The past few days have truly blown by, especially our time in France. We only had one full day in Nice (and it was Sunday, so most things were closed), before it was off to Avignon. Overall, we pretty much breezed through France, but not before stopping in Aix-En-Provence, hometown of Cezanne, and Carcassonne, which those of you who travelled with me to France before will remember.

As before, Barcelona got to the heart of me, as did the Sagrada Familia. I had spent the days leading up to our arrival in Barcelona geeking out about my love for the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s architecture, so it was fitting that the Sagrada Familia was our first stop in Barcelona. I spent several hours of my free day inside and climbing to the top. I don’t think I’ve ever connected to architecture in such a powerful way, especially not to a church. As with everywhere, our time there was not nearly enough, but when I first visited Barcelona five years ago, I vowed that I would return to see the Sagrada Familia completed, and being a woman of my word, I still plan to do so. See you in 2020-something, Barcelona!

We had long days of bus travel pretty close together — it was a 7 hour ride from Avignon to Barcelona, and an 8 hour ride from Barcelona to Madrid, but we broke it up, and I did a lot of reading, so it went by fairly quickly. I finished “A Movable Feast,” and “The Wonder Spot,” and am now about 100 pages into “I Am Charlotte Simmons,” my first Tom Wolfe novel, and I’m eating it up.

Only two nights before the tour is officially over, though I’m staying a few extra nights, and two of my friends from the trip are, as well. I’m not looking forward to saying good-bye to everyone. Over the past few days, we’ve really felt like a family. When you spend so much time with so many people in such a consecutive manner, you begin to forget the time when you didn’t know them. Talking to someone who isn’t on the tour feels like communicating with another planet. Plenty of people I know get back from extended periods of time in other countries with strangers, and they feel like they share a secret with these people, a knowing glance in the hallway or on the street, a connection that only Europe can be responsible for. Truth is, Europe as a whole does this, and it doesn’t take long for that feeling of sharing a secret language to develop. I’ve had it with everyone I’ve come to Europe with, and I’ll have it with these people, as well. Our first night in Barcelona, a few of us sat in Placa Real and sipped on sangria, and everything just felt… perfect. A lot of us have recently been through terminations of romantic liasons of some sort, so that has also provided us with a kind of bond. Contiki tours are supposedly famous for all of the drunken hook-ups that happen on the tours, but I can honestly say that the number of those on this tour has been kept to a minimum. This isn’t about that — it’s about more than that.

For now, I head off to dinner, then afterwards perhaps a salsa club and a few bars. We’re going to have to make the most of these last two nights together.