Good Morning Everybody,
OK, I know I've changed the words around but what a great world class city - and probably one of our favorites we visited during our 2 month journey throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. I know it's been a while since I've posted but our travels, as usual, have just been packed pretty tight on this trip. We landed in Spain on Monday, October 29th spent the next few days exploring the city of Barcelona. Both LaDawn and I fell in love with the city, the sites, the history, and the food and wine. Barcelona is simply an amazing city!
Room With A View & I Want Seconds!
After a quick ride to our hotel - yes, we did have a room with a view, we settled in, and immediately set off to explore our surrounds.
Our hotel was about 4-5 miles from the city center but that was no problem as the weather was nearly perfect and allowed us to walk for miles through many of the small neighborhoods throughout the city. Our first stop was a restaurant located not too far from our hotel where we were introduced to a real tapas bar.
Sure we have tapas bars in the US but nothing like they have in Spain - the assortment of these taste tempting Spanish delicacies can be beyond belief. Needless to say, our first day of Spanish cuisine was wonderful.
A Wine Lovers Wonderland!
And for the wine aficionados reading this post today, the Spanish wines are delicious and really inexpensive. To make my point I grabbed a shot of this promo in one of the supermarkets near our hotel. The price of € 1.72 or about $2.69 a bottle re-affirms that $2 Buck Chuck wines are available anywhere ;~) The big difference is that a good wine is available in Spain for $5 - $10, we found them to be quite a bargain.
One of the things that immediately struck LaDawn and I was just how clean, like really, really clean the city was. The fact that they have employees to clean the streets and remove graffiti routinely from the streets, city center, sidewalks sure makes a difference to a tourist's perception of the city. There simply wasn’t a single piece of trash laying around anywhere!
Checking Out Barcelona's Gothic Past
As with most European cities, Barcelona was rich in it's medieval history too. From historic buildings, Roman walls, and century old gorgeous churches. We were taking one of the guided tours when I decided to wander away from the group, a routine practice of mine that drove LaDawn and the tour guides a little nuts.
The guide was going on and on about some Roman wall - we had seen plenty in Rome - but I was more interested as to what the inside of this huge old cathedral, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, had to offer.
I wandered in and was blown away by the utter beauty of the interior of this magnificent building. I didn't want to leave. Every corner of the amazing historic edifice offered even more unbelievable things to see as I continued to explore. Needless to say, I did lose the group for a while but I didn't care. What I was seeing was far more interesting and inspiring to see.
Checking Out The Rest Of The City
After the tour, we continued to walk the city for hours. Our stroll took us to several areas of the city including down the famous La Rambla Drive all the way to the boat harbor.
We then found our way passed the Arc de Triomf built in 1888.
The shop that most caught my interest was what appeared to be a butcher shop. Turns out these shops were selling the very famous Serrano ham, a real delicacy in Spain and very expensive – something like around $45/lb. More hammy details here.
What the heck, it looked good to me. I just kept thinking that seeing the pig leg displayed like this put a whole new meaning to the big turkey legs we enjoy at our Renaissance Festivals often held in the Fall through-out parts of the United States.
While making arrangements for our Gothic tour of the city, I spotted a brochure promoting Flamenco dancing. It’s sort of Spanish tap dancing but with much more power, passion, and speed. I have been a fan for years but had never attended a live Flamenco performance. Before LaDawn could stop me, (he didn’t even ask) I purchased two tickets for the evening performance. If you’ve never seen Flamenco dancing up close and personal, and we were up close in the second row center – what an experience – definitely a “goose-bump” moment! Check out the You-Tube video below to see just how exciting the experience of seeing Flamenco Dancing can be. Enjoy!
Anyway, it was a wonderfully varied day of exploration, sights and sounds around this very beautiful city.
Catching The Light At The End Of The Day
During one of our visits to downtown Barcelona we decided to opt out of taking the taxi back to the hotel and just make the 4-5 mile trip by foot - about a 90 minute walk. This decision allowed to really dig into the off-the-beaten-path of the city and experience many of the neighborhoods up close and personal, a wonderful experience.
As we approached our hotel, the sun was gently setting against a very beautiful sky and then we found ourselves in this excitingly graphic public park on the corner, the Parc de la Diagonal Mar. It’s design and architecture was a visual treat. I quickly set my Canon 5D Mark III to HDR mode, added my Sigma 12-24 lens to the camera, at the widest setting, and began shooting away.
I loved the results. We happened upon the location at thee perfect time of day, with the unusual graphic architecture of the park, the wonderfully sleek skyline all combined for some extraordinary images. This was probably one of the highlights of the day for me.
Heading To The Mountains and The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music
We also made a day trip to Montserrat just a short one hour hour drive outside of Barcelona. The tour of the beautiful and historic location wedged on the top of the mountain overlooking the verdant valley below was an impressive side trip for the both of us.
This monastic location showcases one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain and is home to the famous Black Madonna. But more than that, it is home to one of the oldest boys choirs in Europe, the very famous Montserrat Cathedral Boys Choir.
The highlight of our visit was a short performance by the young vocal ensemble – a beautiful wrap to a fantastic day trip. You can give a listen right here.
Hey gang, That's it for me today. I'm doing a special post on our top stop in Barcelona shortly so be sure to stop back. I promise you will be blown away!!!
See ya' soon, David