Two weeks in Catalunya, Aragon and Basque country, in search of
nourishment for the body and the soul. OK, maybe more of the
former than the latter. :-)
Click on each picture for a slide show about that subject.
In the early days of chocolate, much of the cacao from
the Americas arrived in Europe at the port of Barcelona.
You can learn all this and more at the
Museu de la Xocolata.
Oh, and the entry ticket is edible.
Even though Antoni Gaudí is best known as an architect, he
was also an extreme recycler. His buildings made use of
many reused materials, ranging from broken ceramics to old
sewing needles to bedsprings*. It would be
interesting to see what his
rating might be.
*"Gaudí, a biography", Gijs van Hensbergen, HarperCollins 2001.
The concert hall of
Palau de la Música Catalana
relies entirely on natural light from windows and a huge
skylight. Unfortunately no photography is allowed inside.
We did attend a very good classical guitar recital by
Mies van der Rohe designed this building to be the German National
at the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition. It was disassembled
a year after the Exhibition. Fifty years later Barcelona's City Council
decided to reconstruct it, in the original location.
Abadia de Montserrat
is nominally a monastery. It is also
equal parts nature preserve, tourist trap, and source of
Catalan national pride. The latter two are very much
evident if you visit on
San Sebastian is ground zero of the new Spanish cuisine.
But you don't need a table at
to experience fine foods.
Before 1997, Bilbao was an post-industrial city in decay
whose only claim to fame is that our friend J's grandma
emigrated from there. Today they get about 1 million visitors
a year, more than half of whom come from other countries.
Zaragoza is the capital of Aragon. It is home to a fine cathedral
as well as the
an example of Moorish architecture of similar importance to the
From tapas bars to Michelin-starred restaurants, from market stalls
to chic pastelerias, there is plenty of excellent food in Catalunya
and Basque country. Among our favorite eateries of this trip are
Escriba in Barcelona,
Kokotxa in San Sebastian,
the bistro at the Guggenheim in Bilbao,
Bubo in Barcelona.
There seems to be children everywhere, and many people are dressed
in eye popping colors. Sometimes one feels like an extra on the
set of a
Vibrant street life in every big city, but sometimes the
spectators are a little, err, reluctant!
Yes, supermarkets exist, but the traditional markets are still very
popular with the locals, not to mention the tourists. My favorite is
in Barcelona, where we bought goat milk yogurt everyday.
Spain is of course a predominantly
country, which isn't
to say the churches are all of the same style.
Some of this qualify as murals. Others are just garden
would probably feel at home in Spain.
In the 1989
Jun the Japanese tourist always takes pictures of his hotel rooms.
"Because this is what I will forget," he says.
As with many big cities in Europe, bicycles are a popular
and viable means of transport, in spite of the rainy
and tricycle taxis are also
Random pretty pictures. No particular subject.
No, I did not pack a tripod.