Tuesday, May 31, 2016

France: Carcassone (Stopover in Barcelona)

Despite is being halfway into 2016, I have to still catch up from our Spain and France trip LAST SEPTEMBER! 

We enjoyed a nice direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Barcelona, but upon arrival to Barcelona we discovered that both of us had forgotten our driver's licenses and had no way to pick up our rental car. Not the best of starts for a two week vacation. Despite that snag, we were quickly able to readjust thanks to a super helpful travel agent in the Barcelona Airport, and we had train tickets in hand for all of our trip. MY FAVORITE WAY TO TRAVEL ANYWAY! We had a 6 hour window between new travel arrangements and our train departing for Carcassonne, so we ventured into Barcelona for a few hours to stretch out our legs.

Sangria! There were two pitchers of this happily consumed

Tapas happiness

After a nice meal, we caught our train to head to France for a few days. Despite getting there MANY hours later than originally planned, we were able to enjoy a really nice starlit walk to our accommodations a few kilometers from the train station. The view was incredible!

It was late by the time we arrived, so we just showered and crashed out, wanting to start the day bright and early the next morning. We wanted to tour  the castle complex of Carcassonne and to be some of the first people in (to avoid the crowds). I highly recommend this approach, it was empty when we started! And DEFINITELY pay to do the audio tour! It is one of the best narrated audio tours that we have ever done.

 True to form, we booked our accomodations through AirBnb and it did NOT disappoint. We were immediately below the castle walls and our host had an amazing breakfast spread ready for us at our early hour.

Breakfast with a view

And a nice leisurely stroll up to the castle complex:

Basilique St. Nazaire 

Our host recommended a restaurant (personal friends with the owner) within the castle walls, and it did not disappoint. Name: L'Escargot

Menus on chalkboard

More wine, more tapas. Satiated bliss.

Adam loves his moldy cheese.

We seriously spent THE ENTIRE DAY walking the walls of the castle, doing the audio tour, and then exploring EVERY.SINGLE.STREET within the walls. It was so nice and relaxing, and absolutely beautiful. Carcassonne is seriously a stunning and picturesque city. I cannot imagine anyone, of any travel type or desire, not loving this city. It has something for everyone.

We ventured back outside the walls as the day came to a close, to enjoy the changing of the colors with the fading light.

Sunset colors of the castle walls

Moon rise over Carcassone

If you go to Carcassone, you absolutely MUST go to this restaurant. It was our favorite meal of the entire trip. We STILL talk about this place, in a lovingly reminiscent way that brings stars to your eyes when spoken about. It is all things delicious wine and truffles. It is owned by an ex-rugby player and his chef wife. It is just the two of them and it is incredible.

Restaurant Name: Truffle & Terrior

The second bottle

Carpaccio with a generous shaving of truffles. This was the second platter. Adam did not like having to wait for the picture to be taken before we dug into this one. It was THAT good.