A Travellerspoint blog

Paris.

In the year 2000.

Looking out of our hotel room. - Paris

Looking out of our hotel room. - Paris

Paris.

I kept nagging my husband about the fact that, although I am very well travelled, I had never actually been to Paris. Now that I am based in Hong Kong that may not seem so strange, but I was brought up in the UK and had been to several other parts of France namely: Cabourg, Dives sur Mer, Bayeux, Boulogne and Strasbourg. In the year 2000 my husband could take no more of my complaints and we finally visited. It was an enjoyable, but not all together successful trip. About half way through our stay as we walked on the banks of the Seine, not far from the Eiffel Tower, a pavement artist called out to my husband to try and coax him into having his sketch done. Looking at the artist and not paying attention to where he was going, my husband fell over and badly damaged his ankle. In my normal horrible, selfish manner, I was just horrified we could not look at things rather than sympathetic. After several, not very romantic fights, my husband agreed to hobble to public transport, be deposited on a bench while I looked at stuff, then hobble back to the hotel. I suppose we should return and do full justice to the city at some point, but we still did manage to do quite a lot. We sailed along the Seine, saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, the Champs Elysee and Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Luxembourg Gardens, Parc Monceau. Most of these we viewed from the outside as Paris was very busy and neither of us will queue for things. If I return, I will do a more Paris off the beaten track type visit away from the swarms of tourists. This is the style of travel I prefer, especially on a revisit.

Me in our hotel - Paris

Me in our hotel - Paris

The River Seine.

The River Seine flows through the centre of Paris. It is crossed by more than thirty bridges including: the Pont Neuf, the Pont Des Arts and the Pont Louis Philippe. Sometimes the Seine has been known to flood. We used Batobus as a means to get around Paris. It stops at eight different places and is a pleasant means of getting around. It stops at at Port des Champs Elysées, Quai du Louvre, Quai de l'Hôtel de Ville, Port de la Bourdonnais at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, Quai de Solférino near Musee d'Orsay, Quai de Malaquais, Quai de Montebello near Notre Dame Cathedral and Quai SaintBernard. It runs all year. In summer it runs at 20 minute intervals from 10 A.M. to 9.30 P.M. In winter it is at 25 minute intervals and runs from 10A.M. to 7P.M.

Batobus, The River Seine - Paris

Batobus, The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

The River Seine - Paris

Pavement artists, The River Seine - Paris

Pavement artists, The River Seine - Paris

The Eiffel Tower.

This is of course a world famous symbol of Paris. Being very bad people, we did not go up it because that would have involved queuing. The Eiffel Tower is situated on the Champ de Mars. It was designed and built by engineer, Gustave Eiffel in 1889. It was originally the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair. The Eiffel Tower is 324m high, still the tallest structure in Paris. At one time it was the tallest man made structure in the world. It held this claim to fame for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. The Eiffel Tower is the most visited paid monument in the world; see I told you there was a queue. As it is so tall, the Eiffel Tower can be seen from many different places in Paris. We visited in the millenium and the tower had special wording to welcome in the year 2000. Address: Trocadero Directions: You can't miss it!!!

My husband with the Eiffel Tower. - Paris

My husband with the Eiffel Tower. - Paris

The Eiffel Tower. - Paris

The Eiffel Tower. - Paris

A new millenium. - Paris

A new millenium. - Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral.

Notre Dame Cathedral, the Cathedral of Our Lady, is also world famous. We viewed it from the outside again because of horrendous long queues. Notre Dame Cathedral is a Catholic cathedral located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité. The cathedral's treasury houses Christ's Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails that were driven into Christ's body. The area around the cathedral has lots of book stalls and cafes. Notre Dame Cathedral was the setting for Victor Hugo's famous novel about the hunchback bell ringer, Quasimodo, who falls madly in love with the beautiful gypsy dancer, Esmerelda. Notre Dame was complete by around 1345. It has several famous and hideous gargoyles scaring away any evil spirits that may try to enter it.

Notre Dame - Paris

Notre Dame - Paris

Notre Dame - Paris

Notre Dame - Paris

Sacre Coeur Basilica.

The Basilica of the Sacre Coeur is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is located at the summit of the Butte Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, so there are good views from the top of the steps that climb up to it. The Sacre Coeur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Building work began in 1875 and was completed in 1914. Although it was busy here, we did manage to get inside. Some restoration work was going on when we visited. I especially wanted to visit the Sacre Coeur when we visited Paris. I remember as a child in primary school our whole class doing a project on Paris and trying to make models of its most famous buildings. I had to make a model of the Sacre Coeur and of course instantly wanted to go and see the real thing. Finally made it in the year 2000.

The Sacre Coeur - Paris

The Sacre Coeur - Paris

View from the Sacre Coeur - Paris

View from the Sacre Coeur - Paris

The Moulin Rouge.

The Moulin Rouge or red windmill first opened its doors to the public in October 1889. Its owners were Joseph Oller and Charles Zidler who described it as a temple of music and dance. The Moulin Rouge popularized the then outrageous can can dance. One of the Moulin Rouge's most famous customers in its early years was artist Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, who painted a number of famous Moulin Rouge scenes. We did not go to see a show here, just looked at the windmill and the paintings of dancers in the entrance way.

Moulin Rouge - Paris

Moulin Rouge - Paris

Moulin Rouge - Paris

Moulin Rouge - Paris

The Arc di Triomphe.

The Emperor Napoleon ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe in 1806. The arch was built to honor the Grande Armee of France which at that time had conquered most of Europe and was considered invincible. The Arc de Triomphe cost 9.3 million French francs to build. Under the vault of the arch are written the names of 128 battles and 558 generals who fought in them.The arch was finished in 1836, fifteen years after Napoleon's death in exile. Address: Place Charles de Gaulle Etoile Directions: Metro Line 1, 2, RER A : Charles de Gaulle Etoile.

L'Arc de Triomphe - Paris

L'Arc de Triomphe - Paris

The Arc de Triomphe de Carousel.

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is located in the Place du Carrousel. It is built on the site of the former Tuileries Palace. Construction of this arch began in 1806 and was completed in 1808. It was originally built to commemorate the victories of the Emperor Napoleon. It is half the size of the Arc de Triomphe. The arch was originally adorned with the famous horses of Saint Mark's Cathedral in Venice. These had been captured and stolen from St Mark's in 1798 by Napoleon. In 1815, following the Battle of Waterloo, France handed over these statues to the Austrian Empire and they were returned to Venice. The horses were replaced by a sculpture created by Baron François Joseph Bosio. This sculpture shows Peace riding in a triumphal chariot with gilded Victories on each side.

L'Arc de Triomphe de Carousel - Paris

L'Arc de Triomphe de Carousel - Paris

L'Air by Aristide Maillol - Paris

L'Air by Aristide Maillol - Paris

The Place de la Concorde.

The Place de la Concorde is the largest public square in Paris. It is located at the eastern end of the Champs Élysées. The square was designed by Ange Jacques Gabriel in 1755 and was decorated with statues and fountains. At one time this square held an equestrian statue of King Louis XV. During the French Revolution this statue was torn down. The square was renamed Place de la Révolution and a guillotine was placed in the square. It was here that King Louis XVI was executed on the 21st of January 1793. Queen Marie Antoinette was also beheaded here. Our visit was a bit more peaceful; we rode the big wheel here and enjoyed views across Paris. The Luxor Obelisk, a 23 metre high Egyptian obelisk, can be found in the centre of this square. This obelisk was originally located at the entrance to the Luxor Temple in Egypt. Address: Metro 1, 13 : Concorde.

Place de la Concorde - Paris

Place de la Concorde - Paris

Place de la Concorde - Paris

Place de la Concorde - Paris

The Louvre.

The Louvre is one of the most famous museums in the world and home to the Mona Lisa. Of course we did not go in, that queuing business again, but we enjoyed people watching at the fountains outside. The Louvre exhibits around 35,000 objects stretching from prehistory to the 21st century. It was initially built as a fortress and the original building dates from the late 12th century. Later it became the Louvre Palace and during the French Revolution it turned into the Louvre Museum. Since 2008 the Louvre collection has been divided into eight major areas: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings. Outside the Louvre Museum you can see the Louvre Pyramid. This is a large glass and metal pyramid, surrounded by three smaller pyramids. These date from 1989 and were designed by I M Pei. The large pyramid is the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Not everyone was impressed by modern works of art being placed next to classical ones. Prince Charles described the pyramids as a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend. Conspiracy theorists claim the number of glass panels making up the pyramid is 666 the number of the beast in Revelations. Personally I did not count them so I cannot comment. Directions: Métro: Palais RoyalMusée du Louvre.

