Spain Then and Now

Posted on Thursday, December 01, 2016

Moorish, Modern and Inspirational describes Spain. Find Moorish arcades, French Gothic styling and Romanesque arches all over Spain. Enjoy Gaudi's whimsical Modernism movement in Barcelona, the works of Golden age artist Velazquez and 18th century Goya in Madrid's Prado Museum. Take in the sights of whitewashed Andalucian villages, the magnificent Alhambra, the sultan's Palace in Granada and the flower draped balconies in Seville. Discover Barcelona's Las Ramblas, where cafes, restaurants and shops attract street performers and flower vendors. The promenade teems with local flavors and scents. Visit Barri Gotic, the city's old Gothis quarter with her narrow streets and squares dating back to the Middle Ages and the city's 13th-century cathedral. Drive the seaside Montjuic area and past the 1992 Olympic Stadium. Next stop Gaudi's whimsical temple, known as Sagrada Familia. This is described as "Art Nouveau run wild." You can fly to Malaga and see one of the oldest buildings in Spain perched on a clifftop called Ronda. A stop in Granada takes you to the Sierra Nevada foothills in Southern Spain. How about a tour of the 14th century palace and gardens at Alhambra in Seville? Explore the massive Renaissance palace of Charles V and the fountain-filed gardens of the Generalife, and continue through the white washed villages of Andalucia. Seville dates back nearly 2000 years.

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Maria Luisa Park or maybe a walking tour of the Barrio de Santa Cruz and the old streets in the former Jewish Quarter. Don't miss the Seville Cathedral, the final resting place of Christopher Columbus and the Giralda Bell Tower. Cordoba reflects a city that evolved through centuries of Roman, Moorish and Christian influence; a city once renowned as a center of artistic and intellectual creativity and religious tolerance. Walk through the Jewish Quarter and visit the 8th century mosque which turned cathedral called LaMezquita. A high speed train called the AVE will take you from Cordoba to Madrid. In Madrid visit the Museo Nacional Del Prado, where one of the finest collections of European art includes numerous works by Goya, Velazquez, Rubens and Bosch. To top your visit to Spain, you must not depart without seeing a flamenco show. Venture into the mountains, stopping at the saw-toothed mountain of Montserrat, northwest of Barcelona. Visit the Bebedictine monastery and see the shrine of la Moreneta, the Black Madonna. The statue was discovered in the year 880 by shepherds who saw a strange light in the sky and heard music coming from a cave in the mountain. Even though this is legend, it has become one of the most famous pilgrimage sights in Spain.

A short drive from there will bring you to Cardona, the Romanesque Church of Saint Vicenc, consecrated in 1047. Your drive will take you through the snow-capped Catalonian Pyrenees. There you will find a 12th century Romanesque Cathedral renowned as the finest in the Pyrenees. A short drive to Andorraand a Catalan cooking demonstration is not to be missed. Pamplona, Ernest Hemingway's immortalized town is mentioned in his book The Sun Also Rises. You can walk the route of the running of the bulls here and then go on to the coastal town of San Sebastian in Basque Country. The views from the top of Mt. Igueldo are magnificent. Visit the Guggenheim Museum in nearby Bilbao and venture to medieval Santillana del Mar in the Cantabria region of Spain. Throughout Spain you will see historic Paradors to stay at. To be designated as a Parador, a property must have a historic pedigree in the building it occupies or the setting it is located in. Look for Parador de Fuente De or Parador de Leon and the Parador de Santaigo de Compostela to give you that feel of Spain's history.

Barcelona at Leisure

Posted on Thursday, July 14, 2016

If you have some extra time in Barcelona and have seen the main tourist sites, here are some the things you may want to do.

1.  A yacht cruise around the harbor glimpses Barceloneta beach and the Montjuic hilltop, while the dolphin-rich Mediterranean Sea may tempt you to dive right in from the deck.

2.  Cycle to Santa Caterina Market, Barcelona's first covered food market, to stock up on Catalan specialties and transform them into small plate tapas during a hands on cooking class.

3.  Accompanied by a sommelier, venture to Penedes, the Spanish land of cava.  Sip your fill of this delicate sparkling wine in tasting rooms and vineyards tucked into medieval villages beyond Barcelona.

4.  Great for families, learn Gaudi's signature style in a workshop when you join a mosaic artist in his Gracia district art studio to create your own colorful tile souvenir.

5.  Sunset at Casa Mila, popularly known as La Pedrera, is a fitting tribute to Antoni Gaudi - this UNESCO world heritage site was his final accomplishment.  We can arrange a private evening tour to explore the modernist building and end with a rooftop toast.

6.  In the city of Tarragona, about an hour down the coast from Barcelona, you'll encounter something unexpected built right into the oceanfront: Roman ruins dating back to the third century B.C.


2016 Spain Tour

Posted on Tuesday, October 13, 2015