Category Archives: Spain

The accidental liguist

(Roses, Spain)

Buenas dias, amigos!

Missing Spanish cuisine so much and this menu of 16euros excl. wine made us want to stay in Spain for good! It’s been very confusing with the many languages though. A month ago we’re struggling with Hungarian, then we switched to Italian, then French and now Spanish. Thank goodness I can still speak in English … here on Facebook and with H and Charlie of course!

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The way the Spanish prepare their olive apero is still the best!

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Calamares fritos, so tender and juicy. .

 

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Grilled cod. This is really delicious, I haven’t had anything tastes like it!

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Crème caramel a la Catalunya. This is probably where our leche flan took its roots but ours is much much better.

Barcelona Itinerary

Here is a 3-day Barcelona Itinerary for first time visitors to this great city, but before anything else, here are very important tips:

1.  Hold on to your bags and wallet, BCN as any other big city is notorious for pickpockets.
2.  Get a Tourist Map from your hotel. If they don’t have it, you can gather them (brochures, maps, booklets) from the Tourist Office which is in the underground of Plaza Catalunya. This plaza is at the end of Passeig de Gracia, towards the Ramblas
3.  Book a Flamenco Show for any of the nights you will be in Barcelona. If possible, book online so you don’t have to queue up or assured of seats because these shows are very popular.
Here is the link: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c…barcelona.html

If your plane arrives late afternoon, you can still do an Evening walk in the Ramblas. This famous pedestrian street is very vibrant day and night and you must see it in the dark as well as at daytime.

If you can still walk, explore Barrio Gotico at night. It is also great to see it at daytime, so you need a map and a guide to make sure that you see the most important attractions:
Here is the link to the map:
http://bcnshop.barcelonaturisme.com/…PlanoGotic.pdf

DAY ONE –

Start your sightseeing from the comfort of your seat by taking the Sightseeing Bus tour.  It is a double-decker Bus Turistic with 3 itineraries on offer – the red, blue and green itineraries which you can all ride on to using just one ticket.  You can hop on, hop out all day long.

Here’s the Itinerary map of the tourist bus:
http://bcnshop.barcelonaturisme.com/…bbt/planol.pdf

Must-get-down stopovers:
– the Sagrada Familia. Slowly walk around it and marvel at the majesty and bizarreness of Gaudi’s masterpiece.
– Park Guell, another masterpiece which is a network of roads, walkways, steps and plazas with tiled benches curving around them, fascinating building, colonnades, viaducts, grottos, etc
– Catch the cable car (Teleferico) from Torre de San Sebastia in Barceloneta (across the harbour when standing from the monument of Christopher Columbus) to the hillside of Montjuic. Here you get a breathtaking view of Barcelona, its monuments, harbour and the Mediterranean sea.
– Tibidado up the hill

DAY TWO –

Early Morning (except Sunday): Go to Boqueria Market along the Ramblas. You can buy fruits, stuffed olives (delicious!), ham and cheese and portions of Spanish dishes to eat in your journey

Before lunch: Take a trip to Montserrat
For more details, Barcelona to Montserrat by Train
http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.c…ontserrat.html

DAY THREE –

Daytime exploring of Las Ramblas and its side streets, proceed to the beach, then wander around the 18th century neighbourhood of Barceloneta

EXTRA:
If you are into bars, BCN has a great bar scene. You can start hopping from one bar to another starting from 5pm up to the wee hours of the morning (3-5am)! But don’t go with an empty stomach and drink moderately.

NOTE:
While on the tour bus or just plain walking, take note of the Gaudi buildings:
http://www.top-tour-of-spain.com/antoni-gaudi.html

MUST TRY/BUY:
– Food: Tapas of all kinds, paella
– Buy Spanish cookbook in English. I did! and am still following the recipes up to now!
– Barcelona fridge magnet
– postcard and mail it to your address in the States. You can buy stamps from the store, I think

The Sagrada Familia

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The Sagrada Familia is a must-see site when you go to Barcelona.
Walk around it, very very slowly, and you will be amazed – dumbfounded – by its magnanimity …. it’s like…. you are in a different universe! there is simply nothing like it!!!!!

Each side of the Basilica comes with an entirely different design – one side will be gothic, then another will be Art Nouveau, etc..

The construction started in late 19th century and is continuing until now.
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“Aznar-Bush-Blair-Assassins!”

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another Gaudi inspired architecture

Tibidado Church

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View from Tibidado
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 TAPAS, TAPAS and TAPAS!

A trip to Barcelona is not complete without trying their tapas. You sit at the counter and choose from the many small plates of food displayed in front of you – patatas bravas (fried cubed potatoes), bocarones (fried small fish), calamares (fried squid), chorizo..awesome!

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Las Ramblas

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Plaza Real

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Montserrat

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Boqueria market

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Boqueria Market (along las Ramblas)
Mind-blowing! a gastronomic paradise! even if you do not have cooking facilities, you are bound to find something you can eat in your hotel room! you can also buy cooked food (like our carinderia) and they all taste deelicious!

