10/15/18 – 10/22/18
Every European city and country have its own style, culture, food, wonderful people and beauty!
This trip was to two countries, the glamorous South of France and the hopping city of Barcelona.
Traveling within Europe is relatively quick, easy and inexpensive. Our options were to drive the coast from the French Riviera to Barcelona (7+ hours), take the train (approximately 9 hours) or fly (EasyJet for $130 - 1 hour from Nice). EasyJet was our choice.
Renting a car at the Nice International Airport was simple, located at Terminal 2 with our arrival on our Delta flight (7 ½ hours from JFK). Heading to the coastline through the city of Nice for 40 minutes to Hotel du Cap Ferret, a beautiful Four Seasons hotel. As expected, impeccable service, first class accommodations and a panoramic setting on a peninsula. Driving the coast through several villages, St. Jean Cap du Ferret, Villefranche du mer and Beaulieu du mer was somewhat tedious but certainly worth it.
EZE – Medieval village in the hills
Monaco - Monte Carlo - Hotel de Paris & The Casino
Markets, flowers, meats, fish, seafood, spices, herbs, teas, coffees
Au Revoir France, Bonjour Barcelona
We arrived at the Hotel Majestic – Passeig di Gracia, a major fashion and high-end street in Barcelona. A 5 star lovely city hotel with a lobby bar, fine breakfast buffet and a rooftop lounge overlooking the city, the many cathedrals and of course Sagrada Familia, the architect Gaudi’s most famous work.
When in Barcelona, do as the locals do. Go for tapas! We hit the El Borne area, a very trendy and artsy area with narrow streets filled with tapas bars, shops and of course museums and churches. Enjoy a mojito on Passeig de Born and envision the jousts from Medieval times while sharing a sampling of several different tapas (ranging from olives, to anchovies, to grilled prawns or potatoes.) Often the tapas are displayed in a glass cabinet, order your wine or vermouth or beer and choose your tapas. Ask the server for La cuenta, your bill, and basically count the number of toothpicks left in your dish denoting how many tapas you had enjoyed.
El Born is picturesque and filled with culture and has a vibrant café culture during the day and a lively bar scene at night. 10 minutes away is the beach area which houses many large and more modern hotels, namely Hotel de Arts. The Passeig Maritim de la Barcelonata extends along the active beach with numerous restaurants and nightclubs along the way. Opium, Pacha, Shoko and CDLC are close by to Port Olympic, the marina in the center, home of numerous yachts. Dinner at 10PM and dancing beginning at 12 midnight through the wee hours in the morning is truly the lifestyle of the young in this high energy city. We enjoyed an Asian Fusion meal at Shoko and joined the locals for dancing and drinking.
You can’t visit Barcelona without taking a visit to the Museo Picasso, located at 15 Carrera de
Montcada. Opening its doors in 1963, the museum is the gothic style Palau Aguilar, which is dedicated to the display of 4,251 permanent works of the genius Pablo Picasso. Most of the collection is from Picasso’s formative years and reveals his deep relationship with Barcelona.
Translates to Holy Family, is the most famous work of Spanish architect Gaudi. Some say it is hideous, others reflect on the gothic style combined with art nouveau as different and say “there is no other church of this style in the world.” Only ¼ completed upon Gaudi’s death in 1926, the building continues till this day solely on the donations made privately. It is anticipated that the Roman Catholic Church will be completed by 2026 – the centeniary of Gaudi’s death. Gaudi is buried in the crypt, which is the oldest part of the Basilica.
Gaudi’s original design calls for a total of eighteen spires, representing the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and Jesus Christ, the tallest spire of them all. Once fully completed, the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church building in the world. The Church will have three grand facades: the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory (yet to be completed.) The Nativity façade to the East is dedicated to the birth of Jesus and is highly decorated and ornate with lots of color. The Passion façade to the West in contrast is austere, plain and simple with harsh straight lines and tells the story of the suffering during the crucifixion while portraying the sins of man. Begun in 2002, the Glory façade is dedicated to the Celestial glory of Jesus, the road to God and will offer access to the central nave.
We enjoyed a Flamenco show, a professionalized art-form based on the folkloric music traditions of Southern Spain. Flamenco includes cante (singing), Toque (guitar playing), balle (dance), jaleo (vocalizations and chorus clapping), palmas (handclapping) and pitos (finger snapping). This hour of entertainment along with the other sites and tapas experiences gave us a true feeling of immersing in the Spanish culture during our 3 day stay in the city of Barcelona.
. Video of Flamenco Show
Delta flight home to JFK, another beautiful week in Europe.