Tag Archives: Antoni Gaudi

Travels in Spain, Valencia Old Town

Two years ago I visited the Spanish city of Valencia.  I liked it, I liked it a lot and said that I would like to return quite quickly so this year I did just that.

Here are some new pictures.  Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

I did mostly the same things so instead of repeating myself you can find my previous post about Valencia here.

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Top Ten Posts of 2018

As we leave 2018, please excuse my annual self-indulgent post to begin the new year as I peer through the keyhole to look back over the last one.

Ireland Inch Beach

The top ten most visited posts on my Travel Blog always surprise me but then I don’t pretend to understand how search engines work.  I say visited pages rather than read because I am neither so conceited or sufficiently naive to claim that a visit equals a read.  I know that a lot of people will arrive here by mistake and swiftly reverse back out via the escape button!

No. 1

Top Tips for Visiting the Giant’s Causeway on a Budget

Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland

With 1,790 hits this post remains at the no. 1 position in my top ten for the third straight year.  I am always reluctant to do posts with travel tips because it is difficult to find something to say that hasn’t already been said several times by others.

At the Giant’s Causeway I was astonished at the cost of the entrance and car parking charges so I put these tips together on how to visit for free.

No. 2

Mount Vesuvius

Naples and Vesuvius

I first posted this in March 2010 so this one has been around a while and with 1,375 hits and a ninth year in the Top Ten is becoming a stubborn stayer.  A bit of a surprise to me really because this is the account of a day trip to Mount Vesuvius whilst on a holiday to Sorrento in 1976 with my dad.  From my memories of the same holiday I posted several blogs about visits to CapriNaplesPompeiiThe Amalfi Drive and Rome but these have only ever achieved a handful of hits between them.

No. 3

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni Gaudi

Antoni Gaudi and me

This is the fifth successive year in my top ten for my post about the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.  After I had taken a look at the official Twelve Treasures of Spain I thought it might be fun to draw up my own personal alternative list.  I included Antoni Gaudi in a general rather than a specific way.  I posted this in March 2013 and this year with 1,314 visits it has risen one place to number three.

No. 4

Royal Garden Party

Cakes at Royal Garden Party

First posted in June 2009 the post has1,210 hits in 2018, almost double the previous year and staying in the Top Ten for the tenth successive year which by that measure makes it my most successful post.

In total it has 21,900 visits which makes all time second after my post about  Norway, Haugesund and the Vikings at 24,675.  This one has been around for a long time ( since June 2009) and has always been popular especially around the Spring and Summer when invitations to the Royal Garden Party are going out and when people are wondering how to get one or what to wear if they have one.

No. 5

Malta, Happiness and a Walk to Mellieha

Mellieha Malta Postcard

I have written several posts about my visits to the island of Malta, I consider some of them much more interesting than this one but where they have sunk without trace, this one just keeps on attracting hits.  850 hits in 2018 and third successive year in the top ten

No. 6

Catalonia, In Search of Norman Lewis

Guardamar Storm

I must confess that I am rather pleased about this one.

I posted this in July 2013 and it first made the top ten in 2015 before dropping out the following year so I am glad to see it back again.

There are some posts that I have written that I would like people to read and this is one of few that have achieved that. Before visiting Catalonia in 2013 I read the book ‘Voices of the Old Sea’ by Norman Lewis which is an account of the Costa Brava in the 1940s and the approach of mass tourism.  In this post I attempted some research and some interpretation of the book and the area.  It has recorded 515 visits and in this case I like to think that this is because of the subject rather than the pictures.

No.7

Ireland, Ring of Kerry and I Temporarily Overcome My Fear of Dogs.

Angry Man Skelligs Viewpoint Kerry Ireland

Also returning in 2018 after a two year absence with a surprising 435 visits and no convincing explanation as to why that should be.

I visited Southern Ireland in June 2014 and wrote several posts that I personally would consider more interesting than this encounter with a grumpy street entertainer and a worn out old collie dog.  Once again, and rather disappointingly, I suspect it isn’t the words but the picture that grabs attention.  It was a map of the Ring of Kerry which I noticed displayed on the front of a shop.

No.8

Every Picture Tells a Story – Benidorm c1960

Benidorm Bar 1960?

I posted this in March 2010 and it finally made the top ten in 2014 it has remained there ever since. It has stayed in this year with 420 visits.   It is actually one of my personal favourites  and is a story about the Spanish seaside resort of  Benidorm inspired by some photographs that I came across of my grandparents on holiday there in about 1960.

No. 9

Twelve Treasures of Spain – Seville Cathedral

Seville Street Musicians

At no. 9 for the second year with 382 visits is a post another of my Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain and is about my visit to the Spanish City of Seville.  I have written posts about several Spanish cities but it is only this one that gets the hits.

