Travel Diaries – From Gaudí to Frida Kahlo

Hello, roadies! 👋

This third Travel Book is a little late, it must be said that we have had new mishaps, which have been added to the others, so I was a little less inspired to write. But here I am back, ready to embark on our latest discoveries! 😍

So, are you ready to go? Make yourself comfortable, let’s go! 🚚

Originality always consists of going back to the origins

Our arrival in Tarragona we retreated to the mountain for some perspective. We found a place overlooking the city, which allows us to have a breathtaking view! I was immersed in a form of meditation. Seeing the lights flicker slightly in the distance, like that of a huge fairground. Except that here, it’s total calm. It’s pretty. It’s calming. The energie of the week have been heavy and burdensome overall, so a little lightness is doing us a lot of good. I decide to take the opportunity to do a little yoga while reveling in this panorama.

View over the Hill Road trip Spain

Yoga is always a real parenthesis of happiness, and it is the only sport that you can do almost anywhere! All you need is a carpet that you put on sand, grass, stones, whatever. I like this image where we enter another space (the carpet), a dimension that takes us to the field of intimacy, introspection. It’s a bit like signing a contract with yourself: for 1 hour, I will enter a space of calm and exploration, I will come and deposit my emotions. Then at the end of the Yoga session: relaxation (“ Shavasana ” in Sanskrit), then we can surrender, lying on the mat, to our reveries, the mind soothed by all the movements associated with breathing that was practiced during the session It is also the only sporting activity that I know where one allows oneself to experience such a moment of respite at the end of the practice.

The days followING our arrival in Tarragona, we decide to go to Reus! A small village that is worth the detour, because this is where the famous architect Antoni Gaudí was born. We take the bikes to to slowly explore the streets of the village, not without meeting a cat here and there, because it is 3:00 pm, and it is a time reserved for a siesta in Spain. So everything is closed.

Road Trip Spain Reus Gaudi

Curiously, we do not find any monument created by Gaudí in this village, but some beautiful facades of buildings signed by other prestigious modernist architects remain, such as; Lluís Domènech i Montaner.

On the other hand, a museum entirely dedicated to Gaudi, the representative of Catalan modernism, so it is therefore with pleasure that we rush there with Jim, because even if I have the impression of having always heard of Gaudí, I don’t really know his story.

This dear Gaudi is a bit like the Van Gogh of Catalonia. As I travel through the various spaces of the museum, I see for the first time its uplifting connection with mother nature. In fact, she is omnipresent in his works. In the end, the simplest ideas are the most powerful: nature concerns us all and amazes us, it is a work of art in its own right. Who has never been fascinated by the force of the waves on the rocks, or the deafening calm that invades us when we contemplate the peaks around us, from the top of a mountain?

Not only was his sensitivity and awareness of nature highly developed, but also his rigor and interest in science. The most famous result remains the splendid Sagrada Familia, the longest running construction project the world that was started in 1882 and is slated to be completed in 2026. What an impressive piece of work, when completed, the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest building in Barcelona and the tallest church in the world.

In my opinion, the most symbolic anecdote on the origin of this monument is the will expressed by Gaudí who wanted this temple to be that of the people. He also had enough disinterest (in a good sense) to accept the fact that others would take over his work when his death came. And this is also why today there is this immense respect for wanting to pursue and achieve the architect’s primary ambition! In Spanish, it has been called “Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia”, in other words, the “expiatory temple of the Holy Family”.

After being amazed by the history and symbolism of Gaudí’s art, and by the way, have greatly appreciated the visit to a museum after more than a year (thank you for the Covid!), we are doing a small stopover in the heart of a Roman courtyard, vestiges of their hegemony that can be found in many cities in Spain, including Tarragona, which has preserved an immense amphitheater, built in the 11th century.

