Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes

Welcome to the blog of Deana Driver - author, editor, and publisher of DriverWorks Ink, a book publishing company based in Saskatchewan. We publish stories of inspiring, fascinating Prairie people and unsung Canadian heroes - written by Prairie authors including Deana Driver. We also publish genres of healing and wellness, humour, children's fiction, and rural poetry. Visit our website to learn more about our books.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Never Leave Your Wingman's Excellent European Adventure - Part 7 - Barcelona & Paris

It was a little difficult for me to leave France (see my last blog) after having such a great time in Nice and then in Monaco, but I felt better once my author told me that we wouldn't be out of France for too many days. We were leaving just long enough to go check out Spain.

I know! Spain! Can you believe it!

Sangria, spicy foods, exotic flamenco dancers, running of the bulls and all that. Well, I didn't actually see or eat or do any of those things… but I did see this –

... a sign that warns of deer rappelling.
Really? Spanish deer are smart enough to know how to rappel off a cliff? Nah, it couldn't be. My author Deana and her husband (Publisher Al) thought this was so funny, but surely, they thought, there must be a Spanish word for ‘rappel’ that means something other than ‘haphazardly jump off the edge of something and throw yourself into the air.’ So they looked it up when we all got home … and they didn't find any other definition... so rappel off a cliff it is. Crazy Spanish deer.

And we saw far too much of this on our travels:

...Road signs that allow you to go 130 kilometres per hour on the highway. In parts of Europe – Germany in particular – we discovered that the speed limit signs were merely suggestions. At one point, a fellow in a little sports car zipped by us so fast that all we heard was the vrooom of his vehicle. He scared the bejeebers out of Publisher Al! The guy – or maybe it was a girl -  was going so fast that we didn't even see the car coming up behind us. Yikes!

We saw these beautiful hills/mountains on our way to Barcelona and we couldn't resist sharing this pretty picture.

Also… We found Nemo!!

Ha ha. Well, maybe not that Nemo. Cute, though.

We also saw this lion. He is very handsome and quite manly, I think. I actually developed kind of a crush on him. My author set me very close to him. I could feel his strong, hard paw. Oooh.

He is one of four lions that guard a very important statue of Columbus near the harbour in beautiful Barcelona - which marks the spot where Columbus returned after discovering America.

Yes, my lion does have three friends who are also fairly handsome and guard the other sides of the statue, but I like my lion the best. With those deep-set eyes, strong jawline and majestic pose... he’s totally in command of his domain. Aaaahhhhh….

Ahem… Perhaps we should move on…

There are tour buses all over Europe, especially in the bigger centres. We didn't ride on this one, but we loved its colours and I loved how my beautiful pink showed off so well against the blue-and-white bus.

And turning our attention back to the Barcelona Harbour, and the statue of Columbus...

...We couldn't resist a few photos of me with some angel friends...

It really felt at times as though we were meant to be in that spot – so we could see and enjoy the beautiful architecture and statues around us, all lined up with pretty angel wings. 

My beautiful Dionne would smile. Except she’d probably strike a funny pose alongside these statues. I did my best, given that I’m just a book.

We saw so many interesting sights in Barcelona.

The fruits and flowers along the main downtown street, Las Ramblas.

Plus these sights that we would have expected to see in Las Vegas, but not as much in Barcelona - people dressed in costumes and asking for tips from passersby. It felt kind of strange and out of place for us.

 We also saw the typical touristy stuff...

... and we took this fun photo... 
...of some pasta boxes that reminded us of one of my editors, Dani. It made us smile, and that's always a good thing. 

 The most remarkable, astounding, spectacular site we saw on all of our travels through Europe was this incredible structure:

Construction of the Basilica de La Sagrada Familia (Church of The Sacred Family) began in 1882 (no, that's not a typo) and construction continues to this day. (Note the crane on the right side of the structure.) The building may not be finished until 2013, but some believe it may never be finished, as it is one of Barcelona's most popular tourist attractions and may not draw the crowds if work was ever completed.

As we walked up the subway stairs to ground level, we saw people standing at the top of the stairs, facing toward us and taking photos. We wondered what they were looking at... and then we saw the building! Our jaws dropped open. Above is our photos of just a small section of the outside of the building. You can see a bit more of the building in this video.

Inside, the church is awe-inspiringly beautiful. Huge, bright, colourful and beautiful. 

This is a small section of the ceiling. Photos do not do it justice. It has to be experienced to be believed.

Antoni Gaudi spent 10 years working on just the design of the cupola. Creating an inverted version of his proposed design, he hung bags of sand on strings to figure out the perfect configuration that would support his design. Details are shown of this process below, in one of many displays of the building's downstairs museum. Remarkable.

Antoni Gaudi definitely left his mark on our souls during our visit to Barcelona, as did others. After two beautiful all-too-short days in Barcelona, we headed north towards Paris.

I know! Paris!!!!

