Friday, December 28, 2012

First Night In Barcelona

On the day we arrived in Barcelona, we were so worn out from the 8-hour flight that we checked-in at our hostel and slept for about four hours.  It was around 6 pm when we woke up due to hunger, so we decided to walk around Las Ramblas to look for a place to eat.  Not far from out hostel is the Guell Tapas, and since we weren't picky that night, we decided to chance it.

For starter, Kepi and I shared a plate of crispy, deep fried baby squids.  We were happy with this choice as the baby squids were crispy and tasty.  I highly recommend this as a starter or appetizer.  Even Kepi, who's a bit picky with some types of food, loved this dish.

 For our entree, we shared a plate of Seafood Paella.  This was ok and there was nothing spectacular about it; I've had better Paella before.  This dish was good and satisfying.

While enjoying our dinner, I was learning the maps and points of interests in Barcelona when I glanced upon this short description of Placa Reial.  I thought it was hilarious.  Kepi and I had a good laugh.

After our dinner, we walked around the famous La Rambla.  That night, the Christmas lights were on, there was a chill in the Barcelona air, and the Christmas markets nearby attracted people like flies.

La Rambla was full of life...just as I remembered when I visited during my college days.  It felt great to be in Barcelona again.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Madrid...My Quick Thoughts

Hmmm...Madrid.  What can I say about Madrid? I can only speak of the city center of Madrid, as I have not experienced the entirety of the place.  In the areas where I've been, I found them: noisy, frustrating, dog feces scattered on the sidewalks (The sidewalks are washed every night though.), and crowded (It actually feels like New York.). The lack of personal space here makes me miss the narrow yet quiet streets of Seville. Heck, I'd rather deal with the hourly ringing of Seville's church bells than listen to the madness of Fuencarral or Gran Via at night.

Are you disappointed yet? I hope not because Madrid has a LOT to offer. It is just that when I travel, I try to present the places I have seen as accurately as I can. Sugar coating my posts won't help anyone.

Madrid is rich with history.  Experience the beauty of this city with a good stroll at Plaza Mayor, mingle and chow down tapas at Mercado de San Miguel, enjoy a breakfast of chocolate con churros at Chocolateria de San Gines, wander down Calle Mayor, or get lost in the beauty of Palacio Real.  For those into the arts, Madrid has great museums to boast for. One of them is the Museo del Prado that houses Goya, Van Dyck, Rico, Velazquez, Raphael, Murillo and Rembrandt paintings. I was surprised to find a copy of Da Vinci's Mona Lisa here.

Madrid is a great place to shop. I was amazed that their shops are not inundated with foreignly mass produced items. I found it easy to find products made in Spain, and that is a delight for any traveler who wants to bring home souvenirs. I am a firm believer that souvenirs should be made from the country you're visiting. Otherwise, the idea of a travel souvenir is lost.

According to my Spain guide book, "[n]o city on earth is more alive than Madrid, a beguiling place whose sheer energy carries a simple message: this city knows how to live." This city truly knows how to live, but it proved to be too much for me. Perhaps it is old age or that my idea of a vacation does not involve being pushed and shoved while crossing a street; I can experience that in New York anytime.

Madrid was not for me, but it doesn't mean it is not for you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hola Seville!

We temporarily bid goodbye to Barcelona, as we took the train this morning to the capital of Andalucia. Seville is a charming city filled with the remnants of the old world and loaded with gastronomic adventures. It is so easy to find traditional Andalucian cooking here. The tapas are by far tastier and filling than the ones I have tasted in Barcelona.

Tonight, we visited the Alcazar and Seville's Cathedral, ate at a traditional Andalucian restaurant where we feasted on seafood, bought sweets made by nuns, and got lost on the narrow, maze-like streets of Seville.

Tomorrow, I look forward to seeing more by foot, take more photos, eat more seafood, drink more cafe con leche which I find addicting, watch a Flamenco performance or just perch at one of the numerous plazas and watch Seville open like pages of a book.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Goodnight Barcelona

I am finally done with Fall semester.  All along I thought I wouldn't make it.  A few hours after I submitted my final paper yesterday, we were on our way to the airport to catch our flight to Barcelona.  After a couple of weeks of stress and no decent sleep, I can finally catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation here in Spain.

Our first day was spent relaxing, napping, a little night stroll at Las Ramblas, and a sumptuous dinner of Galatian fried Calamari and seafood Paella.  I am glad we picked a hostel in the Las Ramblas area. It is a great location as there are so many places to shop and eat here.

Also, I am excited to visit the Filipino restaurant I used to frequent when I visited here in my college days.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our Christmas Tree Is Up

We have so many things going on at the moment, so we stayed up late on Friday to make time putting up our Christmas Tree.  Having the tree up really makes the house cheery.  It also signifies the beginning of the exciting wait for the birthday of Jesus Christ.

Although most of my Christmas shopping is done, I can't celebrate yet as I am still preoccupied writing my second 15-page semester paper.  It's getting harder and harder to focus on school as everything - from brightly lighted houses to Christmas sales at the mall - seems to be on Christmas break already.

Are you ready for Christmas?  I think I am. I just think it is coming too fast and I'll surely miss it when it's over.  This is my favorite time of the year.