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Archive for the ‘Travel to Spain’

Our group from the watercolor painting tour to Spain

September 25, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

The trip is over (actually it has been over for several days but I needed time to post) and everyone flew back home. Actually, some went to Cordona, one to Morocco, some to Madrid, some back home to San Francisco, Australia and California and Sandy Delehanty, the teacher went to spend one more week in Colliure, in France, on the Spanish border.

Like I promised you, here are the pictures of each of them with their favorite paintings:

June from California:


Laura from California:


Linda from Minnesota:


Janet from California:


Judy from Hawaii:


Mary from Canada:


Linda from Canada:


Anne from Australia:


Here is the picture of the entire group, including Tom, Linda’s husband (from Minnesota) who was not a painter and Sandy, the teacher, on the far left of the picture:


We had a fabulous time. The weather was great, everyone was happy and …so was I!

Next painting tour to Spain will be in May 2014 with Kathie George. But stay tuned because in a few days, I am starting a cooking tour in Provence!

Touring Barcelona after painting the Costa Brava

September 22, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

After spending our time on the Costa Brava, painting away, it was time to go back to civilization!!! So we head off to Barcelona.

I organized a guided walking tour in the Bari Gothic, the old medieval quarter, of Barcelona. Catherine, our guide, was lovely and very knowledgeable. Catherine is the only one on the picture who doesn’t have her head up (in the middle of the pic):

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Below, you see Janet taking a picture of the 14th century synagogue. Janet really wanted to find it but the old quarter is a real maze  but with the help of Catherine, Janet was in heaven!!! Sort to speak….


Below, is me giving a little explanation about the figurines we find in the stores representing Queen Elizabeth or Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Francois Mitterand or Raphael Nadal, or any famous people in a more than precarious position. If you want to find out why, you need to join us on our next painting, cooking or cultural tour to Spain! so I can tell you more.



In the evening, we went to a flamenco show in a 15th century palace. The place was fabulous:


This time, for the first time since I have been there, one of the female dancers was wearing pants.


That is very unusual since they always wear flamboyant dresses. You need to see their feet move when they dance. It is simply incredible.


Next blog, I will introduce all the participants with their favorite painting. So, come back!

Gourmet Catalan food on our painting tour to Spain.

September 17, 2013 By: guest Category: Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, Women, painting workshops No Comments →

Every day started with an enormous and delicious breakfast: many pastries, cheeses, yoghurts, egg tortilla, but also ham, chorizo, salami, salmon, sardines, a lot of fruits, different types of bread, water, juices, even wine!!!!, hot chocolate, many different types of coffees, teas, etc…


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And in addition to the sumptuous breakfast, you have the incredible view on the ocean.


We also had gourmet dinners. I will let Sandy Delehanty, our teacher on the watercolor workshop, tell you about it:

“Our French Escapade led Watercolor Journaling trip to Spain, continues with gourmet food that Jackie our French Escapade guide has included in this trip and we are all LOVING!

Judy said one night that she thought Jackie should have advertised this trip as a “Painting/Gourmet Food Trip” since every one of our dinners together have been fabulous and we have learned so much about the Catalan way of cooking.  I think she is right!

Here is a market photo that gives you an idea of the freshness of the ingredients that the chefs use to do their magic.

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One of our dinners was at Can Joan in a nearby town that some locals recommended to Jackie when she was planning her first tour of this area.  The specialty was a unique version of Paella made with the rice negro grown here and a very soupy style sauce and of course loads of fresh seafood and sausage etc.


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Really great, as were all the many tapas.

June not only loves the food and the company she also loves the Sangria, but do not worry, not all of the glasses in this photo are hers, she is too much a lady to go overboard.

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The next morning at breakfast June confessed that she did not have quite as much “spring in her step”! The dessert was a real treat as well.


