Posts Tagged With: food

Moving to Barcelona?

Spain 2011

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/11/06/barcelona/

The other day I met an acquaintance in my local fashion department store. I know her through a friend, but we share the same passion for one of Europe’s most fantastic cities: Barcelona, so we had a good talk about the charm of the city. I have only visited Barcelona once. Last summer I was there for little less than a week, but I must admit that it was love at first sight, and I actually, like her, have considered not only once but several times after to move to Barcelona to live there for a period. Maybe I will one day, because this city certainly has so much to offer.

La Barceloneta

My objective for the holiday in Barcelona was a combination of big city life and relaxing at the beach. Therefore I chose to stay in the very authentic neighborhood La Barceloneta which is a residential area with narrow streets situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the center of Barcelona. The famous shopping street La Rambla is only a 10 minutes walk away, and the public beach with white sand nearby. There are several restaurants and bars to chose from in the area. I had perfect tapas at a small bar, Jai-ca Tapes. It is full of spanish siesta atmosphere and serve fabulous tapas for locals and tourists. I also enjoyed fantastic seafood at the restaurant, El Rey de la Gamba 1 – be aware: they serve big portions.

La Barceloneta with narrow streets          View over La Barceloneta

Tapas time at Jai-ca in La Barceloneta          The sculpture "Peix" (Fish) at the Olympic Port in Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia

One of Barcelona’s top sights, if not the number one top sight, is the amazing church Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. It is designed by the famous modernistic architect Antoni Gaudi and even though construction started back 1882, it still hasn’t finished, but it is a truely also an amazing construction and so full of wonderful details both outside and inside. Do reserve many hours for the visit and get up early to be first in line to get in, because the queue of visitors lining up to get in will be very long especially during the holiday season.

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, August 2011 The passion facade and entrance at La Sagrada Familia The tree looking pillars of La Sagrada Familia

Staircase and glass mosaic window inside La Sagrada Familia The apse inside La Sagrada Familia Nativity facade at La Sagrada Familia

If not afraid of heights, then visit one of the towers. There is a fantastic view over the city and possibility to get a close up look on some of the outside decorations.

View from La Sagrada Familia tower to the harbor of Barcelona Mosaic decorations on the tower of La Sagrada Familia View from La Sagrada Familia to Montjuic and below the wavy roof of the school

Fruit mosaics at La Sagrada Familia          Staircase in the tower of La Sagrada Familia

More Gaudi – Casa Batlló and Casa Milà

It is not without reason that Barcelona is called the city of Gaudi. His work has greatly influenced the architecture of Barcelona and you will find it all over the city. Gaudi’s design was very much inspired by the nature and elements from there and this shows in much of his design with few straight lines.

I took a look at the Casa Batlló from the outside while sitting on a bench on the opposite boardwalk and simply enjoying Barcelona.

Casa Batlló through the ironworks on bench          Casa Batlló balconies

Casa Milà, or maybe better known as La Pedrera, is build around two open courtyards. The rooftop terrace is incredible with all the sculptural elements. Just below is the attic with an exhibition on Gaudi’s work. In the building it is also possible walk inside an original furnished apartment.

Casa Milà - La Pedrera          Sculptural rooftop decorations at La Pedrera

Ironworks gate at La Pedrera Rooftop ventilator channels decorated with glas A view to La Sagrada Familia from the rooftop of La Pedrera

Feeling happy at the rooftop of La Pedrera Entré in the La Pedrera apartment with wavy ceiling Living room in the La Pedrera apartment

FC Barcelona

I know not all people are fans of football or sport, but in my humble opinion, I think it is a disgrace if you do not visit one of the worlds best football clubs when you are in Barcelona. It is a great opportunity to experience a part of the soul of the city – please also see my post about sport and culture.

FC Barcelona fans          Warm-up show at Camp Nou

While I was visiting, FC Barcelona was playing a pre-season match against italian Napoli for the Joan Gamber Trophy. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing on the famous Camp Nou stadium even before the actual match started. The warm-up show alone was worth going, but it also helped a lot that FC Barcelona won 5-0 and Messi scored two of the goals.

