Tag Archive | "Barcelona"

Barcelona + Leica Camera

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There is no denying that Barcelona is a beautiful city that takes pride in its rich history crossed with the embrace of modernity.  If you can overlook the fact that the crime rate for petty theft and muggings runs rampant along with the seemingly slightly cranky nature of its inhabitants, then you will love this city. There is such a wide array of textures and colors, this city is a designer or artist’s dream.  The city is also filled with some of the best nightlife and people eye candy that Europe has to offer.  Some would say that the best looking people (male and female) can be found in this city. I can’t even recall how many times I’ve heard a guy say “Spanish girls are the most beautiful of Europe” or “Spanish girls are fun”.  I concur that the same goes for Spanish and Catalan men. The sidewalks consist of lovely flower design engravings -beats a plain old grey sidewalk any day! You’ll find Gaudi’s work all over the city and this is a huge draw for tourists. The beach is a beautiful place to spend your day -sip on some Sangria and contemplate some deep thoughts about the history and importance of the mediterranean sea. The following images were taken in Barcelona using a LEICA D-LUX 4 over a one day period in February 2010.  The Leica D-LUX 4 is inexpensive yet it takes such high quality photos with so many offerings for creative possibilities.  It’s also very portable, easy to carry anywhere.  www.Leica.com

Photos and Article by Haya Zoubi

Enjoy:

Roig Robi Restaurant – Barcelona

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Located in the heart of Barcelona just off Avinguda Diagonal, Roig Robi has been serving classic Catalonian fare for over twenty five years.  Flavors drawn from classic Catalonian comfort food are set against a lovely indoor/outdoor garden seating area along with all of the top notch Spanish wines you could hope for.  Keeping things fresh is first priority here.  Fish is flown in twice a day with leftovers discarded not to be used again. The veal is always brought in from  from the Pyrenees, lamb comes in fresh from the Esgueva valley, the Iberian suckling pig comes from the green country pastures of Huelva.  Non-meat products such as truffles, mushrooms and asparagus are purchased directly from pickers or producers themselves. When they say fresh, they mean fresh. Joan Crosas, owner and director of Roig Robi takes pride in his restaurant and you will find him greeting each table and chatting with customers (many of whom are regulars) on a daily basis while his mother Mercè Navarro can be found in the kitchen cooking up the delicious plates and bringing a personal and intimate touch to the family owned restaurant.  The sauteed baby squid is delightful, make a note to try it and watch the ink squish out of the skin. That’s fresh. Do not visit Barcelona without checking out this oasis in the center of the city.

Roig Robi
C/ Sèneca, 20
08006 Barcelona, Spain
93 218 92 22
www.roigrobi.com

Enoteca – Barcelona

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With Michelin starred executive chef Paco Perez at the helm of chic restaurant, Enoteca, you quickly realize that this isn’t your average Spanish restaurant, or your average dining experience. Located in the fashionable Hotel Arts, Enoteca features low lighting and dark cherry wood, a study in modern Mediterranean style minimalist design.
While we selected from the varied menu, which included a good range of seafood and meat options, we started out with a traditional Spanish treat of the best grade of Iberian ham with traditional bruschetta with tomato topping, very pleasant, the ham had a perfectly chewy texture and almost a hit of a citrus-y tang when combined with the tomato bread. Although the Sommelier had some good suggestions to pick from the over 500 selections of wine that Enoteca offers, I requested that my starter to be paired with a glass of 2003 Petrea blanco. You can’t go wrong when you pair an Iberian wine with Iberian ham. The flavors of the ham combined with the white wine really tickled my fancy. A fantastic start.

Our first two plates were the grilled Sea Cucumbers and Gnocchi of sweet potatoes, Melanosporum truffle and baby prawns. The Sea Cucumbers were just chewy enough and the green sauce complimented the chewy little creatures just perfectly. The Gnocchi was unbelievably delicious yet not too heavy as to make me full for entrée time. Hopping right into the reds and away from the white we paired our apertivos with glasses of Volver Tempranillo 2007, again an excellent combo. The entrees included the creamy lobster and truffle risotto and the Wagyu beef with vitelote potato and winter baby greens. This was paired with the Can Blau 2007 Rhone red. We were literally in heaven.

