in its entirety, but was a much easier 10 miles, though I was still sure I was not ready for that mileage in a single day, and certainly not over 10 days. And of course, by this time it was mid August and I was about to return to the school year routine, which would seriously reduce my availability for two day hikes.

These experiences have been wonderful because it gave my sister and I hours together to be sisters. We talked at length about our past, our families, our interests, and our dreams. Until now we have not taken the opportunity to be together in this way and I hope that we will have many more opportunities next spring and summer and on into my retirement years – which I hope are not too far away. Marie has many ideas for two or three day hikes and I look forward to planning those with her.

Whether it’s a sibling, a friend, a spouse ~ I would encourage you to venture out on the trails. It’s a wonderful way to see the best of Vermont and just plain good for the soul.