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Spain: Driving holiday ’99

H and I had our first ever driving holiday to Spain ten years ago. I made a travelogue scrapbook for that trip with maps showing our route, tickets of boat trips made, flyer of a Flamenco show we attended, brochure of the hostels/campsites we stayed in.. and many more. I am looking at the scrapbook as I type and it brings back happy memories  
I will post extracts of our travelogue and some (poor quality) pictures as we only used a video camera that time and the pics were just digitally captured from the video recordings.

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Map of Spain divided into her 17 autonomous communities + 2 autonomous cities.

The white broken line on the map indicates our route. We started in Catalunya, proceeded to Valencia, then Castilla La-Mancha and finally Andalucia.

12 August 1999……. we were on our way with the intention of getting to Granada (Andalucia) that day – some hope! We began to realize just how damn hot this country is! While trying to find our way out of Valencia, H made plenty of mistakes on the road. We had no intention to go inland but we just found ourselves heading towards Albacete (Castilla La-Mancha). Meanwhile, the day seemed hotter and hotter and we saw more and more olive trees. 

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Olive trees as far as the eye can see!

Inland Spain this time of the year is dry and the heat is vicious! There are no shades to stop by and we were just driving in the middle of boundless and never-ending olive groves. The sun pounded us down all day, unrelenting. We were getting dehydrated so we kept stopping for water.We soon realized with the progress we are making that we would not make it to Granada. We started looking for hotels at around 6 pm but only succeeded in finding small villages with smouldering piles of evil-smelling ash – unbelievably disgusting! How can people live in a place like this?

Albacete

 One thing that H and I still talk about to this day is the desert-heat-olive-grove-country that is Albacete. And since all we saw were olive groves upon olive groves (Hey..Spain must be the world’s largest exporter of olives or olive oil!), we made fun that if we did decide to buy our first home there, the mailing address could easily have been:

Mr and Mrs H
The Olive Cottage
Olive Road
Olive Village
Albacete, Spain
——————————-

It was around 2pm that seering hot day on the road when the first sight of civilization came upon us. A village comprising of white washed houses. But where are the people? There is not a single soul around.

(I learned later that in Spain, people take their lunch at 2pm, have their siesta, then go back to work at 5pm. Don’t expect to see humanity between 2pm and 5pm, sometimes until 6pm. Dinnertime is at 10pm. If you get hungry before that, better find a Chinese fastfood!) Badly in need of rehydration, you cannot imagine how delighted we were when we saw a bar, its facade so typically rural Spain! Upon entering, I saw three men sitting on high stools by the counter, two in their cowboy hats as if the scene is in the Wild West. Nineteen ninety-nine (1999) was my first time to travel to Europe and also my first time to enter a bar so the sight of men holding bottles of beer kind of intimidated me, so I asked H if it was safe to be in the same room as these men. “Of course it is safe! you have nothing to worry about!”What was fascinating about the bar was the several gigantic hams hanging from the ceiling! Like any ignorant Pinay whose full knowledge of a ham that size was only limited to the Chinese hams I saw in Chinatown (in the Philippines)  and they are actually smaller and fewer. The Spanish version and the huge number of them hanging just one after the other really blew me away!

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A ham kiosk in a Barcelona market. The arrangement of the hams is exactly the same as the one I saw in the bar in Albacete

Granada

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The 14th century Alhambra Palace sitting on a hill overlooking the city of Granada.

I still have the entrance ticket on my album and it shows we paid 2000pesetas for the 2 of us (in 1999), wonder how much is that now?

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The gardens

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The Alcazaba which is part of the fortified wall of the Alhambra. The mountains you see are part of the Sierra Nevada range

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The hostal where we stayed. We can see the view of the palace from the terrace where we were served breakfast (included in the price)

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At the back of the hostal’s business card is the map showing how close they are to the Alhambra Palace

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The old town of Granada where we walked past a workshop of a guitarmaker. H fell in love with one of their guitars that he bought one at 39,000pesetas. It almost melted and its strings went haywire because we left it at the backwindow of the car never realizing how the sun could bake it like a cake!

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On our first night in Granada, we went for tapas in one of the restaurants in town. Different kinds of eatables were served on a chopping board which H and I shared. Although they were meant for 2 people, we enjoyed it so much that we asked for another one!

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This is the restaurant where we had our tapas. Big paprikas tied up in bunches hang on the terrace. It was so charming. I don’t know what those dots on the wall were.

While we were having our tapas, we could hear traditional dance music being played on the square. Then people started dancing, and the (dusty) square was getting filled with locals and tourists alike, dancing to the beat. H and I, after thoroughly enjoying our tapas, went to join in the fun!

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That same night, we went to watch a flamenco show. That was one of the most unforgettable moments of our Spanish trip! As the dancers moved and danced at the pulsing rhythm of the guitar and their faces cringing with orgasmic-like expressions, I was totally enraptured, almost crying in awe! Huh! I love to dance it myself!