Tag 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.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under Barcelona, Spain

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!!

14 Comments

Filed under Barcelona, Spain, Travel

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?

10 Comments

Filed under Barcelona, Spain, Travel

Eating our way through España

The next installment in what’s become my weekly post about my trip to Spain is all about the food.  Did I mention that we had fabulous food during our two weeks in Spain?  Pretty sure I did and it’s true!  I tried to take photos of the great food we had but sometimes I forgot.  I did get some good food shots and some come with stories too.

The food markets in Spain are filled with seafood, meats, nuts, candy, fruits, vegetables as well as food stands where you can sit at a counter and have a little snack while you do your fresh food shopping.  We went to three of these markets but for one of the markets in Madrid we were there too early.  I had hoped to find a leather goods shop at this market near the Lavapies metro stop but it was too early on Sunday morning and there were only a few stands open, so I did not take photos.  But I did get a few photos of the other two markets we visited. They were Atarazanas market in Málaga and La Boquería in Barcelona.  Click on any image in any gallery to see a larger photo and the gallery itself.

Atarazanas market in Málaga:

La Boquería, Barcelona:

We had tapas frequently as meals but we did have some other meals too.  For example, the best paella I ever had was at Cafe Varela in Madrid and the service there is impeccable. They also have an excellent breakfast buffet which is pricey so Miss M and I only went once and absolutely loved it!  Hubby did not want to join us that morning.  Another great meal was at Vinoteca Moratin in Madrid where we ate with my blogger friend from Te Veo en Madrid.  You must reserve a table for this restaurant as it’s very popular and not very big.  My friend made our reservations two weeks in advance.  Another fabulous meal that we enjoyed was at Pura Brasa in Barcelona.  We liked it so much that we went back a second time two nights later and it was just as good!  We had a fun waiter at Taverna del Bisbe in Barcelona which, by the way, has THE best crema catalana in the known universe.  Take my word for it.  We had fun and delicious eating experiences all over Spain.

What follows is a conglomeration of some of the food we had in Spain, a couple of restaurant shots and a few people shots.

Food in Málaga and Córdoba:

Food in Madrid:

Barcelona food:

This last gallery consists of what is now a special place for us.  Hubby had his first boquerones here six years ago when we stopped for refreshment after sightseeing in Barcelona and he’s been eating them ever since. Taverna del Bisbe is right next to the cathedral so it was easy to find. Hubby attempted to tell the waiter about his initiation into boquerones but I don’t think he understood.  He smiled a lot and was a most jovial server. When I started to order one crema catalana he asked “Una?” meaning “only one?” sort of giggling.  I laughed and answered yes.  Miss M and I had the same desserts that we had six years ago as well and once again, they were excellent. When we paid and started to leave our waiter shook each of our hands and thanked us profusely.  He was so much fun on our last day in Barcelona.  Here’s what we ate at Taverna del Bisbe:

Eating in Spain is one of the highlights of traveling there.  I have not had any bad food ever in Spain.  I highly recommend all the restaurants that I mentioned above.  Cafe Varela and Vinoteca Moratin in Madrid, Pura Brasa and Taverna del Bisbe in Barcelona. Casa Aranda for churros y chocolate in Málaga and definitely try something sweet from Lepanto in Málaga.  We also had nice meals at El Viejo Pop and Tapa Tapa, both in Barcelona.  One rule of thumb we use when looking for a place to eat: are there many locals eating there? If there are, you’ve probably found a good spot.  We also take a look at the menus to see if there are enough items that are appealing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my food tour.  What is your favorite from the photos above?  Or if your favorite is not shown here, do tell me about it.  I’d love to know your favorite foods.

9 Comments

Filed under Food, Spain, Travel

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:

 

17 Comments

Filed under Barcelona, Córdoba, Madrid, Málaga, Spain, Toledo, Travel

so…….I’m going back to Spain

We are planning to take a two week trip to Spain during spring break next year.  EEK! It’s NEXT year already!! Wow, how the time it does fly.  And I thought I’d create a blog post just for it.  It’s good to have a rough agenda of at least where you’ll be and to have hotels booked.  We will be staying in only three cities this time, Barcelona, Madrid and Málaga, which will allow us a few day trips. This differs from our last two week adventure 5 years ago when we stayed in too many cities.  Oh, it was a fabulous trip, but it was a bit too much travelling between cities.

