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January 17, 2011

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Mark D.

That is going to be an awesome trip, and I am VERY jealous that you will get to the Prado before me :>)
But whatever else you do in Barcelona make this a priority:
https://www.citytoursbarcelona.com/romanesque_art_barcelona.html
From the link:
"This incredible collection of frescoes comes from small Romanesque churches in the Pyrenees. During the first decades of the 20th century a huge interest in this medieval art grew up, and by an Italian technique the directors of the museum managed to remove the images (that were getting destroyed by moisture in the small churches ) and to bring them to Barcelona.

Originally, the images are probably not painted by local artists, but by itinerant artists who traveled throughout the Mediterranean. The paintings contain motifs and techniques that were developed in Byzantium, but which came to Catalonia thanks to itinerant artists, maybe from Sicily. "
You will absolutely see things you have never seen before, and will NEVER forget - whoa.
Can't wait to read the posts and see the pix - have a GREAT TIME!!!

José R. Gimeno

Hello Kelly,

I have some suggestions for Barcelona...

Talking about a colourful place, I have immediately thought of 'El mercat de Santa Caterina' (Santa Caterina's Market) https://www.mercatsantacaterina.net/ (go to 'Architecture')
The wavy roof is full of colours.

Another market worth seeing (the most famous of the city, in the middle of Las Ramblas) is 'El mercat de la Boqueria': https://www.boqueria.info/Eng/index.php

An interesting area is the Gothic Quarter (quite close to both markets).

You can also get on a boat to see Barcelona from the sea. At sunset is particularly nice.

There is also a Picasso museum. And too many other places: Montjuic, Tibidabo, The Liceu (the opera house)...

Outside Barcelona (60 kms away), you can find Montserrat ('Sawed mountain', literally, because of its particular shape)

If you need anything else, just tell me!

layla

As an artist, you will have to visit the Picasso museum in Barcelona. Then there is Miguel de Cervantes's house/museum in Madrid. You definitely have to visit La Rambla in Barcelona.. and drink from the magic fountain (which supposedly has magical powers and will bring you back to Barcelona one day). There's also the musical fountain near the Olympic Stadium. I think its a 30 minute show played every hour. My memory is getting very fuzzy! Was there in Spain for a few months back in 08.. sent from my Company and I enjoyed every single day I was there! The best all expense paid holiday (ahem.. work trip) ever!

If you dont mind traveling a bit, there's Costa Brava and Tossa de Mar.. I think it was only 1-2 hours from Barcelona. The beaches are so beautiful there!

Elisabeth

Hi Kelly!
I love that you have chosen these cities to visit!! I live in Bcn!!

So, my recommendations are:
In Barcelona, apart from the Gaudi stuff (Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, Casa Batllo and Park Guell are a must), Passeig de Gracia is a very beautiful street. Then the Mercat de la Boqueria, Las Ramblas, the port (where you should have a lunch). Also the Magic Fountain in Motjuic as mentioned above (although is nicer in summer). And the Laberinto de Horta.
Oh, the Cathedral and the Santa Maria del Mar church, you have to go there! And the Born quarter in general!

In Madrid, go to the Retiro Park, the Prado museum, to the Puerta del Sol (the square where New Year is celebrated), Plaza Mayor, Puerta de Alcala, Palacio Real, Plaza España (you'll see Don Quijote there) and Templo de Debot. Las Ventas (a bullfight place). La Latina quarter (Plaza de la Cebada y Plaza de la Paja). The Rastro market is also interesting to see. And the Almudena Cathedral as well.

Don't forget to eat some Tapas!

Btw, be careful with your cameras, bags etc... Don't act like tourists! hahaha

Hope yo enjoy your vacation in Spain! :-)

PS: In Bcn, my mom and me can help you as guides (airport included, where my mother works)!

Bella

Hi Kelly,

I've very pleased to hear that you're off to Spain! I adore Spain and lived there for 3 years in total..on and off.. not all together. (One year studying in Zaragoza, 2 years working in Madrid). I'm now back in my home country of the UK, but still love Spain! I have a few suggestions for you of things you should see!

Madrid and Barcelona are both fabulous cities. I'm less knowledegable about Barcelona, as I have only been there twice and that was years ago.. but things I remember that are great to see are: The Sagrada Familia Church (be careful here, it's known for it's pickpockets! My sister's friend got her purse stolen)...Mount Tibidabo is pretty. If I remember anything else, I'll let you know!

Elizabeth has already mentioned most of the good spots.. but Park Guell really is great! The architecture in Barcelona is lovely.

As for Madrid, I lived there from August 2008 - August 2010!
A fantastic city. The Palacio Real is a real treat. The centre (Puerta del Sol) is good for traditional old shops.. but be prepared as it gets very touristy.. especially Calle Preciados (between Gran Via and Sol) and packed full of people and you may be shocked by the amount of injured people you see begging! Seriously! Musicians and street artists like to perform to crowds around there which can be fun to watch. There is a patisserie shop called La Mallorquina on the corner of the Plaza.. which is well known for it's traditional pastries and little treats! They are superb. It has a little tea room upstairs as well, but that isn't so good.

NB: I would avoid Calle Montera nearby, it's a road between Gran Via and Plaza de Sol.. it's known for its prositutes.

I love all the free events Madrid city council organizes in the streets.. like free concerts, but it depends on the season..or if it's a national holiday for example.

