You've been selected to participate in a beta for a new release of our website. If you do not want to participate in this beta,please click here >
Like going out for tapas, taking a trip to Spain means you'll get a taste of everything. Travelers love the warmth of the Spanish people, not to mention the warmth of the climate. From the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the north, to the Moorish and Catholic traditions in the south, Spain is a fantastic mix of modern and classic.
One of my favorite things to visit in Barcelona is the world-famous Sagrada Familia. Among many other things I love about it is how the ceiling looks like a beautiful kaleidoscope - you adjust your viewpoint even a bit and the whole scene changes. A true architectural and cultural masterpiece that's not something to be missed on any trip to Barcelona.
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, or La Boqueria, is a must-stop for all foodies visiting Barcelona. The covered market consists of more than 200 stalls selling all sorts of seafood, meat, vegetables, and fruits. Those with weak stomachs should avoid the meat section where butchers (many of them women) hawk all sorts of exotic cuts from pig's trotters to tripe. I felt just a tinge of guilt when I ordered a few slices of jamón ibérico and looked down to see these cute piggies starting at me through the glass butcher case.
My husband had to make several trips to Barcelona this year for work so I tagged along for his April trip. What an amazing place - the perfect walking city! On any trip to Barcelona wandering down La Rambla is a must. You'll see everything from jugglers to performance artists and flower stands with beautiful offerings like this one. Barcelona remains one of my favorite cities to visit, any time of the year.
One of my favorite things to visit in Barcelona is the world-famous Sagrada Familia. You could spend a whole day in the church and still not see all the beautiful details it has to offer. I especially like this colorful chandelier hanging over the altar and the gilded golden dome that funnels gorgeous light down onto the altar. La Sagrada Familia is a true architectural and cultural masterpiece that's not to be missed on any trip to Barcelona.
Gaudi's ceramic tile work is absolutely stunning. Around each turn in Parc Güell you will discover something new. Come back and do the same walk and you will discover something else. Every angle has purpose with Gaudi so make sure to look at his work from all directions. The panoramic view of the entire city is also spectacular. If you only have one hour in Barcelona, go to Parc Güell.
I took this image the first morning I woke up at the Karia Bel' Hotel in Bozburun, Turkey (a small, quiet town of about 2000). The Aegean Sea was like glass, so still. There was a perfect reflection of the sailboat. It was a moment!
Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel is well-known to city locals and is gathering the attention of international visitors. This small market is located near the Plaza Mayor and is filled with delightful foods to try. You can pick up some produce or pastries, but I would recommend trying the traditional Spanish croquette from the Delicias de Caza stand. As usual get there early to beat the crowds!
I can only imagine the whimsical dreams that brought this park to life...Thank you Gaudi for sharing your many masterpieces....
I didn't have long in my most recent visit to Barcelona and I had two main objectives for my early morning hours before work. 1) Stretch my legs and get a workout in after a few days of flying and, 2) See some of my old favorite works by Antoni Gaudi for some visual inspiration. A good place to start is on the waterfront near Christopher Columbus' column statue and head East toward signs for the Parc de la Citadella and Zoo. Once inside the park, head north toward the Arc de Triomf. From there stay North on Pg. Saint Joan. Turn left at Gran Via Corts Catalanes and right on Pg. Gracia, where you'll soon be greeted by Gaudi's Casa Batllo on your left. Continue North on Pg. Gracia and you'll see the astounding work by Gaudi called Casa Padrera on the Provence corner. Head East (right) on Provence and follow that all the way to the glorious Sagrada Familia. After circling the ever-evolving cathedral, head north again up, up, up to Park Guell for the view pictured. The return trip is all down hill and a straight shot if you're headed to the waterfront again, making it a great 10 kilometer run or walk in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Note that you're not paying entry fees because you're not going in to the two houses or the cathedral, and that the entrance to the enchanting Park Guell is free!
Located along a stretch of the city that once housed a popular street market, Mercado Central was designed by disciples of renowned modernista architect Luis Doménech Montaner, and built in the early 20th century. Here, you can shop for the city's freshest fruit, veggies, meat, fish and seafood under soaring domes made from iron, glass and ceramic tiles. Stock up on briny olives, regional cheeses, artisan charcuterie, and fresh-baked bread for a picnic lunch for two. Photo by Antonio Tajuelo/Flickr.
