Danny's European Adventure-Episode Quatre-Final Chapter Delights

    Time is winding down on a remarkable adventure through Spain and France. As challenging and enjoyable as having your own business at dannyclinkscale.com is, it does mean that doing a full two weeks of vacation is possible. Never in full time radio would you dream of doing that. Your co-workers have much to do to cover, and you just don’t feel right being gone for long stretches.

     Although I did squeeze in blogs and a couple of things at 810WHB with Soren, and some other radio stuff, I did work hard not to work. And the pleasure has been palpable. The last couple of days we have pretty much gone full tourist mode, with wonderful events stacked up that are not off the beaten path, but no less enjoyable.

     Saturday, we ventured to Narbonne, France to a gigantic indoor market, part of the idea to stay out of the winds that have swept through southern France at 25-35 MPH. It was otherwise a lovely day, and the market was pretty amazing. Triple the size, length ,and width, of a football field, it was a gathering place around the noon hour for fresh food, wine, beer, and a great start to a weekend. Smiling faces, small cafes within the confines, meats, fish, cheeses and fruits all conspired for an incredible atmosphere. We soaked it in, but didn’t soak in food and wine by noon, which wasn’t necessary to have fun.

     After lunch, we headed off to an 11th century abbey in the countryside. Remarkably restored, it was stunning. As I read the program, I didn’t really need to be reminded that I wouldn’t want to have been a monk, required to pray and study almost non-stop in virtual isolation, but at least I knew they were doing it in a beautiful environment…well, before retiring to a tiny thatch bed on a cement floor in full clothing. I felt better knowing that later monks became great brewers at their abbey’s. I still am sure I might have only visited for a nice pint.

     The restoration was remarkable, and the gardens that populated the grounds were breathtaking. One perfectly maintained garden after another, including one of blue roses that all of the others in our group agreed they had never seen. The abbey was set in a valley with high rising bluffs all around. It certainly created the kind of solitude that was demanded of the monks.

     The weather looked lovely when you were cloistered in the abbey on this day, but, in reality, it was blowing hard enough to affect your plans a bit. Despite that we decided for the evening to head to a lovely restaurant along a canal. The original plan had been to go kayaking in that area and then enjoy dinner. If we had attempted it on this day, it would have resembled a scene from the old 70’s Burt Reynolds movie “Deliverance”. We may well have ended up squealing like pigs. The dinner for me was in large part a second go-round with my fish soup. Delightful, but a definite second place to the version at the“Chicken Restaurant”.

     Sunday, gale force winds were not going get in the way of a pilgrimage to the almost perfect seaside village of Collioure. You walk into the village along castle walls above beaches on the Mediterranean, level after level of quaint streets populated with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Artists such as Matisse, Piccasso, Chigal, and Gaugin used the backdrop for paintings you know, even if you are not an aficianado.

     The three or four-story structures built into the hillside are pieces of art themselves. Painted in pastel colors and adorned with colorful vines and flower boxes, they almost compete with each other in a village beautification showdown.

     Lunch featured the third stage of the fish soup competition, after which I would declare gold, silver and bronze. We dined outside at the main hotel restaurant in a light structure meant to block the wind, which it did. At first, I believed that the Soup de Poission here would notch the silver, but as the contents of the bowl lessened, I decided that while delicious like all of them, it would have to take the bronze medal of fish soup. The “Chicken Restaurant” remained king of the hill.

     Monday morning came with another sunny and slightly less windy day. The 12th straight day of running went without incident, each day a little further, each day my knees telling me louder that returning to the United States and other forms of exercise will be just fine with them. We have kept the day relaxed to unwind and pack, but our final lunch of the trip was absolutely the best. We have had nary a sour note on the culinary side, but “Les Calicos” in Fabrezan was a fitting ending to a gastronomic field day of a vacation.

     The last time I watched television was the Champions League manic recreation noted in previous blogs. With the internet, of course, I get to keep up with our Kansas City sports narratives, which I will dive into in our next blog get together, perhaps just hours away.

     But even with some work, and some eye on sports, it was a pleasure to mostly unplug, unwind, and savor two different sides of European pleasure. A bustling city like Barcelona, and the pastoral countryside, and delightful tiny villages of Southern France.

     Hope you are ready for me, USA…..here I come!