Monday, 20 February 2012

And Paris Updated..

Our Paris daily plan;

Day one:
  • The Islands - walk down the Seine and across the Pont de l'Archeveche over to Notre Dame
  • Climb the Notre Dame
  • Square du Vert Galant and Place Daphine
  • Pont Neuf over to right bank
  • Walk along the Seine to The Louvre 
  • Walk through the Tuileries and go to the Musee de l'Orangerie (have a picnic in the gardens for lunch)
  • Place de la Concorde 
  • Along Rue de Rivoli, have the famous hot chocolate at Angelina's 
  • Up to Place Vendome 
  • Place Madeleine
  • Walk up Champs-Elysees to Arc de Triomphe 
  • Wander around the Golden Triangle
  •  Trocadero
  • Cross the river to the Eiffel Tower
  • Grab some pre-dinner snacks along rue cler to have while we watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle
  • Dinner out
Day two:
  • Breakfast at home
  • Batobus to Musee d'Orsay 
  • Batobus to The Louvre
  • Check out areas around Rue Montorgueil and have coffee around there
  • Wander down to Centre Pompidou
  • Onto Place de l'Hotel de Ville
  • Through the Marais, wandering around the cute streets. Have lunch around here
  • Musee Picasso
  • Place des Vosges
  • Stroll down to Promenade Plantee and surrounding streets
  • Batobus tour around the Seine at dusk
  • Dinner out or at home
Day three:
In the Champagne District

Day four:
  • Breakfast
  • Stroll through back streets of the Latin Quarter up to Shakespeare and Co.
  • Back down to the Pantheon
  • Onto Rue Mouffetard
  • Jardin des Plantes?
  • Luxembourg gardens
  • Have lunch around St Germain area
  • Stroll through all St Germain back streets
  • Have coffee at Cafe de Flore
  • Wander up to pedestrian streets close to the Seine 
  • Head over to The Islands. Grab an ice cream at Berthillon and watch sunset over Seine (depending what time it will be by then)
  • Have dinner out

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

London - our plans for 3 days.

Since we will be in big cities like London and Paris for only short amounts of time, we are planning out our days to make sure we get the most out of our time. This will mean we won't be spending all our time tube hoping from one side of the city to the other over and over.

Our daily plans look like this;

Day One:
  • Aubaine (Heddon Street - just off Regent) for breakfast
  • Walk down to Trafalgar Square, via Piccadilly Circus and check out the National Gallery
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Westminster Abbey (peek inside)
  • Change of Guard at 11am at Horse Guards Parade
  • Stroll through St James' Park to Buckingham Palace (coffee here?)
  • Green Park up to Wellington Arch
  • Hyde Park
  • Walk through Mayfair
  • Oxford Street/Regent Street and Bond Street
  • Savile Row and Burlington Arcade and Fortnum and Mason
  • Stroll through Soho to Carnaby Street
  • Afternoon tea at Liberty of London
  • Meet George and go for a drink at The Marylebone Bar or Beach Blanket Babylon
  • Go back to our place for pre dinner chill sesh
  • Dinner at ?? (around 8pm)
Day Two: (Pub lunch at any pub we stumble upon when hungry?)
  • Walk down South Bank to Borough Market for breakfast. Elliot's at 10am.
  • Millennium Bridge 
  • St Paul's
  • Monument
  • Leadenhall Market
  • Tower Bridge and Castle
  • Stroll around the city area (Gherkin etc)
  • Stroll around Bloomsbury area (Bedford Row and all around the British Museum)
  • Afternoon all around Covent Garden
  • Have Drink with Marney & Bickey, Peter & Penny
  • Dinner

Day Three:
  • Morning stroll around Notting Hill
  • Breakfast at La Fromagerie
  • Marylebone
  • Wallace Collection
  • Marble Arch
  • Kensington Gardens (and Serpentine gallery?)
  • Harvey Nichols and Harrods
  • Sloane St/Belgravia (Motcomb street & Cadagon Place)
  • Sloane Square
  • King's Road/Duke of York Square (Lunch around here)
  • South Kensington
  • Tube to Embankment
  • Walk along Victoria Embankment
  • River Cruise
  • London Eye (at approx 6pm or 7pm)
  • Dinner out for our last night

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The road to Barcelona.

I forgot to do a post on what to see on the way to Barcelona... So here it is. It says according to Google maps that it's just over 6 hours to Barcelona ( bit longer than it takes to gt to Thredbo).

