Category Archives: Spain

Málaga, España

Hello out there! I have been neglecting my little blog and I have missed it greatly.  We had a busy summer and the blog posts are stacking up in my head so it’s time to get them out there finally.  Summer is a usually busy time anyway because you have to squeeze all the fun outdoor things in before winter comes.  But this year we had new music camps, a family reunion and an unexpected trip to attend the wedding of my brother and his partner of 22 years, whew!  Now that school has started again and fall is here, it’s time to get back to one of my favorite things, creating blog posts.  I hope you all will keep coming back :)

I had been creating a post a week about our trip to Spain earlier this year and I had at least one more that I didn’t create.  This one is about Málaga, the city we still think we want to retire to.  We started our trip in this charming coastal town in southern Spain.  We viewed a beautiful sunset as our plane descended and then spent the next four days holding our noses as we passed piles of trash all over the place.  I noticed the piles from our taxi as we drove into town.  We managed to be in Málaga during a trash workers strike! Hmmmm…..our timing was perfect eh?  Well it will certainly be something I’ll never forget!  We tried to not let it bother us but one pile was just steps away from our hotel and you’ll see a photo of it below.

We did so many fun things, some of which I blogged about earlier this year.  We paid another visit to the Picasso museum, toured the Alcazaba, spent an afternoon with a blogger friend who showed us cool street art, ate fabulous food and drank the sweet wines of Málaga.  If you missed either of my previous posts about Málaga, do click on the links and check them out.  I think you’ll enjoy them.

One day it rained a little and we decided to spend that time at the Centre Pompidou.  The city of Málaga signed a 5 year agreement with France’s Centre Pompidou to use its name and display pieces from its collection. These works of art date from 1905 forward.  In searching for a bit of information I found this article that gives more details about this lovely museum. The Pompidou allows photos so I’ve created a gallery of those.

I hope you’ll enjoy these photos from Málaga, including the photo at the top of the page.  This was taken from the roof of our wonderful hotel, Molina Lario, which I highly recommend. Málaga is still at the top of our list of places to retire.  A ver lo que pasa (we’ll see what happens)!!

And a few from the Pompidou museum:

If you’d like to see more of the artworks, check out their official website. I will definitely be returning when I’m next in Málaga. Here’s one last photo of the cube and the beautiful skies of one of my favorite cities in Spain:

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We love Barcelona!

The 4th of July holiday weekend has past and I have no more excuses for not creating another post from our trip to Spain this past March.  This time it’s all about Barcelona, a magical, beautiful city.

We had such fun in Barcelona.  We felt welcomed from the moment we arrived at the train station with a “Welcome to Barcelona!!” from a gentleman who heard us speaking English. And we chatted with him on the way to our respective taxis.  The taxi driver was jovial and talkative which had not been the norm this trip so that was nice too.  There were other friendly people as well.  The gal who heard us speaking English and commented about the view atop Las Arenas and the Bolivian waitress at our breakfast spot near our hotel(that had great tortilla española). She knew we were foreign and after asking where we were from commented on how well I spoke Spanish.  I loved her!! We had a couple of unpleasant experiences too but overall we thought the people were wonderful.  Fun waiters, one in particular suggested his favorite from that menu and it was great!  Fried potatoes with an over easy egg. Yum, yum!!

We went to the Picasso Museum, Palau de la Múscia Catalana and Sagrada Familia. I created separate posts for the Palau and Sagrada Familia so do check those out for more wonderful photos.  We ate fabulous food and generally had a great time in this amazing city.  The weather wasn’t the greatest but we didn’t let it deter us too much.  One night it was raining so we took advantage of our hotel’s “social hour”, from 5 to 7 p.m. They offered various teas, coffee and sweets to their guests.  There were a few places to sit near the treat table and we chose the one with the backgammon set and proceeded to teach Miss M backgammon.  She then proceeded to beat us both!  Beginner’s luck?  Definitely a different way to spend a couple of hours on vacation.

This post will be photo heavy with a few stories.  So with that I’ll start off with photos from our first day.  We got to Barcelona around noon and after checking into our hotel we headed off to Las Arenas, the bullring turned shopping mall.  Bullfighting has been banned in Barcelona so what a wonderful use for this structure.  We learned that there are fabulous views from atop Las Arenas so of course we headed up there. We shopped a little then had dinner at Pura Brasa which was excellent!

