Monday, September 21, 2015

Barcelona via iPhone

These are the last photos I will inundate you guys with- promise!

A few more from St Joseph's Market in Barcelona

I just loved all the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona

 Sagrada really just have to see it for yourself. Photos cannot do this place justice.

These two photos show the details of the trencandis art technique used by Gaudi. You essentially break the tiles into smaller pieces, then reconfigure them in a mosaic-form to fit the curvature of the surface.

 There were quite a few apartments showing the Catalonian colors while we were there.

And....that's a wrap! Special thanks to my husband for agreeing to this crazy plan of mine to road trip through Spain. He's kind of the best :) Next up I'll try to finally add some photos of Crete and Santorini!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Spain: Logroño

Storytime: My sister, in her infinite brilliance and incredible work ethic, graduated a year early. She's been accepted into medical school and has a year before she starts, so she applied and was accepted for a teaching position in Northern Spain for the year. My work vacation time coincided pretty well with her move, so our last days were spent exploring her new home, Logroño, with her...

 Logroño is best known for being the heart of La Rioja, a region famous for wine. It's got some of the best tapas, often called pinchas in this area, in the North of Spain (can you tell this trip was a good one for food?) If we had more time I would definitely have tried to do a wine tour, but unfortunately it wasn't in the cards for us. I'm sure we'll be back at some point though- while we knew very little about the city, it really blew us away- beautiful streets, picturesque churches, great food and free admission at the Museo de la Rioja were just a few great things about this place (besides exploring it with my Spanish-fluent sister, which was kind of the icing to a very delicious cake :-p)

 I loved seeing mountains at the end of the streets. Side note: Logroño is a stop off for pilgrims trekking the Camino de Santiago, a religious walk! How cool is that?! When we first arrive (literally, as soon as we got out of the car) we were approached by some backpackers asking directions and had no idea what was going on, haha! We later got used to seeing many of them across town.

Spain: Ullastret

Our last day in Barcelona we both felt like we wanted to go at a bit slower pace and get some fresh air, so we made the hour and a half drive out to Ullastret, Spain after our visit to Park Laberint d'Horta. It was so picturesque, charming and perfect- and a great place to play with the camera settings some more ;) I'm particularly proud of the photo of the dying bougainvillaes. Bougainvillas are awesome- I think because they are common both in Greece and Florida they always remind me of home. We had big plans to check out the squid ink and cuttlefish rice at El Fort, but they're unfortunately closed for renovations. Instead we went back to Barcelona and had what we both agreed was the best Paella ever at Cheriff (ok, not sure if black rice is technically considered paella. minor detail) in Barcelona. So here's a photo to give you an idea of how black the rice really gets!

Ullastret was gorgeous and definitely worth a visit. It's maybe an hour and a half Northeast of Barcelona and the drive is very scenic, without much traffic. Just a note on roadtrips in Spain: they're fun because there's not but traffic but between the price of an automatic car, gas and tolls (these were surprisingly steep) they do get pricey. I think the tolls were the biggest shocker for us. Luckily high tolls also mean the roads are very good, and they were never super busy the short time we were there, although Barcelona at Rush Hour can get bad. Just a couple of hints for Mom and Dad when (and if) they decide to visit my sister- she'll be in Spain the whole year! More on that next time ;)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Spain: Barcelona

Whoa, where do I begin? Spain in general was just an amazing, invigorating, relaxing trip- one I really, really needed after a few intense months of residency. It was also one where P and I finally began to play with our camera's manual settings- a SUPER fun endeavor that also landed us with so many photos going through them got overwhelming! Nonetheless it was exciting to start to see glimmers of the effects and photography styles that fill the web pages of so many blogs I love and admire. I'll shut up now and let the images do the talking, but if you've got any advice on how to take advantage of a camera's manual settings, please share! :)

First shots are St. Joseph's Market which was wonderful.

Great shot of me by Peter- trust an optical physicist to find the best settings on the camera (side note: Spain did NOT do wonders to my hair. It was basically a big frizzy poof for the entire week!)

 These ones are from Gaudi's Parc Guell, an amazing spot in the hills above the city. It was kind of powerful to me that Gaudi's most iconic work is also a massive failure: the Park was intended to be a neighborhood full of large gardens and promenades but the project was abandoned after only two homes were built. A gentle reminder that some so-called failures can become a beautiful part of life.

Sagrada familia is truly amazing!! Be sure to book online to avoid a loooonnggg wait, though. 
 The cathedral's interior was my favorite. Gaudi put such thought and detail into every element of the design that there's something meaningful in every stone. The tall, tree-like columns ending into golden leaves and daylight made the space reminiscent of Tolkien's Lothlorien (to me, at least.) It was truly amazing to see such a testament to faith being built in this modern, secular age. Standing in the cathedral felt like being a part of history. I'd love to come back after it's completed and see it in it's full glory.

Credit where credit's due: Peter took this awesome shot ;-)

We didn't go inside La Pedrera- we sort of ran out of time- but I'm wishing we did after reading this article by a Barcelona native.

Oh man, was the food in Barcelona good. We loved the Patates Bravas (above,) and of course all the Iberian hams, prosciuttos and chorizos. We did end up missing greenery and salads with our meals a lot (the one night we ordered assorted salads we got the mayonnaise-potato-chicken variety, haha!) but the meats and cheeses were fantastic so we couldn't complain too much. We also had amazing Arroz Negro from squid ink at Restaurante Cheriff- we both agreed it was the best Paella we'd ever had!

Our last full day in Barcelona we drove to Parc Laberint d' Horta and enjoyed strolling the gardens outside of the city. They were filming some kind of show in the labyrinth itself, so we missed out on that, but it was a nice, peaceful break from the busyness of the city.

 We also played with the camera settings here; I really loved how some of them turned out :)

It was a great experience and first taste of Spain. Barcelona has this eclectic feel about it that I really loved. Can't wait to share the rest of the photos, hopefully tomorrow en route to New York!