And since we are by the coast, the fish is caught that day. At many restaurants we went to, we were presented with the fishes of the day so you can choose which fish you want.  I am not a fan of mussels but everyone else in our group has been raving them.  At home I do not like sardines, but fresh caught here they are terrific.


Those big shrimps were used in a typical Catalan dish called Fideua. It is a different version of the paella. The rice has been replaced by little noodles.

Below was the best salad I had on  this trip, warm goat cheese salad.  The large round of goat cheese was actually grilled, their were all kinds of goodies along with it as you can see, even tiny sweet strawberries, and the dressing was balsamic vinegar and oil, artfully drizzled.  The restaurant’s name I have forgotten but it was in the tiny seaside village of Calella de Palafrugell where we have been staying.
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It was as much a painting than a food experience!”
If you want to taste the Catalan food either on a painting tour or a cultural tour, click here.

Dali museum, a surrealistic object itself

September 14, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

Today, I planned a cultural visit as a treat to the artists. The painters have been working hard and they deserved some fun. So we went to Figueres, Northern Catalonia to see the Dali museum.

The museum had been designed by Dali itself. Where else will you find eggs on the roof and people wearing baguettes on their head to welcome you?



The inside is as crazy as the outside, actually even more. You are welcome by dozen of golden naked statues with open arms, similar to the ones on the roof of the museum.


Then among others, you see a painting of Abraham Lincoln.


But when you walk closer, you don’t see Lincoln anymore but Gala’ back, Dali’s wife, naked, watching the Mediterranean sea.


Then you walk through rooms and rooms of art, sometimes (I should say often) very crazy art but that is what makes Dali so unique. A genius, he called himself. The two paintings on the wall, the piece of furniture in the middle as well as the red sofa in the back of the room, can be viewed through a frame with hair-like giving you the feeling of watching a human face….


In the gift shop, you can buy a book with Dali’s mustaches: many pictures of Dali with his mustaches of different lengths, shapes, etc…On the last page of the book you can read a citation from Dali: “Some people think I am crazy, but I am not as crazy as the person who just bought this book.”


After the visit of the museum, it was time for lunch and we went to a French (Brittany) crepe place. I had been there before and they make the crepes just like in Brittany. I know we are in Spain and should be eating Catalan food but I couldn’t resist.

By the crepe place was a little Mini from the 60s I believe, painted with the “Flower power ” theme. Sandy Delehanty, the teacher on this watercolor workshop, said that her first car was exactly the same but instead of  the flowers she painted a big lady bug (making her very famous in her neighborhood). She and I, the tour leader with the white shirt on the pic, decided to drive it (or at least pretend to since now the car has been converted into a bar).

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After our great lunch, we went  back to Calella for some more paintings:


Next blog, all the gourmet food we ate on our painting workshop to Spain. Stay tuned!!!!

There is more than the sea on the Costa Brava

September 12, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 1 Comment →

Like always, I am chatting away, showing the village to the group. I am on the right and Sandy, the teacher on the left:


Below is a picture taken by Janet of (from left to right) June, her daughter Laura and Anne.


The post below has been written by Sandy Delehanty, the art teacher on this watercolor painting trip to Spain:

Having wondered last night around the tiny 12th century Medieval village of Pals photographing it in the late afternoon sun, we knew what there was to paint here.  Staying in such a breathtakingly beautiful place as Calella de Palafrugell by the sea, it would be hard for artists to leave to paint at another location, but knowing the beauty of the village of Pals we were able to choose whether to spend the day painting there, or spend the day painting by the sea again.

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I snapped a photo of this sunny wall that I kept passing on my way from where Linda (Minnesota) and Ann were painting to where Judy was painting.  I loved the shapes of the basket purses and the cast shadows and the colors and textures in the stone wall.

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The great thing about watercolor journaling is that you do not need to carry an easel and stand up all day working away.  In fact, since we are staying in a beach town my students purchased these folding beach chairs so they could be comfortable painting.  Here is Mary (on the right) and Linda (the Linda from Canada, we also have a Linda from Minnesota). Mary was the fast painter on the trip. Linda has been added a motorcycle in her painting that was there the day before but not when she was actually painting.

