Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barcelona. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TP Thursday: The Joy of Travel

“Ancient Egyptians believed that upon death they would be asked two questions and their answers would determine whether they could continue their journey in the afterlife.

The first question was, 'Did you bring joy?'
The second was, 'Did you find joy?' "

                                               -- Leo Buscaglia, author and educator

Arizona Spring 2012 263
Day breaks in Scottsdale, Arizona. The stillness is broken when a donkey's brays, ring out like laughter, announcing the new day.

Day’s end in Roussillone, France: Our sunset feast, a baguette, cheese, a bottle of wine.

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Early morning in Amsterdam when the streets were empty and the only sound was the canal boat's engine.

“Joy – the emotion evoked by well-being, success or good fortune 
or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

A late night departure from Barcelona, Spain ~ our ship passes a freighter that looks as festive as a carousel.
Joy's Synonyms ~ happiness, gladness, delight, pleasure

Morning in Paros, Greece after the day's catch has been unloaded, time to reload the nets.

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Nightfall –  Mascota, Mexico.

I like the concept of 'continuing the journey in the afterlife'; it's particularly comforting to those who embrace travel as a passion. As we look back on our journeys. . . Did we find joy? Most certainly.  Did we bring joy? We hope so. How would you answer those questions?

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so for more photos from around the world head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox. And if this is your first visit to TravelnWrite, please come back again - soon!

Monday, April 9, 2012

I want to “Go with Oh” to Barcelona

We spent a bit of our Easter Sunday determining how we’d spend our time in Barcelona if we were to return for a stay in a self-catered apartment. . . pretending we lived there, like we did for a week in Madrid last year.
DSCF1989We’d have a daily ritual of setting out to see ‘our’ neighborhood come to life – that early morning time when the only thing disturbing the quiet is the crash and clang of shopkeepers raising their heavy metal gates.

We’d admire flower-decked balconies above us and greet passersby with a nod of the head and “Bon Dia” as if we were locals.  We’d  pick a different café each day to sip cafés con leche (hot milk laced espresso) while planning that day’s adventures.

Among the things we would do in this Catalonian city by the sea are:

DSCF19601. We’d eat and drink!  Finally we’d have time  to try those tempting cheeses (like Cabrales and Manchego), and hams (Jamon Iberico and Serrano) for which Spain is famous. We’ve had to pass up those seductive selections on display at municipal markets on previous short cruise ship stops.

So we’d be regulars at the famous Mercat de Boqueria, Rambla 85 –86; a market whose origins date back to1217 when meat was sold from tables set up near a door of the once-walled city. The present-day market built in 1840, still has a metal roof that was added in 1911. Other days we would head to Mercat Santa Caterina, Francesc Cambo, 16, in the Ribera District in Cuitat Velta.

DSCF19472. Late in the evening we’d stroll through the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) letting our imaginations run wild. . .do ghosts lurk in the shadows of the narrow streets that twist and turn through this centuries-old area?  The buildings -- most of which date back to the 15th Century -- are interesting in the daytime but become simply magical at night.

DSCF19533.  We’d tapeo through the city, stuffing ourselves at Tapas Bars. Returning to our favorite places and finding new ones – we’d seek out the best deal, the best atmosphere -- the kinds of places we’d tell you that ‘you must visit’ when in town.
Some of our favorites are tiny places so small you could almost miss them. 

Often times the only place to sit at these bars is outside, at tables wedged into a small corner of the sidewalk. That’s my empty stool there, inches from the street’s curb.

DSCF19594.  We’d visit museums like the Museu d’Historia de Barcelona and Museu Picasso. We’d finally visit Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia or Casa Batilo’ and ponder his wild, wonderful architecture. . .…all of those places we’ve never quite had enough time to get to.  And on the way home we’d buy flowers from the many flower stands that line La Rambla to fill ‘our’ apartment with the color and scent of Barcelona’s fall.

DSCF19625. Sometimes we’d take advantage of the fact we were but short-term visitors here. We’d catch those double-decker buses that whirl tourists around a city pointing out important sites ~ a moveable feast of history and culture served in easily digested bite-sized bits.

  So what travel bee got into my Easter bonnet? 

badge[1]It was seeing an announcement of a blogger’s competition on  “Go with Oh” a company that got its start in Barcelona and has grown to include 9 other European cities. They rent hotels and apartments.  I spent time on their site picking out apartments to show Joel where we ‘could live’ whether we won the contest or not.  Yes, the prize is a stay in one, maybe more, of their apartments for up to 30 days.  Our travel juices started flowing and our imaginations ran wild. 

Information about this contest as well as another one they have going on Facebook (with other great prizes) can be found at:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

TP Thursday: A Spanish Food and Wine Fest

Food and wine. What’s a trip without them?
In Spain, a country known for its many festivals, we created our own food and drink fest everywhere we traveled last year.

In Madrid:  A trip to our favorite Cervecerias, Los Gatos on Calle Jesus, 2., phone: 914 29 3067) became an almost nightly ritual during our week-long stay. 

Our dinners – tapas and pintxos --were often eaten standing at the wine barrel table under the watchful eye of  “Satchmo” Louis Armstrong and next to a tribute to bullfighting that included a matador’s pink cape.