The Louvre - Paris

The Louvre - Paris

The Louvre - Paris

The Louvre - Paris

The Louvre - Paris

The Louvre - Paris

Jardins du Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg Gardens were one of my favourite places in Paris. They are currently the gardens of the French Senate, which is housed nowadays in the Luxembourg Palace. The Luxembourg Gardens date from 1611 when Marie de Medici, the widow of King Henry, decided to build a palace to remind her of her native Florence. The Luxembourg Gardens have lots of flowers, statues and water features. They are a peaceful and calm place for a stroll.

Luxembourg Gardens - Paris

Luxembourg Gardens - Paris

Luxembourg Gardens - Paris

Luxembourg Gardens - Paris

Pond and Arch - Paris

Pond and Arch - Paris

Parc Monceau.

Parc Monceau is a pleasant and interesting public park. It can be found at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony and Rue Georges Berger. The park was originally the brainchild of Phillippe d'Orléans, the Duke of Chartres. He was a staunch Anglophile and wanted to create an English garden complete with follies. The garden was completed in 1779. Its follies at that time included a miniature Egyptian pyramid, a Roman colonnade and a Dutch windmill. In 1793 Phillippe d'Orléans, the Duke of Chartres, was guillotined during the Reign of Terror and Parc Monceau was handed over to the French people. In 1871 the Paris Commune, a revolutionary socialist government that ruled Paris from the 18th of March until the 28th of May 1871, fell from power. Supporters of this commune were massacred by the French army in Parc Monceau. Claude Monet was a frequent visitor to Parc Monceau. In 1876 he painted three paintings of springtime in the park. He painted two additional paintings of the park in 1878.

Parc Monceau - Paris

Parc Monceau - Paris

Parc Monceau - Paris

Parc Monceau - Paris

Churchill Statue.

We were surprised as we were walking around Paris to suddenly encounter a bronze statue of Winston Churchill. The statue is located on the Avenue Winston Churchill. It was unveiled on the 80th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I.The statue is ten feet high and was created by French sculptor Jean Cardot. It cost £250,000 and was funded by donations from the French public. The statue is modelled on a photo of Churchill walking down the Champs Elysee with General Charles de Gaulle on 11 November, 1944. In 2009 the statue was vandalized by antiwar protesters who daubed its hands with blood red paint.

Churchill Statue

Churchill Statue

Clock Sculpture.

Outside the Saint Lazare Station there is a sculpture consisting of many clocks joined together. The clocks show lots of different times, so when looking at it you can choose the time you want it to be. This sculpture is called L'heure de tous - everyone's time. It was sculpted by French artist, Arman. Arman, whose real name was Armand Fernandez, was born in Nice in 1928. He later moved to America and became a naturalized American citizen. He died in New York in 2005. One of Arman's specialties was accumulations sculptures in which he welded large quantities of the same objects together. For example, avalanche an accumulation of axes which he created in 1990. This is on display at Tel Aviv University.

Clock Sculpture.

Clock Sculpture.

The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls,Le PasseMuraille.

Le PasseMuraille, which means the one who could pass through walls, is the title of a story by Marcel Ayme. In this story his main character, Dutilleul, discovers he has the ability to walk through walls. He uses this ability to rob banks, have affairs and escape from angry husbands and free himself from prison. There is a wonderful statue of Le PasseMuraille in Place Marcel Ayme in Montmatre.

The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls

The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls

Posted by irenevt 20:51 Archived in France Comments (2)

Beautiful Barcelona

Christmas 2015.

Barcelona.

For Christmas 2015 we flew from Hong Kong to Dubai where we spent one night prior to flying on to Nice. We spent four nights in Nice, then travelled down via Montpellier to Barcelona. We stayed in Barcelona for three nights. This was only our second ever visit to Spain. We just had two and a half short winter days to see Barcelona. From my research I had learned that many sights in Barcelona have long queues. These I ruthlessly culled, as I had no intention of spending my limited time here standing in a queue.Thus Park Guell was not on our to do list and the Church of the Sagrada Familia was only visited from the outside.

On our first day we took the metro to the Church of the Sagrada Familia. After that we wandered around the L'Eixample district looking at the modernista architecture. Then we visited Catalonia Square, La Rambla, the port and Barceloneta. On day two we went to Ciutadella Park, explored the Ciutat Vella or old city of Barcelona and for the benefit of my football obsessed husband visited Camp Nou home to F.C. Barcelona. On day three we visited Montjuic to see its views, parks and castle. Barcelona is the capital city of Catalonia, Spain. It is Spain's second largest city, with a population of 1.6 million. It is renowned for the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner. These have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are two legends about the origins of Barcelona. One claims the city was founded by Hercules. The other claims it was founded by Carthaginian Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal. For us Barcelona was a city full of surprises and quirky oddities. A very interesting place for a visit.

La Sagrada Familia.

What can I say? This church is one of the most famous sights in the world. I have wanted to see it for ages and at the risk of upsetting people and being called a philistine ......I hated it. It was a building site complete with lots of cranes and tarpaulin. I found it impossible to see beyond that - a huge disappointment. La Sagrada Família was the idea of bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella,the founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph. He visited the Vatican in 1872 and was inspired to build a church. Construction began on the 19th March 1882 the festival of St Joseph. On 18th March 1883 Antoni Gaudí took over the church's design. Gaudí devoted much of his life to the church, but when he died in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. It is hoped the church will be complete by 2026 the centenary of Gaudi's death. I can only hope it will look a lot better then. Address: Carrer de Mallorca 40. Directions: Metro: Line 2 or 5 Station: Sagrada Familia.

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia. - Barcelona

L'Eixample.

We wandered around the L'Eixample district viewing the modernista buildings from the outside only. I found the area interesting and loved many of the buildings, though not necessarily the famous ones. One of the famous buildings here is Casa Milà. This was commissioned by the industrialist Pere Milà i Camps and his wife, Rosario Segimon i Artells and was constructed between 1906 and 1912 by Antoni Gaudí. It is often called La Pedrera which means the stone quarry. This building was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1984.

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Casa Milà - Barcelona

Font de la Granota Fountain

After visiting the outside of La Sagrada Familia Church, we decided to explore the Modernista architecture in the L'Eixample District. The Font de la Granota, or the Frog Fountain, is a beautiful and unusual fountain located at the intersection of Av. Diagonal and Carrer Corsega not far from the Diagonal metro stop. This fountain was designed by Catalan artist Josep Campeny in 1912. Water from the fountain comes out of the frog's mouth.

Font de la Granota Fountain. - Barcelona

Font de la Granota Fountain. - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller.

The house that is now Casa Batlló was first built in 1877 by Antoni Gaudi. It was commissioned by Lluís Sala Sánchez. Later in 1900 the house was bought by Josep Batlló who commissioned Gaudi to redesign it and make it more unusual. Barcelona locals call this building Casa dels ossos or House of Bones. The front of the building is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles. The roof is arched and looks like the back of the dragon from the Saint George and the dragon legend. A turret and cross on the building's roof represent a lance that has been plunged into the dragon's back. The modernista building next door to Casa Batllo is Casa Amatller. This building was originally designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller. It was constructed between 1898 and 1900. It was designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló and Casa Amatller - Barcelona

Casa Batlló - Barcelona

Casa Batlló - Barcelona

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

Round the corner from the Casa Batllo is the Fundació Antoni Tàpies. This was created in 1984 by the artist Antoni Tàpies to promote the study and knowledge of modern and contemporary art. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies is housed in the building of the former Editorial Montaner i Simon publishing house, which was designed by the Modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner between 1880 and 1881.

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies. - Barcelona

The Fundació Antoni Tàpies. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity.

While strolling around L'Eixample don't forget to note lamp-posts, lights and seats. There are modernista style benches around which are just screaming out photo opportunity so it would be a sin not to oblige them with a quick shot.

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Photo opportunity. - Barcelona

Bull Statue.

The best thing about Barcelona was its weirdness. To experience that you don't need to visit every modernista structure. All you need to do is wander around with your eyes open. You'll see things like a contemplative bull statue by Josep Granyer. This can be found on the Rambla de Catalunya. The statue's real name is El Toro Assegut or “Sitting Bull”. It was created in 1972.

