Friday, September 28, 2012

1st edition of Madrid Exquisito - Great food in a great city

Madrid is more than just a capital city. It's a cultural hub, a dynamic fusion of grandeur and local tradition. One of the only places I have ever found where a fried calamari ring sandwich is considered not only normal, but downright local. It is a city that offers a great array of entertainment, and it´s culinary offer is worthy of its reputation. From September 27 - October 7, the city of Madrid has teamed up with some of the best restaurants to offer the first ever Madrid Exquisito, a similar idea to Restaurant week. For the next ten days,   30 euros will get you a tasting menu at Palacio de Cibeles, El Chiscon, Cafe de Oriente, and more!

For more information on planning a private tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Special -our new Autumn Discovery Northern Spain tour

From November 10 - November 18, 2012: Late Harvest and Autumn Colors: The best Food, Wine, History and Landscapes of northern Spain on Display and at your fingertips with The Spanish Touch on our exclusive Late Harvest and Autumn Colors Tour this year.

Starting from $3,075 per person, join us as we take you right into the heart of the culture and the region, a journey which features the some of the best foods, wines, historical and cultural sites all as we take you through the Pyrenees in full fall splendor!

Check out The Spanish Touch website for more information on this unique opportunity to discover just how magical Spain can be!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Staying in Barcelona around Eixample or the Gothic Quarter

Staying in Barcelona around Eixample or the Gothic Quarter

Barcelona is a city full of places that you cannot miss out on visiting and one of the best ways to enjoy these places and the essence of the Catalan capital is by staying in Barcelona Accommodation directly in the city centre. But in what area should you rent your apartment?  Well, although it's usually the most expensive, by far the best place to stay is in L'Eixample. If you're not looking to spend money though, on the other end of the price spectrum is the Gothic Quarter of the city. A lot of people talk about how you should stay in the Gothic Quarter of the city, so you can imagine it's a great place to stay, but be warned: it's not for everyone and I'll tell you why later. For now, let's take a look at what each location has to offer.

L'Eixample: The heart of Barcelona with the Guadí's most famous works

Without doubt, L'Eixample is one of the most prime areas in which you can rent a place to stay and at the same time be only a short walk away from monuments such as La Pedrera and Casa Batlló from Gaudí, Casa Amatller and Casa de les Punxes from Puig i Cadafalch, and Casa Lleó Morera from Domènech i Montaner. amongst other attractions! L'Eixample is roughly divided five areas, Eixample Dret (Right) and Eixample Esquerra (Left), Sant Atoni, Sagrada Familia, and Fort Pienc. Of these divisions, the best place to stay is around the Sagrada Familia area, Passeig de Gràcia,  or Rambla de Catalunya.

The right side of Eixample stretches from Calle Balmes until Passeig de Sant Joan, and includes Passeig de Gràcia mentioned before (probably the best road for high street shopping in the city). The right side is also home to Plaza Catalunya, the very centre of the city. Rambla de Catalunya is a very nice street lined with bars that have terraces which are very nice to chill out around in the summer. Take a look through this list and you'll see that it's easy to find a Barcelona apartment in these areas.
In the left side of Eixample you will find the Modelo Prison - a building featured in the movie Salvador and which represents the repression of Franco, el Matadero - Joan Miró's park (a park built on a former slaughterhouse) which features a work of art by the Spanish Artist a year before he died, the former bullfighting arena called Las Arenas which is now a shopping mall that allows visitor to wander around the roof for full 360º views of the city, and Casa Golferichs, a modernist house built in 1901 by Joan Rubió i Bellver that is now a Civic Centre. Although it's not as prestigious as staying in the right side, it won't cost as much and it's very well connected with the rest of the city.

Gothic Quarter of Barcelona: The historic centre of Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of the city whose great historical significance with remnants of the Roman era is still present. It is also home to some of the greatest Gothic monuments like the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia (aka Barcelona Cathedral), and Santa María del Mar, as well as great places to relax with your friends with a drink like Plaza Real. You can also see the remains of a temple dedicated to Augustus and parts of a roman wall if you follow the "Roman Route" of the city. You will also be able to easily find a Metro station with Jaume I (Line 4), Liceu (Line 3), and Drassanes (Line 3) all within this area.

