Category Archives: Barcelona

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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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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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona España

I almost forgot to create a weekly post from my trip to Spain this week!  Here’s a photo tour of Sagrada Familia.  We were anxious to see the progress in the six years since our last visit and we were pleasantly surprised!  The last time there was scaffolding and machinery on the inside and this time the inside is nearly complete.  What a difference! Come have a look see and enjoy!!  Such a beautiful place and a must for any visitor to Barcelona.

First, some stained glass:

Next some of the interior of the church:

Some from the exterior:

One last set of photos, one from 2010 and the other from 2016. We decided to recreate the photo we took 6 years ago to compare.  What do you think?

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Just got home from Spain!!

Hello out there!!  I just got home from Spain and have so many tales to tell!  After I decompress and sort it all out I’ll share them with you.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride but in the meantime I thought I would share a brief snapshot of a few of our adventures.

We spent two weeks in Spain to celebrate our 25th anniversary.  I had three great hotels booked and all met and even exceeded our expectations.  All the staff at every hotel were so friendly, helpful and on top of everything! We had some bumps along the way but overall it was a resounding success.  I met up with several blog and travel forum friends and ate fabulous food.  The weather was not at all ideal and was windy most of the time.  But you can’t plan on the weather and we carried on with most of our plans and had a great time.

Okay, as promised, here is a gallery of some of the things we saw.  I’ll be back soon to tell some tales.

Malaga:

Madrid and Toledo:

Córdoba and Barcelona:

 

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I have to share this post from a blog that I follow(and it’s my first time reblogging). The perfect way to spend Earth Day. Check out the slide show at the end: fabulous pics!!

¡Hola Yessica!

Yesterday afternoon, it was finally sunny after a rainy week so I went out and about. I’d originally intended to go down to the Gothic Quarter to practice taking photos, but I just so happened to pass by the Parc de la Ciutadella first…and found a street fair! At first, it looked like an ordinary a weekend street market. These are amazing anyway, but this one turned out to be extra special.

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Ah Barcelona, we barely knew ye

Barcelona was the starting point of our family trip to Spain the last two weeks of May 2010.  We had an overnight flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and a couple of hours later we got on a flight to Barcelona.  So exciting to be back in Europe again!! It was my husband’s and then 10 year old daughter’s first experience in Europe.  We had a blast travelling all over Spain.  I wish we had spent more time in this lovely city on the Mediterranean.  When I lived in Madrid as a student, I never did visit Barcelona. I passed through the train station on my way to Italy but never got to see Barcelona.  So, it was a good starting point for our two week adventure.

I did alot of research and planning for this trip, along with brushing up on my Spanish which I barely used at all over the 30 years since I was in Spain last. I am happy to report that the language skills brush-up worked out really well! In fact, I guess it worked so well that people there thought I was Spanish. So many of them asked me directions or asked me to take their picture and the lady in the Granada train station asking me where the end of the line was, all in Spanish. The funniest exchange was on our last night in Spain. We were admiring a human statue when a tourist approached me to ask me something. He began in English but stopped abruptly and said to me “do you speak English?” He was American and he too thought I was Spanish!  He also said that I looked as if I could go either way. That was so much fun.  And the planning part of the trip, that didn’t go as well. Read on for one example.

I had planned it so that we would be able to see the sardana danced in front of the cathedral at noon the next day, our first full day in Barcelona.  We got in late afternoon on a Saturday, in time to get a good night’s sleep and get to the cathedral by noon.  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. What happened was that we apparently had to catch up on our sleep because we all slept through the alarm and awoke at 1 p.m. the following day, completely missing the sardana!  Fer crying out loud!!  So, next time perhaps eh?  Below are some of the highlights of our entirely too short two and a half days in this charming city full of history, art, architecture and more.  Do visit Barcelona if you get a chance!!

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