We know the hotels we’d like to stay at in Madrid and Málaga but we haven’t yet chosen our hotel for Barcelona.  Perhaps there are other travelers out there that could give a recommendation?  Either way, here are two that really interest me.  We need a hotel that is close to a metro, not on the Ramblas but a short walk to it would be great. It should be able to accommodate three people.  Both of these hotels meet those criteria.

First is Villa Emilia.  It’s #23 out of 516 hotels in Barcelona and it gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Here is the hotel’s website.

Next is Condes de Barcelona which is #96 out of 516 hotels, also gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor.  Hotel Condes de Barcelona’s website.

We will take a flight from Minneapolis and fly through Amsterdam both directions.  After our Paris fiasco, we are hesitant to ever fly through Charles De Gaulle again. One day I might write a blog post about it.   But I digress.

We’ll get to Barcelona on a Saturday and I’m really hoping we don’t miss the sardana at the catedral on Sunday at noon.  Or perhaps we should take a flight out on Thursday so that in case we have jet lag we won’t sleep through the sardana like we did 5 years ago. That’s a possibility.

Here is our rough itinerary as it is right now.

Day 1 (F) – fly to Amsterdam

Day 2 (Sa) –  arrive in Barcelona

Day 3 (Su) – Barcelona- try to see the Sardana at noon in front of the catedral; Picasso museum in the afternoon. (Check website for the Picasso museum to see if it’s still free on Sundays and adjust accordingly)

Day 4 (M) – Barcelona-Gaudi day? (Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Casa Batlo, La Pedrera)

Day 5 (Tu) – Barcelona- do leftover Gaudi stuff we didn’t get to yesterday because, really, that’s a lot! We’d also like to reserve at least one restaurant for a fabulous meal.  I have a few places bookmarked but nothing picked out as of yet.  Any recommendations?

Day 6 (W) – to Madrid

Day 7 (Th) – Madrid – day trip to Segovia(weekly flea market on Th from 8 to 3); make reservations at Meson de Candido? (open 1-4:30) or Restaurante Jose Maria? (TA reviewer said lamb is great)

Day 8 (F) – Madrid

Day 9 (Sa) – Madrid – day trip to Toledo (meet ladyofthecakes!! I hope)

Day 10 (Su) – Madrid – Rastro, Retiro, Reina Sofia is free from 1:30 to 7:00 (El Brillante afterwards)

Day 11 (M) – Madrid

Day 12(Tu) – to Málaga (take early to mid afternoon train)

Day 13 (W) – Málaga

Day 14 (Th) – Málaga – day trip to Cordoba

Day 15 (F) – Málaga

Day 16 (Sa) – Málaga

Day 17 (Su) – fly home

There are some things that I want to get done ahead of time.  Plane tickets are obvious, but I also want to book hotels and purchase train tickets.  There is a post on TipAdvisor that describes how to purchase Renfe train tickets online.  It’s very helpful and I’ll be perusing it once again towards the end of this year to freshen up on how it works. There are updates all the time to this post and it’s a great tool. One other thing I need to make reservations for are some restaurants where we’d like to dine.  One for sure is Posada de la Villa, which is a favorite of ours.  As you can see above, I would also like to reserve a spot at a restaurant in Segovia.

So many little things go into planning a trip.  I will be refining this as it gets closer to our departure and this is what I’ve got today just 13.5 months prior to departure.  But who’s counting?? Ha ha.  I’d love any comments and suggestions for any piece of this trip.  Thanks so much!! I’m going to close with some photos of the places we’ll be visiting next year.  NEXT year!!!  Yay!

La mezquita, Córdoba:

La mezquita, Córdoba, Spain

It will be fun to see the progress of Sagrada Familia, Barcelona:

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

One of my favorite cities in the world and this is a treasured spot – Plaza Mayor – Madrid:

Plaza Mayor - Madrid

One of my other favorite cities in the world, Toledo:

And, one last one.  Teatro Romano, Málaga:

27 Comments

Filed under Spain, Travel

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.

View original post 536 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Barcelona, Spain