A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

The end of Barcelona

and off into the mountains

sunny 30 °C

Next morning we had breakfast looking over Sagrada Familia before heading into town to pick up some rental bikes.Breakfast

Breakfast

A day on the bikes

A day on the bikes

We head about town doing a bit of a Modernist tour, taking in the interesting buildings in the Eixample area of Barcelona, where there was a large amount of building in the early 1900s.Modernist facade

Modernist facade

Everyone has heard about Gaudi, but he is by no mean the only architect of his time. We covered a fair bit of the town before we headed down to Barceloneta for lunch at Can Majo. I wanted to have a good paella before we left Spain, and this was it. Fortunately the food was good, unfortunately the service was poor.Gehry's Fish

Gehry's Fish

After this we raced off for a tour of Casa Milo, La Pedrera, and spent a good hour there before we realised we had to get the bikes back. We got out just in time and we cycled down Passeig de Gracia just in front of the massive crowd demonstrating against the cut in their wages and the increase in GST.Union Protests over wage cuts

Union Protests over wage cuts

casa Mila - La Pedrera

casa Mila - La Pedrera


With the bikes back, we went again to Belgious for more ice cream for dessert.
We have to pack up the next morning but we can keep the car in the car park until the afternoon. I head off to another Gaudi, casa Batllo, while L and g go to the shops. I really enjoy casa Batllo with the help of the audio guide as you get to see all the clever things he does for ventilation, natural light, rainwater collection and making spaces flexible and useful. And it is great to see the great decorative work he did to. The main lounge

The main lounge

casa Batllo roof

casa Batllo roof


We got back together and drove out a bit to see a jeweller, Daniel Vior. His stuff was fantastic, light and colourful. We planned to be there a few minutes, but took over an hour as we inspected just about every piece they had. In the end there were two pieces purchased to be sent on to us. Now we have to drive on to what will be our last Parador, at Seu d’Urgell up in the Spanish Pyrenees near Andorra. It is overcast and rainy, but the mountains up here are beautiful and dramatic. In this area they have not been sheer, but still rise steeply out of the valley. There is a lot of water coming down off the mountains, so we do get to see some waterfalls coming down.Left him with a friend

Left him with a friend

Posted by lostagain 14:40 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona Part 2

semi-overcast 27 °C

The next day it was time to fulfil a promise to G – Camp Nou. We are doing the stadium tour. Of course G wore his Chelsea shirt.
Camp Nou

Camp Nou

We wander about, taking photos and absorbing the atmosphere. Head through the chairman’s lounge, the press area, the grandstands – but no dressing area and the museum is half closed. Toasting the presidents

Toasting the presidents

When full, Camp Nou contains 98,000 punters, and it is impossible to get tickets to a home match. We went around and G had his photo taken with Lionel Messi (what do you mean he’s in South Africa?) and with the Champions League trophy.A small souvenir

A small souvenir

And we could not leave without a souvenir, so I bought L a FCB ice block tray (ice in the shape of their shield) and G got himself a ball. All is happy.
A proud purchase

A proud purchase


Caught the Metro down to the Museo Maritim after that, as we had heard it was good for kids. It probably would be, but 90% of it is closed for renovations. Most things have been in Spain roads, museums, palaces etc.In the Maritime museum

In the Maritime museum


We got frustrated at the cable car on Barca harbour, as the middle station was closed, and it is no short trip to the other stations (that’s probably why they put it there) So we wandered around to something else that was closed. We wandered around the harbour for a bit to see the sights, watching the ferries docking. In the end we went to some toy shops to keep G happy.Barca harbour

Barca harbour


We meet up with L who has been shopping with minimal success. We had unconvincing tapas at Sagardi, but hit the jackpot with Belgious ice cream in Carrer d’Avinyo – fantastic flavours and beautifully executed – salted butter toffee, mojito, kiwi mandarin, bourbon vanilla – all just great, and would give Jock’s a few ideas.
Cava on the balcony

Cava on the balcony

Posted by lostagain 02:06 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Barcelona Day 1

rain 22 °C

The trip up went just fine, and we were soon inspecting our apartment with Xavier, our host. When he opened the blind it was fantastic – we could see the spires of Sagrada Familia from our balcony! From our balcony

From our balcony

(nirvana I apartmentsramblas) We moved in and got the washing on first before we headed out have a look around this magnificent structure. The form of it is nothing like you have ever seen in a church before or since – although it is made of stone, it looks very organic in its form and flow, but still manages to have a traditional church floorplan. It is imposible to know what the finished building was supposed to look like because there are no proper plans, just sketches Gaudi made of what he thought it may look like.The Nativity facade

The Nativity facade

The Passion facade

The Passion facade

The next morning we had to dig out the waterproofs as it had started to rain. The plan was to do a Fat Tire bike tour as we had in Paris, but to learn about the highlights at the start of the stay, not the end. The rain had made for a small group, but that was okay as we tripped about in the rain. We got to have a tour around some of the main highlights of the place, including a beach side lunch in the rain, complete with a jug of sangria to keep us warm.
Plaza St Jaume

Plaza St Jaume

Gehry's fish under water

Gehry's fish under water

Barceloneta beach

Barceloneta beach

After that a bit of exertion warmed us up and we said goodbye to John (after G had bought a tshirt) and went to the Thyssen-Bornheim Pre-Colombian museum which had a great collection, but also quite small, which pleased G no end. P1030819In the great Pre Colombian Museum

P1030819In the great Pre Colombian Museum

We skipped Picasso as we had already done some in Malaga, and instead headed up to Park Guell to see some more of Gaudi’s work whilst the rain was scaring everyone else away. Unfortunately by the time we got there, the rain had cleared and the crowds had returned.In Park Guell

