Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Barcelona City Hall

Barcelona is full of unexpected surprises. A relative and I were strolling in Barcelona on a late gray Sunday morning, and to our surprise, private areas of the Ajuntament (City Hall) were open to the public. I love being a lookie-loo and letting myself wander through rooms of any place. This is a trait I picked up growing up in California every time my parents would stop at a yard or estate sale. We would stop and look at items displayed on tables or in rooms and admire vintage items at a bargain price. Now imagine my effervescent little legs wandering the medieval meeting rooms of City Hall.

Upon reflection of the beauty and marvel inside this gothic building, and what my hometown city hall looks like, I realize how privileged I am to live in a historically rich city.  

Gaudeix de les fotos de'ajuntament!

Courtyard entrance

Joan Miró sculpture

Sculpture by Josep Llimona

Ceiling of the Staircase of Honor

Sublime sculpture by Pau Garallo

The Staircase of Honor that leads to the Saló de Cent.

Saló de Cent; hall for the Council of One Hundred Jurors designed by master builder Pere Llobet in 1369. There are no more council meetings held here, except weddings and other celebrations. Who wants to get married here?

First meeting was held by King Pere III with the Council of One Hundred in 1373.
Juror gothic seats

Sculpture of King Jaume 1

St. Jordi (George) slaying the dragon.
This room is used for plenary meetings.
Room of Queen Regent Maria Cristina who used to take her tea here with her friends. This picky queen brought the candelabras from Versailles.

Mural by Miquel Viladrich (1930) depicting country people and Catalan customs. The mural had an Adam and Eve allusion to it.

This mural is part of the Black Staircase so named after the black marble used.  I read the mural alludes to the poem "Canigo" by Jacint Verdaguer. Mural is by Miquel Valdrich.

Are they dancing a sardana?

This room was so lavish, transcendental, and enigmatic. It was like a covert room dressed in dark and gold colors reserved for esoteric members.

The Hall of Chronicles refers to the stories narrated by Ramón Muntaner and Bernat Desclot describing Roger de Flor's voyage to the Orient in the 14th century.

The defense of the tower of Adrianopolis. The room is absolutely spectacular. Ceiling and wall paintings are by Catalan artist Josep María Sert.

Virgin of Montserrat in a chapel adjacent to the Hall of Chronicles

If you ever want to visit the Ajuntatment, you may do so free of charge every Sunday. 
The schedule is the following:

Open every Sunday from 10:30 - 12:00

Guided tours:
Catalan 10:00 and 13:00
Spanish 10:30 and 12:30
English 11:00

Monday, January 4, 2016

Where to Find Cool T-Shirt Souvenirs

If you are one of those travelers stumped on what type of souvenir to take to your boy/girlfriend, I  found the perfect shop for you. Over the weekend, my man and I were strolling about in Barcelona's gothic quarter, casually making our way to Santa María del Pi. We decided to take a shortcut by entering Galerías Malda, and thereby saving us a leggy walk down Career de los Boters. We turned left into one the many entryways this gallery has, and stopped in front of a window shop displaying t-shirts with snazzy graphic designs.  The t-shirt to catch my attention was this one with the deer image and hand antlers gesturing the 'peace' symbol. The red tongue sticking out was a plus. This is a men's t-shirt and cost 17,99€. I tried it on to check the fit on me, and the fit was fine, and I looked pretty hip. I hate those Zara t-shirts with lame graphics on them.

Then I spotted a second graphic design that I thought was also original, and lucky for me it was a women's tee. This one cost 15,99€. I am pleased to have finally found a shop selling t-shirts with original graphic prints, given my recent hunt for weekend t-shirts.

The shop is called Bisibiglio and is an Italian store. I don't think it matters though, right? It doesn't have to be made in Spain, as it has to be bought in Spain! The store has a website, but doesn't provide the Barcelona store address. Adeu!

C/Portaferrissa, 22 Local 14
08002, Barcelona

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Pothole of Hell

Every year I look forward to watching shrubs, ivies and trees change their leaf color. What I enjoy most about this yearly phenomena is how streets in my town suddenly display bursts of color. Fiery reds stand blazing in the distance, as yellow trees holler at the spectator. Every autumn I tell myself to plan a trip to the mountains to observe and surround myself in a firework display of bright leaves. I finally did it, but I choose the wrong mountain. I should have researched national parks with deciduous trees that offer a display of autumn foliage.

The hike to the Montseny mountains, however, was not a disappoint as the trail was easy and pleasant. We took el sot de l'infern (the pothole of hell) trail and encountered a whimsical stream and watched a buff colored labrador retriver stomp in the down rush of water. There was a moment in which a slight breeze picked up and sent a soft shower of cascading leaves throughout the forest. Some children on the same trail laughed gleefully at the leaves floating about them, and stretched out their lands to try and grab the falling leaves.

Another happy moment was when I found at the onset of our hike a long sturdy birch tree branch, and used it as a walking stick to help me ascend and descend slippery inclines. I openly pretended to be Gandalf and assigned my husband the part of Frodo. Yes, I know. Silly woman, but nature did it's job by fueling my imagination. I recommend you visit the Montseny any time of the year and enjoy it's beautiful lush trails. Adeu!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

ABaC Hotel and Restaurant

Lost and without ideas on how to celebrate a birthday or wedding anniversary? This post is for all those men and women in relationships, who cluelessly wonder how to surprise a lover or companion for a special celebration.

It starts like this, you book a reservation at an exquisite hotel with an exquisite restaurant (e.g. 2 Michelin stars). Lead up to the surprise by telling your loved one to dress chic and pack a light suitcase for a one night stay. Drive her (or him) to said place, and let the surprises begin at ABaC hotel and restaurant.

The gourmet cuisine at ABaC restaurant is created by world renown chef Jordi Cruz. Each plate is visually stunning, with bursting morsels of flavor and texture. The spa downstairs is warm and inviting, with dim lights to help the mind relax as you linger in the different wet areas. After spending time in the spa, we went upstairs in a languid state and collapsed on the airy down-comforters.

The next morning we ordered room service and I had a most delicate, and favorable breakfast, ever. I can still recall the delicacy of the egg with parmesan cheese and a plate of fresh bread. Then I headed downstairs for my facial massage with Debra Mitchell products--bee venom. The esthetician (Esther, if I recall her name correctly) has hands that will leave you in a deep slumber.

And that is how you plan a nice surprise a loved one will never forget.