Cafe Bonbon Spain cuisine

I order a “bonbón” coffee, which I don’t know yet, and I discover with surprise that it is in fact a coffee with sweetened condensed milk served in a glass! This way of preparing coffee comes from the Spanish region of Alicante. While tasting this little treasure under the tongue, I note that Spanish drinks and desserts are very sweet and sometimes contain curious mixtures. Sangria could be cited here (made with fruit, wine, and sugar, it must be admitted that it is still an original idea), but I am thinking above all of Kalimoxo (or Calimocho)! This drink from northern Spain is created by mixing a dose of red wine with a dose of coca-cola. Not really my cup of tea. Have you already tested? 😅

It is therefore while being lulled by the sweet melody of Spanish conversations that I enter a meditative state and contemplate all these people around me. Where do they come from? What are their stories? It’s pretty incredible, I feel like I can float above the course and it forms a nice melody that stops the course of time on this sunny late afternoon … Jim brings me back to reality because it is already time to find the Van!

Shellfish and crustaceans

Head to the beach! A great desire for sea and seashells takes hold of our minds! And here are the joys of being able to live in a van: being able to go everywhere, when we want! We go to Cambril and Salou (two typical towns of the Costa Dorada tourist region).

I have the pleasure of having my first swim in the sea of the year! Still a little cool, but what a treat to be able to welcome the generous waves in your arms! The day ends with seafood, feet in the water.

Sea food in Spain road trip

I look at Jim, thinking about my meeting next Monday, and say “ I feel like I’m on vacation “, he answers “ it’s the reason we’re making this trip! ” That night, I fall asleep peacefully.

The following week, we offer ourselves a luxury stopover in a small campsite not far from the coast, by the sea, because we need to use the washing machine. A certain “ Jean “, or “ Juan ” welcomes us, with a big smile. I guess we are among the first tourists to come back after the Covid and the lockdowns, which he confirms to me, although the tourist wave will soon arrive.

Jean, therefore, shows us the direction of our room, a small plot of land by the sea, I jump for joy at the sight of the immensity of this beach, bathed in the beautiful light of the moon which is preparing to watch over us.

I must admit that the comfort that is offered to us is really not a denial. We stayed maybe 20 minutes under a hot shower. The next day, we even decide to take a morning jog on the beach, the exercise is not easy because it takes twice as much strength to run on sand. But the beach is ours, the sun is in full swing, it’s happiness! By the way, did you know that the simple act of smiling would be beneficial for our health? It would cause biochemical changes in the brain which would evacuate the tensions, worry, and stress that we gather throughout the day.

Costa Dorada Spain Road Trip

I would also like to share a discovery that I made this week, by reading the book of Guy Corneau” The best of oneself “, he mentions creative power. The best of oneself would be the most alive, the most creative part in itself. Something in us that wants to move, wants to create. We would know intuitively that our happiness lies in this ability to create, but we would not always allow ourselves to do so. When I asked myself the question of my relationship to creation, I immediately had sensations or images associated with fear, of doing badly, of badly drawn, badly painting, bad writing, etc. Ask yourself the question: what do I recognize in myself that gives me the desire to live and increases my vitality?

Of all the things that will come to mind, do not think about the result. Don’t look for validation. For the first time perhaps in a very long time, I regain a taste for “creating”, but for myself. To be in a phase of pure exploration, without seeking recognition. And I think that’s all the difference. Just to create, for the pleasure of creating, to find this state of lightness, of imagination, this return to the “child” in us. The society we live in today tends to transform any creative process into a productive hobby, into a business, ” I’m good at this or that discipline, how could I monetize that “? It is also the consequence of the Internet. However, not everything can be sold, not everything can be bought.

