Having savored our final meal in San Sebastian, it was time to make haste to get to Nice for our date with visa renewal destiny. We decided to break up our 500+ mile journey with overnight stops in Zaragoza, Barcelona, and Montpellier. This made for a very roving retirement stretch of days.
Diana was on edge as we departed San Sebastian, due to the stresses of planning our trip on the fly and sleep deprivation from less than stellar beds in the prior weeks. Our 3-hour drive to Zaragoza did not improve her mood. The camel’s back finally buckled when she saw the tiny room we had booked for the night in a somewhat shabby, inexpensive hotel. She just wanted out, to some sanctuary.
Diana was able to rally later in the day, after getting a sympathetic upgrade from the hotel staff and sharing a bottle of wine with me over lunch. Thinking on this, I opined: if a “Slomad” is a nomad who moves infrequently, one who moves too often is a “Gomad”. The upshot was we would try to go slower in the future, to allow a little more time to breathe.
We were able to see a little of Zaragoza while in town, enough to recognize it would be worth a couple more days to enjoy when next we are in the area. There was a stunning cathedral on the large central square and a beautiful old bridge across the River Ebro. For art, we saw imposing lions guarding the bridge and equally imposing statues of a native son, Goya.
Lunch in particular was practically a steal. Eleven euros each delivered a starter, main, dessert, and a glass of wine. Since we ordered the same wine, they just left the bottle for us to share. Very helpful to take the edge off a stressful morning.
Already having plans to spend a total of 9 nights in Barcelona on this trip, we would have chosen another pit stop on a journey to Nice were it not for the fact that a friend was in town for work. As a bonus, she had a spare bedroom for us to stay in overnight.
The trip from Zaragoza to Barcelona was only 3.5 hours, so we arrived leisurely in the afternoon. Naturally, for our evening in Barcelona, we headed back to Tapas Street Carrer de Blai, where we grabbed a few more tasty bites.
Border Crossing and Perpignan
The journey from Barcelona to Montpellier was supposed to be 4ish hours, but Google Maps decided to take us on the scenic route at the border with France. So, instead of cruising down the highway, we crawled through a border town where many locals were shopping for less costly items. Progress, right?
We also felt compelled to stop by Perpignan, where we spent the first 2 months of lockdown back in 2020. Unfortunately, most places were closed on that windy Sunday afternoon. Even our local baker was out for the day. There are a couple of sites we’d like to visit in town since we were not able to do so during the lockdown. Still, we don’t see a good reason to return for any length of time.
Montpellier is a university Ville with a fairly dense old town. We chose to stay at a Crowne Plaza, which had a nice bed and was within walking distance of old town. We found a pleasant, vibrant burg. The old town was buzzing gently with activity as we strolled around in the evening. I even found one of the Santiago Pilgrimage trails. We put Montpellier on our revisit list for another year.
Having spent the prior 2 months in Iberia, we were ready for something other the tapas and pinchos. So we chose to hit an Italian joint, Pizzeria Sicilia. I will say, food and gas prices were noticeably higher in France than in Spain. Still, the pasta really hit the spot for me. After all, a change is a good as a rest – Anon.