Tag Archives: Catalonia

Thursday Doors, Besalú in Catalonia

Wooden Door of Catalonia Besalu

My full post about the charming town of Besalú can be seen here

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

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A Postcard From Sardinia

Sardinia 2015a

“This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel – nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.”  D H Lawrence – ‘Sea and Sardinia’

Cheap flight tickets are top of a long list of good reasons to travel and when we spotted some reasonably priced return flights to Sardinia it didn’t take long to make a decision to visit the second biggest island in the Mediterranean Sea (just slightly smaller than Sicily).

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Alghero StreetsCastelsardo Sardinia ItalySardinia BeachSardinia Symbols

Favourite Places in Spain, Chinchon in Comunidad de Madrid

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From Besalu in Catalonia to Chinchon in Castilla-La Mancha about four hundred and fifty miles to the south.

The Plaza is in a marvellous location with a big irregular shaped square that is used for town festivals and the occasional bullfight; it is surrounded by a hierarchical arrangement of buildings of two and three storeys with two hundred and thirty-four wooden running balconies all painted a uniform shade of green called ‘claros’ and below these shops, bars and restaurants on the ground floor all spilling out onto the pavement.

It was the location for one of the opening scenes, a bullfight as it happens, in the 1966 film, ‘Return of the Magnificent Seven’ and was also used as a location for the film ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery…

Favourite Places in Spain, Besalú in Catalonia

Besalu 005

Besalú is designated as a National Historic Property but it is rather small and as we were staying here for a couple of nights we thought it best not to rush around and see everything straight away.  This plan suited me just fine because it was exceptionally hot by mid-afternoon so the best place to be was in the main square under a parasol with a big glass of cool Estrella beer in a frozen glass and several plates of local specialities for lunch.

Eventually the bars and restaurants began to close down as the owners and staff cleared the tables and started to think about the afternoon siesta so we took the hint and moved off to go and explore the streets of Besalú.

Away from the medieval main square we melted into narrow alleys with cobbled streets with weathered stone buildings and balconies with terracotta pots host to effervescent flower displays, wooden doors with heavy metal hinges and rusty locks and several coats of paint attempting to conceal the damage of hundreds of years.

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Entrance Tickets, The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several hundred square metres and was completely full of cars, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.

The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it.  This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.

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Ireland Cliffs of Moher

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