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Not far, were June (left) and Laura (her daughter) sitting quietly in a little alley way.

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Laura was painting this cute little window with the big leafed plants beside it.  When I took photos it was not quite done as you can see, but I love the style of her ink lines and the lovely transparent colors of her watercolors so I wanted to post it anyway and she was OK with that.

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And June painted this cute little window with the pots.  It was a really challenging spot with lots happening, but she had fun with it as you can see!


Below is a picture of Sandy, the teacher, helping Laura.


Judy found a really cute corner in the village of Pals and worked to the very last moment, not even stopping for lunch, she ate a protein bar in one hand and kept on painting with the other.  Her painting buddies in Hawaii are probably not surprized by this at all!

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Here is the corner she was painting, talk about eye candy!

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And below is her lovely watercolor.  She did not like the dull brown color of the door so she created a much prettier blue door.  The round tower structure next to the door was difficult but she got it.  Also notice that her rocks have a wide variety of color, great job!

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Here is the cute little street scene Ann and Linda (Minnesota) chose to paint in Pals.  Somehow I forgot to take a photo of them painting but below are the paintings they created.

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This is Ann’s painting.  It is a lovely watercolor that captures the whole scene beautifully and I think it is my favorite of all that she painted.  Lovely painting and I love how she wrote the story of her day next to the painting.

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This is Ann from Australia (who painted the above watercolor) and we all had a great time getting to know her.  I am honored that she came so far to join our painting trip.  Before arriving to paint with us she visited London and the Cotswalds in England where she created some lovely watercolors in her journal.

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This is Linda’s (Minnesota) watercolor of the pots along the main street of Pals.  I love the way she shows you that the plants were cactus but a variety of them and also she got the pots nice and rounded and the wall is definitely made of a variety of stones.  Great job Linda!

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Linda’s husband Tom went with Jackie, the tour leader, to the cork museum while we were all painting. Then he came to meet us in the village and walked everywhere, scouting the town and by lunch time he knew not only where to shop for the local products but which stores had the best prices.  He is a keen observer of people and provides us with interesting anecdotes of the daily life of the people he had witnessed.

Below is a picture of Linda when she is not painting. Pals is a medieval village so she got right in the spirit of the place.

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Linda knows how to keep her husband Tom in line!

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But where was Janet?

Janet was determined to find time to swim in the sea so she elected to stay and paint and swim in Calella.  The hotel loaned her an umbrella, she had her towel, her watercolors and journal and off she went to the beach.  She swam, lounged and painted the rocks and the sea. I don’t have a picture of her on the beach but I have a picture of her painting supplies on the beach…….


Here is a picture of Janet, another day:


Stay tuned for more.

Painting in the quiet and beautiful botanical garden of Cap Roig, Spain

September 11, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops No Comments →

Our adventure continues, in the botanical garden of Cap Roig.

The origins of the Cap Roig’ Castle and its Botanical Gardens date back to 1927, when Russian Colonel Nicolai Woevodsky, who was keen on drawing and architecture, and his wife, the English aristocrat Dorothy Webster, decorator and amateur archeologist and gardening, left behind her court life in London to settle down and make true her fondest dream in this unique place located in a special enclave by the sea. A place prevailing in nature and calm. The works continued until 1974.

I always give a little orientation/history speech in all the different places we go to:


Our group sat down in front of the castle and starting to sketch the beautiful window with iron work.


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The garden runs down in terraces from the castle to the sea. The first ones (Nuns’ Terraces, El Bassin Terrace, Lovers’ Garden) are connected by the Cypresses Staircase, and have a marked architectural character.






