Blogs from Spain, Europe


Europe » Spain » Valencian Community » Montserrat March 17th 2021 15th March - Montserrat In 1025, Oliba, Abbot of Ripoll and Bishop of Vic, founded a new monastery at the hermitage of Santa Maria de Montserrat. The little monastery soon began to receive pilgrims and visitors who contributed to the spread of stories of miracles and wonders performed by the Virgin. In 1409 the monastery of Montserrat became an independent abbey. From 1493 to 1835, a period in which the monastery underwent great reforms, growing and increasing in splendour, Montserrat was part of the Valladolid Congregation. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Monastery of Montserrat became a cultural centre of the first order. The Montserrat Music School produced important composers. The French War (1808-1811) and disentailment in 1835 brought destruction and abandonment, but in 1844 began the restor... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona February 20th 2021 20th February - Highlight Drive Barcelona A first for virtual tour guide Josep, with his daughter Eva at the wheel we took a drive taking in the highlights of Barcelona. Josep had obviously done a lot of planning to organise the trip so that in the allotted time of 45-50 minutes he could share the passion he has for the city of Barcelona. During that time Josep was out if the car several times so that we could enjoy the historic building and magnificent views if the city. Here’s what we saw Columbus monument, Old Harbor, Medieval Shipyards, Cruise Ship Port, Panoramic view of Barcelona from Miramar spectacular Viewpoint; Cable Car Station, Miro Museum , Olympic Stadium, Spanish Village, Caixa Forum, The Magic Fountain location, Barcelona’s 1929 World Expo, Plaça the Espanya with its Venetian ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona February 19th 2021 19th February Boqueria (St. Josep) market La Rambla's history is the Boqueria Market's history. The evolution from a past of peddlers to a modern and charming present, full of colour and life. The market is a metaphor for Barcelona's life, a human river that is the delight for those who like watching. The first of Barcelona's local markets was opened on Saint Joseph's day, on the 19th of March 1840, after four years of work on the land that was up until then occupied by Saint Joseph's convent. However, the history goes back a good few years before, because on the site on Rambla where the market is today, there were already peddlers selling meat in the thirteenth century. Marquis Campo Sagrado, Catalonia's general captain, started to establish the rules for this travelling market in ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona February 16th 2021 16th February - Gaudi’s Park Güell Gaudi planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 for Eusebi Güell as a residential park intended for sixty single family residences for the wealthy residents of Barcelona. The reason why it is spelt Park and nit Parc is that the architect was inspired by the British garden city movement of the 19th century, Gaudí’s plan was to create a modern housing estate far from the smog and chaos of the city down below. His plans called for houses with modern conveniences such as running water as well as facilities such as a market, a laundry room, a church and a public square. The plan was unsuccessful and ultimately the project had to be abandoned. Work on the project terminated in 1914 and in 1926 ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona January 24th 2021

17th January Barcelona - A walk with Josep The Amazing Houses of Gaudí: Casa Batlló & Casa Milà / La Pedrera Passeig de Gracia (Walk of Grace). An elegant, majestic boulevard with so many wonderful architectural buildings. On either side of the avenue the jewels of Catalonia's home-grown art nouveau, modernisme, and the later movement, noucentisme, by architects Gaudí, Puig i Cadafalch, & Domènech i Muntaner to name just three. Casa Batlló. This building by Gaudi has a fantastical theme, with a pastel coloured mosaic front, mask-like balconies and a roof in the shape of a dragon's tail. La Pedrera. The 2nd largest building by Gaudi. The complex wrought-iron grilles of the 32 balconies were made using scrap iron sheets, bars and chains in an unusual way. On the pavement we saw the organic paving stones. ... read more

Europe » Spain » Catalonia » Barcelona January 20th 2021

25th November 2020 La Sagrada Família Basilica by Antonio Gaudi. We visited Barcelona a few years ago but the queues to enter the Basilica were so long we only saw it from the outside. Today it is closed due to Covid so I guess still no chance to see inside. Today’s tour with Josep started in the same spot that we stood all those years ago. La Sagrada Família has been under construction since 1882. Who knows when it will be completed. As we walked around this magnificent building we could only view from the tour guides camera but he had photographic close up images & a small model which he was able to show and explain everything in much detail. The four Eastern towers in the front of Sagrada Família make up the Nativity Facade. ... read more

Europe » Spain » Region of Murcia December 21st 2020

Dear all, I really had to look back to see when I last posted a blog and it was 21st March in the early stages of COVID lockdown in Spain. Despite my good intentions I have not made much progress on the writing front. It’s odd as I almost feel like I shouldn’t be spending time sitting at the computer writing etc when I could be outside enjoying the great outdoors. I don’t want to revisit the whole lockdown, easing, new normal etc just to say we finally set off back to the UK on in July, much later than usual. We opted to drive back to the UK and had a couple of stops on the way through the north of Spain. Firstly the walled city of Avila, then it was cycling in Asturias on ... read more
Village Patrol
Stunning Toledo

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Cádiz December 18th 2020

November 6, 2019 Our transatlantic Royal Caribbean ship docked in Cadiz at 8AM giving us plenty of time for breakfast. Once again, to be on the safe side, we signed up for the ship tour, this time our last exploration of Spain: Cadiz and Jerez de la Frontera. Booking the ship’s tour gave us assurity that the ship would not sail without us! The ship was scheduled to depart at 6PM which gave us ample time to explore a bit on our own before heading back to dinner aboard ship. Thankfully we left the ship well in advance of our 10AM tour, After a confusing and worrisome 10 minute walk from the ship’s dock, including asking many questions of anyone on the street, we finally found the location where we met our guide Jose to begin ... read more
Monument to Tio Pepe, by the Jerez Cathedral
Alcazar wall and octagonal tower, Jerez
Orange Boulevard, Jerez

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Málaga » Malaga November 24th 2020

November 5 Our ship docked at 9am, with easy access to the recently restored Old Town of Malaga. Malaga, we are told, is the main city of coastal Andalucia, along the Costa del Sol, and, like many of the towns we have encountered, retains a distinctly Spanish flavor, with twisting, narrow streets and a lovely waterfront promenade. Tall palm and plane trees, bougainvillea, aloes, and geraniums all made for views that said ‘tropical paradise’ alongside the clean, modern port. Picasso said of his birthplace, “to be a Cubist you have to have been born in Málaga” although I don’t see the reference, I’ll take his word for it. Malaga was a popular winter holiday site for the 19th-century wealthy. We were told that today Malaga is where the rich and famous hang out, although none were ... read more
Roman theater in Malaga
Hiking into the Alcazaba de Malaga
Dave and I are surrounded by myrtle hedges and flowers in the Alcazaba garden

Europe » Spain » Region of Murcia November 18th 2020

NOVEMBER 4, 2019 After our first night aboard ship we woke well rested and eager for the day ahead. We enjoyed an excellent breakfast with a view of the water as the ship moved swiftly toward our first destination. By 10:00 am the ship had docked at Pier Alfonso XII Cruise Terminal in the natural harbor of Cartagena. This important harbor was established as a major naval center by the Carthaginians in 227 BC. Cartagena was a booming place during the Roman period. Today the harbor is still a busy port and important naval base, capital of the Spanish Navy’s Maritime Department of the Mediterranean since the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century, but from our vantage point all we could see were hundreds of masts of pleasure boats anchored cheek and jowl. With more than ... read more
Dome ceiling inside Santuario de La Fuensanta
Santuario de La Fuensanta
Cathedral de Santa Maria in Murcia

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