Every dish, after every dish seemed like perfection. It seems with most restaurants at least one thing might be “off” or even the slightest mishap, something we did not experience at Enoteca but alas we still had the desert to try.
Feeling rather full but also feeling pretty ambitious about trying the desert. We the chocolate balls and ice cream along with the candy/pastry plate which had been recommended to us. The desert did not disappoint: the delectable leche cream ball with chocolate shell was perfectly sweet and seemed to melt in my mouth. The candy plate was cute with little fruit pates and a few lollipops. I took one good look at the lollipop and said “no way, I am not going to suck on a popsicle!” My dining partner convinced me that so far Enoteca has been a perfect 10, so there is no way their lollipops aren’t going to be above and beyond standards. She was right. This simple looking lollipop turned out to be a creamy pop with the texture of yoghurt once it entered your mouth. Mixed with a tiny bit of strawberry jelly in the center of the pop, this lollipop would probably win awards because it tasted so unique yet so delicious.

Enoteca is one of the best restaurants in Barcelona and take my advice: If you find yourself in Barcelona, do yourself a big favor and pay a visit to Enoteca at the Hotel Arts.

Enoteca
C/ Marina 19
Barcelona, Spain

The Spa @ Mandarin Oriental – Barcelona

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Barcelona is a big, beautiful city brimming with marvelous historical sites, excellent shopping destinations and some of the best dining options in Europe. However just like any other big and beautiful city, Barcelona can be quite stressful. The air quality permeating the city appears to be exasperated by the fact that it seems like everyone around you is chain-smoking cigarettes and of course just like any other major city it’s non-stop hustle and continuous bustle. A great place to seek refuge is the spa at the Mandarin Oriental located on the chic Passeig de Gràcia and designed with tradition and modernity in mind –much like the city of Barcelona itself.

Make sure to arrive early and investigate the many amenities and you will find that this spa has all the luxuries a stress-ball could hope for! You will find top of the line products, a peaceful waiting room to relax in before your treatment, river-bed water fountains running throughout the ground of the spa,  spacious changing rooms with showers, soft plush robes, aromatherapy steam room, swimming pool, exercise room and a very soothing décor that offers modern aesthetic with a traditional Chinese twist. Interestingly enough, the four elements of air, water, fire and earth are represented in the décor in subtle ways all around the spa. There are several great treatment options to choose from, but one of their best is the signature spa therapy.

Right on time- my therapist picked me up and escorted me into to the treatment room. She was very sweet and professional and explained the details of the service to me. It sounded so wonderful I hoped it would translate exactly the same in action (and it did). She started the treatment by asking me to smell 4 mini essential oil bottles and choose the one I liked best. I chose the lavender and so she explained to me that the rest of my treatment would be represented in smell by lavender. She then gave me a mini nutritional lesson and informed me about an amazing detox to try at home.
The Pineapple Detox Recipe:
-1 Pineapple
-5 cups of distilled water
Slice a pineapple into 4 sections. Eat a few pieces of pineapple and then take the rough skin of the pineapple and boil it in the 5 cups of distilled water. Do this twice a day and drink the water when it cools down to lukewarm. For one day this should be the only water you drink and do not eat any solid foods. On day two incorporate fruits into your diet but only drink the boiled pineapple water and eat the fruits. On the third day eat very light. She swears by this detox and promises you will see healthy skin, nails, shed a few pounds and feel incredible. It’s a great little detox to do before a big event that you want to look good for.

Back to the signature treatment, she used the essential oil that I chose and proceeded to give me a foot massage. I felt like I was drifting off but felt so relaxed and before I knew it, it was time for the “main course”. I jumped up on the massage table and laid myself face down. The therapist rubbed my body from neck to toe in the most wonderful smelling potion of detoxifying mineral rich oils. She paid particular attention to areas like my kidneys and digestive system. Then she wrapped me up in a warm cocoon of blankets and set me off to float in this amazing bed. She proceeded to perform a Reflexology foot and scalp treatment. Voila! By the time the treatment ended I was complete mush. It surpassed all my hopes and expectations ten fold and walking out of the spa I felt like I was walking on clouds. The spa at Mandarin Oriental is a must try one-hour-and-fifty minutes of heaven. I wouldn’t change one thing about my experience at this spa.

