a week in Spin ...

Hi, My name is Rosemarie and i am traveling with my husband Mario on the week tour of Spain in September 22,2012.I was just wondering if anyone else will be on that tour and also we are arriving a day early is anyone else? also any recommendations on where to eat or what to do??

Thank You



  • Hi Rosemarie,

    Here are some of the secondary highlights that were not included in the excellent Tauck Tour of Spain:

    Palau de la Música Catalana, neighborhood: Old Town
    If you're able to experience a concert in this gorgeous music hall, then definitely do it! Palau De La Musica is a modernist masterpiece, designed between 1905-1908 by architect, Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It was originally built as a home for the Choral Society but today has turned into a prime spot for live concerts on all scales.
    TIP: Be sure to take a guided tour with one of their professional guides

    Hospital Sant Pau, neighborhood: Eixample
    Dubbed "The Stone Quarry" for its remarkably sculpted stone facade. Built in the early 1900's and designed by Gaudi, the building's edifice is considered the world's largest abstract sculpture. Declared a heritage sight by UNESCO in 1984.
    TIP: Go early in the morning if you want to avoid the line

    Parc de la Cuitadella, neighborhood: Old Town
    Built in the 1700's the Citadel turned into a park in the 19th century and today is a great place for family outings, yoga classes, gatherings amongst friends and a relaxing day in nature. There's a small pond in the center of the garden and a beautiful fountain built by Josep Fonster who was helped by his young apprentice at the time, Antonio Gaudi.
    TIP: Great place to stroll or have a picnic on the weekends

    Parc Güell, neighborhood: Gracia
    Another one of Gaudi's amazing creations, Park Guell features the longest bench in the world as well as Gaudi's tiny house where he lived for several years. The park is a mix of design and architecture with nature and illustrates Gaudi's connection with natural beauty and its greatness.
    TIP: If you take the Metro, get off at the Lesseps metro stop (green line) and enter the park through the back avoiding the long stairway on the other side.

    Museu Picasso, neighborhood: Old Town
    The Picasso Museum, showcases a small yet wide selection of the artist's works; you'll be taken through the different and very diverse stages of his life and career. The Museum often has special exhibits open for a few weeks at a time, so be sure to check the schedule. When in Madrid, make time to see his painting, Guernica, in the Museo Reina Sofía.
    TIP: Reserve tickets online in advance and avoid all lines by walking right in

    Fundacio Joan Miro, neighborhood: Montjuic
    Opened to the public in 1975, The Joan Miro Foundation was created to promote the works of contemporary artists and today is one of Barcelona's most popular and most sought out museums. Renowned artist, Joan Miro, had his first large exhibit in Barcelona in 1968 which was welcomed for its fresh and dynamic appeal. Today the Foundation's collection carries over 14,000 pieces and in addition there is a small collection of contemporary art, which was created as a tribute to Miro himself.
    TIP: Go for lunch at their Bar - Restaurant which has a large patio overlooking a garden with excellent Mediterranean cuisine.

    Casa Milà (La Pedrera), neighborhood: Eixample
    Casa Mila, otherwise known as La Pedrera, is one of Gaudi's most well known creations and is situated on Passeig de Gracia, just a stone's throw from Casa Batllo. Constructed between 1905-1912, from the outside La Pedrera looks like it is made up of skulls. Architecturally however, it is considered to be incredibly innovative as its facade is self-supporting. It also has underground parking and separate lifts and stairs for the owners and servants.
    TIP: Check out the book store in the building

    La Sardana, neighborhood: Catedral de la Seu in the Barri Gotic (gothic quarter)
    If you happen to be in Barcelona on the weekend, definitely try to make your way over to the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia (or "La Seu" in Catalan). In the large plaza in front of the church, known as Plà de la Seu, traditional Catalan dances are held on Sundays at noon and sometimes on Saturdays around 6pm as well.

    We didn't know that this went on, and just happened upon it - and glad we did, for it's a wonderful spectacle to witness. On those days the people know to come out, and slowly crowds gather, form large circles and start dancing to the live band of Catalan music players who've showed up as well, siting on the steps to the church. The dance that commences is that of the most traditional Catalan dance, La Sardana. This is a tradition that this region is trying hard to preserve, and is one of the symbols of the Catalan attitude of standing together in face of difficulties. You'll see people of all ages participating. Many older folks enjoying passing on the dance to the younger Catalonians.

