Showing posts with label europe. Show all posts

Bonjour Paris: Day 6 (Last Day)

It is our last full day in Paris. We decided that this day should be a bit more relaxed and prepare for the long journey back home. It is also our last chance is getting souvenirs.

Our first stop was to pick up some sweets and chocolates.

Bonjour Paris: Day 5

After waking up refreshed and ready for a good bout of sightseeing. Our goal today is to visit as much of the iconic places and probably do some shopping.

First stop was the Eiffel Tower. It is my second time to visit the Eiffel Tower and it felt like I am seeing this place with fresh perspective. The first time was a night visit when we were on a Contiki tour. The bus dropped us close to the entrance. I didn't even recall how the area look like since it is dark and we were following the tour guide.

The tower had lights that dazzles in the dark night. I remember looking up the whole time on our way to the elevator. We didn't notice the lines to go up and was probably on a fast track since we are part of the tour group. Once were done, we head back straight to the bus.

Bonjour Paris: Day 4

So we finally made our way to Paris. The plane ride was quick and easy. The ultimate challenge was to find our hotel which is located on Montmartre area. Before we book our hotel we made sure it has a close metro stop. It also says that it is a hop and a skip to Sacre Coeur. Sounds really good.

The night before we left from Barcelona, we tried to figure out how to get to our hotel without getting an expensive taxi. It looked like the best way was to take the train to Gare Du Nord and walk our way to our hotel. What we didn't expect was Montmartre is very hilly so walking your way with a luggage on an uphill is hell. Another part that the streets are confusing, there are too many intersections with small streets. We did got lost. Good thing we got a map from the tourist booth at the airport and little by little we found our way to our hotel.

It wasn't a good first impression on Montmartre. It was seedy with a lot of sex shops. We are actually a walking distance away from Moulin Rouge. Good thing about the area was the place is not touristy and the restaurants prices are more reasonable.

Hola Barcelona: Day 3

We are halfway on our trip. The days seem too short for us. We seem to take our time in the morning that by the time we are ready to go out and had our morning breakfast, it is time for lunch. We decided to make this day a lazy one and shop for goodies to bring home. We still have another leg of our trip to Paris which also meant that we are carrying our luggage all the way to the airport and take the metro to our hotel.

On our last day, we decided to head over Plaza Catalunya and walk over to Las Ramblas. We got a random place for tapas. It seem to be a popular place with 2 floors, they are in the process of closing down the kitchen but was able to fit us in for late lunch. We just asked the waiter to order for us since there are so many items to choose from. He actually gave us the good stuff. The meal was delicious, it was also the most expensive meal we had in Barcelona.


We decided to make a pilgrimage to the monastery of Montserrat. It has been on my top of my list when I started researching on our Barcelona itinerary. It is accessible by train, about an hour and a half trip from downtown Barcelona. It is historic and picturesque. It was worth the visit.

Montserrat means serrated mountains and had been a pilgrimage site for hundreds of years. On top the mountain is a thousand year old Benedictine monastery. It is also the location of the oldest music school (that dates back to 14th century) in Europe where you can listen to Gregorian chants by the boys choir.

The Jamon Experience

I have been trying to eat healthy these past few months. I try to avoid processed foods, sugared drinks and pork. Processed foods and soda had been easy for me but anything pork had been difficult. So the game plan came into a concession on eating it in moderation. I have been successful for now until Barcelona. Here, pork is king.

Hola Barcelona: Day 2

We have to pick up our friend at the airport. After we drop off the luggage in the hotel, we decided to grab something to eat and walk around the area. We found the city somewhat desolate, (almost!) nobody around. It is a dreary Sunday afternoon. Only the big stores are open.

Hola Barcelona: Day 1

We have all this feeling of excitement when you land on the destination airport. Walking through the glass and metal Barcelona airport, I have all this anticipation. I know I will enjoy my time here.

The airport is so sophisticated. The summer Olympics was held here in 1992.

Happy Easter!

I wasn't surprised to see that Spain and France were big on celebrating Easter. What I find interesting is that they seem to go all fancy on the chocolate Easter Eggs. They probably put it as a centerpiece on their Easter celebration instead of cake.

These were the ones I saw in Barcelona:

Hola Barcelona

I want to share some of the photos that I posted on my facebook account. This what I wrote on the caption:

"Dear Barcelona, I am so charmed. I would like to see you again. Soon."

It is basically a collection on my whirlwind trip with my lifelong friends. It is our annual trip where we get to go away by ourselves without the hassle of tagging along kids and hubbies. We usually do this on a long weekend within the United States but this year we got ambitious and chose to go to Barcelona for 10 days. By end of the trip, we all agree that we have been away far too long. We do miss our families.

My Spaghetti

Growing up, we view pasta as a food only for special occassions. It is only served on important holidays such as Christmas and New Years eve, or if you are lucky, it might be available on your birthday. On regular days, rice pretty much sums up our everyday diet.