In Park Guell


Parc Guell was a wonderful example of some of Gaudi’s thinking on how a livable community should be able to exist. Although it was conceived as an exclusive gated community, there was provision for recycling rainwater, space for a weekly community market, sites where houses could only take up 20% of the land so it would always be a green area. Fortunately for us it fell through and with only a small amount built it was sold to and preserved by the city. The thought that went into it is equalled by the decorative touches and the design of the houses that were built and still remain. There is a huge use of mosaic panels on many of the completed surfaces, even the ceiling of the market place – just brilliant.Over the collonade

Over the collonade

The obligatory dragon shot

The obligatory dragon shot


Our last stop of the night was the Magic fountain – a fountain which is a sight, light and sound show as water dances around to the sound of music whilst being lit by banks of coloured lights from below. A bit of schmaltz, but good fun too.The magic fountain

The magic fountain

From PLaza De Espana

From PLaza De Espana

Posted by lostagain 16:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Valencia

sunny 31 °C

The order of the next day was a long drive, so we thought it would be good to get some food into us to start with. So we had a Parador breakfast to see us through most of the day. A near 500km drive took us over 5 hours with a couple of stops on the way to refuel and get cold drinks. Then with 5 km to go, G said with urgency ‘gottachuck’ and we pulled in quickly as the projectile started. Cleaned him up and then into the impressive El Saler Parador, where we put him to bed. He recovered enough for a quick play in the pool, but headed downhill after that and it was into bed for 16 hours sleep.
There are also modern Paradors...

There are also modern Paradors...


The next morning G and I headed out to have a day at the Oceanografic, the Science Museum and at the Hemispheric. Along with the Reine Sophia Arts centre, these make up a city of Arts and science at the southern side of Valencia. They are all modern designs, with the Arts centre looking like it has just landed in a sci fi movie.George Lucas designed the Opera House

George Lucas designed the Opera House


At the oceanographic we saw the dolphin show, which was impressive but led G to wonder if the dolphins were really happy doing this.
Dolphin show

Dolphin show

In the Oceanografic

In the Oceanografic

There is also a lot of underground tunnels to wander through and have fish, sharks and rays float over you. At the science museum we played with comic heroes and ate lollies (scientific experiment I swear) and avoided the space school when we found G would get thrown about – not a good idea after yesterday’s car trip, we thought. We also looked a bit at chromosomes and what they do before we had to get to the Hemisferic for a program on Egypt, good effects but light on a story line – and we still don’t know what was used for preserving mummies.Ready for Imax lobotomy

Ready for Imax lobotomy

Hemispheric

Hemispheric


Back at the Parador, we found out that L had wandered the sand dunes behind the Parador (this one is on the beach with a Golf Course) and got lost, taken a bus ride and then got back just in time for a body scrub and treatment. By the time we found her she was exhausted. Dragged her off for dinner which was uneventful apart from some delicious tomato smothered in olive oil and salt.
One for Fab

One for Fab


The next day we eventually headed up to Tortosa to a parador where we gainfully employed ourselves having lunch on the balcony and a swim in the pool for a few hours. Lunch in Tortosa

Lunch in Tortosa

That night we had a good chat with a couple of local ladies as we were eating our tapas, and finding out more about the area and getting the low down which we couldn’t use because we were heading straight to Barcelona the next day.
At the Parador

At the Parador

At the river

At the river

Posted by lostagain 16:13 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Cordoba and Jaen

sunny 33 °C

We did the quick drive to Jaen and arrived tired at the Parador and all slept well. the Parador

the Parador

After discussion we decided to do a bit of driving and we are heading to Cordoba. Got a good park on the river at the end of the roman bridge – don’t know if it was legal but it was good. Over the river and into town. You can see the muslim influence all around the town with houses with patios inside. Unfortunately we have missed the week long party of the patios when people invite you in to have a look at their gardens.Patio

Patio


The main attraction here is the Mezquita – the massive mosque complex built and extended by the Moslems when they were the rulers of the land between the 10th and 14th centuries. They had built it after demolishing a small Visigothic church (because they were not into religious tolerance – according to the guide). The Mezquita Arches

The Mezquita Arches

When the Spaniards got back in, they wanted to preserve the structure of the mosque (as they were not into wrecking things like the Muslims – again I quote from the guide). So they built the cathedral within the structure of the mosque before they expelled the Jews and Muslims from Spain. Anyway, besides the interesting bombastic diatribe in the printed guide, the Mezquita is an amazing forest of arches that seems to stretch on forever. It would have been impressive full of people at prayer. At the southern end of the Mezquita is the mihrab, which points the faithful towards Mecca. This being the focal point is well decorated and has a roof tiled in gold mosaic that was a gift from the byzantine emperor in the 10th century.Mihrab ceiling

Mihrab ceiling

Arches In the Mezquita

Arches In the Mezquita


We went for a walk around Cordoba and saw a few sights, some of the private houses with their patios covered in flowers were great to see. We saw inside the 9th century Synagogue which has been all but forgotten after the Jews and Muslims were chased out of Spain in the 15th century. There were some scraps remaining of the detailed wall decorations with quotations in Hebrew.
Nearby I was looking for the bullfighting museum, but it was closed for renovations (and has been since 2008 according to the guide book) which annoyed me no end as I had dressed up specially.We Love our Kukuxumusu

We Love our Kukuxumusu


We headed back to Jaen and headed into town, but the places recommended were closed on these days. Instead we lucked on a tapas bar on Plaza del Posito where they have a great supply of jamon and salmorejo – a cold vegetable soup. Just wish I could remember the bar's name.We had to climb up that after a drink or two...

We had to climb up that after a drink or two...

Posted by lostagain 16:12 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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