From there on, the paths descend gently towards the coast. This area is home to the Spring Garden, Cactus Garden and Geranium Walk with stunning flowering seasons.Wether you like to paint flowers, cactus, trees or buldings or even the coast, you have it all at the garden.


I think my favorite part was the cactus garden: hundred of them, different shapes, species and color.



For more pictures of the botanical garden of Cap Roig, visit our site at

Sketching in Calella de Palafrugell

September 10, 2013 By: guest Category: Art, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 2 Comments →

Our group had fun sketching and painting by the ocean. They didn’t go very far to paint what I show below, just from the terrace of the hotel. Calella de Palafrugell  is really a hidden gem of the Costa Brava. Many resorts on the Costa Brava have been over built in the 60s and 70s for mass tourism and only a few fishing villages have been preserved. This is one of them.

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Judy painted the boat that never moves!

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Linda did too but from a different angle. She actually walked a few yards away from the hotel….

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Some people didn’t leave the hotel and took pictures from their room balcony.



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Tomorrow, different scenery as we are going to the botanical garden of Cap Roig, a 10 minute drive from our hotel.

Click here see the itinerary of the trip.

Watercolor sketching in Spain

September 04, 2013 By: jgrandchamps Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 2 Comments →

Bon dia!

I didn’t say “buenas dias” because we are in Catalunya and for the Catalans, we are not in Spain. So bon dia is “Hello” in Catalan.

Sandy Delehanty is my teacher on this trip to Spain. Sandy has been teaching many times for me. This is her fifth trip with French Escapade and her fourth country (twice to the French Alps, once in Provence, once in Belgium and now Spain)

Our home base is Calella de Palafrugell on the Costa Brava, 1h30 min North of Barcelona.


This is a view from our balcony: the white fishing village of Calella. Bedrooms with sea view have this breathtaking view of the ocean:


Tom and Linda on their balcony are enjoying the view:

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Painting in Calella is of course primarily about the ocean and boats. Nobody went very far for painting. Although there are tons of wonderful vignettes to paint, everyone sat on the terrace of the hotel. It is true that the best view is from there:


Anne and Janet:


Judy and Mary:
The number one vignette for our sketchers was Mr Velcro’s house or should I say, little castle, the only building on the beach with a private swimming pool of course:
If you look the other way, without even having to move your chair, you could paint the fishing village:
Some, like Linda A., is more into abstract and was inspired by the rocks:
Sandy, the teacher, doing the critique on the terrace:
If you are really lazy, you don’t even have to leave your room to paint the ocean:
Below is Laura painting from her bedroom (oops, I didn’t say Laura was lazy…but June on the other hand…):
June keeps telling me that she paints but I never saw her doing so. Every time I saw her she was doing anything but painting, like cross-word puzzle:
However, this is what she “said” she did:
In the evening, a local band came and played and the villagers started to dance the sardana, which is a traditional catalan dance (don’t forget we are in Catalunya, not really in Spain if you listen to Catalans):
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We ended the day with a vey nice meal, here is my sea food salad:
Join us next year on either a painting or a cultural tour to Spain with French Escapade.

From the sea to the plate in Palamos, Costa Brava

July 08, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, Women 1 Comment →

Today, after learning everything about fish at the “museum of the fish” in Palamos, we went to see the boats coming back from their day of fishing: octopus, gambas, sord fish, makerel, sardines, St Peter’s eye, and many more….



The fish auction was a hit. Buyers bit electronically on the box of fish they want to buy but they only bit when the price goes down and reaches what they think it is worth. If they wait too long watching the price goes down before biting, then another buyer will have bought before them and they get nothing.


The cherry on the cake was the cooking demonstration by a chef, preparing some specialties from Catalonia. Sharon helped preparing the “crema catalunia” which is similar to the French creme brûlée. The French say that the creme brûlée came first but the Catalan say that the catalonia crema come first of course.


Kathryn prepared the”pan amb tomaquet” which are toast with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.


