Back to reality today after a two week European vacation.
We flew out of Philly, took just over 1 1/2 each way from Baltimore, way easier than dealing with Dulles. And flights were less than half of the cost of what it would have been from Dulles or for non-direct flights from BWI.
Flew into Barcelona and then took a bus up to Tossa de Mar. Stayed two nights. Loved it so much we decided to go back there for our final three nights. It's a beautiful town, great food, main beaches are crowded but you can venture out a bit further to some lesser-explored ones. Sean I know you were considering going here in September, end any debate you have and do it. It's a tiny little town, so you could rush through it in just a couple nights, but if you have some more time I really enjoyed the last few nights there with no plans and just able to get comfortable with where everything was. I ate tons of seafood, had a couple paella's, a lot of iberian ham, drank plenty of sangria. We found an amazing restaurant right along the water and ate their 3 of the 5 nights we stayed in town. Every dish we had was fantastic.
After Tossa, we went north a little bit to L'Estartit. Wasn't expecting much from this town, we only stopped there because it was the best excursion point for diving in the Medes Isles just a few hundred meters off the coast, but it was great, far surpassing my low expectations. Again, great seafood, plenty of cool beaches and streets with shops to explore. The diving was good, though I'm spoiled by my only other diving experience in Thailand. We did two dives, 40-50 min each, saw some cool things. Large grouper fish were very prevalent around the islands, also saw a couple octopus, a bunch of eels, and even a cool lobster along with tons of schools of tiny fish. Wish I had a second night to do more diving as well as to experience a bit more of the town.
Next night we went further north to L'Escala. Accommodations in this town were jam packed, so we were kind of on the outskirts in a non-ideal location. Had about a 20-30 min walk to the main parts of town. The newer part of town has sort of an Ocean City feel to it, so not super nice, but the old town was fantastic. Beautiful little coves and beaches, tons of great restaurants, neat statues. Really enjoyed it, wish we had been able to get a room nearer to the old town and again, wish we had at least one more night.
The next night we took the train to Carcassonne in Spain. We had a bed and breakfast inside the battlement walls of the castle, was amazingly cool. The castle is incredible, really cool place to tour, and to get to be there at night after all the daily tourists leave was wild. Ate cassoulet a couple times, which was one of the best things I ate the whole trip.
After that, we took a train to a small French town called Marseillan Plage. My sister-and-law and her family had driven there from England (11 hours drive plus 6 hour ferry ride, with 3 small kids....ouch) and had a pitch campsite at the place that was a couple minute walk to the beach. This was some serious car camping, their tent was huge, they had so much stuff, I've got no idea how they got it all there. The place that we rented the pitches (aka campsites) from was pretty neat, super family friendly. Was like a tiny little town, not only did they have showers and bathrooms but they had a huge pool with multiple water slides, restaurants, bar, bakery (that made the best croissants I had the whole trip), grocery store and they had a large stage with events every night for both kids and adults including a wrestling event, a cabaret, and a magician/acrobat type thing. It wasn't what we would've done without the kids around, but it was pretty neat. Weather was great. We also took day trips to nearby cities of Agde and Sete to check those out, so wasn't all just beach camping time.
Were there for a week, then left, had 3 more nights which we decided to go back to Tossa to use to unwind, and then it was the bus to the airport, flight to Philly, and then drive home.