We will set out and drive to Zaragoza. It takes about 3 1/2 hours to get to Zaragoza so the plan will be to arrive for lunch. This town is on the Rio Ebro so should be quite pretty and apparently has great tapas bars - one of which is Casa Pascualillo said to be one of the best tapas bars in Spain. - this is a blog about his restaurant. There is a tangle of lanes in El tubo north of Plaza de Espana and home to one of Spain's richest gatherings of tapas bars.

Ebro River - Zaragoza - Spain

From there we will head to Barcelona - there are lots of towns we will go through on the way.
The rest of the trip is 3 hours and then we'll be in Barcelona!

Friday, 10 February 2012

And last but not least Barcelona!!

I am so excited about Barcelona - it sounds fantastic. The only problem with getting to this part of the trip is that it's the last stop :(

(Click to view larger image)
This is where we are staying - right where it says el Gotic.
So here's the list of the things that I want to see and do in Barcelona:
La Sagrada Familia - Spain's most visited sight.

La Rambla - the tree lined pedestrian boulevard. This is 1.25km long and is a host of street art, flamenco dancers and fire eaters. Very touristy by the sound of it - and tacky but a must do!

Things to see along La Rambla:

Esglesia de Betlem - an impressive baroque church on La Rambla - also Palau de la Birreina - neoclassical church.

Placa de la Boqueria - Miro pavement mosaic

La Boqueria market.

Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house

Museu Nacional D'art de Catalunya -  Art gallery. The Romanesque art collection is the highlight.

Other things to see:

Montjuic  - lovely gardens with lots of see here. Overlooks the ocean.
Castell de Montjuic  - the Castle with views over the ocean.

This is also where the Olympic stadium is as well as several art galleries and museums. They are all around 8 euros per person entry so we will be picking and choosing which ones to go to.
There is the Fundacio Joan Miro (some Spanish artis)  and Poble Sec - spanish towns in miniature (like Canberra!). There is also Jardins de Joan Brossa and Jardin de Mossen Cinto de Verdaguer.
La Font Magica - Montjuic's famous fountains.
North of the gardens is Poblo sec - higgledy- piggledy streets lined with bars and eateries..

Areas of Barcelona:

L'Eixample - the most extensive of Barcelona's districts.

La Sagrada Familia - Entry 12 euros.
Passeig De Gracia - Gaudi's buildings - La Pedrera and Casa Batllo with it's dragonlike roof.
On the same block are several other Modernista creations - next door is the Casa Amatller with jutting out walls and corners. Futher down is Casa Lleo Morera.
Palau del Baro Quadras is nearby and 2 blocks easst across Avnguda Diagonal - Casa de les Punxes with fairytale turrets.

La Rambla de Catalunya, passeig de Gracia and surrounding streets - for shopping.
El Corte Ingles - big department store.
Joan Murria - grocer /delicatessen has been in the same family since early 1900's and has an eye catching facade.
Purification Garcia - great shop and extraordinary building.
Sergio Aranda - looks like a lovely jewellery shop - on carrer de Valencia.

Buildings to see in this area:  La Pedrera built by Guardi. On the 4th floor is a modernista apartment.
The facade looks like a cliff face.

Carrer D'Enric Granados - Pedestrianed bottom end at Carrer de la Diputacio is marked off by the gardens. Wander past restaurants to Placa del Doctor Letamendi and to Avinguda Diagonal.


Cafe Alfonso - perfect tapas stop with a long marble bar. Famous for it's flautas (thin custom made bagettes with your choice of filling).
Cata 1.81 tapas - Carrer  de Valencia 181 - specialities such as salt cod dumplings (raviolis amb bacalla) or thick potato tortilla with a delicate trace of truffle (truita amb tofona). Wine features largely at this place.
Cerveseria Catalana  - Carrer de Mallorca - tapas and canapes - can sit at bar or pavement terrace.

La Ribera

Carrer de Montcada - one of the wealthiest streets in Barelona.

Santa Maria del Mar - Barcelona's greatest Gothic church.

Passeig del Born - a short leafy boulevard behind Santa Maria del Mar.

Arc de Triomf - a triumphal gate with islamic style brickwork.

Get lost along the narrow street of Carrer dels Banys Vells which runs north west  from Santa Maria del Mar - lots of inviting bars, restaurants and shops found here.
Mercat de Santa Caterina -  huge produce market great to shop for fresh produce and gourmet products - good place for lunch.

Palau de La Musica Catalana - very opulent building - the exterior and foyer. The interior of the main auditorium

Parc de la Ciutadella - has a lake and eye catching buildings such as Parlament de Catalunya.

