Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Friends and Wine in the South of France

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 23rd, 2010

We headed to the south of France to Perpignan for some sun, good wine, and to meet some friends. We stayed with Marie and Olivier, an amazing couple who we hosted in San Francisco through CouchSurfing.org. We were really excited to see them again, this time in their country.

Olivier is a manager of Arnaud de Villeneuve winery, so we were really excited to try his wines. Luckily, the first night we visited there was a wine tasting and dinner planned for his winery. The wine was really good and it was fun to be surrounded by Catalan food and music.

Catalan dinner

The next day we dipped into Spain. First, we went to Figueres. The town was a nice little town to walk around in. The highlight was the Salvador Dali museum. The entire museum is filled with Dali’s surrealistic works. It feels a bit like walking through a Tim Burton movie.

Christy and Susan in Figueres

Part of the Salvador Dali museum

After Figures, we headed to the coast to the tiny town of Cadaques. The town is an old sea town with white Spanish buildings and a harbor full of sailboats. We all agreed we could have spent a whole day in the town absorbing the atmosphere.

Aaron in Cadaques

Our last morning in the Perpignan we were lucky enough to get a personal tour of the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery from Olivier. He showed us the process of making wine, from grape to bottle. We even got to taste some wine directly from the tank.

Watching wine get bottled

Tasting wine from the tank

Thank you Marie and Olivier for the wonderful hospitality. I am so glad we were able to visit you and experience your city. We hope you visit us again when we return to the United States.

Dinner with Olivier and Marie



Catalan Dinner

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 21st, 2010

As part of our time in the south of France, we went to a Catalan dinner and wine tasting sponsored by the Arnaud de Villeneuve winery. Catalonia is a region along the south France and Spain border which includes Barcelona. They have their own language which is like a mixture of Spanish and French. They have their own foods and music as well.

The dinner had 3 courses. Unfortunately, I never saw the menu so I had to guess the name of each dish.

Pa amb tomaquet

Meatballs with white beans

A pastery, peach, and roquefort cheese

Of course the night also included a lot of Arnaud de Villeneuve wines. They were all really good, especially the award winning Muscat de Rivesaltes, the Cotes du Roussillon, and a red wine, but I forget which type.

Arnaud de Villeneuve wines



No Running of the Bulls

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 14th, 2010

We are not going to make it to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. :-( I am so disappointed. We ran out of time to get to the bus station to catch the last bus to Pamplona to watch the last day of the celebration. We just cut the timing too close. We spent hours trying to figure out another way to make it to the festivities, but could not figure anything out. This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most on the trip. To make things worse, as I type this, some people behind me are talking about how running with the bulls was one of the greatest experiences of their lives. I hope disappointments like this are not common on the trip. I will have to add “Running of the Bulls” to my “Things I Will Do In My Life” list.



Barcelona

Posted by Christy in Posts on 07 14th, 2010

Well, what can I say about Barcelona? It’s gorgeous, has a great night life, good food, friendly people… the complete package.

TOO BAD I WASN’T ENJOYING MYSELF BECAUSE I FOUND FREAKING LICE IN MY HAIR!!

Well, I wasn’t enjoying myself MOST of the time. Barcelona is one of those cities I want to do over again because I think I would really enjoy it given new circumstances.

They have the most beautiful fountain I have seen thus far…

fabulous architecture…

and fun (topless) beaches…

(And NO, I didn’t go topless…most of the time…)

This is one city I am determined to get back to, as I don’t think I saw nearly everything the city had to offer.

Off to Paris AND to see Mama and Papa Dumford! My parents are awesome.



Spain Wins the World Cup!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 11th, 2010

On this trip we have been watching a lot of the World Cup. It is hard not to watch since the games are always on the restaurant and bar televisions.

We have been lucky enough to be in Spain during their run to the World Cup championship. With each win, the frenzy kept building. We were in the third largest city in Spain, Valencia during the finals. We went to the port where a giant screen was built for the public to watch. The venue was packed with thousands of people.