But first, a pit stop along the side of the highway to have a little lunch – French-style…

...with a baguette, some sandwich meat, a few pickles.

And oh, look at those legs on Publisher Al! Ooh La La! It was still above 30 degrees Celsius, so the shorts were definitely the comfy way to travel.

My author (and co-publisher) Deana loves sunflowers. So do I (and so does my subject Dionne, but she wasn't with us, of course)… so we asked Publisher Al to pull over along the highway so we could carefully walk into this field to take some photos of me with these beautiful flowers.

I love the spirit of these flowers. They make me want to smile and smile and smile.

What can I say about Paris except that it is perhaps the most beautiful city on earth. Or at least the most beautiful city I’d seen in Europe to that point. There were so many wonderful sights and places to explore and enjoy that a dozen photos wouldn't even begin to explain it all to you. So my author and I have chosen a few of our favourites. We hope you love them as much as we did.

Notre Dame Cathedral is one of those jaw-dropping, amazing sites that has to be seen to be believed. It is so huge and so overwhelming that one could sit for hours and just stare at the front façade and soak in the splendour.

The Paris Opera House is another 'Oh-Wow' kind of building. And that’s just seeing it from the outside! The golden angel on the top caught my eye, of course, but there is so much rich history and beauty to the actual building that we were all astounded. You can see why someone  would use it as the setting for a novel like Phantom of the Opera. Magnificent!

And the Arc de Triomphe. We saw it first from a few blocks away, while on a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus.

The closer we got to it, the more majestic and glorious and spellbinding and incredible the site became. Very, very cool.
You can’t be in Paris without recognizing its history of being a shopping and fashion mecca. We knew that if our Dionne would have been with us on this trip, at this point, she would have shouted for the bus driver to “Stop the Bus!” so she could get off and check out this shop… and quite a few of its friends along Paris’ famed shopping district.

There are several bridges in Europe on which passersby put locks - in celebration of an event, in honour of someone they love, or just because others are doing it. One such bridge is in Paris, and my publishers decided to buy a tiny lock from a street vendor and join the crowd in leaving their hearts and lock in Paris. Romantic, huh?

We spent an entire afternoon walking around the outside and through many of the exhibits at The Louvre, one of the most famous art galleries in the world. It was quite the experience.

 The Louvre, of course, is home to this special lady, the Mona Lisa.

A lot of people are disappointed after seeing Mona Lisa, because they thought she would be bigger or something else. We thought she was beautiful, and we were pleased to get so close to her serious expression.

Then we saw hundreds of other beautiful pieces of art while on our way to see this lady... Venus de Milo.
She is quite exquisite. I loved Venus de Milo. Maybe it`s because of her colour and shape, but it's probably because she looks so content with her lot in life. She's quite magnificent in her pose... looking at the world as if to say, "That's right - I'm awesome!"

You go, girl! You are awesome.

While enjoying the yards of the Louvre, we happened upon this talented musician in one of the archways.

He was tucked away under the pillars, playing his cello and accepting tips. His beautiful music was echoing across the grounds of a beautiful place. A mesmerizing experience.

This of course, was the pièce de résistance… the Eiffel Tower.

Publisher Al couldn't believe that his acrophobic wife (not keen on heights) joined him in riding to the top of the Eiffel Tower and looking out over Paris. But she did it in Florence… and she had to climb those steps herself! Yes, that was an accidental climbing, but still. This was a once-in-a-lifetime (so far, anyway) opportunity to see Paris from atop this phenomenal metal structure, so up they went.

The Arc de Triomphe looked like a Lego piece from this height. A beautiful Lego piece, but still small.

Did you know that Gustave Eiffel had a small office/living quarters atop the tower from which he worked and entertained visitors? This is the replica of that office, as seen through the strong glass windows. Fascinating tower. Fascinating man.

Four days in Paris ended far too soon. We could have walked the Champs Elysee and explored the city for days… but we had to move on.

Further north and into the Normandy region of France, we made our way to a Unesco World Heritage site – the island of Mont Saint-Michel.

It’s a unique monastery which sits on an island. The waterways around it are being restored to prevent erosion and to maintain the status of island..

After checking out the site, we stopped at a local store back on the mainland, and who did we meet there but an author!

Vincent M. is a photographer, actually, who spent several years taking photos of the beautiful Mont Saint-Michel and area at all hours of the day and all year-round. His photos and thoughts about his photos are published in this beautiful coffee-table book, written in both English and French.

My author had a nice visit with him and, as authors should always do. She supported him by buying a copy of his book and asking him to sign it. He was intrigued by me, the Never Leave Your Wingman book, of course, but since there was only one of me on this journey, he could only look but not keep – which is opposite of the advice we give others who meet me.

So that`s it for this part of our journey, folks. Have a good day and I look forward to talking to you again soon.

The next time you hear from me, I will have a very special guest. So stay tuned.

Take care.


  1. Nice Pictures.. I love sagrada familia structure

  2. Sagrada Familia is the finest creation by Gaudi