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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Spain 2022: April 12th Barcelona to Cadaques

 I was in my nightmare: the car was stuck on the slight upslope from the garage, and kept stalling out whenever I tried to put it in gear. Nothing I did seemed to work, even the old trick of using the handbrake to keep the car from moving backwards while I put it into gear.

The morning had been spent at Park Guell, the inspiration for the architecture in the Disney movie Encanto. We had taken the subway in the morning to get to the park, arriving just before the opening time of 9:30am, only to be told to visit the real tourist entrance as the default entrance on Google maps were for Barcelona residents only!

The park was definitely beautiful, with lots of interesting architecture to look at, though it was crowded as well, despite the early hour. By the end of our 90 minute visit, the kids were bored out of their minds, and begging for a taxi ride back to the AirBnB. They didn't want to try any more tapas, and just wanted some simple food like hotdogs. We took the taxi back, and then after a quick lunch, I took the subway to the rental car pickup.

The rental car place was surprisingly empty when I showed up, and the car rental company had ran out of small cars, so they gave me a "free" upgrade to a Pugeot 2008 min-SUV instead. To me, that wasn't much of an upgrade, since it meant extra fuel costs, and the AirBnB owner in Girona had given me warning that too big a car wouldn't fit in the old city's parking spot! I was given complicated directions to the parking garage, where I picked up the keys and exit tickets for the parking lot. It took me a while to figure out all the controls, and then I pulled out of the garage and immediately stalled out on the inclined spiral corners leading out of the garage. After a while, someone pulled out behind me, and this being Spain rather than America, rather than honking at me in anger, he actually got out of his car, came over to mine, and told me that I hadn't pushed the shift lever far enough over to the left. Instead of shifting into first gear, I had shifted into 3rd gear, but since the dashboard didn't give me any indicator of what gear I was in, I was constantly stalling.

With that simple tip, I was off and out of the garage. The Pugeot 2008 wasn't a very impressive car. For one thing, the AC system was like a Google PM --- it made lots of noise but didn't actually do any work, even at the highest setting. The car didn't have a backup camera, but did have sensors that warned you if you were about to hit something. The Android Auto system at least worked after we installed a correct cable, but woe until ye if you decided to switch the display to the AC system so you could control it. After you did that there was no way to get Android Auto back without disconnecting the cable and reconnecting it!

But nevertheless, driving in Barcelona traffic wasn't as bad as I feared, and then the exit from the city to Girona and into the freeway went well, though the drive up the mountains over to Cadaques onto narrow streets were more of a challenge than I expected --- the car was indeed too big, and the stick shift meant one more thing to worry about while driving. Xiaoqin was still jet-lagged, and fell asleep on the drive, so I gave a phone to Bowen so he could help navigate. Unfortunately, the 10 year old still can't concentrate for very long or anticipate required directions. Once into Cadaques I was forced to make a decision and took a wrong turn. After that, the recovery required very tight maneuvering on city streets before we made it to Hotel Calina in Port Lligat.

While checking in I asked the receptionist how long it would take to walk to the Salvador Dali House Museum, for which I had a ticket for tomorrow. "1 minute!" she said. I had indeed booked the closest possible location for our visit the next day, but had forgotten about it.  I thanked the version of me who was booking this hotel way back when.
We walked over to the Salvador Dali House Museum so we would be able to identify where it was the next morning, and I remembered that there was a hike that would start from there, so we elected to do it. But Boen was still tired from the morning visit to Park Guell, and threw a temper tantrum, kicking and screaming, so after a mere 1.5 miles of walking we gave up and walked back to the hotel, where we were told that our best bet for dinner was to walk to downtown Cadaques. "20 minutes tops. I did it when I was pregnant!" declared the receptionist.
On the way there, you got a chance to look into the Dali estate, with its heads that were sculpted onto the wall. You couldn't actually see those statues once you were on the grounds itself, so the walk into Cadaques was definitely worth doing. I hadn't noticed the last time I was here since on the bicycle you're going too fast to see it.

Once at the top of the hill there was a walking path that took you straight into town. Despite the statement that the restaurants wouldn't be open until 8pm, we discovered that there were plenty of restaurants opened, just not the kind of restaurants the locals would eat at. The kids were hungry, so we ended up at a pizza place.

The town was picturesque, even in the rain, and walking back to the hotel after dinner it was nice and pretty and I enjoyed myself. That night, we ate the last of our melatonin, which hopefully would help. We didn't have anything planned for the next day other than the museum opening at 10am, so we were confident we'd be able to get to eat the hotel breakfast. I asked permission to leave the car longer in the hotel parking lot and the receptionist told me to just move the car to the "Reserved for Hotel" space and that I would be OK.


Sojka's Call said...

Brave guy renting a car in Spain! Personally, I dislike driving cars in foreign countries so I applaud your pluck.

Unknown said...

We rented a car in Italy. It was refreshing! Scary, a little dangerous, but I'd been missing the Boston driving experience and it was all of that!