Kelly and Kate prepared the aioli: Kate kept on mixing in one direction and Kelly on pouring the olive oil.


Barbara didn’t feel like cooking but she admired the fish.



The chef showed us how red wine is drunk by the fishermen:


Barbara, Kate and Lé tried and Lé was the champion. She mastered the art of drinking like a Catalan sailer vey well.


We ended the evening with a swim in the sea at sun set.


This is our last night on the Costa Brava, in a magical place:


Boating with Californian girls on the Costa Brava

July 07, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, Women No Comments →

Now, I am in Spain again with 8 women from California, all friends. I was expecting them to be wild but it is not the case at all. I guess I should not listen to rumors….


From L to R: Gail, Kelly, Kate, Lé, Boo, Kathleen, Sharon and Barbara in front.

We went boating in Cadaques, on the Costa Brava. Cadaques is a magical town. Everyone in the group said that it was like a movie set and that after we leave, the decor will disappear.




Here is a pic of Lé and Kate and they were posing for the paparazzi called Gail and Kelly below:


Lé and Kelly jumped and in the water and told us it wasn’t cold. Four of us jumped too but it was freezing cold!!!! I should have had a clue when I saw them swimming non stop. It got warmer after awhile but it was quite a long while!


From Cadaques, we went to the “end of the world” called Cap Creus. Some were so fit they decided to walk up there. A strenuous walk for Barbara and Sharon (kind of…):


A superb day on the Costa Brava.If you want to join us on this cultural trip to Spain, visit

From surrealistic to medieval

May 29, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain 1 Comment →

After a real but almost surreal breakfast (because it is sooooo good), we head off to Figueres to the Dali museum.


Dali (with his famous mustache), was born in Figueres in 1904. He has his first exhibit in Figueres, where the musem is now, when he was 14. He was an accomplished artist, a genius, as he called him self. Some will argue that he was crazy and Dali never denied it. Crazy or genius, at least, he is famous and will always be remembered as the father of surrealism.


He designed and created his own museum, dedicated to his art, in his home town, Figueres. The museum opened in 1974 and is considered the biggest surreal object in the world. It is really worth a visit.


After this surreal experience, we drove to Besalu to visit the only mikvah in  Spain, from a Jewish quarter established in the medieval town in the 13th century. The Jews lived in peace with the catholic before they had to build a ghetto in the town. After the ghetto, they were expelled. This is a picture of the medieval bridge of Besalu, restored after the civil war.


Our tour guide was excellent, very knowledgeable and cute.


Doing the visit under the rain made the experience even more medieval said Karen who loves everything medieval.Woody lent her jacket to Karen but the size wasn’t really the same!!!!


No comment on this one!!!!!


Besalu has cute little shops and since it was raining, we had the town and the shops for ourselves. To be protected from the rain, we entered this pottery shop but of course, we didn’t just look. Some of us had to buy..


Rima never stops taking pictures but this time she is in Mary Ann’s box while both of them are in mine…


Tomorrow, is another day, with different adventures ahead.

Join us next year on our Spain trip at

Spain, here they come.

May 27, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain 1 Comment →

Who? A special group. All returning guests. Laurie (aka Pr Drabble), Chase, Rima and Karen are joining French Escapade for the fourth time after their cultural tour to the French Alps, Provence and Belgium . Diana, Mary Ann and Woody are coming for the 3rd time and Connie is there for the second time.

They decided to form their own group to come on our new tour, a cultural tour to Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

The tour started yesterday when I picked them up in Barcelona. Two of them, whose names I will not give, had a late wake up (past noon) for a pickup at 12:45… The mark of their pillow was still visible on their faces.

Here is a picture of the group at our welcome reception:

IMG_1143From Left to Right: Laurie, Diana, Rima and Karen.