Action on Camp Nou          5-0 at Camp Nou against Napoli

A good tip when going to the match and leaving the stadium  is to incorporate plenty of time for transport, and even prepare yourself to walk most of the way home, since the public transport is absolutely packed with people.

Montjuic

The perfect way to reach the hill Montjuic is by cable car. It runs from a tower on the harbour of Barcelona, not far away from La Barceloneta to the hill and gives you a perfect possibility to get a birds eye view on Barcelona.

The cable car tower at Port Vell          View on Barcelona from the cable car

There are several interesting things to see and visit on Montjuic. I walked around in the Botanical Gardens, took a look at the fortress from outside, passed a huge cemetery before I headed down to the Olympic Stadium and finally passed the Palau Nacional that was built for the 1929 International Expositions and now is an arts museum. It is a long walk so wear good walking shoes and bring plenty of water. I was there on a very hot summer day at almost 35 C and at one point I unfortunately ran out of water, so was very happy when I finally reached the café at the stadium.

View over Barcelona from Montjuic          The fortress on Montjuic in Barcelona

Montjuic Communications Tower next to the arena Palau Sant Jordi          Palau Nacional in Barcelona

Shopping in Barcelona

When in Barcelona do also reserve time for shopping. It can easily be combined with sight seeing since many of the popular sights are actually situated on the shopping streets. Not to be missed is of course La Rambla that stretches over 1,2 km and connects Placa Catalunya with the Mirador de Colón close to the harbour. It is full of life from the early morning to very late evening and there is always something funny and interesting to look at.

Pavement mosaic by Joan Miró on La Rambla          Lamp post at La Rambla

La Rambla at night (taken at 00:34)          Artists performing at La Rambla

Another street where to find a variety of high street fashion shops in is Passaig de Gracia. This is also where Casa Batlló and La Pedrera are situated. On Placa Catalunya you will find the department store: El Corte Ingles. Popular and affordable spanish fashion brands for ladies are: Mango, Zara and Desigual. And do not forget to look out for shoes and bags. Leather goods are of good quality and less expensive than in many other countries of Europe.

Lion at Mirador de Colon

My program for Barcelona

Day 1: Afternoon: Arrival in La Barceloneta Evening: walk to and dinner at the Olympic Port

Day 2: Morning: La Sagrada Familia Afternoon: Beach time Evening: Paella with friends in the center

Day 3: Morning: walk on La Rambla, Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and shopping Evening: FC Barcelona

Day 4: Morning: Montjuic Afternoon: Beach time Evening: dinner in La Barceloneta

Day 5: Morning: La Pedrera and shopping Afternoon: Beach time Evening: dinner at Placa Reial

Day 6: Morning: breakfast on the beach and off to the airport

Advertisements
Categories: Barcelona, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alpe d’Huez – not only for Tour de France bike riders, also for down hill skiers

France 2012

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/25/alpe-dhuez/

Driving on the road up to Alpe d’Huez you pass through 21 hairpin bends. In each of the bends there is a plate with the name of one of the Tour de France winners on the legendary mountain. But Alpe d’Huez is not only for Tour de France bikers. During winter it is a very good ski resort, both for beginners and advanced skiers.

Hairpin bends at Alpe d'huez         View to Alpe d'Huez from Auris en Oisans mountain

Skiing at Alpe d’Huez

In January 2012 my brother and niece invited me to join them on their annual skiing holiday. They are both very good and fast skiers, whereas I myself is more relaxed about the skiing. I can, if I really want to, go downhill on a black piste, but I definitely prefer a blue or red piste. Even though the need for speed is in my blood, can’t deny that, I guess I’m more for the relaxed downhill skiing where I also take the time to enjoy the scenery around me. Just the sight of the magnificent mountains around me, is something very special – I grew up in a country where the highest point is only 170 meters above sea level.

The Alpe d’Huez with surrounding towns has a total of 250 km pistes so there are plenty of different pistes to explore. I think it great to get up fairly early in the morning and go the furthest out you can in the area and then use the following hours working your way back – going down one slope and up in a lift, down another slope and up in another lift etc. In Alpe d’Huez, I recommend to take the trip out to Montfrais and then return to the foot of Signal going through the villages of Vaujany and Oz en Oisans. Fantastic skiing and scenery.