Shopping: Carrer del Rec - fashion outlets such as coquette and custo Barcelona.
Carrer de l'esparteria - Outlet del born - discounted fashions from Hugo boss, Armani etc
Avinguda de Francesc Cambo - Olisoliva - Olive oils from all over Spain.
Carre dels Agullers 7 - great wine shop. - vila Viniteca

Eating:  Cal pep - a boisterous tapas bar
Bar hopping along Passeig Del Born - start  at the church - all bars are good.

El Xampanyet - tapas on Carrer de Montcada 22 - colourful old time cava (Spanish sparkling wine) bar.

Port Vell and  La Barceloneta-  this used to be a wasteland but is now a marina with chic shopping, bustling bars and restaurants and amazing 21st century architecture.
Stroll down Platja de Sant Sebastia , enjoy a sundowner at chiringuito and seafood at any of the seafood restaurants.
Meander along Passeig de Joan de Borbo - full of pavement terraces.
Seafood at the Palau de Mar - Beautiful restored portside warehouses of the Palau de Mar - about 5 seafood restaurants - all with sunny terraces.
You can go on the Golondrina excursion boats that go around the harbour - about 6 E each for about 1/2 an hour.

El Ravel

Old town district -  sounds pretty dodgy. The end of the Rambla is in this section. Full of drug dealers, prostitutes and migrants. Some upmarket places now - new housing and a luxurious hotel.

Mercat de la Boqueria - One of Europe's greatest permanent produce fairs. Enter from La Rambla

Boadas - one of Barcelona's cocktail bars specialising in dacquiris.

Park Guell  and Gracia   - a labyrinth of busy squares and narrow streets.  This area bubbles with life with the narrow streets and lanes opening up to busy squares.
Modernista market at Place de la Libertat - a more down to earth product market.
Busiest squre is the Placa del Sol, Placa de la Virreina and Placa de Rius. This one is dominated by the town hall and clock tower.
From Placa de la Revolucio de Setembre de 1868 there is the pedestrian only Carrer de Verdi - lined with lots of tempting shops, eateries.
Park Guell - one of Gaudi's creations - a public park. Looks like great views.
Enter through the main entrance on Carrer d'olot - it's like entering Alice in Wonderland.

Barri Gotic - Placa De sant jaume - where the forum used to be.

Walk from Placa de sant Jaume towards Via laietana, Stop and make a right down the medieval lane of Carrer de la Dagueria - ceramics shop, cheese shop, bars and places to eat.  The street ends in Placa De Sant Just where there is a smattering of outdoor tables and where Esglesia de Sants Just I pastor is - a church with lovely stained glass windows and a fountain dating back to 1367.

 Le Cathedral.

Casa de la pia Almoina - Barcelona's roman walls -

Esglesai De Santa maria Del Pl - a striking church with a beautiful rose window.

Esglesia de Betlem - 18th Century church of Jerusalem.

Avinguda del Portal del Angel and Carrer de La boqueria - for shopping.

Carrer de Ferran and the port - narrow lanes full of bars and eateries.

Placa reial - pretty 19th Century square with neoclassical facades, palm trees and noisy restaurants and bars. Lamp posts were Gaudi's first commission here. Good place for a drink.

Shopping and eating  - Caelum - specialist food and drink in Carrer de la Palla 8. Cafe downstairs used to be a jewish bathhouse.

Cereria subira - candle shop - Baixada De La Llibreteria 7

Carrer D'avinyo - Boutiques galore starting at Carrer Ample along to Carrer de Ferran.

Cafe de L'opera  - the most atmospheric on La Rambla.

Set lunch menus - from 8 - 12 euros for 3 courses and a drink. (menu del dia)

Los Caracoles - Carrer dels escudellers Barri Gotic's  most picturesque restaurant.

El Poblenou - the city's better beaches.

Baker's shop, Barcelona
Just off the Pla├ža Sant Jaume, there's a wonderful little baker's shop which it's very tempting  to go to first thing in the morning. In the picture, above, are meringues, madalenas with apple on top that melt in your mouth, pa cremat with a coating of sugar on top and coconut tarts.


Pret a porter giant is Mango.
Main shopping axis starts on Placa de Catalunya, proceeds up Passeig de Gracia , turn left into Avinguda Diagonal, along to Placa de la Reina Maria Christina. Placa de Francesc Macia and Placa de la Reina Maria christina is dense with shops.

The heart of L'eixample - known as the Quadrat d'or (golden square) is jammed with all sorts of glittering shops - La Rambla de Catalunya is lined with chic shops. Carrer del consell de cent and nearby streets full of all sorts of great shops.
Placa de Sant jaume. Carrer d'avinyo and carrer de la Palla.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Toledo day trip?