No.10

Poland (Wroclaw), The Anonymous Pedestrians

Anonymous Pedestrians Wroclaw Poland

A new entry and this is another post that I am happy to see in the top ten with 360 visits.  I wrote this in March 2014 after visiting the Polish city of Wroclaw and finding the street statues of the Anonymous Pedestrians.

The statues are a memorial to the introduction of martial law in Poland on December 13th 1981 and the thousands of people who disappeared (‘went underground’) in the middle of the night courtesy of the militia. In a symbolic statement the fourteen statues were erected in the middle of the night in 2005 on the twenty-fourth anniversary of the introduction of martial law.

Dropping out of the Top Ten this year are:  Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi after four years and Malta, The Silent City of Mdina after only two.

If you have read one of these posts or any of the 2,390 others on my site ‘Have Bag, Will Travel’then thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I guess it proves that George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) was right when he said: “The three most exciting sounds in the world are anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles.”  

Total visits in 2018 – 71,420 (nearly 200 a day)

Total visits all time – 947,600

Countries where most visitors come from – UK, USA, Australia, Spain and Canada

Most viewed picture in 2018…

A little disappointing, I like to think I have posted one or two good pictures of my own during the year but most clicked is a postcard map of Gran Canaria that I scanned in from my collection…

Gran Canaria Island Map postcard

To make matters worse, the most clicked picture that I have taken myself and posted is of a tea towel with a map on it…

Puglia T Towel Map

Maybe I should just do a blog about maps!

I would be interested to know about other people’s most popular posts in 2018 and the possible explanations why?  Comment and let me know.  I’m a sucker for statistics!

Travels in Spain, Barcelona in Pictures

Click on an image to scroll through the pictures of Barcelona…

Travels in Spain, Barcelona and Leaving the Best Till Last

Casa De La Musica 09

‘For us, the hall ranks alongside the Musikverein in Vienna, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, or the Royal Albert Hall in London’  – Lluís Millet

Friday the 15th June was my birthday and on account of having one or two glasses of wine over what was really sensible I was surprised next morning over breakfast to find so many night time pictures in my camera of the Sagrada Familia; also, I was wearing a brand new Barcelona tee-shirt.  Wow, I must have way too many because it turned out that I had been shopping as well!

It was our last half day in Barcelona and after breakfast I walked to the tourist office and bought tickets to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palau De La Musica Catalana and on the way back to the IBIS hotel I bought another Barcelona tee-shirt and the only explanation that I have for that is that the alcohol was still working its way through my system.  I am pleased to report however that I hadn’t lost complete control of my senses or of my wallet because it was only a cheap tourist shop and not the official Sagrada Familia boutique with prices to match the height of the towers.

After packing and checking out we set out now on foot back towards the old Gothic Quarter of Barcelona which was relatively straight-forward now that we had mastered the geography of the grid system of Eixample and within half an hour or so we were close to our intended destination.  Actually, even though we had made an unscheduled stop at a market hall we were about thirty minutes early.

Palau De La Musica 06

We had bought scheduled tickets for the Palau De La Musica and this seems to be the preferred way of doing things in Barcelona these days.  There are discounts for booking on-line and a guaranteed timed visit but, maybe I am a bit old fashioned here, the system seems to rob a city visit of any spontaneity and imposes time pressures that are a bit of a burden and I found that I was forever keeping an eye on the clock I suppose that a city that has thirty-five million visitors a year needs to have some sort of organisation.  Some statistics suggest that Barcelona is the fifth most visited city in Europe after London, Paris, Rome and Prague.

So we waited for the visit to begin and the sense of expectation began to rise as we sensed that what was about to begin was going to be rather spectacular.  And we were not disappointed.

Palau De La Musica 05

The Palau is an icon of modernist architecture in the city, if there were to be an arm wrestling competition with the Gaudi experience then this would hold its own for sure.  It is an exercise in opulence, grand salons, tiled columns decorated to reflect nature and a concert hall that would surely distract any performer or spectator through a musical performance of any kind.

And at the very top of the building a great glass dome, a drop of water hanging from the ceiling like a tear from a melting icicle with reflections of the sun, a source of both light and inspiration.  Effectively, this is a large skylight, the centre of which forms an inverted dome over the rectangular auditorium, the dome is described as ‘a giant droplet just about to fall from the ceiling‘, or ‘one of the most remarkable works of stained glass art of our times’. The effect is such that the hall is claimed to be the only auditorium in Europe that is illuminated during daylight hours entirely by natural light.

Palau De La Musica 03Palau De La Musica 07

For me this was the highlight of the visit to Barcelona and we had saved the best till last.  In a city that has Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia the Palau De La Musica was easily the best of all attractions and my advice to anyone going to the city would be to make this an absolute priority visit.  It has grand architecture, a riot of colour, opulent decoration and a rich musical history.  It left me wide eyed and open mouthed, overawed and drooling.