I really didn't care much about pasta as long it was served in a form of spaghetti. For years, I have been making it in an easy route of opening a jar of spaghetti sauce and mix it with sauteed ground meat. I didn't make such as fuss about having good pasta till that one Thanksgiving week in Rome.


Hóla! en Madrid Part 2

TITLE: Hóla! en Madrid Part 2
STATUS: Publish

DATE: 11/25/2005 12:40:52 PM
Home at last. More jetlag. The week just flew and came home on a cold, cold New York. Looking forward to a good Thanksgiving meal and see the La Familia for the holidays.

Here are the wrap up on the rest of the trip:

Day 4 - Avila and Salamanca

Geared on a long day trying to fit in 2 cities in one day. Went to the Medieval town of Avila. The city of Santa Theresa. Visited the Cathedral and some bakeries to get the town specialty which are yemas (pronounced as gemas). After lunch, we head to Salamanca. Got lost by taking the wrong train but got back on track. I didn't expect Salamanca to be a huge town. The train station itself is any indication, it has a mini mall and and movie theatre upstairs. A cross between an airport and a mall. I made a mental note to spend more time to this town next trip.

Tapa Bar: Las Bravas

Food: Pulpo Gallega and Pincho Maruno


Day 5 - Segovia

It will be our last full day in Spain. We've decided on having a pricey lunch near the aqueduct and try the town specialty - cochinillo (lechon!). Hmmm, its worth it. Then we head over to San Il Defonso to visit the La Granja Palace. Its a palace built by french born Felipe V who misses Versaille. It has amazing gardens and fountains.

Tapa Bar: La Casa Abuela & Nemrut


Notes and Comments about the trip:

I had no expectations on Madrid. I was looking forward to visit the tourist routes and get a feel for the city. The city turned out to be vibrant and comforting. I will confidently say that the main highlight of my trip is the Tapa Bar scene. Not much of a drinker but an eater. I was looking forward to it every night. Everything is so familiar, the words, names, the FOOD. It feels like home.

Next trip? What do you think of Barcelona? ;-)

Hóla! en Madrid Part 1

TITLE: Hóla! en Madrid Part 1
STATUS: Publish

DATE: 11/20/2005 03:44:15 PM
Delayed flights. Jetlag. It didn´t start well as I expected. The only lucky break was finding our hotel without getting lost. Hurray for small miracles. After a couple hours nap, we hit the tapa bar scene. Its similar to having coffee standing in Italy but here its eating Spain's equivalent to dimsum but with wine.

Tapa bar: Museo de Jamon (Calle San Jeronimo)

Food: Calamares and Champinon (grilled mushrooms)


Day 1 - Cordoba - Seville

We have decided to head south of Spain. The AVE train took us 2 hours to Cordoba and another half hour in Seville. Stayed 3 hours in Corboda to visit the town cathedral - the Mezquita. Hopped on the train again for a half hour trip to Seville. Visited the moorish inspired palace, the Alcazar and a huge cathedral that has 22 chapels. It has Christopher Columbus' original tomb before it was shipped to Hispanola (Dominican Republic). After a 2.5 hour trip back to Madrid, it's time for a night cap.

Tapa Bar:  Museo de Jamon (Plaza Mayor location)

Food: Callos and Paella


Day 2 - Toledo

After an exhausting trip yesterday, we decided to do something light and get a bit more sleep. Took an hour bus to the medieval town of Toledo. It was the main capital of Christian Spain. The cathedral has a good collection of reliquaries. I even saw a gold one with the note that it came from Islas Filipinas circa 1700. Also, a noteworthy find, a local panaderia that reminds me of a local bakery in the Philippines. We decided to head back to the city and found (gasp!) - the shopping center and the mall.

Tapa Bar: Oreja de Oro & La Casa del Abuelas

Food: Ribeiro Wine, Pulpo Gallega (Octopus), Pincho Maruno (bbq), Grilled Prawns


Day 3 - Comunidad de Madrid

This confirmed that Joe and I had too much to drink the night before. We overlslept and stayed local. We went to the flea market, the El Rastro. I found some interesting junk such as stamp, coin and old documents. I saw an old 19th century Filipinas coin, 1882 mint. It will cost me 12 euros. I passed on it. Another document with the Filipinas name on it, it looked like a bonds document for a Tobacco company. It can be a bearer bonds for all I know but can't part my 45 euros. It even had a watermark on the paper. It seems to be an original. Also, met a Pinoy on a research grant. Lucky guy, staying in Madrid for a month.

Tapa Bar: Museo de Jamon (Calle Victoria), Nemrut (Calle Espoz Y Mina)

Food: Donner Kebop (Carne Gyros), tried something different

The night hasn't ended yet. Got to hit more tapa bar tonight.....