Plaza Mayor on Calle Postas which leads you to it from Calle Mayor is a gorgeous square with an ancient house surrounding it and has tables for dining but can the food be a little pricey for it is.. go to the nearby side streets for better food.. if you're in that area. Another lovely square nearby is Plaza de Santa Ana, but also quite touristy.

Definitely sample some Chocolate con Churros in the Chocolateria San Gines!! It is near the Joy Esclava night club on Calle Arenal.. you can find it from Calle Mayor or Calle Arenal.. I think it is on a little street called Travesia de San Gines..it has a big lit up sign. It can be quite busy at times, but the churros are really nice. They are hot thick deep fried dough sticks that you dunk into really thick hot chocolate. Delicious! Especially as a late night treat :)

Also good is the Mercado San Miguel, an indoor market which sells fruit and veg but also has stalls where you can buy tasty little snacks! It's at the end of Calle Arenal, in the Plaza de Oriente.. near the Opera metro stop.

Each area of Madrid has something different about it.

The architecture near the Bank of Spain at the end of Gran Via is beautiful.. The Plaza de Cibeles has a massive fountain! Paseo de Prado is a road where you will find many of the great museums which are fantastic! Especially The Prado Museum.. a must! If you go in the evenings at certain times it's free and on Sunday afternoons. Check on the museum website... just to warn you though, when it's free it tends to be busier and you will probably have to queque. The Thyssen is a another museum worth checking out... oh and the Caixa Forum is free and also interesting! The Reina Sofia museum nearby, in a square opposite Atocha station is one of my favourites! It's about more modern art. It houses Picasso's Guernica which is amazing and also my one of Dali's which is called Girl at the window.. that I really like :)

Bella

(Sorry it wouldn't allow me to post all this on in one post!)

Atocha Station has a rainforest inside which is curious and has actual birds.. right in the heart of a busy train station. It's nice to have a few moments of calm amongst the panic! Beautiful plants. Oh and the Botanical Gardens near the Prado is stunning.

Tribunal is a great area for shopping.. especially Calle Fuencarral and some of the side streets around here are curous.. one of them is dedicated to shoe shops!... I think it is called Calle Augusto Figueroa. Another great street nearby is Calle Barquillo which has shops from independent designers. Stella Forest has nice clothes.

The area of Chueca is known for it's gay vibe and can be a bit crazy late at night, but it has great restaurants. Other good restaurants can be found in the area of Malasaña.. between the streets of Calle San Bernardo and Calle Tribunal. I have friends who live in this area and eat out a lot there. It is a nice little area and also has some cute little independent boutiquey shops!

Another area is called Salamanca and is really upmarket and known for it's high priced luxury brands.

The Retiro park is a must, I adore the rose garden and the crystal palace inside the park. The lake is also nice. It's big and easy to get lost in so be careful!

The Madrid metro is fantastic, a trip from the airport to the centre will cost you 2 euros! If you have a lot of luggage though, a taxi will cost 25-30 euros usually from the airport.. (they charge a commission on fares from the airport so it's a bit
pricier!)

Get a week tourist travel pass if you wanted unlimited travel on the metro or bus during your stay. If you think you'll be walking mostly, but just getting the metro occasionally then get the Metrobus ticket which is 10 journeys. It's fine for two people to share when using this ticket. Most of the metro lines have really new trains that are really nice and quick too! It is really economical travelling by metro.. and you can use the same ticket on the bus! A single ticket costs 1 euro on the metro or bus.. (or at least it did when I was there) they may have put the price up since. It's easier travelling by metro than by bus though if you don't know your way around.

Sorry i've rambled on so much! Hope you have an absolutely fabulous time! I hope you take lots of pictures and post them on here when you return. All your readers want to hear about your Spanish adventures!

Have fun!

Safe trip :)

Arabella

paula

I visited Spain about 15yrs ago and it was an amazing trip. We rented a car and drove around local towns and took overnight trains to get to one city to the next. I didn't know Spain was a hugh olive oil producer. Along our road trips we encountered tons of olive orchards. Back then I was a hugh Salvador Dali fan and made it a point to visit his museum in Figueres. It was an awesome experience, but then again i was about 23 and had never been to Europe. I don't regret going to Figueres. Reina Sophia and/or (I can't remember) El Prado also have some of Dali's art work which was very impressive. Some of the beautiful places I visited were El Alhambra; an absolute must, El Escorial, Avila and El Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen). I must say that I didn't know anything about the Valley of the Fallen but my girlfriends suggested we stop by since it was on our way to El Escorial. It is a pretty majestic place with its huge cross that could be seen for miles but it was also very eerie. I almost equate it to something like a monument to Hitler. It's a very interesting place.
Madrid was also great, I recall the Gothic Cathedral being incredibly awesome. Of course the Sagrada Famiia took the Oscar but the Cathedral is also worth seeing.
Take incredible comfy shoes. We walked everywhere around the city and my feet hurt for about a week and a half when I came home. Everybody was pretty nice. Siestas were definitely still a practice when I went, 12:00 - 1:30ish; I'm not sure now. Many money exchange places were closed on Sundays and the ones that were open had a horrible rate exchange. Saturday and Sundays are definitely family days and the streets busy with people and many mom and pop places will close for the weekend. Hope you have a wonderful and safe trip!!

Paula

Kelly

Wow!! Thank you all so much for the tips! We're leaving today. :D

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