I would like to do a day trip to Toledo as it sounds fantastic and is only an hour or so away from Madrid. It really depends on whether we want to go here or spend time in Madrid. With travel time we won't have a lot of time to explore Madrid. Thought I'd put this in - just in case so will just mention a few things to do - basically if we do go we will probably just come and have a meal and a quick look around.

Toledo has been compared to a down sized Rome. It's small enough to walk around and is a labyrinth of narrow streets, plazas and inner patios and is comparable to a mini Damascas or Cario. It sits high above Rio Tajo and is one of Spain's most visited cities.
There are alot of religious buildings to see here - synagogues and cathedrals.
Definitely worth a visit if we can fit it in.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Hola Madrid.

I'm looking forward to Madrid - I think it will be really fun and interesting. We are staying in the heart of it all, close to Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol.

Things to see in Madrid:

Plaza Mayor - the highlight of any visit to Madrid.

Calle Mayor

Plaza de la Villa

Palacio Real

Plaza de Santa Ana

Puerto del Sol

Museo del Prado - said to be one of the premier art galleries in the world. Free 6-8pm Tues - Fri.Otherwise it's 8 E each.

Parque del Buen Retiro.

Chueca and Malasana for great dinners, nightlife and shopping.

La Latina and Lavapies for tapas.

Los Austrias, Sol & Centro - Madrid's grandest monuments.

Calle de la Ribera de Curtidores - a maze of streets (There is a massive flea market there on Sundays)
This is in the El Rastro.

There are alot of art galleries - In the Huertas & Atocha area the Centro de arte Reina Sofia is home to Picasso's Guernica which is Spain's most famous artwork.

In the Paseo del Prado & El Retiro area is Parque del Buen Retiro - splendid gardens with marble monuments.

Parque de la Montana - has a 4th C Egyptian temple. - this is a website I've been using to find out info.
I have just ordered a travel book on Madrid from book so will add more things to do when that arrives.

I would love to go and see some Flamanco dancing. I have been looking this up on utube. I have found a couple of places in my "Spain" book that sound really good. It's quite expensive but if you buy online they are half price.

San Sebastian to Madrid.

We head off to Madrid on 17th. Sadly we will have said goodbye to George who has to fly back to Cardiff the day before we leave. Its' going to be a full day of driving but we'll see lots on the way.
On the way we will be going to the The Rioja area which is the wine area (more wine tasting!!).
There are a couple of cute little places along the way. Harro is described as the unattractive capitol of the Rioja area so might give that a miss but only a couple of kilometres away is Briones.  In comparision this is described as an obscenely quaint village," a sunset gold village with commmanding views over wine carpeted plains" There is a fantastic wine museum.


Then we'll head onto laguardia - this is a medieval fortress dating back to 13th century.The village is only small with a few streets in the old city but there is still plenty of lovely places to eat, shop and drink some of the best wine. No cars are allowed inside the old city.

San Sebastian to Laguardia is about 1 hours 50 minutes.  Sophie has marked out Calatanazor to visit as well - this is approx 2 hours 20 from Laguardia.

This town according to Wikipedia has 70 people living here. This castle looks amazing - infact the whole town looks really cute and interesting.
From here we'll head towards Madrid via Segovia which is 2 and 1/2 hours from Calatanazor.
Segovia has one of Europe's best preserved Roman aquaducts as well as the castle that inspired Disneyland's sleeping Beauty castle. It's also full of religious buildings and lively streets.

Drive out of town 2km due north towards Cuellar for a wonderful view back over the city. From here it's about an hour to Madrid.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Day trip along the Spanish coast.

We are planning on doing a day trip from San Sebastian along the coast as far as Comillas
The trip is about 2 hours 20 minutes. Looking on google earth its' amazing.
First stop will be Elantxrobe. Elantxobe is a small fishing village built on a very steep hillside nestled between a cliff and the sea. It’s streets are very narrow.

This is just one of many little fishing villages and they all look divine.

According to google maps they plan out the route as going inland quite a bit but there is a coastal road - Bi3438. It runs beside the water, it's quite narrow but would be so much better than the inland road.

We would get the whole feel of the place so much better.  I don't think we'll be able to do the whole coast as it will take too long - Elantxtobe is about an hour from San Sebastian.
From there we'll skirt round Bilboa and head back along the coast - along E70 mostly to Santillana del Mar - about an hour and a half. This village sounds so divine - picture perfect with colourful cobbled streets and ancient buildings.

The last little village we plan to visit is Comillas which is only 20 minutes from Santillana del Mar.
It has cobbled streets,  a golden beach and a Gaudi designed building.

We'll then head back to San Sebastian for the night.