Watching the World Cup in Valencia, Spain

The atmosphere was amazing the whole game. Air horns, fight songs, fire works, and vuvuzelas continuously filled the air with noise. When Spain scored the go ahead goal in overtime the crowd erupted.

Moments like this are why we are traveling. A combination of right place and right time mixed to give us a truly spectacular experience.



Back in Spain

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 6th, 2010

After we retreated to Spain from Morocco,  with our tails between our legs, it was time to make our way up the Spanish Mediterranean coast. We were looking forward to several days of relaxation at the beaches.

Our first stop was Tarifa, Spain where the The Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Tarifa is also the kite surfing and wind surfing capital of the world. Something about the meeting bodies of water causes the winds to constantly blow. Overall, the city is a great laid back surfing town with a lot of wind. Just how windy? Check out the video.



Surf Food Binge

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 07 5th, 2010

After not eating much in Morocco, Christy and I desperately needed something substantial to eat. With a stroke of luck, we got just what we needed at a tiny takeout restaurant owned by a local surf couple. There was no menu, just a chalk board that said, “Sandwich 6 Euros”. I watched in amazement as the couple assembled our sandwiches during the next 10 minutes. In order, from top to bottom, each sandwich contained:

  • Buttered toast
  • Fried egg
  • Chicken breast
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Coleslaw
  • Buttered toast
  • Ham
  • Cheese
  • Ham
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Coleslaw
  • Buttered toast

The resulting monster sandwich was not much to look at, but it was soooooooo good. It was exactly what we needed to recover from days of not eating enough.

Surf sandwich in Tarifa



Viva la Vida en Espana!

Posted by Christy in Posts on 07 1st, 2010

Okay, so we are leaving for Morocco tomorrow to spend a week there, and will be back in Spain for another week before meeting my parents in Paris. I wanted to get a post in before we head to Morocco since we will not likely have Internet access.

We flew in to Madrid from Rome, and since we arrived so late we decided to spend the night at the airport (and avoid paying for a hostel for the night). While I don’t mind this at all, I can tell you that I don’t get a good night’s sleep doing this, and I ended up sleeping most of our first day in Madrid. My brief impression of the city is that it is quite clean and the citizens are extremely laid back, and there are not as many American tourists as there were in Italy.

Here are a few pictures in Puerta del Sol, a major plaza in the city:

Aaron at Puerta del Sol in Madrid

Christy in Puerta del Sol in Madrid

My favorite part of Madrid (and this is sad, I know) was watching the hookers outside our hostel window. Our hostel was on Gran Via, the area of Madrid where most hookers hang out. There were cops everywhere, and we were stunned to see them not doing anything about blatant prostitution right in front of them (one hooker even waved to one of the policemen!), but it turns out that while prostitution in Spain is illegal, the way law is written is that the prostitute would not get in trouble, nor their patrons, but the PIMPS would be arrested. Huh.

Please enjoy this video of the hookers in Madrid:

Moving on, our next stop in Spain was a Seville, a gorgeous city in Andalucia in the south of Spain. Its claims to fame are the beautiful bull ring (Aaron wanted to see a bull fight while I did not. I won.), and the cathedral. It is the third largest cathedral in the world (After which two? If you are the first to get it right, I will bring back a small token from the country of your choice, and Christopher Columbus is buried there. Please enjoy the video and a few pictures:

Aaron in Seville

Christy in front of the Seville Cathedral

Our last stop in Spain (for now), is beautiful Marbella on the coast of the Mediterranean. We have spent much of our time on the beach. Aaron was obsessed with this elephant statue that also doubled as a shower. Of course, a video:

Now, we are off to Morocco! I am a little nervous, as this will be our first culture shock experience. I hope it goes well…



Tapas

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 29th, 2010

We are in Spain, so that means tapas for dinner. The portions are surprisingly big. We only needed 3 portions to fill us both up each night. Thank you to the guy working at our hostel, Pension Nuevo Suizo, who recommended we go to Colonial. The prices were good and so was the food.

Almond chicken tapa Beef tenderloin in red port sauce Fried cod

Ibirian Ham Beef tenderloin with a local sauce Other pic of Iberian ham. These are hanging in all restaurants and stores.