One of the absolute joys of the amazing Barcelona is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, usually referred to as La Boqueria (http://www.boqueria.info/index.php). The market is a veritable feast for the senses, a crowded, bustling place with vendors selling every type of food imaginable: fruit and vegetables, cured and fresh meats, breads and cheeses, seafood, fruit juices. One of the best things you'll find at La Boqueria, though, is a huge array of sweets like this delicious chocolate and peanut butter fudge. Conveniently located just off the famed La Rambla in downtown Barcelona, La Boqueria offers something for everyone, whether you're a foodie in search of the best local foods or a photographer looking for an interesting place to spend an afternoon taking photos. Buy lunch or a snack from one of the many vendors, grab a seat in the food court, and watch as vendors and shoppers hustle and bustle through the market. La Boqueria definitely is a worthwhile stop on any visit to Barcelona.
As beautiful at night as it is exotic during the day. It is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and the third largest Church. Chrisopher Columbus is buried here. The Giralda, or bell tower, is built to resemble a minaret in Morocco. Kings and Queens are crowned here.
This summer, I spent a few days in Barcelona. Of course, any trip of mine is always highlighted by the many restaurants I visit. In Barcelona, I ate at these 6 outstanding tapas bars, each offering a different vibe and a different attitude. Bar Mut: Must try: The egg yolk carpaccio and the grilled octopus Tasca el Corral: Must try: Chorizo al diablo (flaming chorizo with agua ardiente), Manchego cheese and cider. Set del Born: Must try: Pata negra ham and the special way they prepare patatas bravas Segons Mercat: Must try: Beef filet with port wine and foie sauce Bubó: Must try: The desserts from Bubó pastry and chocolate shop next door! Tickets tapas bar: Must try: Everything! http://willtravelforfood.com/2011/08/17/tapas-bars-barcelona/
It is not a very original recommendation but it's a must-see if you come to Barcelona. I suggested a friend to visit it while he was in Barcelona without adding any coment. After his visit, he asked me why I had not told him how great this was going to be. Everything is fabulous in this house from the ground level to the roof terrace. Everything is very well thought-out and very beautiful. Gaudí was definitly an avant-gardist.
It seems like just about everywhere you wander in Granada, Spain—from bustling plazas to the winding alleyways of the Albaicin—you come across murals by local legend, El Nino de Las Pinturas. Most are social commentaries depicting people in highly saturated colors, such as this mural asking "Quien juega con nuestras hijos?" or "Who's playing with our kids?"
This is a beautiful sunset on the rooftop of Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera), one of the many buildings by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. It was said that the ventilation towers inspired some designs for the movie Star Wars.
The Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid is one of the best places to go for a little of everything local, or tapas-style shopping. They are always busy. Whether you are looking for ham or oysters, fresh fruits or desserts, coffee or wine, they have it all in a beautiful setting.
At La Cuchara de San Telmo, on the corner of the plaza Valle Lersundi in San Sebastian, the specialties were hot pintxos, quickly prepared to order--from the menu or the specials board, or by pointing to what your neighbor was eating. This was one of best scallops I have ever tasted. But then, so was the second one we had when we returned after another hour or so of pintxo bar hopping in the Parte Vieja (Old Town).
Make sure to sample some hot drinking chocolate in Barcelona. I chose a mug from Cacao Sampaka, a gourmet chocolate shop where you'll find all sorts of delightful dessert concoctions. The rich, velvety drink is nothing like American hot chocolate. It's thick, a bit spicy, and not too sweet. Dunk churros or melindros, a spongy, cake-like cookie traditional to Catalonia. http://eatrepeat.blogspot.com/2012/12/barcelona-kiosko-universal-cacao-sampaka.html
One of the most fun things to do in Barcelona is to wander through the city's Gothic Quarter. You'll see everything from street performers to beautiful churches, and the food and wine are delicious. I loved the unexpected pops of color I found throughout the otherwise monotone Gothic Quarter, like these cheerful orange walls and green tiles. On any trip to Barcelona, taking a stroll through the Gothic Quarter is a great way to spend a few hours.
