Where Have I Been?

by Barb, back in wonderful Maine, watching the cruise ships from her study window

Astute readers of the blog may have noticed my absence over the the last three weeks. (Possibly because I mentioned I was going away a couple of times.) I did manage to get all my Wicked Wednesday post responses done ahead of time, but I haven’t been chiming in with comments in my usual way. Also, Edith was kind enough to trade posting days with me.

Where have a I been? We started with four days in Paris.

The trip was long planned. We didn’t realize it would take place over the 50th anniversary of the day we met until Bill figured it out right before we left. It was a happy coincidence. When our granddaughter, Viola, saw this photo she said, “I bet they’re eating cheese!” We were.
The Picasso Museum in Paris had become a bit of an inside joke for Bill and me. It was closed for renovation 2009 to 2015, which meant it wasn’t open on our trips in either 2010 or 2014. This time true to form, while it was open, the exhibit had just changed and the top two floors were closed. Nonetheless, we had a lovely visit and I have officially checked it off the list. The museum is in the beautiful Hotel Sale, built in the 17th century by the guy who had the right to collect the salt tax in France, a lucrative position.
I was anxious to see the progress that had been made at Notre Dame since the fire. The construction of the cathedral in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is a marvel, but looking at the current work, even in an age of cranes and power tools, what has been accomplished seems amazing.

From Paris we boarded a train to Bordeaux, and boarded our cruise ship. We spent a day and a half in Bordeaux, where we toured a vineyard and admired the vibrant city, and then we left for the long cruise up the Garonne River and on to northern Spain.

We had long wanted to visit the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa. The building is every bit as stunning as everyone said it would be.

After visits to El Ferrol and Vigo in northern Spain (and a short foray into Portugal) we cruised to southern Spain.

In Seville, a small bit of the decoration at the Spanish Pavilion from the Exposition of 1929.
One of the fun things about a cruise is going places you never would have thought to go. It’s happened on every trip. This time it was Gibraltar. Here is one of the Barbary apes that live on the rock. (Really macaques.) They are wild animals who will steal your sunglasses or hat or jump on your back. We were warned to carry backpacks or bags on our fronts as the mothers carry the infants. If you carry them on your back the way the older kids are carried, the apes may try to steal them back.
Gibraltar: Light show in St. Michael’s cave
Malaga, Picasso’s birth place and another Picasso Museum, this one in a 16th century palace. The exhibit was arranged chronologically by the women in Picasso’s life, his muses. All things considered, being a muse appears to be a pretty thankless task.
We spent the last four days of the trip in Barcelona, where I ate Andalusian gazpacho every chance I got. We didn’t have a single bad meal on the trip, even when eating near a tourist site or just wandering and randomly picking a place to eat.
Barcelona, our third Picasso Museum. We had been to this one before, but I was working on symmetry, or Rule of Threes. I’ve always liked this museum in the city where Picasso lived and studied as a young man, because among other pieces, it has a lot of his early work, which really shows his evolution as an artist.
When we visited Gaudi’s Sagada Familia in 2005, it was a construction zone. A beautiful, awe-inspiring construction zone like no place we had ever been. In 2023, it feels like a cathedral (which it technically isn’t) with floors and pews and stained glass. It is still beautiful and different, and unfinished, but it looks now more like it will be and not so much like it has been.

It was a marvelous trip. I didn’t take my laptop. Didn’t answer emails. I said to Bill at one point that I was more relaxed than I had ever been in my life. I missed you all, but I wouldn’t have missed it.

Readers: Do you have a fantasy trip, even if it is to remain a fantasy?

Photos by Bill Carito. You can see more of his work at


and follow him on Instagram at billcarito and bill.carito.colorphotos.

35 Thoughts

  1. What a fabulous trip, Barb! Glad you are home safely. Now your cruise is my fantasy trip, although I am going on one in Japan in the spring, my first time back since living there in the mid-seventies. Very excited about that.