IMG_1144From front to back: Chase, Woody, Connie and Mary Ann

Today, we went to the medieval village of Pals and had a private guided tour of the village. In addition to the history of the village, we discovered the local specialties such as olive oil, wine, rice, chocolate and ham (I should say Spanish specialties because the famous pata negra itself is a specialty from the South West of Spain). I guess it doesn’t matter because as you see, no-one cares about ham but about …chocolate.


We then went on to the rice mill. The specialty of Pals is the rice. It is the only part of the Costa Brava that makes organic rice. Esther, our guide, was very sweet. Everyone thinks she looks like Valerie (for those who know her).



We finished the visit with a two hour lunch that included many  catalan specialties and of course a paella with the brown rice from Pals.

Stay tuned for more adventure tomorrow in Dali’s world. You can also follow the full itinerary of our cultural tour to Spain on our site at

Barcelona: traditions and food

May 16, 2013 By: guest Category: Customs and Traditions, Food and Recipe, Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 1 Comment →

We are now in Barcelona on day 6 of our painting workshop.

Today, we didn’t expect to met the giants. Not the sport team from San Francisco but the giants from Barcelona, the ones made out of wood and clothing.They are part of the Catalonian tradition. They use them on special occasions. They walk and dance in the streets. So Dee and I had the chance to see them perform on plaza Reial.


In the evening, I had a surprise for the group. We were invited at Julius’ house for dinner. We were served an incredible dinner with Catalan and Spanish specialties. It was a real feast.

Julius presented us the fresh fish and sea food he will use for the dishes.


We had a private dinner with 8 different tapas, 2 main dishes and dessert. The least we can say is that we were stuffed but in heaven…


Dee is presenting the Cocal de escalivada, the Catalan version of our pizza.


Karen decided to dress up to go to this very nice place, a clandestine gallery in the Barri Gotic.


One of the main dish was the Catalan Fideua with sea food and aioli. It is the “noodle” version of the paella.


We could barely walk back to the hotel after eating all that food but it was an unforgettable experience.

Join us on one of our tours to either France, Spain or Belgium at

Surreal Dali and last watercolor paintings on the Costa Brava

May 15, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 1 Comment →

As the temperature drops a bit, so does the number of students following Keiko. Here are a few more pictures of the people who are still painting. Some got tired and went off to do something else while 4 participants made it through.

From L to R: Diane, Sandy, Dee, Keiko and Valeria:

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Shine or rain, Keiko paints her way through:

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On the sandy beach, the number goes down even more. We are now down to 3 participants.

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There is more than painting on this tour. A little culture too. We went to Figueres to see the Dali museum. It is actually the biggest surrealistic museum in the world. Very impressive and very crazy too.




Tomorrow, we are off to Barcelona. We are leaving this quiet paradise for more a much busier but beautiful place.

Hasta Luego.

All our trips, in Spain but also France, Belgium and Switzerland are listed on our site at

From the red poppies to the medieval village of Pals

May 14, 2013 By: guest Category: Jac's Travel diary, Travel to Spain, painting workshops 4 Comments →

Yesterday we went to the medieval village of Pals, considered one of the most beautiful villages on the Costa Brava.

On the way, we saw fields of red poppies. The group made me drive through little narrow streets in the country side in order to get closer to the poppies. Well, that was not very successful. That didn’t stop them, they walked on the high traffic road to arrive in the poppy field. While taking the picture below, Sandra said that it could be a picture advertising for a discounted trip!!!! (walking by cars, in an non friendly environment rather than on a scenic road!).


The good news is that we finally made it to the poppy field.



In Pals, some of us got distracted from painting by the shopping of scarf and jewelry….I will not give any names!!!



Finally, we are in Pals.



Keiko did a demo in the main square of the village:



Judy, aka the general and also my photographer, played a trick in this picture with her mother. I would never dare to take that picture …


Picture of Judy and her mom on their terrace, back at the hotel. It is hard to leave that view even to go on day trips!


Stay tuned for more adventure as the trip continues. The full program of the trip can be found on the site