Michael Smit

Joined May 2017Living in: Cabarita, Australia
  • Day4

    Barcelona to Valencia

    July 3, 2017 in Spain

    On another beautiful summer day in Spain we left Barcelona for our journey to Valencia, capital city of the state of Valencia famous for producing oranges (Naranjas in Spanish).

    On the way we had a stopover in a beautiful seaside town of Peniscola, a busy tourist location with a wide sweeping beachfront. The town had an old walled village with a castle (Castillo) and a church (Iglesia) on the coast overlooking the beach and the blue Mediterranean. We spent a pleasant hour walking through the village finishing up with a cold beer (cerveza) and a calamari tapas.

    Next stop was Valencia where we were taken to a restaurant to watch a paella cooking demonstration. The paella was not seafood based but rather was chicken and rabbit. We enjoyed it over a couple of glasses of wine.

    Afterwards we explored the old town area of Valencia, looking at the old churches and buildings. We tried a traditional Valencian drink called horchata, which tasted like a very sweet almond milk.

    Next stop was our hotel, Barcelo Valencia, which was located in the City of Arts and Sciences, a new modern precinct made up of a lot of museums housed in stunning modern architecture. With nearby shopping complexes and restaurants this was a lively area well into the night.
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  • Day3

    Barcelona - Day 3

    July 2, 2017 in Spain

    Started the day with a guided tour visit to Montserrat, a multi-peaked rocky range with strange eroded rock formations giving a serrated appearance located near the city of Barcelona.

    A Benedictine monastery, Santa Maria de Montserrat, is located in the range and is a holy place of pilgrimage for many Catalonians. The abbey holds The Virgin of Montserrat, also known as the Black Madonna, a statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ.

    On return from Montserrat we went on a guided tour of the cathedral La Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family), designed by the famous Antoni Gaudi. Originally started in 1880 by another architect, Gaudi took this on and devoted 43 years of his life to the building, dying by accident before it was completed.

    It remains uncompleted today, although work continues and is targeted for completion in 9 years, to coincide with the 100th anniversary of his death in 2026. While incomplete, it is a beautiful piece of architecture in Gaudi's very different style.

    Lastly we were taken on a guide tour of the Old Town, which although we had visited the previous day was fascinating as we listened to our very knowledgeable local guide, Santiago.
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  • Day2

    Barcelona - Day 2

    July 1, 2017 in Spain

    Today we embarked on another walking tour of Barcelona, but this time we headed to the old town area, or Barri Gotic.

    Again we took the Avenguda Diagonal, but this time we turned into Passeig de Garcia, wends at Placa de Catalunya.

    Along Passeig de Garcia we passed two buildings designed and built by Antoni Gaudi, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera.

    We headed into the old town and visited the Catedral de Barcelona. We took a lift to the roof for access to excellent views of the city.

    Afterwards we strolled through the historic streets and headed back to our hotel.

    At night we joined our tour guide and tour group for a welcome dinner of tapas. A mix of Australians and Americans, and about 39 in total. The tour guide Enzo seems a lot of fun.

    Tomorrow we visit attractions around Barcelona with the tour group.
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  • Day1

    Barcelona - Day 1

    June 30, 2017 in Spain

    Our visit to Spain starts in Barcelona on beautiful warm sunny day.

    After breakfast in our hotel, Melia Sarria, we spent the day walking through the streets of Barcelona.

    We walked on three main streets. The first was Avinguda Diagonal, a street that, as its name suggests, diagonally cuts through Barcelona.

    Then we walked down Rambla de Catalunya, which had a central walkway for pedestrians with one way streets for cars on each side.

    This eventually became La Rambla, a similar walkway through the more historic part of town. The highlight was the food markets, where they sold all kinds of food from meat to seafood to fruit and vegetables to cheese and olives.

    La Rambla took us all the way to the waterfront.

    We returned by retracing our steps, stopping for tapas and paella on the way.

    All in all a great day taking in this beautiful city, walking for 9 hours and around 20,000 steps according to my FitBit.
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