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

Bull Statue - Barcelona

The Flirtatious Giraffe.

There is a second strange statue on the Rambla Catalonya created by the same sculptor who designed the sitting bull. This one is a statue of a flirtatious giraffe in Spanish-La girafa coqueta. It is by Josep Granyer Giralt who lived from 1899 to1983. It is quite funny and very cute.

La girafa coqueta. - Barcelona

La girafa coqueta. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square.

Catalunya Square is the heart of Barcelona. It is a transport hub and a crowded meeting spot. When we visited it was hosting a market and a weird futuristic hairstyling event which was very entertaining. This square is also filled with statues, fountains and works of art. An entertaining spot for a visit. Address: Parc de Catalunya, Sabadell, Gothic Quarter.

Fountain, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Fountain, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Weird hair-dressing event, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Sculpture, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

Sculpture, Catalunya Square. - Barcelona

La Rambla.

Street Statue on La Rambla. - Barcelona

Street Statue on La Rambla. - Barcelona

Casa Amatller. - Barcelona

Casa Amatller. - Barcelona

La Rambla connects Plaça de Catalunya in the centre of Barcelona with the Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell. This street is 1.2KM long. Traffic runs down both sides of La Rambla, but the central area is pedestrianised and filled with stalls. The street is home to many beautiful buildings. The Spanish poet Federico García Lorca once said that La Rambla was "the only street in the world which I wish would never end."

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Flower stall, La Rambla. - Barcelona

The erotic museum, La Rambla. - Barcelona

The erotic museum, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - La Boqueria Market Mercat de Sant Josep.

Mercat de la Boquerìa also known as Mercat de Sant Josep is a large, bustling and colourful market just off La Rambla. It sells a wide range of products including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, chocolates. It also has several cafes and restaurants around its edges. Address: Las Ramblas, 95
Directions: Metro: Liceu, Mercat exit.

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de San Josep - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep Bars.

The Mercat de Sants Josep is very busy especially in its centre aisles. Get a little further away and there is slightly more room to move. Around the edges there are lots of bars and cafes where people stop for a chat and some refreshments. Address: Las Ramblas, 95. Directions: Metro: Liceu, Mercat exit.

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

Mercat de Sants Josep - Bars - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros.

La Casa Bruno Cuadros is an extremely ornate building on La Rambla. It used to be an umbrella shop and is known by locals as the Casa dels Paraigües or House of Umbrellas. This building was refurbished in1883 by the architect Josep Vilaseca. Vilaseca combined modernisme with various architectural elements from other cultures such as Egypt, China and Japan. The Casa Bruno Cuadros’s balconies and the top floor have Egyptian imagery. The façade features elaborate reliefs of umbrellas and fans. There is an ornate Chinese dragon on the corner of the façade. This and the umbrella below it were used to advertise the shop. The building was refurbished in 1980 and is now home to a bank.

Umbrella House, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Umbrella House, La Rambla. - Barcelona

Casa dels paraigües - Umbrella House. - Barcelona

Casa dels paraigües - Umbrella House. - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

La Casa Bruno Cuadros - Barcelona

Placa Reial.

About half way down the Rambla just off to the left hand side if you are facing towards the sea lies the Placa Reial. Plaça Reial means Royal Square. On the plaza there is an ornate fountain, many restaurants and some of the city's most famous nightclubs. The Plaça Reial was designed by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó in the nineteenth century. Its lanterns were designed by Antoni Gaudí. Address: Plaça Reial 08002 Barcelona, Directions: Barri Gotic east of La Rambla. Off Carrer Colon. Metro: Liceu.

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Placa Reial. - Barcelona

Palau Güell.

We did not really do justice to the modernista architecture of Barcelona as we only viewed it from the outside. This was because everything had a queue and everything was expensive. The Palau Güell is about half way down La Rambla and off to the right hand side if you are facing the sea. It is a mansion designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí for the industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. It was built between 1886 and 1888. It is located on the Carrer Nou de la Rambla. Long ago guests would enter this mansion in horse-drawn carriages through the front iron gates. They would then climb the stairs to the house's main receiving room with its extremely high ceiling. Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla 35.

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

Palau Güell. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument.

Where La Rambla reaches the seafront, you will see the Columbus monument. Christopher Columbus stands pointing out to sea from the top of a high column. The base of the column is surrounded by lions which people like to climb onto to have their photos taken. The Columbus Monument is 197 feet tall. It was constructed in 1888 for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in honor of Columbus's first voyage to the Americas. Christopher Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona after his first trip to the new world. The Columbus statue was sculpted by Rafael Atché. It shows Columbus pointing towards the New World with his right hand, while holding a scroll in the left. Address: La Rambla Barcelona. Directions: Between Port Vell and Catalunya and Raval on onside an Barri Gòtic on the other.

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

The Columbus Monument. - Barcelona

Barceloneta.

Barceloneta is an almost triangular piece of land jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea. The earliest inhabitants here were fishermen. Then in the eighteenth century this area provided homes for the residents of the Ribera neighborhood who had been displaced by the construction of the Ciudadela of Barcelona. Nowadays Barceloneta is home to the Museum of History, a long sandy beach, sculptures, lots of restaurants and the lovely Sant Miquel del Port Church. As you walk along the beach you will see sand sculptures and salesmen holding up huge billowing pieces of cloth as they try to sell their wares.

Cloth salesman, Barceloneta. - Barcelona

Cloth salesman, Barceloneta. - Barcelona

Square in front of the church. - Barcelona

Square in front of the church. - Barcelona

Sand sculpture, Barceloneta - Barcelona

Sand sculpture, Barceloneta - Barcelona

Barceloneta - Barcelona

Barceloneta - Barcelona

Homenatge a la Barceloneta by Rebecca Horn. - Barcelona

Homenatge a la Barceloneta by Rebecca Horn. - Barcelona

The Waterfront.

After wandering down La Rambla, a street I would certainly recommend that you visit, we walked along the waterfront on route to Barceloneta. We passed by the old port building, the wooden Rambla de Mar which leads the rambla out over the sea, Port Vell which was built as part of an urban renewal program prior to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, several sculptures and the marina. A pleasant area for a stroll.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

The Waterfront.

La Parella -The Couple, by Lautaro Díaz Silva,1998 - Barcelona

La Parella -The Couple, by Lautaro Díaz Silva,1998 - Barcelona

Sant Miquel del Port. - Barcelona

Sant Miquel del Port. - Barcelona

Barcelona Old Town.

Barcelona Cathedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia.

The Cathedral of Barcelona is known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. It was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries. The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona. She is one of the patron saints of Barcelona. Eulalia was a young virgin who suffered martyrdom during Roman times. The Romans displayed her naked in the public square when, despite it being a warm spring day, it suddenly started snowing. The snow covered her nudity. We did not go inside as it was too busy. There was a very long queue for entry. Address: Plaça de la Seu. Directions: Barri Gotic. Metro: Lines 1 and 3 (Catalunya Station) and Lines 2 and 4 (Urquinaona Station.)

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Barcelona Cathedral. - Barcelona

Flea Market: Interesting market next to the cathedral.

There is an interesting and colourful flea market right next to the cathedral. It seemed to sell a bit of everything: ornaments, lights, records. It was quite interesting to have a look at and it took quite an attractive photo, too.

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Flea Market. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume.

The site that is occupied by Plaça Sant Jaume was once at the heart of the ancient Roman city of Barcino. It was here that major streets converged and the ancient Roman forum was located. The modern name for this square comes from the church of San Jaume which used to be located here. Plaça Sant Jaume was remodelled in 1823. Nowadays this square is home to Barcelona's City Hall and the Palau de la Generalitat.

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça Sant Jaume. - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei.

The Plaça del Rei was once home to the royal palace, the Palau Reial Major. This palace was home to the Catalan counts from the thirteenth to the early fifteenth centuries. The building opposite the palace is the sixteenth century Palau del Lloctinent, or Lieutenant's Palace. We wandered into the lovely courtyard of this building.

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

Plaça del Rei - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar is situated in the Ribera district of Barcelona. It was built between 1329 and 1383 at the height of Catalonia's maritime and mercantile pre-eminence. The foundation stone of this building was laid by king Alfonso IV of Aragon in 1329. The architects in charge were Berenguer de Montagut and Ramon Despuig. This is a lovely church with beautiful stain glass windows. It is set next to a pretty square with several cafes and restaurants.