Scenery near Montfrais at Alpe d'Huez          View to the piste Signal at Alpe d'Huez

Another must do in Alpe d’Huez is the La Sarenne run, but I advise only to do it if you are an experienced skier. The first part is really steep. A very easy but beautiful piste, and perfect for the final day run, is the one going down to the village Huez from Alpe d’Huez. Please click Alpe d’Huez for all information about the resort and a detailed map of the pistes.

French food

Another great thing about holidaying in France is of course the food. We stayed in a hotel with breakfast and dinner included and even though the kitchen was run by Danes, the food was inspired from the french kitchen, so absolutely lovely. If you want to source your own french specialities, I can recommend to visit some of the delicacy shops in Alpe d’Huez. Both the sausages and the sweets are absolutely delicious.

French charcuterie          Cakes in Alpe d'Huez

For lunch on the mountain, I recommend a pizza at the little cosy Chalet du Lac Besson reached by the piste Boulevard de Lac. The food there is excellent and on top the view from the terrasse is fantastic.

Other activities in Alpe d’Huez

In Alpe d’Huez there is also an outdoor swimming pool and a skating ring. Unfortunately I didn’t find the time for any of these activities, but it looked great. I did try out the after skiing but being a little bit “germanophile”, I must admit that I prefer the after skiing in the german speaking Austria. In Alpe d’Huez there are several bars to choose from and also good party vibes late in the evening, but the Austrian after skiing starts much earlier in the afternoon and is full power compared to the French.

Ice skating ring in Alpe d'Huez          Outdoor swimming pool in Alpe d'Huez

A room with a view in Alpe d'Huez          Heavy snowfall at Alpe d'Huez

All together I consider Alpe d’Huez a complete skiing resort. I had a great week there with my family and did some amazing skiing. It is said that there are 300 days with sunshine in Alpe d’Huez. The first days we had bright sunshine from a blue ski – the last couple of days very heavy snow fall, but it also has it’s charm to experience snow fall of minimum 50 cm within 24 hours. Though not really the best skiing weather. My last day in Alpe d’Huez, I went up and down one time only – doing otherwise for me wouldn’t be safe.

Did you try out some great ski resorts? And why were they just perfect for you? Please let me know for inspiration to my next skiing holiday.

Categories: Alpe d'Huez, France | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

My longest road trip

Germany 2002-2006

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/22/road-trip-in-germany/

I have been on many great road trips until now. Both the short day trip ones and others lasting several weeks. But the longest road trip must be when I was driving around Germany as a sales representative from 2002 to 2006. Some might say: “How can that be a road trip? – that’s work! And sometimes you did sleep in your own bed during those 4 1/2 years, didn’t you?”.

Experiencing Germany from the Autobahn

Well, every trip from point A to B is what you make out of it, and driving around Germany as a part of my work was an opportunity to see and experience another country. Throughout the years there, I drove some hundred thousands of kilometers which meant that I just from behind my wheel saw a great part of Germany’s landscape and architecture. Germany is a very big country (at least seen from an European perspective) and has so many diversities to offer from the flat North to the Alps in the South, from the densely populated industrial cities in the West to the former DDR in the East, and from the big multicultural Berlin to small countryside towns. For those who have only been in the big cities or driven on the Autobahns (motorways) in Germany, they will be amased how much lovely countryside there actually is in this country.

Autobahn A7 in Hamburg

Listening to the radio while road tripping

I admit it, driving on the German Autobahns can sometimes be a bit boring, especially if you land in one of the numerous queues on a Friday afternoon or during the holiday season, but thats where you have to be inventive. If you are lucky, the landscape around you is worth taking a closer look at instead of at the speed of 130 km/h plus. Another great thing to do, is tuning in on the local radio station. Apart form practicing your language listening skills, you also get to know the culture of the country. And that counts for everything you listen to – not only the radio news, but also the music. I don’t think I would ever have gotten to know the lovely music of Herbert Grönemeyer or Xavier Naidoo, if it wasn’t for my time in Germany.