In Osuna:  We followed the suggestions of our hotel owner and visited Casa Curro, at Plazuela Salitre, 5, phone 955-820-758 where we found a dizzing array of choices ….. all in Spanish which made our dining a fun adventure.




Another night ate at Meson del Duque on Plaza de la Duquesa, 2, phone 95-482-2845 where we let the staff choose for us and were delighted with the culinary artistry. This dish in the shape of bull horns is battered and deep-friend shrimp served in a special dipping sauce. This place was so incredibly good we may go back just to eat there!


In Barcelona:  When not eating food, one of our favorite past times was looking at displays of it.  And one of our newly-discovered favorite places to do that was the Santa Caterina Market  (Avinguda de Francesc Cambo, 16) a few blocks from the Gothic Cathedral.   Its undulating roof is a mosaic made up of 325,000 Spanish tiles. (It isn’t the more well-known market on Las Ramblas.)


I’ll close with a toast to Spanish Cava. It’s  Spain’s version of  champagne; a bubbly glass of happiness. There’s no better restorative for sightseeing sensory overload than a tall flute of it served with a side of salted Spanish Marcona almonds.


Have any tapa favorites in Spain?  Where do we find them?  And remember, it's Travel Photo Thursday so serve yourself a helping of some great destinations and photos by visiting Budget Travelers Sandbox. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TP Thursday: The Train in Spain

We have limited options for train travel in the Pacific Northwest so we savor the experience when we are in Europe. In November, we traveled in Spain by train:


We first hopped aboard in Osuna, the town I’ve written about in earlier posts – Land of the Olives.  We loved its small station, opened in 1874. The agent who manned the ticket window also had the only desk job. Prior to each  train’s arrival, though, he’d put on his uniform’s cap and head to the station’s platform to manually adjusted the large levers that set the tracks in the correct position.

DSCF1696 From that history-laden platform, we caught a regional, regionales, train - similar to this one - that delivered us to Malaga. Two tickets cost 22.40-euro, or about $31US.  We purchased them the day we traveled.

After spending a week on the Costa del Sol, we returned to Malaga’s station to catch a long-distance train that would take us north through central Spain, hurtling us as speeds reaching 300 kilometers an hour through Andalusia and its neighboring Castilla-La Mancha region to Madrid.

DSCF1908In stark contrast to Osuna, Malaga’s train station is an enormous – think international airport size – modern facility.

DSCF1911The trains are equally as modern . . .and large; very large. Renfe is the national train service that runs most of Spain’s trains.

We walked past the engine pictured above to get to our car, half way down the length of the train. Note how far behind me the train stretches back to this engine.

The cost of our two AVE (the high speed train) tickets, which we purchased before leaving home and printed out on our computer (Malaga to Barcelona), was 316-euro, or $433US.

We would  have paid less to fly; it would certainly have been faster, but for us, the trip is as much about the journey as the destination and had we flown we would have missed scenes such as these:


One of Spain’s “White Towns” – loved the castle on the hill to the left.


Spectacular vistas stretched for miles in every direction. . .

DSCF1933At Madrid’s Atocha Station we connected with the train that would  take us to our final destination, Barcelona, on the northeast coast.

Again we had a slide show of Catalonian towns through the power lines that often line the tracks. 


Trains are a ticket to adventure for us. Got any suggestions for our next train trip?

Today is Travel Photo Thursday so be sure to visit, Budget Travelers Sandbox for more photos and destination temptations.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Barcelona: Adios Espana

We begin the final phase of this Spanish Adventure tomorrow (Sunday) when we board our Celebrity Constellation cruise ship here in Barcelona bound for Ft. Lauderdale.

We’ve already vowed to return to Andalucia, the area where we spent most of this trip; there are far too many towns like tiny Osuna just waiting to be discovered by us.  We’ll likely not return to the Costa del Sol as it was a bit too touristy for our travel tastes. It was a nice contrast though to the interior towns of Seville and Osuna.

barcellonaandconnie 003 And speaking of contrasts, we are now in Barcelona, a metropolis of 1.6 million people. Our hotel is in the Barri Gotic, or Gothic Quarter.  We’ve strolled through the area on previous cruise ship stops, but as is our only complaint with such stops, they usually don’t allow us to see a city at night.
barcellonaandconnie 002 So we are soaking up the ambiance of the night as we stroll our ‘neighborhood’ streets  - a warren of medieval twists and turns past buildings that date back to the 15th Century.

It is interesting to be back in a big city especially one that is known for pickpockets and theft.  Our Hotel Colon, provided a security checklist for us upon arrival that included tips for street safety – jewelry, money and all non-essentials are left in the room safe each time we venture out – night or day.

barcellonaandconnie 008 And days have been spent strolling the famous pedestrian street, La Rambla, where the flower stalls were a bright contrast to a rather gray morning yesterday.
La Rambla gets its name from a seasonal stream that once ran here; rather hard to imagine this busy walkway was once  a stream.

barcellonaandconnie 009 The only thing that might have been brighter were the fruit displays inside the Mercat de la Boqueria, the sprawling municipal market just off La Rambla, that is a highlight of a trip to Barcelona.

We’ll ease into leaving Spain as we will visit Alicante and Malaga before we head  for the Atlantic Ocean.  That is a good thing. . .it will be hard to leave this fascinating country.


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