In Grenada in Andalucia, the south of Spain, the Alhambra was built on a hill overlooking the city about 889. It was a Muslim fortress built to protect the city now known as Seville. In 1333, it became an Islamic royal palace. In 1492, the monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, took Grenada back from the Moors and made the Alhambra a palace for Castile and Aragon. The intricate designs and stonework leave you pondering the amazing skill of the Muslim stonemasons. There are many Arabic inscriptions and tiled, panel walls. There are colorful mosaics. Carved fountains bubble and flow into ponds and waterways. The ceilings are decorated in detailed carvings. I wandered around filled with a sense of wonder and amazement. This tour felt like a living history lesson. The photo shows the countryside in Grenada looking out one of the intricate, ornate arched windows of the Alhambra. I had to go back after a few days to investigate some more. I was rewarded with more beauty as I spent time in the peaceful and beautiful gardens of the Alhambra. You will be very impressed with the stunning Alhambra. If in Grenada, this is definitely on "the list".
A small sampling of Montaditos at Quimet & Quimet, in the El Poble Sec neighborhood of Barcelona. One of the best spots for Tapas in the city with fine wines and incredible deserts. It can get a bit crowded and for good reason too.
What is more enchanting than a winter Christmas market? Boughs of holly, tiny trees (to suit our smaller spaces), and Spanish sweets line ancient plazas throughout the downtown area. Plaza Mayor is home to a local favorite market opening the last week of November, and is just around the corner from the larger, more varied bazaar of Santo Domingo & Callao. Put on your walking shoes, scarf, wide eyed wonder, and enjoy the childlike simplicity of being enamored with the holiday season once again.
I traveled to Ibiza to attend the wedding of a friend. On the Sunday after the wedding, our hosts chartered a ship for the entire wedding party (50+ guests) that sailed to anchor just off the neighboring island of Formentera. I found myself in a little bit of trouble when I prematurely jumped off the side of the boat. Apparently we weren't fully settled in with the okay from the ship's crew when I took on a dare to be the first in the water. Horns blew, shipmates scolded me in Spanish and this here life ring was tossed out to me among all the fracas.
Palau Güell is an early Gaudí masterpiece, designed for his longtime benefactor, Eusebi Güell. The mansion, one of Gaudí's first big projects, was recently restored and re-opened to the public. The centerpiece of the building is the amazing ceiling/skylight and a rooftop full of chimnies. Palau Güell is worth the visit if only to see some of Gaudí's early genius, especially his interest in turning something functional (a chimney!) into a magical work of art. Though less popular than Gaudí's more famous Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Mila, prepare to wait in line. When I visited, tickets were sold for entrance every fifteen minutes, seemingly based on capacity. Buy your ticket at the window before joining the queue. Audioguides are included in the price so don't forget to pick one up on your way in.
Antoni Gaudí's vision for the ceiling of the Sagrada Familia is incredibly stunning. The columns have a tree branch look and are another example of his ability to merge nature with architecture.
Stumbling around Madrid I came about this crypt down from the Royal Palace. I finally decided to check out this exemplary architecture haven amidst the jamon and shoe shops surrounding its vicinity. This Neo-Romanesque Crypt bears the remains of many in the walls and, if you gander at the image, beneath the elongated rectangles on the floor as well. Boasting organ music in a minor chord, this somewhat eerie chapel holds the 16th century antique portrait of the Virgin of Almudena. This is one destination I recommend putting on your bucket list for Madrid. Entry is €1 so you can't really even call it splurging into a Byzantine-influenced abyss.
Gaudí's work always amazes me. It's hard to believe and remember sometimes that most of his work was actually done in the 1800s! It looks so modern, or what I think of as modern! I was really impressed by the rooftop of La Pedrera! I felt like every and any picture I took there looked incredible. For some reason this building really reminded me of some of the architecture/dwellings in Eastern Turkey and other parts of the Middle East. These structures almost remind me of the fairy chimneys, and the walls of this building also somewhat remind me of something like the dwellings in Mardin. Gaudí uses so many different elements from different cultures/styles, and from nature. Almost everything he has done is somehow based in nature. This building itself looks incredible, but when touring the museum I was shocked to see how many models Gaudí had made. The models themselve seem impossible, and that they would take a lifetime, and yet he made so many....and he of course made the life size scale of his visions as well! I was and will be forever impressed by the work of Gaudí.
© 2014 AFAR Media