Bring That Aston Down, Girl

Let me tell you. I am pretty damn proud of myself. No, I didn’t find a cure for cancer (i wish) and no, I didn’t figure out the answer for ridding the world of racism and terror (i really wish) BUT I did drive an amazingly kick-ass car down from Germany to Mallorca all by myself. Yep. Just lil ole me.

That car would be an Aston Martin and it costs a bit more than my old Ford Probe did (God, I loved that car – even had a sunroof). I won’t bore you too much with the drive because it can get a bit tiresome driving 8ish hours for two days straight. But I can also comment on two hotels, the ferry and some good tunes. Let’s hit the road!

First, I gotta fly to Germany. That’s Port d’Alcúdia you can see down there.

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Headed out on a rainy Saturday around 10 a.m. and took a sweet road which took me through twists and turns of a deep and dark German forest. Gosh, the forest can get dark so quick. I kept an eye out for deer that might jump in front of the car but only saw two of those majestic creatures in one of the farmland pastures: along with many cows, horses and some birds. I had to get on my phone navigation once before I hit the A44, then to the A7, then A5, then A63, then A6 and THEN A31. And then I would be getting into Dijon, France.

I made a few roadtrip CDs, a mash-up of songs that are new and old. One of my favorite new bands is Portugal. The Man. Have you heard of them? They seriously rock. Check out “Feel It Still”.

“Ooh woo, I’m a rebel just for kicks, now I been feeling it since 1966, now Might be over now, but I feel it still.” I rocked out man. The. Man.

The drive to Dijon was a lot of highway. And France has a lot of tolls. But you roll with it. When choosing a hotel I looked for a place that wasn’t too far off the highway and of course a good price. I wasn’t sure what time I would arrive and I definitely wasn’t going to be doing any sight seeing on this road trip. My hotel was in Arc-Sur-Tille, which is only 20 minutes from Dijon. And my hotel was L’Hotel D’Arc (naturally). It was super cute, good price of 95 euro for the night and the hotel dude was friendly and spoke English (thank you). The room with a view!

No restaurant at the hotel so they recommended a restaurant down the street next to the supermarket – La Table d’Arc. It was okay. There were lots of French people there eating and drinking and having a good time so it must be the place to hang out. I did find a piece of plastic wrapping in my chicken caesar salad which I did not like, they didn’t speak any English (which is okay, I AM in their country) and I had to flag down the waiter for everything after ordering my food – some water, a glass of wine, the bill. So, yeah, only okay.

Alright, it’s Sunday morning I must get myself and the car to Girona. We will be taking the A6, then the A7, then A9 and then AP-7. There was MUCHO MUCHO traffico on the roads! I had a lot of traffic jams around Lyon. And I had to drive through it, but it looked like a cool city to check out someday. Interesting architecture and the Rhone river runs through it. Also on the drive were loads of vineyards, next time defo stopping at one for some wine tasting. Starting in Narbonne and on the way down to Perpignan (I love saying all the French towns with a hard French accent). Try it – Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyon, Bordeaux. Fun, no?

I didn’t stay in the heart of Girona, remember I wanted to stay right off the highway. I stayed at Hotel Costabella. This place was a bit difficult to find (for me) and the room was really crappy, the sink wouldn’t drain and the room smelled cigarette smoke – even though they said no smoking and you would be fined if you did. I asked for a different room but they were completely booked for the night. The good things – very friendly staff, the dinner was excellent (i had gazpacho and then salmon for my entree) and I enjoyed the sauna. I always enjoy a sauna. Also, a big parking area which another thing I looked for in my hotel choices with such an expensive sports car.

Alright, finally Monday and the day to get home. Yipppeeee! I miss Felix and my kitties. I drove to the port in Barcelona in about an hour and a half from Girona. Got my Trasmediterranea boarding ticket for me and for the car (I reserved online about two weeks before), headed to the car area and we had to wait about 30 minutes before they let the cars on the ferry. Parked it here:

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Then headed upstairs for the eight hour journey from Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca. I didn’t have a seat or cabin reserved so it was a bit difficult to find a spot at first. But after about 20 minutes after boarding they opened the “restaurant” area and I dashed in for a seat next to the window with a table and set up camp. Got bored with that after an hour or so but enjoyed watching us pull out from the port and head into the open sea.

I read my book, cleaned up my desktop on my computer, read a little more and then ventured outside. They had this tiki bar area set up at the top so that was kinda fun but again you can only sit for so long before getting bored of that too. It overlooked other car parking and then finally we started to see Mallorca show up on the left hand side.

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And finally I was home.

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Dos Palillos

Dos Palillos is a restaurant in Barcelona where the concept is asian tapas. And it is DA BOMB, you must go! It was such a fun experience.

There is a long menu (for 70 € per person) or the short menu (55€ pp) to choose from. Naturally, my parents and I went for the long menu. You sit at the “asian bar” which is opposite the open kitchen and your chef is also your waiter. The chef explains each dish that is served and answers any and all questions you may have – my Mom had a lot. 🙂

To start us off we had a bright pink Japanese mojito. Here are some of the mouth-watering foods we were served. And I apologize for the pictures, I must work on my taking food pics skills….

Fresh Crispy Chicken Roll

Sunomono, with fresh seaweed and molluscs

Yummmmmy, Pasolasmonjas 2007 (Navarra, Spain)

One of my favorites – Tuna belly temaki

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If you thought those looked delish, then just think of how much more deliciouser (yes, Kim word) they would be/look/smell/feel if I could take decent food pics! A few more mentions as to what else was on our menu:  home-made shitake tsukudani, sardines with kombu, hot – raw fresh prawns, thai style laser clams, chawanmushi, free range chicken sasami, sea anemone tempura, steamed fresh prawn dumplings (another fav), japo burger, shao lom pao and to end it right – panda leaf ice cream. Have I said it was amazing?!

