BUSY BARCELONA 

I wrapped up my Portugal/Spain trip in Barcelona.   I spent one day wandering the city on my own and one day on a food and wine tour in the neighboring mountains before heading off to the airport.

I arrived in the evening and immediately regretted leaving all of the tranquility of Mallorca.

I sat outside at a bodega across from my hotel for a quick dinner and was immediately warned of the terrible pickpocket problem by a waiter who clipped my bag to a chair.

The next day I went exploring.  I went to Sagrada Familia (where after 133 years construction is still underway), then Park Guell, a short cruise and a stroll along Placa de Catalunya.  It was an enjoyable day, but I could not find what I was looking for.  I’m not sure if I was tired of traveling, or if the contrast between the peace of Deia and the bustle of Barcelona was just too much for me.  I was beginning to miss home.

On the last day before my flight home, I had an amazing day-long food and wine tour booked.  The food and wine was unbelievable.  The tour guide was the worst I’ve ever experienced.  We stopped and asked for directions four times, and circled the mountains lost numerous times throughout the afternoon.  I missed seeing olive oil being made (disappointing), but I did get to see Montserrat for half an hour (a very rushed amount of time).  Eating lunch outside overlooking olive trees was beautiful, but there was always a tiny dread of getting back in the van and driving in circles which put a slight damper on the outing.

I hope if you go, you find more enjoyment than I did, and perhaps go to Barcelona before visiting Mallorca!

STOMPING THROUGH PALACE GARDENS

The Real Alcazar is the oldest European palace (1364) still in use today by a royal family and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The palace combines breathtaking gardens with peaceful water features with Moorish architecture.  Besides being an amazing palace, the vast gardens alone are worth the visit.  I enjoyed them so much I visited the palace twice while I was in Seville.    Getting lost in the gardens with only the sounds of the nearby water features transported me to another time and another world.  I hope you will get a small taste of that faraway land…

SERPENTINE STREETS OF SEVILLE

After a 15 minute (40 Euro) taxi ride from the airport to the pedestrian-only alley-ways of Old Town Seville – I walked in circles with my belongings on my back in 90 degree heat for an hour.  This is not the introduction to the city that I was hoping for.  Luckily after what felt like my 1,000th time down the same alley – which I was pondering lying down in – I found the reservation office for my hotel.  I was then able to drop my bag off and unfortunately had more time to walk around in the heat before I could fully recoup and freshen up.  To cool off I sat at an outdoor patio in a beautiful little square for a sangria but was shooed to a table without a tablecloth because I wasn’t going to buy food.  Hmmm… come on Seville…

Finally I relaxed, things improved and the city was quite lovely.  My hotel was very close to The Real Alcazar palace, the Cathedral and the General Archives of the Indies (all three are UNESCO Heritage sites).  I visited all three, as well as saw a Flamenco show at the Museo del Baile Flamenco.

On a walking tour I met a very fun couple Rita and Frank and spent much of my time in Seville exploring and eating with them.  Together we toured and ate and drank our way through seville.  Our recommendations are the beer at the Seville International Brewery, the tapas at Taberna Coloniales and the gelato at Heladeria Villar.

My hotel had a beautiful crisp clean room with a kitchenette and a convenient location, however the walls were beyond tissue paper thin.  I often thought people were in my room snoring and conversation were so loud.  This was only exacerbated when a bride and groom running through the streets pushed past me only to be racing to the room next to mine.  On my last night in town the fire alarm went off three times my last night.  The tour guide wasn’t joking when he said in Seville people seem to really love the noise.

My next post will be the pictures from the Real Alcazar palace and the water gardens – sadly Jamie Lannister was not available for guided tours during my visit.

LOCAL LISBON FARE

Every bite of food in Lisbon was completely unbelievably delicious. Looking back on the photos, there may have been a few too many bites for two days.  Three tours (all involving food and alcohol)l,  a visit to the Time Out Mercad da Ribeira (a wonderful food emporium), a visit to a 137 year old patisserie (Pastéis de Belém), a trip to the Nutella store helped fill my belly.

I tried sardines, cod fritters, black Iberian ham, custard tarts, and the most magical salad with ice cream on it.

The tawny port was complimented by cheese and Queen’s jam “Romeo and Juliet.” I tried two types of the Ginjinha, a delicious cherry liquor. I tried the white and red vinho verde (green wine) and preferred the white.

I hope you’ll go soon and try all these delights and more!