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

The Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven?

On our walk from the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar to the cathedral we passed a strange sculpture. It is called Por qué me echaron del Cielo? or Why have they cast me from heaven? It was created by sculptor, Julio Nieto. The metal figure of an angel is deeply distressed with his head in his hands. In the place where his brain should be there are apples, perhaps symbolising original sin from the Adam and Eve story and implying he has done something very wrong. All very odd.

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Why have they cast me from heaven? - Barcelona

Picasso Friezes.

Across from the cathedral there is a very modern building. It is the College of Architects of Catalonia. There are several simple, cartoonlike drawings depicted on the front of it. These are by Pablo Picasso. They are entitled El Fris de la Senyera or Flag Frieze, El fris dels Gegants or Giants Frieze and El Fris dels Nens or Children Frieze.

Children's frieze. - Barcelona

Children's frieze. - Barcelona

Giants frieze. - Barcelona

Giants frieze. - Barcelona

Flag frieze. - Barcelona

Flag frieze. - Barcelona

Flag Frieze. - Barcelona

Flag Frieze. - Barcelona

College of architects. - Barcelona

College of architects. - Barcelona

Tiles on a fountain.

Not far from the Cathedral of Barcelona we came upon an excellent choir who were singing Christmas songs. Nearby there was an attractive fountain surrounded by many pictures formed from ceramic tiles. I don't know anything about the fountain, but I took several photos of it.

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Fountain. - Barcelona

Citadella Park.

The Arc de Triomf Parc de la Ciutadella.

On our second full day we began by taking the metro to Arc de Triomf station. We walked through the archway into Ciutadella Park. The Arc de Triomf was built in 1888 when Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition. The Arc de Triomf was the gateway to the fair which was held in the Parc de la Ciutadella. The Arc de Triomf was designed by architect Josep Vilaseca. The arch is made of red brick and is decorated with a series of friezes.

On the other side of the Arc de Triomf there was a rather strange protest going on. It was against domestic abuse and was being held in memory of victims of domestic violence that had not been believed. The road was covered with blood stained Tshirts. A woman in black stood in silent prayer. Every so often she picked up a T-shirt, took it to a basin and scrubbed out the blood.

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Arc de Triomf

The Ciutadella.

In 1714, during the War of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona fell to the armies of King Philip V of Spain. King Philip V built the citadel of Barcelona, a huge fortress controlled by the Spanish to keep the rebellious Catalans under control. Construction of the fortress lasted for three years, and much of old Barcelona was destroyed to make room for it. In 1848 under a different political climate, demolition of this much hated fortress began.

In 1888, Barcelona held the Exposición Universal de Barcelona, the site of the citadel was turned into a beautiful park for this event. The Ciutadella Park is now home to a zoo, the Catalan parliament, the house of the three dragons, a cascade, a chapel and various sculptures, ponds and fountains. The cascade or waterfall is near the lake. It was built between 1881 and 1888 by Josep Fontsére and to some extent by Antoni Gaudí, who was then still an unknown student of architecture. As well as the cascade there are plenty of other sights in Ciutadella Park. The Castle of the Three Dragons is a modernist building built between 1887 and 1888 as a Café/Restaurant for the 1888 Universal Exposition. It was built by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The Parliament of Catalonia building is located in Ciutadella Park. Catalonia's most recent parliamentary elections were held on 27 September 2015. The statue outside the parliament building is ";El Desconsol"; by Josep Llimona. The bandstand in Ciutadella Park is dedicated to a transexual The park's bandstand, Sonia Rescalvo Zafra, who was murdered there on 6 October 1991 by right-wing extremists. There is also a lovely chapel in the park.

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

The Ciutadella

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

I liked the stork and the fox fountain in this park, too. It comes from an Aesop's fable where a fox invites a stork to eat in his home, but deliberately serves the food in a container the stork cannot access with its long beak. The upset stork plays a similar trick on the fox to teach him that it is wrong to play practical jokes on others.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

There were also many lovely sculptures in this park and now that I am researching it upon our return I realise there were plenty more we missed, too. Vase with children and flowers is a cheerful looking fountain dating from 1882. It was created by Josep Reynés. Als Voluntaris Catalans is a monument to the Catalan volunteers killed in France and around the world in defense of freedom. It is by Josep Clara. Even the gates into the park were pretty beautiful.

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

Ciutadella Park

El Born Cultural Centre.

This building used to house a market the Mercat del Born. The iron and glass structure that once housed the market was built by Josep Fontserè in 1876. Now the building houses archaeological remains dating from 1700 of the district of Vilanova de Mar. Address : Plaça Comercial, 12. Opening hours : Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6:45 pm ( Espai Gastronòmic Moritz. Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to midnight) Prices: Free and €5.5 for guided tour.

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

El Born Cultural Centre - Barcelona

Montjuic.

Montjuic Views from the Miramar Mirador.

On our last day in Barcelona we decided to walk up Montjuic. Montjuic is a largely flat topped hill overlooking Barcelona's harbour. Montjuic means either Jewish Hill or the Hill of Jove. The hill has several lovely viewing points with excellent views over Barcelona.

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from the Miramar Mirador. - Barcelona

Montjuic Cactus Garden.

Montjuic has some beautiful gardens. I especially enjoyed wandering around the wonderful cactus garden. This was home to lots of stunning plants and some attractive sculptures. Entrance is free. It is located close to the Miramar Mirador.

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic -Cactus Garden. - Barcelona

Montjuic Views from higher up.

We continued climbing up Montjuic all the way to the castle at the top. On the way up there are several more places from which to enjoy the views. A cable car comes all the way across the port from Barcelonetta to Montjuic. A second cable car goes all the way up to the castle.

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Montjuic - Views from higher up. - Barcelona

Cable car to Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Cable car to Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle.

Montjuic Castle is an old military fortress on the top on Montjuic Hill. It dates back to 1640. It has been used as a prison and as a place of torture. Nowadays it is a museum. During the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 39 both the republicans and the fascists imprisoned, tortured and shot political prisoners at Montjuïc.

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Montjuic Castle - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Montjuic.

On the walk up to Montjuic Castle we passed a lovely statue of people performing a Sardana dance. The Sardana s a traditional Spanish dance which is danced in a circle while holding hands. This dance is native to the Spanish region of Catalonia.

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

Sardana Dance Statue - Barcelona

La Violetera.

I quite liked this fountain La Violetera. La Violetera is a young girl who sells violets in the street. There is a famous Spanish song called La Violetera which was composed by José Padilla in 1914. Its lyrics were written by Eduardo Montesinos. This song was popularized by the Spanish singer Raquel Meller. This fountain is located in Carrer Nou de la Rambla.

La Violetera. - Barcelona

La Violetera. - Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona.

We took the metro out to the home of F.C. Barcelona Camp Nou. We did not do the tour. We just had a look around the bits that are open to the general public. Actually it was well worth a visit as there were plenty of background posters to photo or be photoed with. There was also a club shop and it was perfectly acceptable to take photos in there, too.

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

F.C. Barcelona

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana: Mainly a good stay with one or two minus points.

To get to this hotel you can take the metro to Fabra i Puig Station or the train to Sant Andreu Arenal Station. The hotel is visible from the busy main road you are on when you exit either station if you look around you. We stayed here for three nights. Check in was the worst part of our stay. It took ages and the receptionist quoted a price higher than the one we had booked. This got sorted out eventually, but did not create an initial good impression. Our room was clean and comfortable. We slept well here except that I found the room a bit hot. We had free wifi here and it worked consistently well. Breakfast was quite good, but quite busy. There were coffee machines, tea, a machine for making freshly squeezed orange juice. There was bread, toast, croissant and pain au chocolate. There were cold meats and cheese. Replacing things that ran out could be a bit slow. We paid 15 Euros extra for a late check out. We found this very useful as we left on a late flight. Early check-ins are available at the same rate. There are two supermarkets near the hotel. We used the one in Heron City. There were also restaurants in this shopping centre. We liked the Salzburg Restaurant as you had your own draft beer tap on your table. The hotel is near transport so it is fine for getting to sights. For travel buy a T10 ticket. These are good value. Address: Paseo Andreu Nin 9, Heron City, Barcelona, Catalonia, 08016, Spain.

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana - Barcelona

Ibis Barcelona Meridiana - Barcelona

Our bathroom. - Barcelona

Our bathroom. - Barcelona

Chariot Statue.