Next some photos in and around the Picasso Museum.  If you’re a Picasso fan then you must go to this museum! It’s the largest collection of his earlier works than anywhere else I believe.  It is fascinating to see his style from his early years.  This museum also houses the Las Meninas paintings.  I especially liked those as Las Meninas by Velazquez was a painting I studied at the Prado when I was a student in Madrid. The structure the artworks are in is also a museum.  It’s three old palaces combined to create a space for Picasso’s art. Very cool place!   This was our second visit and I’m certain we’ll go again.  One of my favorite museums, hands down. And this visit was completely different than our first.  In 2010 we happened to get there during the free hours which are typically very crowded.  We waited in line for about 30 minutes and chatted with some people from New Jersey also in line. And it was hard to see many paintings as it was just so crowded.  This time we got tickets ahead of time and arrived when it opened.  There were many times we had rooms completely to ourselves!  Pure bliss.  I definitely recommend getting tickets in advance.

Similar to my Sagrada Familia remake with Miss M and me, here are Miss M and hubby at the exact same spot in the courtyard of the Picasso Museum, 2010 and 2016:

We again visited the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar and gazed in awe of that amazing structure.  And oh, the stained glass!!  Check it out:

The remaining photos are from various days, more street scenes, some urban art, the Obama Gastropub? Yes, this pub caught my eye as we were looking for Casa Battlo.  Interesting name no?

I do have one amusing story to tell about the sandals I purchased on our last day in Barcelona.

I really wanted to buy a leather purse and/or leather sandals that were made in Spain.  I looked every chance I got and I finally found the sandals I was looking for on our last day of the trip in Barcelona.  Except that they weren’t made in Spain!  I had asked the clerk if they were made in Spain while I pointed to them in the display and she answered yes.  What made me wonder was that I could see the Italian words for “real leather” on the display sandal.  I told her my size and she had to go out of the store to get them.  I guess there is limited storage in that store? I tried them on and they were perfect!!  Cute and very comfy. She even commented (in Spanish) “they’re comfortable aren’t they?” and I agreed and then purchased them.  When I got back to the hotel and took them out of the bag I saw “made in Albania” on the box.  Made in Albania?!?!?!? That woman lied to me!!! I was so annoyed but later I thought it’s probably a good thing she did that because I’m not so sure I would have tried them on otherwise.  In the end I got the sandals I was looking for and I couldn’t be happier.  I’ve forgiven the clerk too.  I think she knew that I would love those shoes.

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Córdoba, España

Back to more posts about Spain!!  This one is about our day trip to Córdoba from Málaga, one of only a few nice weather days that we had on our trip.  It started out chilly but warmed nicely by midday.  We had tickets for a table for this train ride which was something new. When searching for these tickets, it was cheaper to buy four seats at a table than three regular seats.

It’s only about an hour train ride but it travels through very scenic countryside and pretty soon you’re in Córdoba.  Such a cute and very walkable little town with ancient buildings including the big draw, La Mezquita (the mosque).  We opted to take a taxi instead of walking to the Mezquita and the driver dropped us at the front door.  The moment you walk into the mosque you can smell how old it is.  What lies in front of you are row upon row of white and red arches, 856 of them! This humongous building has been through many transformations, starting out as a church, then it became a mosque and in the 16th century King Carlos V had a cathedral built in the middle of the mosque!  It is the strangest building I’ve even seen. The king himself did not like the way the cathedral turned out and famously said “they have taken something unique in all the world and destroyed it to build something you can find in any city”.  I hope you will enjoy this gallery of the inside of the mezquita/catedral:

Afterwards we strolled along the streets near the Mezquita to view one of three remaining Jewish synagogues in Spain, the other two are in Toledo.  It is so tiny that it’s hard to imagine people worshipped in there.  We made our way to Plaza de las Tendillas where we had lunch and visited some shops.  We wandered around some more and soon it was time to catch our train back to Málaga.

I will leave you with one of my favorite photos from the trip, taken from the train on our way back to Málaga:

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Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona

Back to Spain!! I still have a few more tales to tell from our trip in March.  This week is all about the wonderful Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona.  I learned of the famous and gorgeous stained glass skylight prior to our first trip to Barcelona six years ago, alas, I did not know that you could not view it on your own.  The skylight is the ceiling of the main concert hall and I wanted to be sure to see it this time.  Our choices were to get tickets to see a performance or to take the guided tour.  We were in Barcelona four nights but there wasn’t anything intriguing in the line-up on those days so we opted for the tour.  I’m so glad that we did as it was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  Barcelona is full of architectural wonders and this one is not to be missed.  One thing I learned since our last trip to Spain is to get tickets in advance.  There are many sites with tours that sell out days ahead of time and the Palau is one of them.  I heard an unfortunate exchange between a Palau employee and tourists inquiring about tours that afternoon, unfortunate because all the tours were booked.

