Our next fast train took us into Spain – first stop Barcelona.
Where to begin?! With an apartment right near Catalunya Square we were right in the centre for access to everything. There is Las Ramblas, the 1.2km vibrant and lively promenade leading to the Gothic Quarter. On Las Ramblas is La Boqueria Food Market which is alive with stalls full of all kinds of produce – a great place to stock up for our few days in Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old city where the narrow winding streets create quite a labyrinth as you walk through history. Here we visited the Picasso Museum which houses one of the most extensive collections of artworks by Pablo Picasso.
The architecture in Barcelona is most intriguing, especially that of Antoni Gaudi. A visit to Barcelona is not complete without going to Park Guell, a work of Gaudi’s consisting of gardens and architectonic elements, and La Sagrada Familia. La Sagrada Familia is the church Gaudi commenced in 1822 and to this day construction is still ongoing following Gaudi’s plans. It’s easy to be impressed with this church from the outside but the interior is awe inspiring – Gaudi may have a distinctive style which polarises people but there is no denying he was a very gifted creator and designer.
The Metro was a very easy and inexpensive way to get around Barcelona enabling us to venture to many places including the Montjuic Castle and Cable Car, Parc de la Ciutadelle and the Arc de Triomf. We also did an afternoon tour out of the city through Montserrat to the Oller del Mas Winery – one cannot pass judgement on a country’s wines without tasting them!
Cordoba was a jewel we found on our way to Seville. Cordoba is a great place to explore on foot. From the old Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River, to the Cathedral with its beautiful arched interior and spectacular organ, and to the winding streets of the old Jewish and Muslim quarters Cordoba oozes history. The narrow streets reveal many hidden patios full of beautiful flower pots. In this town you are positively spoilt for choices of tempting places to eat. Our evening at Artes y Sabores was sensational. Walking through a courtyard to a small stone cellar we were treated to an authentic flamenco show featuring some of Cordoba’s most passionate local flamenco performers – absolutely in awe of their talent. I was exhausted by the time they’d finished!
We had been looking forward to Seville and it did not disappoint. An unexpected bonus was the “Espana en Seville”, a festival showcasing the culture and produce of all the regions of Spain, being held in the square across from our hotel. We very much enjoyed experiencing these cultures and produce!
We caught the tram from our hotel to San Sebastien where we spent ages at the Plaza de Espana, built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. This imposing crescent shaped building has a beautiful concourse incorporating canals, fountains and some impressive tiled mosaics. We undertook the return to our hotel on foot, meandering through streets and parks and walking beside the River Guadalquivir visiting the Torre del Oro Naval Museum and the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, the oldest bullring in Spain, opened in 1749.