The Magic of Spain and my article on Seville in Spenser Magazine

Sevilla - Flamenco 1

There is one country that I visited last year that I have not made any mention of in this blog, yet.

Spain!

Last October, I spent two beautiful weeks traveling through the country, absorbing its heritage, history, culture and cuisine.

The journey began in

Barcelona

, when I stepped off the Ryan Air flight after an blink-of-the-eye visit to Rome, a multifaceted city that thoroughly pampers the pleasure seeking traveler. My eye-opening journey through Spain's history began here on a bike tour through the old and new parts of the city with a very amusing, knowledgeable and I suspect hungover tour guide! Ironically, he was an young American, an history major, who found Barcelona's many offerings irresistible enough to stay for a few years now and make a good living by regaling tourists on these tours. The tour took us through everything that was of note in the city from the St. Catherine's cathedral to Sagrada Familia to the erstwhile Olympic Park, now residential area. {Unfortunately, I was afraid I would be unable to manage a bike and the camera at the same time. So, I don't have any photos of the tour :(}.

Apart from history and its legacy of strikes and protests as an expression of the continuing clashes between the Catalan and Spain, the city exudes a vibe that is impossible to not become intimately involved with and be sucked joyfully into its thrills. Spectacular tapas places dot every little alleyway, and there are many of those, and serve freshly prepared simple to elegant dishes that are a delight washed down with local Spanish wines. A note on these wines; they pack a punch of flavor and are an amazing accompaniment to the bold palate of the Spanish cuisine. The city's location on the coast makes it a perfect spot to indulge in

ceviches

or seafood based dishes (a coffee smoked trout I tried at one place is memorable).

For the discerning tastes in art and music, there is no dearth of exhibitions and concerts. The Palau de la Mรบsica Catalana, designed by the architect Lluรญs Domรจnech i Montaner, a contemporary of Gaudi, is a stunning work of art in itself. The most striking element of the construction is the concert hall itself with its glorious skylight of stained glass designed by Antoni Rigalt whose centerpiece is an inverted dome in shades of gold surrounded by blue that suggests the sun and the sky.! {Again, apologies for the lack of photos but please google the place! It is divine!}

From Barcelona, my travel took me

South along the coast to Valencia

, a peaceful laid back town by the sea where everybody really just seemed to be enjoying the lovely weather and beautiful hues of the sea. And, ofcourse, the place is well

renowned for its Paella

. Sitting by the sea at

La Pepica

and cleaning out a whole huge order of paella between two was perhaps one of the most satisfying afternoons I have spent in a long while! The fish was so fresh and so perfectly cooked and so full of flavor, it really would have been a crime to leave any behind!

Sevilla Title

The next stop was further South to the

old capital of Spain, Seville

. This city is without doubt one of my favorites in Spain. Steeped in history, it marries so many different cultures, religions and attitudes in beautiful harmony; it is indeed a delight to experience and one that was unexpected and entirely pleasant. The people are very friendly and strike up a conversation with you despite language barriers. The place is my muse for

my latest article for the

Summer Issue of Spenser Magazine

. To read my

full account of the city and its stunning offerings, please

click here

! If you are looking for an

off-the-beaten path Spanish weekend experience

, I would urge you to pack your bags and take a flight into Seville. The place enthralls the visitor with Flamenco, food, art and a variety of cultures.

And, then it was off to

Madrid and the Basque region

. Looking back, I need to revisit these places to get a real feeling for the places. My stay in Madrid was marred by rain and it was really not the best time to get the most of the city. And, Bilbao was great but the stay was too short to be in any way memorable. I will definitely come back to the Basque region and, especially, San Sebastian to explore the cuisine here which has a distinct influence of the French from across the Northern border, a cuisine that is closest to my heart! :)

Overall, I left Spain with a good dose of vibrant energy pulsing through me and a desire to come back for more!!

I am experimenting with a new way of presenting photographs in travel posts, due to their volume. I am posting photos from each of the places below this text chronologically by place. For Sevilla, please click on the Spenser article for full story and photos. Do let me know if you find this style easier to process than my usual.

BARCELONA

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Old Coffee shop Barcelona
Barcelona - Beer Bucket
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Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum Art
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Guitar Concert-1

VALENCIA

Valencia - Boats by the Quay
Valencia -  L'Hemisferic
Valencia - Central Mercado- Sea food
Valencia - Pulpo at the Market

SEVILLE

For full story and more photos from Seville, please click here.

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Sevilla -Spanish Wine

BILBAO

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