Thursday, July 02, 2015

Of Andorra And Driving Through The Pyrenees

IMG_4795
IMG_4798
IMG_4800
IMG_4801
IMG_4806
IMG_4808
IMG_4797
IMG_4796
IMG_4812
IMG_4813
IMG_4820
IMG_4825
IMG_4823
What can be said of Andorra, a tiny independent  principality in the Pyrenees between Spain and France?  It has some of the most spectacular scenery. Even in summer, some of the higher peaks are still partially covered in snow, but the landscape must even be more splendid in the winter, which explains all the ski resorts.
Its capital, Andorra La Vella, on the other hand, is quite ugly and disappointing, unless you are into shopping.  Because of its tax-free merchandise, there are shops everywhere selling everything from cheap cigarettes, liquor, jewelry and perfumes.
It all makes Andorra seem like one giant airport duty free shopping mall. Yes, the prices are amazing ( a bottle of Bombay gin is $11) and we did buy our allowed allotment of liquor, but I don't feel the need to ever come back here.
It is kind of sad. One would expect a town, situated in such a magnificent setting, to be a bit prettier.
The photos above are of some of the nicer houses in the old part of town. The newer architecture is rather uninspiring and I did not feel the need to take more photos.

Next stop on this trip is Toulouse, France, a much more beautiful city.



Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Visit To Santa Maria de Montserrat, Spain

IMG_4792
IMG_4765
IMG_4768
IMG_4764
IMG_4788
IMG_4774
IMG_4772
IMG_4775
IMG_4781
IMG_4779
IMG_4783
IMG_4782
IMG_4778
Yesterday afternoon, my husband and I picked up our car in Barcelona and headed to Santa Maria de Montserrat, a Benedictine abbey and and its spectacular basilica built against the background of Montserrat, or serrated mountain, an unusual limestone formation eroded over time by wind and rain that creates a wondrous scenery.

The abbey was built against Monserrat's highest point, Sant Jeroni, which rises 1,236 meters or 4,055 feet above sea level. The abbey offers spectacular views of Catalunya below.
The Monastery of  Montserrat was founded in 1025 to honor and commemorate numerous visions of the Virgin Mary. Today, it houses about 80 monks. The abbey draws many pilgrims who come to honor the the Black Virgin, a 12th-century wooden sculpture of Mary.

Monterrat is definitely worth a visit.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Visit To Mercat de la Boqueria In Barcelona

IMG_4532
IMG_4533
IMG_4554
IMG_4551
IMG_4536
IMG_4541
IMG_4535
IMG_4537
IMG_4664
IMG_4540
IMG_4560
IMG_4546
IMG_4543
IMG_4547
IMG_4549
IMG_4550
IMG_4654
IMG_4534
IMG_4557
IMG_4663
IMG_4661
IMG_4556
IMG_4539
I never feel as though I have explored a city totally unless I visit a local food market.  So, while in Barcelona, I explored and ate at the Mercat De La Boqueria.  And it was delightful.
The Jamón, the seafood, the produce…I did not know where to look first and what to taste next.
It was all so good and fresh. My favorite must have been the egg vendor. Just look at the variety.
Sure we have the Greenmarkets in New York City, but nothing can rival this bounty.

And the prices you ask? I bought a kilo of the most delicious cherries for 2.99 Euros.  One kilo is just over 2 pounds and the Euro is  currently around $1.10.
The last time I checked at the produce store on Court Street before I left, it was selling a pound of cherries for $4.99.  That makes the ones I bought in Barcelona seem like a real bargain.




Monday, June 29, 2015

Impressions of Barcelona, Spain

IMG_4685
IMG_4593
IMG_4652
IMG_4590
IMG_4568
IMG_4574
IMG_4571
IMG_4576
IMG_4631
IMG_4732
IMG_4746
IMG_4748
IMG_4741
IMG_4740
IMG_4634
IMG_4635
IMG_4586
IMG_4636
IMG_4589
IMG_4587
IMG_4709
IMG_4718
IMG_4727
IMG_4642
IMG_4645
IMG_4647
IMG_4604
IMG_4598
IMG_4597
IMG_4606
IMG_4608
IMG_4615
IMG_4613
IMG_4618
IMG_4744
IMG_4627
IMG_4754
IMG_4758
IMG_4759
IMG_4760
IMG_4620
IMG_4628
IMG_4683
IMG_4690
IMG_4651
IMG_4692
IMG_4693
IMG_4513
IMG_4666
IMG_4676
IMG_4700
IMG_4701
As I mentioned before, I am currently in Barcelona, Spain.  Though I have visited Madrid, Segovia, Alicante and the Alhambra in Granada before, I never had the opportunity to spend time in Barcelona.  I am glad I rectified the oversight.

Barcelona is simply beautiful.  It is lively, has beautiful beaches, more than its fair share of great bars and wonderful food, and it is easy to navigate.  Plus, the Catalans are super friendly and helpful.
As you can see from the photos, my husband and I have zigzagged our way around Barcelona in the three days that we have spend here.
The highlight by far was a flamenco performance at the Palau De La Música Catalan we attended last night. And of course, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia is unique and inspiring. So was Park Güell.

I will most certainly come back to Barcelona. There is still much to be explored.

PS:
If I have time tonight, I will post photos of our visit to a market. (You know I love markets….)