So why did I mention earlier that the Gothic Quarter isn't for everyone? Well, as well as being the historical core of the city, it's also the centre of nightlife. If you're the type of person who loves to party, or consider yourself a nighttime person, then this district is the place for you to stay. Otherwise you will probably want to bring earplugs as you might find that you end up staying on a relatively active street during the late hours of the night. Nightclubs here are usually open from late in the evening until the early morning the next day.

How can we apply this information to those wishing to stay in the city then? Well, if you're a young traveller, someone looking for great nights out, or group of friends looking for a great value place to stay in Barcelona, make sure you stay in the Gothic Quarter. If you're a family visiting Barcelona for the first time, or a couple looking for a great holiday, then make your stay in Eixample instead. And if you can't afford to stay in the right side of Eixample? Consider moving over to the left side.

Author Bio: Harriet Freeman

"Having been an expat in Barcelona for over 5 years and eventually entering the tourism industry; I made it my priority to become somewhat of a guru on all things Barcelona. As a frequent blogger on the city; I aim to keep all of my readers in the know about the Catalan Capital."

Barcelona's Patron Saint Party

I've been to a number of cities during their major celebtraions. And one of the things that I have found to be universal is that the locals all get very excited about their specific traditions and the unique aspects of this or that. It's a great source of pride for the locals. And justifiably so, I might add. This weekend is the La Merce Festival. As La Merce (Barcelona's patron saint) falls on a Monday, the city will be celebrating a three day weekend in authentic Barcelona style. Classical music, jazz and rock concerts, family parades and wine and food tastings. From the heights of the Castle at Montjuic to the Barceloneta beach, circus performers, fireworks, and everything in between promise to make this weekend a wonderful way to meet and greet the city, it's buildings and streets, people, traditions and offers!

For more information or to design a private tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A day or two with The Freedmans - A Tour in and around Barcelona

Louise and Fred Freedman arrived in Barcelona having spent the previous couple of weeks exploring ports and cities around Europe. The end of the cruise left them ready to settle for a couple of days and enjoy their surroundings. Our plan called for a half day walking around the city center, discovering the quiet and not-so-quiet corners of the Gothic Quarter, strolling Las Ramblas and taking in the sights of the capital of Catalonia. But having spent so many days hitting the cities on cruise excursions, truth be told they were ready for something a little different. So off we went to provide them with a bit of a panorama, and an insider's guide to the city tour. We did a (shorter) route through the old city and then headed off to explore some of the other regions. As they had a few days of relaxation and city living after living on the cruise ship, today was really about getting them settled and situated, showing them where to go and what sort of things they should see and the best time/where to go.

And having enjoyed their time so much, we decided to meet again the following afternoon. As it is harvest season, what better chance to visit the vineyards and learn a bit about the wine and the culture. The highlight was sampling an ageing chardonnay right from the cask while our guide showed us the log of the daily fermentation process. Moments such as that are one of the great advantages of doing what we do, where small groups and personal contact really let our guests experience the culture, not just see it. After a walk through the vineyard and a great tasting of some of the various wines of the region, we headed back to Barcelona, where we had arranged for the Freedmans to enjoy dinner at Vell Sarria, one of the best paella restaurants in the city, away from the tourist crowds.

for more information of for help planning your private day tours in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Harvest Wine Festival Season

September finds us in full harvest time around Spain. At The Spanish Touch we've been lucky enough to take some of our visitors to the vineyards over the last few weeks to see the grapes ripening, and to taste them as they are just about perfect for picking. The activities for oenophiles include tasting events, getting hands on harvesting experience and charming local village festivals where the first press is blessed in the town's main square. From the Rioja Alavesa region's to the coast of Barcelona to the Sherry region of Jerez de la Frontera, Europe's largest vine-growing country is preparing for celebrations.

My personal experience this weekend will be focused around the Barcelona area, with the Alella Festival starting Friday night and the Phylloxera Festival on Saturday night in the Cava capital, San Sadurni and a walk through the vineyards again on Sunday morning as we learn about the history of wine in the region. Wherever you are in Spain this is a great opportunity for the inquisitive traveler, whether a wine connoisseur or just want to learn a little more about Spanish culture, these festivals are a window into the heart of the regions, where wine growing goes back thousands of years, deep into the roots of the land and the people. 

For more information contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013.