Archive for Spain Destinations

Viva Barcelona!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 11, 2008 by travelwizard

The dark cloud that had settled over my trip to Barcelona has lifted. I remember the good times now..prior to having a lot of my stuff stolen. Barcelona is a beautiful city and there are plenty of great things to keep you occupied for a few days. Here is a list of my top five recommendations for things to do in Catalonia’s capitol:

1. Catch Up On Your Modernist Architecture.

Poor Gaudi! He met his demise after being run over by a tram! Prior to his unfortunate death, Antoni Gaudi was responsible for designing some of the most artful and unique buildings in the world.  Take a few days to wander through the fantastical La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila or Casa Batllo and let yourself be bowled over by Gaudi’s strange and luminous designs.

2. Eat A Meal At Cal Pep.

I ate there twice in five days and both times, I left knowing I would not eat fish like this maybe ever again. The restaurant can be slightly intimidating as the seating is counter style and seats maybe twenty people so the lines are enormous and there is no menu but if you are willing to just roll with the waiters suggestions, you will not be disappointed.

3. Take In Some Fine Art.

Spain is home to two of the most famous painters of all time, Picasso and Miro. Spend the morning in the Picasso Museum in El Born and the afternoon high above Barcelona on Mount Juic at The Miro Museum. Besides having great art, each is well located in a aesthetically pleasing part of the city.

4. Get On The Bus!

While I am normally against doing something so outwardly touristy, Barcelona has a fantastic bus system in place called Barcelona Bus Turistic that takes people all around the city. It is a great way to get around and for twenty euros, a lot cheaper than taking cabs everywhere. There are three lines that zig zag all around the city and a one day bus pass grants you access to all of them. You can hop on and off anywhere you like so there is a lot of flexibility and freedom to do what you will with your day.

5. Stroll Around La Boqueria Food Market.

La Boqueria is one of the most impressive food markets I have ever seen. There are rows and rows of stalls which represents all the food groups. Each display the food in a perfectly elegant design. On aisle after aisle you will encounter lavish displays of fresh fish, meat, produce, nuts and other goods. My only regret about the market was that I had no kitchen, making it hard for me to take full advantage of all the market has to offer. Tapas bars line La Boqueria however, making it a great place to grab a fast lunch.

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An American Girl in Spain

Posted in Hotels with tags , , on September 8, 2008 by travelwizard

Good evening everyone, I have returned from my time abroad! I am certain that I have been thoroughly missed by my tens of readers so I promise not to stray so long again. I return from Spain one laptop, one ipod, one camera and one pair of Bose Noise Cancelling headphones lighter. Yes, I was robbed, five minutes before I left Barcelona, steps from the entrance to my hotel. It was sad times really, and something that has really clouded my thoughts on the city so I think I will reserve judgment on my time there until some time has passed. What I will share with you is my time on the Costa Brava of Spain at a gorgeous restored 800 year old castle called Castell D’Emporda. I spent five days there prior to heading to Barcelona and it was one of the most memorable stays I have yet to have. 

As I drove from Barcelona in my rented Ibeza, the sprawling cityscape gradually began to give way to the rolling pastures and heavily wooded hilltops of the largely untouched Costa Brava. After driving along for a little over an hour north of the city, we turned off the motorway and headed up a dark winding road on top of which stood our castle. Based on the photos on their website, which I had found through one my other favorite hotel websites, Secret Places, I had thought I knew what to expect. I was so wrong. Castell D’Emporda far exceeded my expectations. Every last detail of the restored castle has been updated to chic perfection. From the bubbling fountain outside the entrance, to the luxuriously appointed rooms, to the mouth-dropping views throughout the property, Castell D’Emporda is a perfect hide-away that embodies all the best qualities Spain has to offer. 

The Castle has several types of rooms to offer, in several different and unique areas of the property. We chose to stay in the tower, and we were given room 12, which is located at the very top, up a incredibly long and tiny flight of stairs (not recommended for those who are un-interested in climbing LOTS of stairs). You will suffer a bit as there is no elevator and those stairs can be a killer but for us, the payoff came in the form of the absolutely stunning view, which was unobstructed of the valley below for as far as the eye could see.

For those who wish to avoid the stairs, there are also rooms in the castle and the castle’s annex. I didn’t see any rooms in the annex but I did check out a room in the main castle and it was fantastic, and better located (only one stair flight!). They also had a full tub in the bath, something that our tower room did not. Despite that, our room was insanely comfortable, with a great bed, a flat screen and a dvd player equipped with tons of movie rental choices. But oh that view…each night we chose to sleep with the windows open, where we could catch glimpses of the moon in the distance as well as watch the sun rise in the morning.  If it sounds crazy romantic- it was! I highly recommend the hotel as a couples destination.

Another bonus for the Castle is it’s superb location ten minutes of some of the most secluded and beautiful Mediterranean beaches I have ever come across. It is also a stones throw away from several medieval villages( Begur and Peratallada are particularly nice!) which are great to stop in for a late dinner. The hotel itself also boasts a Michelin -starred restaurant (with a fabulous patio) and a bar so if you feel like just getting away and doing nothing, the hotel affords you that option as well. If you are heading out for a day of cove hopping, I recommend you pop in to Sa Tuna or Aigua Freda and take a dip in the inviting Mediterranean. Check out the pics!

Rooms here vary in price depending on the season but Tower Rooms top out at 160 Euros while rooms in the main Castle and the Annex range from 240 to 340 Euros. Dinner in the restaurant with starters and wine will run you about 80 to 100 Euros.