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Entries about spain


Just one more reason to love Spain.

sunny 16 °C
View Semester Break, pt. 2 on kmclean's travel map.

This is just one more reason to love Spain. Barcelona is an amazing city. The three days we spent there weren’t even close to enough, but we tried to cram in as much as we could during our short stay. This is another one of those cities I’ve just got to come back to. We did some walking tours here, a day trip to Montserrat, and spent some time wandering around the old city and Las Ramblas, but I feel like there’s still so much to see and do in the city.

Our first night we took a tour of the Born, in and around “Picassos” district. He lived in Barcelona for nine years when he was young, so there’s a really great museum which we unfortunately didn’t have time to see that has quite a bit of his earlier work. It’s a really trendy neighbourhood with tons of vintage and boutique shops, and even more tapas and pincho bars – which are, by the way, by far my new favourite type of pub. This is where I discovered this new great way to eat – pinchos. They’re basically like tapas, except usually on a piece of bread and always ready to serve. You kind of just walk into a place, pick up a few bites of something, pay and leave. There are a couple of places where you even just pay by the toothpick – at the end, they just count your toothpicks and you pay up. I guess the Spanish are honest people, or at least the Catalonians are.

We spent one day in the city walking around a doing a couple of tours. The first one showed us a few of Gaudí’s masterpieces, of course including the Sagrada Familia. I’ve seen some pictures of his buildings before, but in person they’re even weirder. I love the walking tours, though, because you learn so much about the things you’re looking at, which is great for lazy people like me who (unfortunately) don’t read up as much as they should before visiting such an epic city as Barcelona. We did another tour later that day of the Gothic quarter, or the old city, which was also excellent. I had no idea how rich and recent Barcelona’s history is.

That evening we went out for the mandatory Paella while in Barcelona, which unfortunately was a bit of a disappointment. I guess for one, a little bit of sea food isn’t that impressive, coming from the Maritimes. Also, rice in Canada has a reputation as a poor man’s meal, and as a student I’ve been eating a lot more than my share of it over the past couple of years, so the Spanish delicacy to me kind of just looked like a left-over sea food meal on rice. Anyway, overall the food in Barcelona was amazing, and there are probably a million other things besides Paella you could eat there.

The next day we went to Montserrat early in the morning to spend the day there. It’s a lot bigger and more developed than I thought it was, it’s really like a whole little town way up on the mountain. No idea how they got everything up there! The main thing to see is the monastery, which has been there in some form or another since 888. It still blows my mind how old civilisation is, and how young Canada is. The rest of the little town was cute too, with a small museum and little movie they show you about the history of the mountain and the monastery. The cafeteria lunch we had was by far the worst meal on the trip, but what can you expect?

One of the best restaurants we tried was a little pincho bar in the newer part of the city. You could pick out your own little bite-sized plates at the bar, or order hot ones from the menu. The first time we went there we just had a quick meal of cold pinchos. Everything was delicious, but watching them carry out and serve all the hot tapas was painful, so we had to go back and try it out properly. The second time we ordered a little bit of everything, and tried a lot of the hot plates which were amazing. Nothing at the restaurant was bad, except maybe the service from one of the waitresses! That’s definitely no reason to pass this place up, though. The night we ordered the hot food was probably one of the best meals we had the whole trip.

We had a great time in Barcelona, although it was definitely rushed. It would have been great to have had more time to just relax at the beach and in the city. You could easily spend a week here trying all the different tapas and pinchos and shopping in the older parts of the city. Spain is definitely still my favourite country, and Barcelona is one amazing city.

Posted by kmclean 16:12 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona spain pinchos Comments (0)


Amazing city with an amazing nightlife

sunny 10 °C
View Semester Break, pt. 2 on kmclean's travel map.

Madrid lived up to everything people say about it. The people are amazing, the food is great, and the nightlife really is the best. It’s the most lively city we’ve been to, with people out on the streets and in the bars having a great time any time of the day or night.

Our first night in the city turned out to be amazing. We checked in at 5:00 and headed straight to the Mudeo del Prado, one of the biggest art collections in the world. There are some really amazing pieces there. Obviously the 3 hours we had before closing time wasn’t enough, but we at least got a chance to see a little bit of everything. You could easily spend a week there appreciating all the pieces, but I think an evening is enough to get a taste of the masterpieces it houses.

We went out for a few drinks afterward and got a small bite to eat free with every one – tapas. A guy with a guitar came in to the bar and started playing and mom, of course, made friends with the women who were singing along. They led us to a great flamenco bar and we got in at the last minute to see one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever heard. It was in some sort of cave theater in the basement of a pub, but the music we heard was unbelievable. It was the first time the three people had ever played together, so there were no cds, but hopefully someday I’ll find a way to hear them again.

It was kind of a late night that night, but we managed to get out the next day for a walking tour of the city. It’s always great to learn little things about a city you probably wouldn’t otherwise know, and the free walking tours are the best way to get oriented in a new city. Two days is enough to see all the main things in Madrid, but it’s such a lively city you’d definitely want longer, just to get to more bars and cafés. After the Canary Islands I fell in love with the Spanish culture, language, and food, and this visit to Madrid just sealed the deal. The people are so friendly and relaxed, the food is great, not to mention the wine, and there’s always something to do. I really hope we’ll get a chance to come back here someday, and to see more of this amazing country.

Posted by kmclean 16:58 Archived in Spain Tagged spain madrid music tapas Comments (0)

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