Another advantage of listening to the radio while on the road, is the warnings about road accidents and the following queues. My craziest “listening to a warning” moment was when I on a busy late Friday afternoon was myself part of an accident. The driver behind me decided NOT to brake when I had to brake because of the car in front of me did, and we all ended up crashing. Luckily it only came to material damages on the cars. While waiting for the police to come rescuing us, I sat in my car and listened to the radio – it is not wise to walk around on a motorway anyway, even when sitting in a queue. Suddenly I heard: “Autounfall auf der Autobahn A7 nördlich von Hamburg Richtung Süden bildet ein Stau” (Car accident on the motorway A7 north of Hamburg going south is building up a queue). My thought in this odd moment, where I only wished to begin my weekend, was: “Yes!!!, I know – I’m very much the reason for this f***ing queue” – even though of course it wasn’t my entire fault.

German accommodation

Being a sales representative on the road, you get to check out a lot of different accommodation. The company I worked for had a non-written agreement with us reps to use as little as possible on overnight stays, which in my opinion is actually to some extend quite OK, since you usually only need a good bed and breakfast when road tripping. The next day you are on the move again. Since I didn’t always knew where I would end up after a long day visiting customers, I sometimes chose to book accommodation last minute. Some of the hotels you find last minute are quite ok – others unfortunately not really that interesting. If you have the time to leave the motorway and go off the beaten track, then I recommend to find a little Gasthaus (Guest house) in a smaller town. It’s like entering another world and they usually serve a very nutritious breakfast that will keep you saturated throughout the entire day. And that all for a very reasonable price.

Sightseeing in Germany

Even though the reason for being on the road was work and visiting customers, there was usually the possibility to do some sightseeing after working hours. On that account I’ve seen a lot of the sights of Germany. To mention a few, in Berlin the Checkpoint CharlieFernsehturm and Brandenburger Tor, in Cologne the Kölner Dom, in München the Neues Rathaus, in Dresden the Frauenkirche that was recently rebuild after the WW2 bombings, the Lübecker Holstentor, the Frankfurter skyline, the wadden sea of the coast of Cuxhaven. Another German tradition is the Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas market) and almost every town of a reasonable size has its own. Click Germany for more information about tourism in the country.

Kölner Dom in Cologne          Cuxhaven Wattenmeer

All together even though I was working while on the road in Germany from 2002 to 2006, it was a fantastic and my longest road trip.

Categories: Berlin, Cuxhaven, Dresden, Frankfurt, Germany, Köln, Lübeck, München | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Free travelling

Cuba 2009

20. December 2012: For updates on this post please visit: http://www.circumnavigator.dk/2012/10/16/free-travelling-cuba/

When I travelled around Cuba for a couple of weeks, most of the nights I stayed in people’s private homes – the so-called casas particulares. In every city you come to, there are plenty of these private home stays to choose from and it is very affordable accommodation too. Apart from a private room and sometimes a bath room, breakfast and also dinner is usually included in the price. And it can surely be recommended to go for the casa particular dinner option in Cuba, since the quality of the home-cooked food is usually much better than in most of the restaurants.

Casa particular in Trinidad, Cuba          Room in casa particular, Moron

Then there is another advantage of staying in people’s private homes. You get to meet and talk with them in their own environment. Since my spanish is not 100% perfect, I was happy to have my Mediterranean travel companion with me to translate, because the talks we had with the locals before dinner while sipping a chilled mojito, were absolutely the best way to learn more about the Cuban culture.

Dinner at casa particular in Cienfuegos, Cuba          Mojito time at casa particular

Transport of luggage from bus station to casa particular in Trinidad          Meeting the Cuban people

Being a true adventurer and experienced traveller, one of the things that touched me the most during these talks was when the topic came to the obstacles travelling out of Cuba. I consider myself being lucky to be able to freely leave my home country and visit almost all countries in the world without too much bureaucratic hassle.

I have today read the very good news that the Cuban government as of the 14. January 2013 will ease up on the ability to leave the country and with a valid passport and visa only making it possible to go travelling. Read more about the ending of exit permits here. I wish the Cubans happy and free travelling.

And then of course, I can only recommend travellers to visit Cuba – an amazing country indeed. Don’t just stay in one of the big hotels up north. Take a bus to one of the beautiful cities Trinidad, Cienfuegos or Viñales and stay in a casa particular and meet the authentic Cuban people.

Categories: Cienfuegos, Cuba, Trinidad | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.