IMG_4575

It’s true, even though there are the odd yellow leaves floating about, Autumn is long gone in Barcelona. In fact winter is well upon us, Christmas has come and gone, and now we prepare for New Year tomorrow and Reyes (the kings – a big celebration here in Spain) on the 7th of January. The past few months have been busy. Filled with birthdays and travel, mountains of work, family weekends and last minute shopping as the year winds down. Not too much time for blogging at all, but before it all ends with the eating (spanish style) of twelve grapes 12 seconds before midnight and the start of 2014, I will take a trip back to Autumn. A trip during November into France for my birthday. A trip to Carcassonne. A trip filled with mountain top forts, Boulangerie trips, and a gold rush of Autumn leaves.

Milos arranged a birthday weekend a three hour drive up from Barcelona into the French town to see the famous Citadel of Carcassonne, and so we rented a typical French apartment house in the city, with each floor dedicated to a different room, bathroom on the ground floor, then bedroom, then kitchen and then living room up on the top floor. It was a good thing we did this, as we visited the Bakery far too often, and the trips up and down the stairs in the house (I hope) helped with all the calories we munched up in croissants and sweet breads!

It was freezing! The citadel was quiet and almost empty in it’s very out of season state, and a bitter wind howls through the ramparts. After a quick bowl of French onion soup and a wander through the neighbouring grave yard, we decided and any further adventuring had to be done from the window of our car, and cranked the heater right up and went exploring the hills and vales surrounding the city. This proved to be a fantastic idea, as we found ourselves driving through an Autumn wonderland in the forests and mountains, through winding roads that led up and over wind swept hills covered in snow.

Truly a feast for the eyes, and as warm and toasty as we were inside the car, we could happily gaze upon the landscape and crumbling ruins overlooking this historic area, that was once battled over as the Romans, French, Spanish, Moors, and Visigoths all came hurtling though at one point or another, without getting frostbite! We did stop a few times, once to see a surprise waterfall and a second time to visit the Church made famous in the book “The Da Vinci code”.

 

IMG_4438

IMG_4436

Loads of interesting little details in the graveyard, I enjoyed looking at all the ceramic cameos of the people and families entombed, and wondering about their lives in the shadow of the citadel.

IMG_4538

It was so strange to see this painted on a shop sign. Yo-Landi Vi$$er of Die Antwoord from South Africa has made her mark on the citizens of Carcassonne it seems.

IMG_4579

IMG_4578

IMG_4536

Delicious goodies found in the frozen streets of the town.

IMG_4576

The lovely stain glass windows in the house of the monk who is the centre of many curious tales and the inspiration for the scenes of Mary Magdalena in “The Da Vinci Code” . No one quite knows where his wealth came from? Secret hidden treasure buried in the crypt, or bribes from the Pope? The village which houses less than 100 people, is now overrun by 100 000 tourists each summer!

IMG_4560

IMG_4580

IMG_4581

 

The area outside of Carcassonne is a well known wine region, and there are many wine routes where you can taste the various grapes.

IMG_4585

 

Icicles on the way over the Pyranees heading back to Barcelona.

IMG_4600

IMG_4523

IMG_4535

IMG_4506

IMG_4482

IMG_4490

On the way back to Barcelona, we took a route through the mountains and then over the Pyrannees which was fantastic, gorges, and sweeping vistas, equally painted in oranges and golds, with a frosting of recent snow. Best best of both seasons rolled into one!