Not far from our hotel near the Sant Andreu Arenal Station there was a statue located on a little grassy hill. The statue was of two horse drawn chariots with two riders one male; one female. The sign next to it mentioned the Barcelona Olympics, but I can find no more information about it. It was quite an attractive statue but rather hidden away among the trees.

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Chariot Statue - Barcelona

Restaurants.

We ate in the Salzburg Restaurant in Heron City Shopping Mall twice during our stay. The first time was simply because it was close to our hotel. What we loved about it was that each table had its own draft beer tap. You just ask for glasses and pour your own draft beer whenever you want it. It is metred and your consumption is displayed on the wall. We thought this was a great idea. and the food was not bad either. I had chicken. Peter had sausages. We returned here again. Why? Well, did I mention we had our own beer tap on our table?

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Salzburg Restaurant - Barcelona

Posted by irenevt 07:20 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Madrid, Spain.

Goya in front of the Ritz Hotel. - Madrid

Goya in front of the Ritz Hotel. - Madrid

First visit to Spain.

This was our first visit to Spain. We spent an evening and one full day in Madrid before flying off to Lisbon for a few days. Then back to Madrid for three full days. Our original intention had been to spend two of those days on day trips to Toledo and either Segovia or Avilla, but when we returned to Madrid, I got really ill and while I refused to stay in bed, it took me all my time to look at Madrid never mind go anywhere else. Oh well, such is life. This gave us the opportunity to see more of Madrid and do our favourite bits again in a more relaxed manner.

Our holiday.

We started our holiday by staying in a hotel in Barajas and travelling in to the city. Although the journey in took a while, it was worth it for the relative peace and quiet at night. For the second part of our trip, we stayed in a hotel in Alsacia which also proved to be nice and quiet, plus it was on the red metro line number two which is the most useful line for sightseeing.

Favourites.

Among the things we enjoyed in Madrid I would highly rate the beautiful cathedral which can be seen from so many parts of the city. I loved Retriro Park. We had a great picnic in the rose garden there and even in December there were still some beautiful roses. It must be stunning in summer. I loved the views especially watching the sunset from Parque de la Montana (Mountain Park) and I loved the Cervantes sculptures in Plaza de Espana. Plus there was always just such a lot of street life and activity going on with crowds of locals, revellers, tourists thronging the streets, street entertainers and people in fancy dress everywhere. Madrid certainly had atmosphere.

Puerta del Sol.

The first place we visited was the Puerta del Sol in the evening. We returned a couple of times during our stay. This square is always crowded and has plenty going on. People in costumes pose for photos, there are buskers, celebrating students, excited children and just generally lots of activity. We had a look at the famous bear and strawberry tree statue which is the symbol of Madrid. On New Year's Eve apparently crowds stand around the clock tower on the Real Casa de Correos and eat a grape on each chime of midnight for good luck in the coming year. There are streets thronged with shops, cafes, restaurants, bars leading off this square in every direction. Metro station Sol.

Inside the Christmas tree, Puerta del Sol. - Madrid

Inside the Christmas tree, Puerta del Sol. - Madrid

Christmas lights on street just off Puerta Del Sol - Madrid

Christmas lights on street just off Puerta Del Sol - Madrid

the symbol of Madrid. - Madrid

the symbol of Madrid. - Madrid

The Plaza Mayor.

The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main square. It is lined with expensive restaurants. On our visit there was a Christmas market in the centre and lots of Christmas lights.

The Plaza Mayor. - Madrid

The Plaza Mayor. - Madrid

The Royal Palace.

We got to the Royal Palace by taking the metro to Opera Station. The palace is apparently the largest in Western Europe and occupies the site of the old Alcazar or Moorish castle which was burnt to the ground in 1734. In front of the palace is the very pleasant Plaza de Oriente with its statue lined gardens. Nearby are the Royal Theatre, the Cafe de Oriente and the cathedral. We did not visit the inside of the palace, but I found the following information about palace visits. Opening hours: October to March: Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm, Sundays and holidays, 9am to 2pm. April to September: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, Sundays and holidays, 9am to 3pm Closed 1st & 6th January, 1st & 15th May, 12th October, 9th November and 25th December. Entry to the Royal Palace depends on which part you'd like to visit, with prices ranging from 2€ to 11€. Free on Wednesdays.

The Royal Palace - Madrid

The Royal Palace - Madrid

Sentries on horseback outside the palace. - Madrid

Sentries on horseback outside the palace. - Madrid

My husband in the Plaza de Oriente. - Madrid

My husband in the Plaza de Oriente. - Madrid

Madrid's Cathedral.

Madrid's Cathedral is right next to the Royal Palace. It is a wonderful building and it is possible to take an excellent photo of it from so many different parts of Madrid. Entry is by optional donation for the upkeep of the building. The suggested amount is one euro. Inside the church had some wonderful frescoes and beautiful stained glass windows. Despite the many visitors to the cathedral, the building was very peaceful inside. Some chapels had been set aside for silent prayer and taking photographs was not allowed in these areas, though it was fine in the rest of the building. Outside the cathedral was a statue of Pope John Paul the second commemorating his visit to Spain.

The cathedral and viaduct. - Madrid

The cathedral and viaduct. - Madrid

The cathedral from the river. - Madrid

The cathedral from the river. - Madrid

Inside the cathedral. - Madrid

Inside the cathedral. - Madrid

The Basilica of Saint Francis.

The Basilica of Saint Francis is just a couple of minutes walk away from the cathedral across the viaduct bridge. Work on this beautiful church started in 1760 and was finalised by Francesco Sabatini in 1784. The building was restored in 1880. The church is situated on the site of a Franciscan convent which is supposed to have been founded by Saint Francis of Assisi himself in 1217. Entry is 3 Euros. There are views from outside the church.

Street sign outside the basilica. - Madrid

Street sign outside the basilica. - Madrid

The Basilica of St Francis. - Madrid

The Basilica of St Francis. - Madrid

Campo de Moro Gardens.

These were once the palace gardens and there is an excellent view of the palace from here. To enter the gardens from the palace you have to walk through the Sabatini Gardens, then down the road past Príncipe Pío Station and the Gate of the Virgen del Puerto. It will take about 10 minutes. It was really cold during our visit. There is an ornate fountain and several statues in the park. There were some nice plants even including some roses still going strong in the middle of winter. Worth a look for the views of the palace. This park had a free and clean toilet something rather hard to find in Madrid. Opening times: Oct to Mar, Mon to Sat 9am - 6pm, Sun 9am - 6pm; Apr to Sept 10am - 8pm, Sun 9am - 8pm. Nearest metro: Príncipe Pío. Admission free.

View across gardens towards palace. - Madrid

View across gardens towards palace. - Madrid

Winter berries. - Madrid

Winter berries. - Madrid

A survivor. - Madrid

A survivor. - Madrid

The Plaza de Espana.

I loved the monument to Cervantes located here. As well as a statue of Cervantes himself it consisted of statues of his main characters such as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. We were lucky to find the statue as during our visit it was obscured by a Christmas craft market. Metro: Plaza de Espana.

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. - Madrid

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. - Madrid

Temple of Debod in the Parque de la Montana : Mountain Park.

Located just a short walk from the Plaza de Espana this beautiful park contains the Egyptian Temple of Depod. This temple was given to the people of Spain when they helped save it from being flooded by the building of the Aswan dam. There were fantastic views from behind the temple. This turned out to be a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunset from the park. - Madrid

Sunset from the park. - Madrid

The Temple of Debod. - Madrid

The Temple of Debod. - Madrid

Night view of the cathedral from the park. - Madrid

Night view of the cathedral from the park. - Madrid

Bullfighting ring.

It was not bullfighting season and to be honest I would not want to see a bullfight even if it was, but we did go to look at the bullfighting ring as I had heard there were some interesting statues there. There were three bull fighter statues and a wall sculpture of bulls being led to the ring. The bull fighting arena was a beautiful building with lovely tiles. It was possible to go inside the arena on a tour but we did not do this. There was also a bullfighting museum up the back. Metro: Ventas. Interesting even if you are not into bull fighting.

Bull fighting statue and stadium. - Madrid

Bull fighting statue and stadium. - Madrid

Leading in the bulls. - Madrid

Leading in the bulls. - Madrid

Outside the museum. - Madrid

Outside the museum. - Madrid

Tiles outside the museum. - Madrid

Tiles outside the museum. - Madrid

Retiro Park.