From the moment we arrived at the Palau I was struck yet again by the beauty of the structure.  The building is covered in ornate tile-work and sculptures and is a sight to behold.  It’s truly one of a kind on that block.

The tour starts underneath the concert hall’s stage where the choir rehearses and a short video is shown.  I don’t remember too much about it but it included several artists who talked about performing there.  I was also a little distracted by a mother and son we met in line before starting our tour.  They were from Boston and were going to Madrid the next day.  We got to chatting and the mother was asking our opinion about which art museum they should visit as they had limited time in Madrid. Another question was whether to go to Toledo or Córdoba as a day trip from Madrid.  A tough choice to be sure! But, I suggested Toledo as it’s much closer to Madrid and they would have more time to view the sites.  I wonder if they took my advice.

After the video we climbed the stairs up to the main concert hall.  WOW!!  It was so much better than I expected it to be!  Beauty surrounds you and seeing the stained glass skylight in person was well worth the price of the tour.  I took many photos of it to ensure I’d get at least one good one.

The Palau was built between 1905 and 1908 by the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner for the Orfeó Català, the Catalan choral group.  There are many musical themes throughout the hall.  A choir of 40 women surrounds the sun in the stained glass skylight.  There are also 18 muses on the stage and each are carrying a different musical instrument.  Miss M noticed something unusual about the violinist and I noticed that the flute player was holding the instrument backwards.  Or at least according to how flutes are played now.  They are stunning nonetheless.  There are many flower motifs throughout, especially roses.  Everywhere you look there is beauty.  Well, see for yourself in the gallery below.

Now that you’ve seen photos of the Palau you can probably see why it was one of my favorite sites on this trip.  When you’re next in Barcelona, do make a point to see the concert hall.  I can just about guarantee that you’ll be dazzled!  Just like I was.  I’ll finish with one of my favorites of the skylight.  Enjoy!!

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Bloggers unite in Málaga!

Or: an afternoon in Málaga, España.  But I just named my previous post beginning with “an afternoon in” and didn’t want to be repetitious don’t you know.  For this week’s post I want to share with you what Marianne from East of Málaga showed us our second day of our most recent trip to Spain.  I’ve been following Marianne’s blog for several years and we always talked about meeting up when I was next in Spain.  And so we did!! And it was such fun.

Marianne and her husband met us in the lobby of our hotel and we headed out on a walking tour of the center of old town Málaga.  I mentioned to her that I was interested in seeing the street art that I had read about and seen photos of, something that was new to us since visiting 5 years ago, so we did that first.  She gave me a brochure entitled MAUS: Málaga Arte Urbano Soho (Málaga Urban Art in Soho).  The brochure contains a map of the locations of all the urban art as well as a bio about each of the artists.  This project hopes to convert Málaga into an internationally renowned city in the art scene, the brochure says.  These pieces of art are really something to behold, each very different than the others.  Some of the artists come from Spain but a few others come from South Africa, Belgium and China. There is also a work by Shepard Fairey (Obey) who is known in the U.S. for his Barack  Obama “Hope” poster during the 2008 election.   Neither my daughter nor myself have photos of it and I can only think that we were so overwhelmed by the fabulous art that we forgot to take a photo of Obey’s piece?  I wish we had had time to go back and see more of these.  They are spread out over several blocks near the Contemporary Art Museum and we had just enough time to see a handful of them before we stopped for refreshment at Cafe Central.  Come have a look at the urban art that is changing this neighborhood in Málaga.  Some of the photos were taken by my daughter and I just realized that for many of these we each took a different type of photo: she took the far away stance whereas I focused more on the details.

I found several stories about this urban art project and I’m sharing them here in case anyone wants more information.  Marianne’s blog post is great and has lots of wonderful photos of the art.  Málaga’s urban street art – MAUS from 2014 has a good photo of the Obey piece.  Another article about the Soho Art District is written by the author (Fiona Flores Watson) of another blog that I follow, Scribbler in Seville.  Within this post Fiona provides the link to the MAUS website which I am doing here as well.  One last link to another article with more photos of the art. This is such fascinating art and I highly recommend taking the time to walk these streets to view the various pieces.  I can’t wait to go back to see the ones I missed.  By the time I go back I’m sure there will be more.