    Originating in the 16th century, this dance is a proud part of the Catalan history, and you can see it on the people's faces as they dance together. If you're lucky enough to see this, just know that this somewhat spontaneous occurrence is one that holds a deep part in the hearts of the people there. They unite only because they are Catalan and proud of it. Whether they were coming from the market, on their way to work, or just taking a stroll in the city, they drop what they're doing to hold hands, dance, smile and then continue on their way. It's a unique sight.

    TIP: When new people approach wanting to participate, they toss their bags/purses/coats, etc into the center of the circle and then shimmy in between two other dancers. The circle grows as everyone knows the steps. Holding hands, mostly held up high, small footwork patterns are performed in rhythm. A tourist standing near me wanted to learn, so she jumped in and quickly caught on.
  • One other thought about Barcelona . . .

    Find a tiny restaurant/bar called Café Viena, just up La Rambla from Le Meridien Barcelona and order a sandwich called flauta d’ibéric d.o. jabugo.

    The flauta is a flute — the name for a bread that we might call a small sub, or a long roll.

    Jabugo is, like prosciutto, cured with no more than salt and air. But it costs around $75 a pound, because down in Jabugo, near Seville, the pigs are special. Let’s just say that the Iberian cerdo negro (black pig) is a good breed, a direct descendant of the local wild boars, carefully raised and eventually set out to pasture, where their diet includes ripe acorns. The results make prosciutto and even jamón serrano seem, well, common.

    It’s not just the ham, though. The flauta is so good you could fill it with supermarket boiled ham and have the best sandwich you’ve had this month. It’s deep brown, like a perfectly baked baguette. (The owners of Viena, which is a small chain of around 20 restaurants, claim to have a secret process) When you take a bite, it crackles. The combination of crisp crust and the tender, chewy, yeasty interior is a revelation. A little bit of tomato is smeared on the bread, adding just the right amount of moisture and acidity.

    So that’s the sandwich, wrapped in waxy paper and thrust at you with no ceremony. There’s not much of the ham because it’s so expensive, but also because it’s so strongly flavored. It drapes over the bottom layer, its fat stark white, the lean deep, deep pink, just about purple. It is salty, of course, but also rich, sweet, even floral; there are subtleties that make you pause. Let’s just say it’s an amazing sandwich at a great price.

    Had I discovered it on day 1, I might not have eaten anything else in Barcelona . . .
  • roro wrote:
    Hi, My name is Rosemarie and i am traveling with my husband Mario on the week tour of Spain in September 22,2012.I was just wondering if anyone else will be on that tour and also we are arriving a day early is anyone else? also any recommendations on where to eat or what to do??

    Thank You

  • Hi Rosemarie, my sister inlaw Margaret an I will be joining you and Mario on the September 23rd trip. We are looking forward to it and will be arriving from NYC on September 23rd in th am. See you then.......
  • Just wanted to thank LA for all your great suggestions. I arrived 2 days early into BCN and although I did not get to enjoy all your suggestions, I did most, including walking out of the Cathedral and straight into La Sardana on Sunday, and would heartily agree with all your comments. They provided a great guide and along with a few additional suggestions from Bruno, the concierge at the Meridien, they provided me with a fantastic couple of days solo in BCN. My only addition would be the Palau Gruell which is just off La Rambla and was my favourite Gaudi house. Also, a warning that the Hopital is currently undergoing renovations so you can only join formal tours right now with hard hat - you can't just wander in to see it. Cheers and thank again LA.
  • Hello Rosemarie & Mario, Margaret & her sister-in-law - I am Peggy, my husband Bill & I are in this tour also. We live in MA. We will be arriving just in time for the tour, but staying a few additional days in Madrid. Looking forward to meeting you, and to another wonderful Taulk vacation.
  • Thanks for all the ideas for Barcelona. I am a solo traveler on the April7th tour, arriving a day early. Any other suggestions? Thanks.
  • I am about to being my Week in Spain this Saturday. I will be getting in a day early and will use all of your suggestions. Thanks for all the info!

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