I loved this park. We visited twice, bringing a picnic with us on our second visit. We got here from Retiro metro station, though you could also visit from Atocha. We first walked past the lake with its spectacular colonnade containing a monument of King Alfonso XII on horseback. Around this area were buskers, a guy dressed as Edward Scissorhands, stalls and a puppet show. The kids loved the puppet show. What can be cuter than little kids sitting rapt in front of a show? We visited the lovely Crystal Palace and the beautiful Palace of Velazquez. Both are now owned by the Reina Sofia Museum. There was an exhibition of the work of Dutch artist Rene Daniels on in the Palace of Velazquez during our visit. We had our picnic lunch in the Rosadela Rose Garden which still contained a surprising number of blooms. The Prada Museum and Reina Sofia Museums are near this park. There is a clean public toilet near the Retiro metro station. Whatever you do, don't even think about using the portaloos in this park I've only just recovered from the shock of looking inside! The park had some fabulous fountains; when you look closely at their details, they are really very beautiful and imaginative.

Gateway into Retiro Park. - Madrid

Gateway into Retiro Park. - Madrid

The colonnade, Retiro Park. - Madrid

The colonnade, Retiro Park. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

Angel statue on angel fountain. - Madrid

Angel statue on angel fountain. - Madrid

The Rosadela. - Madrid

The Rosadela. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

December rose. - Madrid

Children watch the show, Retiro Park. - Madrid

Children watch the show, Retiro Park. - Madrid

Art Exhibition, Palace of Velasquez. - Madrid

Art Exhibition, Palace of Velasquez. - Madrid

Velazquez in front of the Prada. - Madrid

Velazquez in front of the Prada. - Madrid

The Crystal Palace. - Madrid

The Crystal Palace. - Madrid

Monsters on angel fountain. - Madrid

Monsters on angel fountain. - Madrid

Prado Museum.

This museum is world famous and we intended to visit until we saw the length of the queues outside!!! I was not waiting in that, not even for Goya and Velasquez. The area round about is well worth visiting. I liked the statues around the museum.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

This lovely church is just behind the Prado. It was tranquil inside despite the many visitors and had lovely stain glass windows. I loved its nativity scene. One of the pleasures of visiting Spain at Christmas for me is the beautiful nativity scenes.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

The Church Of Saint Jerome.

The Neptune Fountain: Fuente de Neptuno.

The area the fountain is in is great, but the fountain itself is inaccessible and surrounded by traffic. I had to use my powerful zoom on my super duper new camera to get a good shot of it.

The Fountain of Neptune. - Madrid

The Fountain of Neptune. - Madrid

Near Neptune Fountain.

There were some great sculptures above the door of a souvenir shop near Neptune's Fountain. These were great to take photos of very, very photogenic. There were also some interesting souvenir stalls.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Near Neptune Fountain.

Cibeles Fountain.

Again this fountain was surrounded by roaring traffic and I needed my zoom for a good shot of it. There were some lovely buildings round about including the Palace of Communications and the Bank of Spain. Address: Where Alcala street crosses Paseo del Prado.

The Cibeles Fountain. - Madrid

The Cibeles Fountain. - Madrid

Atocha Station.

I think we missed the interesting part of this station with the hothouses and the monument to the victims of the horrific terrorist attack that took place here, but we did find the night and day baby heads statues.

Night. - Madrid

Night. - Madrid

The Puerta de Alcala.

This gate was near Retiro Park metro station. I do not really know much about it other than it is rather large and rather ornate and that it looks quite attractive in a picture. It is worth having a look at if you happen to be in this area at any point.

The Alcala Gate. - Madrid

The Alcala Gate. - Madrid

The Casa de Campo.

The Casa de Campo is the biggest park in Madrid. It has a lake, rowing, tennis courts, a zoo, an aquarium, restaurants. The cable car departs from here.

View of the cathedral from Casa de Campo lake. - Madrid

View of the cathedral from Casa de Campo lake. - Madrid

Winter in Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Winter in Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Boats on Casa de Campo Lake. - Madrid

Boats on Casa de Campo Lake. - Madrid

Wildlife, Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Wildlife, Casa de Campo Gardens. - Madrid

Real Madrid

We took the metro to Santiago Bernabeu Station. Real Madrid's stadium is right next to the stop. You can tour the stadium for 16 Euros. We just walked round the outside of the stadium, took some photos and visited the club shop. There were a couple of restaurants, bars in the stadium, too.

Real Madrid - Madrid

Real Madrid - Madrid

River Walk.

We had a pleasant stroll along the river between the gardens of Moro and the Casa de Campo. To get here take the Metro to Principe de Pio. There were very good views of the palace and cathedral from here.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

Sculpture.

OK, it is not really off the beaten track. This sculpture is across the road from the Velasquez statue outside the Prada Museum. I liked it and wondered what it was. Anyone know? If you do please let me know I cannot track it down.

Sculpture

Sculpture

Fountain.

This fountain was near our hotel beside Alsacia metro station. It is not one of Madrid's famous fountains but I found it interesting and quite beautiful. We passed it every day as we went to the metro station or to the large Carrefour supermarket located nearby.

Fountain

Fountain

Fountain

Fountain

Restaurants.

We loved these beautiful tile motifs and decorations on the bars and restaurants on a side street off the Carrera de San Jeronimo near Puerta del Sol. Very very pretty!

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

Restaurants

The Museo del Jamon: A cheap but fascinating place to eat and drink.

We saw two of these Museo del Jamons near Puerta del Sol. They were always packed because they were doing a promotion where you could get a draft beer for a Euro and a filled roll for a Euro. The walls of this restaurant/shop were lined with hams. Address: Gran Via, 72; Alcalá, 155; Atocha.

- Madrid

- Madrid

Bars in Madrid: Great Place For A Drink.

This bar (we don't know the name) was located between the cathedral and the Plaza de la Villa. It specialised in beers of the world and sold lots of little tapas. We really loved the way it was decorated.

Great Place For A Drink

Great Place For A Drink

Passes on the metro.

You can get a day pass, 2 day pass, 3 day pass, 4 day pass etc. We purchased a three day pass for 13 Euros and found it great value as we could hop on and off the metro as often as we liked. Individual metro journeys are 1 Euro 50 cents. to the airport it is 2 Euros 50 cents. Tickets and passes can be bought from the machines in the metro station. Instructions can be found in English on the machines. Machines take notes and coins.

Posted by irenevt 03:35 Archived in Spain Comments (8)

Lisbon, Portugal.

December 2011.

Portuguese tiles in Alfama area. - Lisbon

Portuguese tiles in Alfama area. - Lisbon

Lisbon.

This was our first ever visit to Portugal. We only had two full days in Lisbon which gave us a chance to have a quick look and left us eager to go back and spend more time there. Lisbon has many wonderful and interesting sights and the people came across as down to earth and friendly. And if that is not enough, there are also the world famous egg tarts to tempt you to go there.

Getting there.

We flew to Lisbon from Madrid. We were booked on an Air Iberia flight, but despite the fact we were able to check in online and print off our boarding passes the night before, we turned up at the airport to find our flight did not feature on the departure board. When we inquired about this, we were told, "Oh yes, this flight has been cancelled." To cut a long story short we eventually got to Lisbon on the Portuguese Airline TAP after having to race from terminal 4 to terminal 2 of Madrid Airport and all this after a 4am start to the day!

Sights.

However, Lisbon proved well worth the effort involved in getting there and more than made up for such a bad start. We spent our few hours of daylight on day one investigating King Edward VII Park. Day two was devoted to the old town area of Alfama and its lovely castle. Day three was mainly devoted to Belem and day four saw us flying back to Madrid on an Air Iberia flight which surprisingly enough existed.

Look who - Lisbon

Look who - Lisbon

Sights:

King Edward Park VII: Parque Eduardo VII.

You can get to this park by underground by getting off at Parque or Marquis de Pombal Station on the blue line. If you get off at Marquis de Pombal you are at the bottom of the park and you will walk through it by walking up the hill. The park was a pleasant enough place for a stroll and had great views from the top. We found an interesting building with tile covered walls that had once been an exhibition hall to the right hand side of the park as we climbed up. At the top of park there is a monument and fountain. There is also a small park across the road at the top of the park. It had great views, a lovely restaurant on a duck pond and an interesting motherhood statue. In the English Court Shopping mall nearby there was a big supermarket.

view from the top of the park. - Lisbon

view from the top of the park. - Lisbon

Motherhood statue - Lisbon

Motherhood statue - Lisbon

St George's Castle: Castelo de São Jorge.