    My other fantasy trip is getting to the ancestral homelands of Ireland and Scotland with Hugh, a planned trip that COVID sent crashing and burning in May, 2020. We’ll do it in 2024 instead.

  2. My fantasy trip is to go to Venice and then on to the Greek Isles. We had this trip planned once but then Hurricane Irma struck Florida and unfortunately, we had to cancel. I am determined to try again when I am feeling better.

  3. BARB: What a fantastic trip!!
    I am in the early planning stages for a first-time trip to Singapore next April. I have a couple of friends who used to live there & they raved about Singapore being a foodie’s paradise. Hawker centres (some Michelin-starred) have every type of Asian food you can imagine and more. The botanical gardens and other sights are easily accessible by public transit.

    The long flying time & heat/humidity are the only things I am NOT looking forward to experiencing.

      1. True, jet lag can be brutal. But I generally adjust quickly when I go to Asia. I have a harder time with jet lag going to Europe & the US West coast!

      2. Really! I can go west endlessly, except all the way around where the day is totally flipped. Going east kills me. Maybe because I’m a night owl.

      3. And I am the opposite of you: an early bird. I never adjusted to California time when I was there for San Diego Bouchercon, and I was there 11 days!

  4. Barb, I am glad to read that you had such a great time on your travels!

    I have a variety of fantasy trips in mind and they all will never happen.

    Most of them involve attending a specific event or place with no real plan to do anything else beyond that reason for wanting to go.

    Like going to Germany to see the Wacken Open Air Festival, one of the biggest rock and metal festivals in the world.

    Or Greece to see and meet the band Illusory, who have become a favorite of mine over the last couple of years to the point where I’ve become friends on Facebook with three of the band members and continue to fly the flag for their most recent album which is an absolute masterpiece.

    Or London to go to the Sherlock Holmes Museum.

    But if you are talking a trip where I’d love to just go and figure out a bunch of different things to do while I’m there, that would be Ireland. I used to subscribe to the tourist magazine Ireland of the Welcomes and still get a newsletter emailed to me. I’d love to see some of the stuff I’ve only read about until now.

    1. I was in Dublin, briefly, last year and I agree just figuring it out as you go is a great way to see Dublin. I would love to see more of Ireland.

  5. Sounds like you have a fabulous time filled with many memory making moments.

    My fantasy trip would be to go to Alaska. My parents were stationed there when they found out about me. Mom’s RH- factor had them sent back stateside, but I’ve always said it was my “almost” home state. They talked so favorably about it, that I’d love to go there.

    We have a big trip (largest since covid hit) next year which will take us into Alaska to the south western part during adventure. Although not going back to Fairbanks where my parents were, at least I’ll be able to see some of the state. If time and money weren’t an issue, I’d love to be able to explore everything in the state.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Looks like a wonderful trip, Barb, with just the right mixture of land and water travel. An all-cruise option seems boring to me.

    My daughter and son-in-law took the ultimate fantasy cruise this past February. They began in Cape Town, South Africa, and over the course of nearly three weeks journeyed up the entire Eastern coast of the continent, stopping in Zanzibar, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Qatar and Dubai, among other places.

  7. You don’t have to be an astute reader to have missed you, Barb. We missed you.

    My fantasy trip was fulfilled many years ago when I went to Peru (and so fell in love, I went back every year for 25 years.). I would love to visit the Pyramids and Petra. And do one or more additional trips around the US to see more of our beautiful country.

    (In case this shows up as Anonymous, this is ginnyjc – the giraffe.)

  8. Beautiful photos! My dream trip which I’m planning on taking next Spring/Summer is to visit Van Buren, Maine where my Dad was born. It will be his 20th anniversary and I’m hoping to take a week to explore Maine via roadtrip.

  9. Thank you for sharing such fabulous pictures. I am so glad you had a wonderful trip. Welcome back. No. I do not have any fantasy trips planned. God bless you.

  10. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. How was the cruise? My fantasy trip involved my mom, so instead once I have working knees and retire, my sister is going to go with me for a tour of Italy, especially Rome.

Comments are closed.