It was fabulous and I could have stayed there all day but the tour was drawing to an inevitable close and after a final look around the ornate reception area we were back on the streets and in  our favourite bar at Plaça Catalunya making an assessment of our visit before returning to the hotel to take a taxi back to the airport and a flight home.  I was planning to pick out my top five places in Barcelona but it was impossible, I had enjoyed everything about the city and the short five day visit.  I might have to go back!

Barcelona Tee Shirt

Travels in Spain, Alternative Images of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Sand Castle

Spotted on a nearby beach constructed by two children with the same imagination as Antoni Gaudi.

Travels in Spain, Eixample and the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

gzio5ux

“Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports.”   British Foreign Office Advice

The modern parts of Barcelona are a triumph of urban planning.  We were staying in the Eixample district which was planned and built about one hundred and fifty years ago by a man called Ildefons Cerdà and is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues and square blocks with chamfered corners all of which means that the traffic always flows freely in a slick one-way system and it is easy to navigate on foot.

Eixample, rather unimaginatively, simply translates as ‘expansion district’ and was developed when the old town of Barcelona became too small and overcrowded, the medieval city walls were demolished and the city overflowed like a river bursting its banks.  This is where to visit the Sagrada Familia and the modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi but today we turned our backs on this and found our way to the old town and the Gothic Quarter.

Barcelona Streets 2

I mention these details about Eixample because the old town of Barcelona is a complete contrast with a maze of winding narrow streets with soaring buildings that block out the sun, where laundry hangs out to dry, shutters are thrown open like butterfly wings and  balcony gardens are stacked in the sky.

This is where to find sections of the original Roman Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia which although now eclipsed perhaps by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is the one true Roman Cathedral of Barcelona.

It is quite a nice but these days I am beginning to agree with Kim that all Cathedrals tend to be rather similar and instantly forgettable once back outside the front door so I have become interested instead in the stories of the Saints who are commemorated in these places and this I think is a good one.

Barcelona Cathedral

By the way, if you are squeamish about torture, mutilation and murder you might want to close your eyes, skip this part of the post and go straight to the next picture below.

Saint Eulalia was a thirteen year-old Christian girl who suffered martyrdom in Barcelona during the persecution of Christians in the reign of Emperor Diocletian as a consequence of refusing to renounce her faith.

The Romans subjected her to thirteen tortures…

  1. Imprisonment in a very tiny cell barely big enough for a mouse,
  2. being whipped,
  3. scourging of the flesh with metal hooks,
  4. walking barefoot on burning embers,
  5. mutilation,
  6. rubbing her wounds with rough stones,
  7. branding with cast iron,
  8. throwing boiling oil and,
  9. molten lead over her,
  10. submerged in burning lime,
  11. locked in a flea box,
  12. rolled down a hill, naked, in a barrel full of knives, swords and glass,
  13. crucified in the form of a cross.

Gothic Quarter 2

Eulalia must have been really tough cookie because even after all of this she was still alive so they finished the job by cutting off her head.  A dove is supposed to have flown from her neck following her decapitation and that is why the Cathedral keeps thirteen white geese (one for each of the tortures) in the cloister in memory of her.  Geese because doves fly away I guess.

After the Cathedral we strolled slowly to the sea front and the modern marina and then headed back to the centre along the iconic La Rambla.

Barcelona Sea Front Symbol of City

La Rambla is a riot, an eclectic mix of sights and sounds which easily strays from modern to medieval and back with impressive ease.  Here are the boutiques and tourist shops, the street statues and entertainers, the tapas bars and souvenir stalls but alongside them are the market stalls and animal livestock sales which would appear to be more appropriate to a shopping experience in the Middle Ages.

Barcelona has a reputation for being the pick-pocket capital of Europe and La Rambla is certainly a place to keep a firm grip on your wallet.  As it turned out we didn’t need Santa Eulalia to look out for us because we had Kim.  Ever since being robbed on the Athens Metro she is always suspicious and ever  alert to danger and paced out La Rambla with eyes swiveling left and right, up and down like Liam Neeson after four shots of double espresso and forever heeding her warnings we successfully negotiated the walk from south to north before arriving safely back in Plaça Catalunya and what had become our favourite lunchtime café.

Barcelona Streets 3

Other Unlikely Saint Stories…

Saint James and Santiago de Compostela

Saint Patrick and Ireland

Saint Spiridon and Corfu

Saint Janurius and the Miracle of The Blood

Travels in Spain, Park Guell in Barcelona

Park GuellIMG_0022OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABarcelona dragon