After having a drink a Cafe Central we continued our tour and walked up to Plaza de la Merced to get a photo with one of my favorite Spanish artists: Picasso.  I didn’t see this statue on our last trip because the plaza was being renovated.  At the corner of the square is Picasso’s birthplace and museum.  We checked out Mercado Merced, the new market just beyond the north end of the plaza and hubby and I went back there that evening to have a sweet wine at the branch of Antigua Casa de Guardia.  I’m sad that we never made it to the original bar this time but the wine is still fantabulous!

We had lunch at El Pimpi and chose tapas plates that we shared amongst all of us.  I learned about a fish called rosada from Marianne and her husband, a very tasty fish that was given this name because of its pink tint.  Rosada means pink in Spanish.  We had a great meal but unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the food, again!!  Here are some other photos from the afternoon including one of the two bloggers in front of the alcazaba and one of me drinking that lovely sweet wine later that evening.  Pure heaven :)

It was such a lovely afternoon and I learned so much more about this wonderful city on Spain’s Mediterranean coast.  I can’t wait to go back again!  I’ll leave you with a photo of the cathedral at night.

cathedral at night

cathedral at night

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An afternoon in Madrid, España

For this week’s post in my series documenting my trip to Spain two months ago, I thought I’d show you one very pleasant afternoon that we spent in Madrid.  One of the highlights of my trip was meeting up with blogger friends and I believe Marién’s blog Te Veo en Madrid might have been the first blog that I followed several years ago when I began blogging.  Certainly it was the first blog in Spanish that I followed.  We became friends via the blogosphere and decided to meet while my family and I were in Madrid in March.  Wow, it’s already been two months ago, heavy sigh…..But, I am keeping the trip alive by relating my fun experiences and sharing photos.

Marién invited us to tour the Realistas de Madrid exhibit at the Thyssen museum so we met her there to begin our afternoon.  It’s an exhibit of many pieces of art from a group of painters and sculptors who all lived and worked in Madrid.  It’s going on until May 22 so if you’re in Madrid, do get tickets for it.  You won’t be disappointed!  Unfortunately they didn’t allow photographs so I only have two photos from just outside the exhibit:

After the exhibit Marién showed us around Las Letras neighborhood. First we saw the Congreso de Los Diputados where the attempted coup d’etat happened in 1981, while I was a student in Madrid. We continued our tour and saw many interesting shops and Marién told us that many of them change often.  We went into a shop that had handmade silk scarves that were so beautiful!!  Alas, I forgot to take photos so you’ll just have to imagine how beautiful they were.  We saw the house where Cervantes lived and died and Lope de Vega’s house and garden.  A funny aside here.  Hubby had not heard of Lope de Vega so he asked about him.  So both Marién and I said he was a famous Spanish playwright and when he asked what he wrote the only thing that came to my mind was Fuenteovejuna, a memory from over 35 years ago.  I remember my roommates from my year in Madrid were reading it for a class.  I took a brief look at his plays and poems via google and nothing looks familiar but Fuenteovejuna is emblazoned in my memory for some reason.

We talked via email about where we should eat comida (lunch) and Marién suggested one of her favorite restaurants Moratin Vinoteca Bistrot and made a reservation for us about two weeks in advance.  You must make reservations for this restaurant as it’s very popular and not very big.  The food was fantastic and the service impeccable.  If you’re in Madrid, do yourself a favor and make a reservation to eat here.  I can just about guarantee that you will enjoy it as we did.  I wrote a review on Trip Advisor.  Feel free to have a look at it via the link.

After lunch we went our separate ways but I think of that day often and I hope to meet up with Marién again when I’m next in Madrid.

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La Alcazaba de Málaga, España

Greetings! I’m continuing my weekly series of posts from our trip to Spain last month. We started our two week adventure in Málaga and took advantage of a couple of sites that had free entry on Sunday.  One was the Picasso museum, the other, the alcazaba. This week’s post focuses on the alcazaba.  Built in the 11th century, it served as the fortress and home of many Moorish rulers until 1487 when it was captured by the Spanish king and queen, Ferdinand and Isabella.  Please come along for a photo tour of this architectural wonder.

First, some photos of the port from the alcazaba:

And from the inside, the beautiful Moorish architecture:

And a few more:

Two last photos, one from the Paseo del Parque and the other of the Roman Theatre with the alcazaba behind it:

Alcazaba y teatro romano

Alcazaba y teatro romano

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