Just go already. Oh – and if you have the money stay at the Casa Camper hotel right next door.

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Trippin’

So it started off pretty uneventful. Caught the 8 a.m. flight to Paderborn, made a quick stop in Detmold to eat a brötchen with meerrettich (horseradish) Miree and I was off.

Felix bought me a fancy schmancy navigation thing (Navigon) and it was perfect! No worries on where to turn, was I supposed to take the A1 or was it the A5?? As I settled into the new car I jammed out to my CD mix of country and new downloads from iTunes, plus Felix downloaded the new Beastie Boys – yeah yeah right right. Okay! Just buy it already.

The ride was sweeeet! Nice car. I drove from 2 p.m. until about 10:30 when I spotted a hotel sign around the French town of Dommartin les Cuiseaux. Just look for the huge chicken statue (at the Aire du Poulet de Bresse) and you can’t miss it. It was a highway area with hotel (Etap), cafeteria, gift store, etc. I went to see if they had vacancy for lil ole me and the sign at the “front desk” directed me to go to the sandwich store. Even late at night there were three people waiting to get a sandwich, when it was my turn I asked for a room. “Oui, follow me.” An inexpensive 40 euros later and I was in my room.

I wasn’t expecting anything much, there were two doors in my room. One was for my port -o- potty looking toilet and the other with the similar look and feel, my shower. But my room!! Oh my gosh, much excitement to be held.

Are you KIDDING ME!?!? A bed AND a bunk bed!? I couldn’t decide, the bed seemed nice and comfy but how cool to sleep in a bunk bed, in France. Hmmm, I wonder what bunk bed is in french? Moment ~ lits superposés. Okay, I will never remember that. Next time in France, pardon, do you have una chambre avec les lits superposés? Ah yeah, that minor in french is really working for me now.  I was so overwhelmed with my sleeping arrangement choices that I switched every 15 minutes. (That is a joke my friends)

The next day I was up early and back on the road by 9:30. I was wanting to get to Barcelona at a decent hour to do a little shopping on Paseo de Gracia. I really needed a new bikini for the summer and a stop at Kiehl’s (LOVE) was in order.

I was in France for most of the day. The tolls! Don’t even get me started. For one, totally outrageous. I think I spent about 60 euros on tolls in France. But my most embarrassing (not to mention frustrating) moment was when I pulled into the line where I could pay with a credit card. When I got up there I put in my Visa. Spit it out. No toll gate going up. My other card. Nope. Then I see VISA and MASTERCARD with a line going through them. How is it possible they don’t accept Visa or MC? What is WTF in french? I pushed the help button. Nothing. I motioned to the people behind me (because of course there was a line forming) that I needed to back up. Or something. Did they have a gun? Not for me, for the machine.

This cute lil old man from the car behind me walked up to try to help. He spoke French to me, I spoke Spanish to him. (I was having a meltdown). FINALLY the gate raised. The gate controllers must have had a really nice laugh. You are welcome. The lil man said, “C’est bon!” I said “Gracias!” and I was back on my way. Note to all foreign travelers at all tolls – just go to the person in the booth.

Spain couldn’t get there fast enough. And then I was in Barcelona with billions of cars and 18 streets going off each round-about. Finally, I made it to the hotel, the Gran Torre Catalunya. From the outside it looks very uninviting, but it was a good price and for an extra charge of 10 euros I was bumped up to the 12th floor. I would have liked the view of Montjuic better but I didn’t mind what I had.

There is a restaurant on the top floor that overlooks Barcelona and a main transit station is almost next door. It is at a very busy area and I thought it would be louder but maybe since I was up on the 12th floor (instead of originally on the 3rd) it was quiet. Of course the occasional taxi horn here and there but you will get that almost anywhere in Barcelona. I tried to motivate myself to go to Paseo Gracia. I opened the minibar, had an Estrella beer, changed into my new maxi dress, sandles and left. I decided a brisk walk would be just what I needed, but after 20 min of walking I realized I still had at least an hour more to go and I changed my plans.

Plaza Espanya was close by so I headed back in that direction. Once I got there I realized the old bullfighting arena was there (no more bull fights in BCN) and I heard it was turned into apartments but there were people going in and out, so, I ventured in. It was … a MALL – Las Arenas. A really nice mall, lots of bright stores, a 12-screen cinema and at the very top was the rooftop terrace. From the terrace you could overlook Fira Montjuic and the Palau Reial while eating sushi or burgers or chinese. The view with my bowl of Miso soup:

I was up early again to find my way to the port. I won’t bore you with my frustration but this time Navigon was not helping, at least not at the minute necessary moments… But I made it! The last time I was on the ferry it was from Palma to BCN and it was in November. I figured it would be the same, no seating outside, just hanging out for eight hours wandering the expanse of the boat. But I was wrong! After my much needed late breakfast of salad, chicken and french fries all doused with vinegar I walked outside and at the end I found people sunbathing on cheap plastic white lounge chairs. There weren’t any chairs available by the time I discovered where everyone was but after watching two abandoned chairs I finally took one when nobody came back to claim them in 34.7 minutes.

It was me in my tanktop and rolled up pants surrounded by people in bathing suits (apparently I missed that memo), and naturally, the car convention.

And then finally after eight hours on the ferry, a sight for my sore, traveling tired eyes. Le Seu, the cathedral in Palma.

I was home.

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