The mourning of the chair

We then head in the direction of a small village located between the Costa Daurada and the community of Valencia, mentioned in my guide “120 secret corners in Europe”. Bordered inland by the Priorat, the Ebro region (where the village is located) is famous for its delta. It is somewhat the equivalent of our Camargue(France), the rice production there represents 25% of the total Spanish production. This region is not very frequented by tourists and remains relatively unknown, yet it is rich in history and traditions. Among these little-known villages, we chose Miravet, which stands out thanks to its immersion in the heart of the land, stretched out by the river. There is a castle at the top of the village, built by the Moors and then conquered in 1153 by the Templars, who converted it into a castle monastery. Apparently, Salvador Dali had even thought of buying this fortress to offer it to his wife, Gala…

Miravet village Spain

We walk through the alleys of the village, imbued with this picturesque atmosphere, and we stop for a few moments to admire the impressive view of the river, at the level of the church.

The next day, we hit the road again to get closer to the Delta. Indeed, the region reminds me a lot of the landscapes of Camargue, but the bulls are missing! The spot that we unearthed to end the week is quite incredible, it is located on a huge beach, right at the level of the Ebro Delta.

Champagne on the beach Carnet de Voyages
Sunset Spain Carnet de Voyages

We proclaim the champagne season open, and Jim proudly uncorks the bottle that Jean-Pierre (my grandmother’s companion) had given us before leaving. We were just waiting for the right moment to open it. It is therefore accompanied by melon, mozzarella, and Serrano ham that we savor the “devil’s wine”.

However, what was our surprise when returning to the van shortly after, we found that a camping chair was missing! Someone had stolen it, taking nothing else, yet there was a nice aluminum table that was also available. It’s always a weird feeling knowing that someone has been there with bad intentions, it makes you doubtful and a little apprehensive. We, therefore, decide to leave the next morning, taking care not to leave anything outside the van!

Meeting with Frida Kahlo.

Sea view in Peniscola Spain

This Travel Journal ends in the lands of the province of Castellón, in the sumptuous village of Peniscola! Change of scenery guaranteed. It’s when I visit places like this that I remember why I love to travel and explore. It awakens my creativity, my imagination, my desire for adventure. All my senses are awake!

Shell house Spain Peniscola

I have not been to Greece, but from the representations I have seen, Peniscola looks a lot like this kind of village with the famous white houses! The reason why we find this type of house in Spain is also linked to the weather. Because the advantage of white-painted walls is to reflect UV rays and avoid heat. If the black color absorbs heat, the white color returns it, which reduces the temperature inside the houses.

I want to photograph everything, my eyes sparkle, from one discovery to another, and my breathing stops when I see this magnificent house covered with thousands of shells: ” la casa de las conchas “. Wonderful !

We take the time to have a drink to cool off at the top of the village, overlooking the entire bay. I feel like a captain, ready to spot any pirate on the horizon. That’s when Jim sees a painting by Frida Kahlo and asks me who it is. All my memories of college come back to me suddenly, I had a real crush on this personality and this woman with a tragic fate.

To begin with, I tell Jim that “ Magdalena Frida Carmen Kahlo Calderón “, of her full name (ok Frida!) is not Spanish, but Mexican. Throughout her life, she will have inherited fragile health, suffering from polio since the age of six and then the victim of a serious bus accident, where her abdomen was pierced by an iron bar. Strangely, it is “thanks” to this accident that she will train herself in painting.

 Frida Kahlo I am my own muse

Looking back a bit on her career, I also remember that she was very involved in the emancipation of women in Mexican society, at a time that was still very patriarchal (still today?). She has always posed as the voice of the oppressed, and also very freely assumed her passionate and bisexual relationships. A figure of a modern woman who sticks to her skin, and who remains, even today, a muse, a strong woman, avant-garde, and a model of commitment for many women.

“To believe what you write to me, the Mediterranean is wonderfully blue. Will I ever know it? I don’t think so, because I was not born under a lucky star; however, my more My dear desire has always been to travel. I will only have the melancholy of readers of travelogues.
Frida Kahlo “

It is with these words that I leave you for the moment. We stayed in Peniscola all week because we have the clutch that gave up the ghost. We will have it repaired this Monday, and hope to get back on the road soon!

Do not hesitate to leave us in the comments your remarks, messages, details, we will be happy to answer you! 🥰

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