St George's Castle proudly dominates the hilltop of the Alfama old town area and can be seen from various parts of the city. Parts of the castle date from the 6th century. It was once occupied by the Moors but was captured from them by Portugal's first king Afonso Henriques in 1147. Today there is quite a lot of the castle walls left and it is possible to go for a walk along its battlements. There are fantastic views over Lisbon from the castle walls. There was a restaurant inside the castle which we did not use. There were peacocks happily roaming the castle grounds. I believe there is normally an entry fee for visiting the castle but when we went on Christmas Eve it was free not entirely sure why.

View from the castle. - Lisbon

View from the castle. - Lisbon

Lisbon viewed from the castle walls. - Lisbon

Lisbon viewed from the castle walls. - Lisbon

My husband on the battlements. - Lisbon

My husband on the battlements. - Lisbon

The castle from Commercio Square. - Lisbon

The castle from Commercio Square. - Lisbon

View towards the castle. - Lisbon

View towards the castle. - Lisbon

Lisbon Cathedral: Sé de Lisboa Cathedral Igreja de Santa Maria Maior.

The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St Mary Major is also located in Alfama. It is the oldest church in Lisbon and dates from 1147. The cathedral was renovated at the beginning of the 20th century after suffering a lot of damage in various earthquakes. It is quiet and peaceful inside.

Lisbon Cathedral. - Lisbon

Lisbon Cathedral. - Lisbon

Alfama.

The Alfama area of Lisbon is its oldest area. It is located on a hill with the castle of St George at the top. This is a lovely area filled with winding streets, colourful houses, tiled houses, cafes, churches, lookout points with great views. A wonderful area to explore either on foot or on the number 28 tram.

Alfama street. - Lisbon

Alfama street. - Lisbon

The Portas do Sol.

This wonderful lookout point is easily accessible by number 28 tram and has fantastic views over Lisbon. It is located next to the St Vincent Statue. The Santa Lucia Lookout area is nearby, too.

View from Portas do Sol. - Lisbon

View from Portas do Sol. - Lisbon

Sunset from Portas do Sol. - Lisbon

Sunset from Portas do Sol. - Lisbon

St Vincent statue, Lisbon. - Lisbon

St Vincent statue, Lisbon. - Lisbon

The Casa dos Bicos.

This unusual spiky house in the Alfama area, not too far from the cathedral dates from the early 16th century. It was able to survive the horrific Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 which destroyed much of the city.

Casa dos Bicos. - Lisbon

Casa dos Bicos. - Lisbon

Commercio Square: Praça do Comércio Terreiro do Paço.

One side of this square opens onto the River Tagus. At the opposite end there is the magnificent Arch of Augusta. In the centre is a statue of King Jose I on horseback. The square is lined with beautiful buildings. It is possible to catch the number 15 tram to Belem from here.

The Arch of Augusta, Commercio Square. - Lisbon

The Arch of Augusta, Commercio Square. - Lisbon

Santa Justa Elevator: Elevador da Santa Justa.

The Santa Justa Elevator was built at the beginning of the 20th century by French architect Raoul de Mesnier du Ponsard. Du Ponsard was once an apprentice of Gustave Eiffel. The elevator is 45 meters high. From the top there are wonderful views over Rossio Square, the castle, the River Tagus. The top of the elevator is near Carmo convent. We were able to use the elevator on our day ticket without paying any extra fee.

Carmo Convent. - Lisbon

Carmo Convent. - Lisbon

View over Rossio Square. - Lisbon

View over Rossio Square. - Lisbon

Rossio Square.

This beautiful Square is covered with wavelike pavings. At the top of the square there is a theatre. The square has two lovely fountains and a column 27 meters high with a statue of Dom Pedro IV on top. Rossio metro station is located on this square. There are also cafes and flower stalls.

Rossio Square looking towards the theatre. - Lisbon

Rossio Square looking towards the theatre. - Lisbon

Flower stall, Rossio Square. - Lisbon

Flower stall, Rossio Square. - Lisbon

The Jeronimos Monastery.

We visited this beautiful building on Christmas day so it was all closed except for the wonderful church. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Jerome who was the patron saint of sailors. It was built in 1502 by King Manuel I to commemorate the voyages of Vasco De Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer. De Gama's tomb is located inside the church as is the tomb of famous Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes.

The Church Of Saint Jerome

The Church Of Saint Jerome

The Church Of Saint Jerome

The Church Of Saint Jerome

The Jeronimos Monastery. - Lisbon

The Jeronimos Monastery. - Lisbon

Nativity scene the Jeronimos Monastery. - Lisbon

Nativity scene the Jeronimos Monastery. - Lisbon

The Discoveries Monument.

Across the road from the Jeronimos Monastery on the riverfront is the Discoveries Monument. This was built in 1960 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The monument looks like the front of a ship and contains sulptures of Prince Henry the Navigator at the prow, King Manuel I, poet Luis Camoes, Vasco de Gama, Magellan and several other famous Portuguese people. Apparently you can go inside and go up an elevator to the top of the monument, but as we visited on Christmas Day, it was closed. There is a view of the 25th of April Bridge and the Christ statue from the monument. Get here by number 15 tram from Commercio Square or Cais de Sodre.

The Discoveries Monument. - Lisbon

The Discoveries Monument. - Lisbon

The Discoveries Monument. - Lisbon

The Discoveries Monument. - Lisbon

The marina near the monument. - Lisbon

The marina near the monument. - Lisbon

Belem Tower : Torre de Belém.

This building has become the symbol of Lisbon. It was built in 1515 as a fortress to guard the entrance to Lisbon's harbour. Many of the voyage of discoveries journeys left from here. The tower is listed as a world heritage monument by UNESCO. Get here by number 15 tram from Commercio Square or Cais de Sodre.

Belem Tower - Lisbon

Belem Tower - Lisbon

That tower again. - Lisbon

That tower again. - Lisbon

My husband outside Belem tower. - Lisbon

My husband outside Belem tower. - Lisbon

Pastéis de Belém: A Must When In Belem.

This cafe is very famous for its Portuguese egg tarts which are delicious. You can get take away (pay first then collect food) but we choose to sit in and have coffee, beer and egg tarts. The building is beautiful with absolutely lovely tiled walls. The cafe is really big and, though it was busy, we were seated and served straight away. Service was friendly and efficient. Prices very reasonable. Lovely building. Clean toilet.

A Must When In Belem.

A Must When In Belem.

A Must When In Belem.

A Must When In Belem.

Tiles in Pasteis de Belem. - Lisbon

Tiles in Pasteis de Belem. - Lisbon

Tiles.

Wandering around Lisbon you will see so many beautifully tiled buildings. The tiles come in a variety of styles and colours. Some have very intricate patterns, all are very pretty and creative. They brighten up the streets wherever they are found turning some plain buildings into things of beauty.

Beautiful tiles, Lisbon. - Lisbon

Beautiful tiles, Lisbon. - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

More tiles! - Lisbon

And even more tiles! - Lisbon

And even more tiles! - Lisbon

Posted by irenevt 22:30 Archived in Portugal Comments (3)

Malta.

We spent a summer working here in 1995.

sunny

Fishing nets, Malta. - Malta

Fishing nets, Malta. - Malta

A bit of Geography.

The Maltese archipelago lies in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. The islands are 93 km south of Sicily, their closest neighbour, and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago is made up of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Jointly these have a population of over 400,000. These three islands occupy an area of 316 square kilometres. Malta, the island we were based on, is the largest and the most touristy of the three. Gozo is the second largest island. It is greener and more rural than Malta. Many people here earn their living from farming or fishing. It is a beautiful island and well worth visiting. Comino is the smallest of the three islands. It is a good place to come swimming. It has one hotel, but is otherwise largely
uninhabited. Malta has hot summers, warm springs and autumns and mild winters.

Sliema, Malta - Malta

Sliema, Malta - Malta

A bit of History.

The Maltese Islands have had a long and colourful history. They have been occupied by many different cultures. Some of the earliest were the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines. In 60 AD Saint Paul was shipwrecked here. He is believed to have introduced Christianity to the islands. Later in 870 AD the Maltese Islands were conquered by Arab invaders. The Arab legacy can still be seen in some Maltese place names such as Rabat or Mdina and in the Maltese language ­- Malti. For a long period of its history Malta was under the control of nearby Sicily. Then in 1530 The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V bequeathed Malta to the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. These knights had been based in Jerusalem but were driven out during the crusades. The knights ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. During their rule, many palaces, forts, cathedrals and churches were built. Another legacy of the knights is Malta's famous eight pointed cross. In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte seized Malta from the Knights. Two years later the British seized control from Napoleon. British rule lasted until 1964 when Malta became independent. There are many legacies of British rule: English language, driving on the left, red post boxes, beer sold in pints and half pints.

During World War I Malta was used as a supply station and place of recovery for injured soldiers earning it the nickname, the nurse of the Mediterranean. In World War II the bravery of the people of Malta resulted in them receiving the George Cross for Valour from King George V. In 1974 Malta became a Republic. It became a member of the European Union in 2004.

Sunbathing on the rocks, Sliema. - Malta

Sunbathing on the rocks, Sliema. - Malta

Our experience of the Maltese Islands.

We spent six weeks here. I know it is short, but we worked in a summer school; found our own accommodation; cooked our own food most of the time and that to me is living in a place rather than just visiting, despite the brevity of the time. Our experience of Malta was mixed. We liked it as a place, but the job was a bit of a disaster. We had been misled about the salary. It was a lot less than expected. We were also misled about the price of accommodation. It was a lot more than expected. After working here for six weeks, when we counted up everything ­ flight, accommodation, living expenses against salary ­ we were down 500 pounds between us. We decided to just think of it as a six week holiday where we had done a bit of work along with the sightseeing. During our stay we managed to see most of the places we wanted to see on Malta, plus we visited nearby Gozo and Comino. I thought Gozo was quite stunning. I loved the fact that it had lots of greenery, whereas Malta was drier and more brown: brown rocks, brown buildings. Malta's colour came from blue skies, blue seas and beautiful painted wooden boats. One of the things I liked about working here was that although there is a Maltese language, the Maltese teachers at our school often spoke to each other in English enabling us to understand all the gossip and goings on in the staff room and that was quite good fun! Our favourite places while we stayed here were Valletta, Mdina and Gozo. These places are rich in history. There were also great places to swim either from a beach or off the rocks.

St Julian's And Saint George's.

We lived in St Julian's and worked in nearby St George's. St Julian's is a very touristic area situated on the coast. Our school was not too far from St George's Bay where we liked to swim off the sandy beach until my poor husband got badly stung by a jelly fish. Ouch! These can be a problem in Malta. St Julian's has lots of hotels and restaurants. It is pretty, but busy and noisy. Lots of language schools are based here, so many entertainment areas were cram packed with teenage students from Italy or France. If you are on holiday and party till late and get up late, you will have a very different experience from us. We started work early, but it was noisy at night, so getting to sleep was not easy. On our way to work we waded through the rubbish left by the late night revellers. On our way home from work that had all been cleared away. I felt some locals were a bit sick of tourists and I could not really blame them. At first we found locals a bit unfriendly, but after a while when we kept going to the same shop and same bar, they decided we lived there and became really pleasant.

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

St Julian's And Saint George's

Valletta.

Valletta is the capital of Malta. We went here many times during our stay as we really liked it. It is easy to get around Malta by public bus though they are busy in the summer. Valletta is named after its founder, Jean Parisot de la Valette. He was a Grand Master of the Order of St. John. Valletta is a historical place located on Mount Sceberras Peninsula which juts out into the sea. At the end of the peninsula lies St Elmo's Fort. On one side of the peninsula is Marsamxett Harbour and on the other the Grand Harbour. The City of Valletta was founded in 1566. Its forts, bastions and cathedrals were completed within an amazingly short fifteen years. I loved Valletta's tall houses with their colourful balconies. There is a cathedral here, a fort, many churches, interesting squares and some lovely statue and fountain filled gardens. In the heat of summer, it was easy to find a shady place to sit and watch the world pass by here. Valletta was one of our favourite places to visit.

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Valletta

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina, also known as the Silent City, dates back more than 4000 years. At one time it was the capital of Malta. It is believed that the Apostle St. Paul lived here around 60 AD after being shipwrecked on the island. Mdina is a walled city. We entered it via its main gate. Mdina has a fine cathedral and narrow streets. It has several palaces and was the one time home of many Maltese noble families. It is beautifully lit up by lamps in the evenings. Mdina is right next to the town of Rabat home to the lovely Church of Saint Paul. Mdina was built far from the sea and on one of Malta's highest points for defensive reasons. Mdina has almost no cars which makes it a pleasure to walk around. If you are interested in history and beautiful buildings, you should definitely visit here.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Mdina And Rabat.

Golden Bay.

Most places to swim on Malta involve swimming off the rocks which is great if you are not fond of sand, but there are also several beaches. Golden Bay is one of these ­- a beautiful sandy beach next to the clear blue sea.

Golden Bay

Golden Bay

Marsaxlokk.

Marsaxlokk is a village in the south east of Malta. It has always traditionally been a fishing village and has many colourful boats. It is also known for the Marsaxlokk Market which is held every Sunday. There are also tourist markets here on week days.

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk

Comino.

Comino is a small island located between Malta and Gozo. It is only about 3.5 square kilometers. We went here for the day to swim and were foolish enough to bring no water with us. As the island is practically uninhabited, there was nowhere to buy any. Just as we were beginning to feel we would die of dehydration, into the beautiful clear blue bay came an ice-­cream boat. I feel it saved our lives. This is a lovely place to come for a peaceful day spent swimming or snorkeling. Bring lots of water with you, though. We also went for a walk round the island. It was quite dry and barren though it used to have lots of wild animals and be used as hunting grounds in the past.

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Comino

Gozo ­Mgarr.

Gozo is a beautiful island and I strongly recommend a visit here. It is quieter, more peaceful and greener than Malta. You can get to Gozo by ferry from Cirkewwa on the north­west coast of Malta. That will take you to the port of Mgarr on Gozo. Mgarr is a lovely port with beautiful churches and a fine harbour. The beautiful Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and a second lovely church, the name of which I do not know, stand high up on Mgarr's hillside dominating its skyline. Mgarr's harbour is filled with colourful wooden boats. It is a very picturesque place. Gozo according to legend was home to the nymph Calypso in Homer's Odyssey. Calypso used her magical powers to keep Odysseus captive here for many years after she fell in love with him.

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Gozo -Mgarr

Xlendi ­ Gozo.

Xlendi is a village in south west Gozo. It is a beautiful place to swim. We sat on a rocky ledge with cliffs behind us and leapt into the clear blue seas. It was heavenly. I would rate here as one of the most beautiful places I have ever swum in my life.

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Xlendi - Gozo

Gozo ­ Victoria.

Victoria is the capital of Gozo. It is also called Rabat. In the centre of Victoria, on top of its highest hill stands the Citadel. This is visible from almost anywhere on Gozo. The Citadel was strongly fortified. It was built as a place of safety from the attacks of the Barbary corsairs and Saracens. These raiders made frequent attacks on Gozo and kidnapped the local people then sold them as slaves. Until 1637 the inhabitants of Gozo were required by law to spend their nights within the Citadel for their own safety. After that date, life grew more peaceful and people began to live below the citadel walls forming the city of Victoria. During our visit Victoria was all decorated for an approaching religious fiesta.

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Gozo - Victoria

Mushy Pea Pastry.

It may not sound appetizing but a mushy pea pastry or a pastizz is an absolutely delicious Maltese snack. Actually there are two kinds of Pastizzi. Some are filled with ricotta cheese ­ these are very good; and some are filled with mushy peas,­ these are totally delicious. Ricotta filled pastries are known as pastizzi tal­irkotta, or cheesecakes. Pea filled pastries are known as pastizzi tal­ pizelli or peacakes. We practically lived on these delicacies when we were in Malta.

Mushy Pea Pastry.

Mushy Pea Pastry.

Stray Cats.

We discovered this little area devoted to housing stray cats while walking from St Julian's to Sliema. Everywhere I go I always end up befriending a stray cat or two as I really, really love cats. They are my favourite animals.

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Beware of the sun.

We tried a bit of walking in Malta, too, but it was really too hot in summer. I would like to revisit out of the summer season maybe in spring and then exploring would be easier. In summer ensure you have plenty of high factor sun screen on and drink lots of water.

Beware Of The Sun

Beware Of The Sun

Posted by irenevt 06:57 Archived in Malta Comments (2)

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