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental
Passeig de Gracia, 38-40
08007 Barcelona
http://www.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona/spa/

Fat Tire Bike Tour: Barcelona

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The Barcelona City bike tour runs through city and beach spanning approximately seven miles over a four hour period. If Google maps married Lonely Planet, this tour would be their nerdy, bike riding love child. Hosted by highly knowledgeable tour guides who let you in on the secrets you need to know about the city so that you can know where to go even after the tour ends.  From the choicest places to have a few sangrias to the neighborhoods best worth getting lost in to historical information about specific structures: the result is a bike tour of fascinating trivia and some downright impressive happenings. From Barri Gotic (the Gothic quarter) all the way to Barceloneta beach (the Mediterranean Sea) and various Antoni Gaudi structures are just a few of the sites covered.

One of the sightings that stuck out in my mind was the wholly preserved medieval courtyard of the Plaza del Rei (Royal Palace) where Ferdinand and Isabella are supposed to have received Christopher Columbus on his return from the so-called New World.  I could just imagine Columbus walking into the spectacle with an arrogant strut. Other cool points of interest include Arc del Triomf (Barcelona’s version of the Arc de Triomphe  in Paris), The Gherkin (Barcelona’s version of London’s gherkin), Palau de la Mùsica Catalana where everyone from Bob Marley, The Beatles and David Bowie have all played at one time and of course the La Sagrada Familia which was conceptualized, designed and worked on by ubiquitous Spanish Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi until his death in 1926.  Interesting to note that the devoutly religious Gaudi estimated the completion of the La Sagrada Familia would take at least 200 years and the structure is still being worked on to this day with no date of completion offered anywhere in the near future.  At the Barceloneta Beach I was quite shocked to learn that all the sand was imported from the Sahara Desert to cover up the naturally rocky filled seaside.

One of the things I was most impressed by was our host, Buddha Jones’ speedy recall of an encyclopedic Spanish historical culture memory. Any time we drove by a major landmark Buddha would be ready to dish some trivia related to the place. I was tempted to just throw the most random of trivia out there to see if we could tie them into actual sightings. If you have even mild to major appreciation for trivia and the occasional macabre and want to cover a lot of tourist ground in a short period of time give Fat Tire Bike Tours a call. With locations in not only Barcelona but also Paris, London and Berlin, If you’re not completely amused send me the bill and I’ll send you a map and a compass. Fair enough?

http://fattirebiketours.com/

Photos by Rachel Sloat:

Hotel 1898 – Barcelona

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By Jennifer O’Neill

Barcelona’s Hotel 1898 is an exclusive 4 star hotel that has all the makings and amenities of a 5 star hotel, and in my opinion should thusly be classified as such. Personal bias aside, this historical hotel in the heart of the bustling Las Ramblas district of the city is a quiet oasis and escape from the frenetic touristy pace of the city itself. Although there is a preconceived notion that the Spanish take life at a slower pace, the nonstop influx of tourists looking to invade upon all corners of the city, at all hours, certainly didn’t get that memo.

Which brings me to the unbeatable calm of Hotel 1898. Having moved from an adequate, but rather business-oriented hotel, on the earlier leg of my stay in Barcelona, I felt as though I had entered a hotel paradise. Classy, clean, cool and collected would all be great adjectives to describe my first impressions… and that was just the lobby.

The hotel is midsized with a total of 169 rooms, divided into five types, ranging from Classic rooms to Penthouse suites. I stayed in a Superior type room, which definitely exceeded my basic hotel needs. The room was decorated in a contemporary style of tasteful bold stripes against a neutral palette. The bed (which is really the most important part of the room in my humble opinion) was decadently swathed in high thread count Egyptian sheets. There was a pillow menu, which allowed you to customize your personal pillow choice, however I was quite content with the standard pillow, which was already provided. Shortly upon my arrival, I was greeted with a huge fruit basket, undoubtedly assembled using fresh produce form Barcelona’s famous outdoor market, La Boqueria, located just steps away from Hotel 1898. I won’t dwell upon every detail of the room but suffice to say, all of the markings of a high-end hotel were present: flat screen plasma TV, luxury toiletries, wi-fi, ipod docking station etc.

The true gems of Hotel 1898 were the wrap-around terraced rooftop pool, along with the indoor solarium and spa. Had I stayed at Hotel 1898 for my entire time in Barcelona, I probably wouldn’t have ventured outside of its door, solely based upon these facilities. The rooftop pools’ lounge area would given any celebrity intensive L.A “see and be seen” pool hangout a run for it’s money. I entered full relaxation mode while sipping on copious amounts of some of the best pina coladas I’ve ever tasted. The underground solarium spa was a surreal experience and a polar opposite to the outdoor swimming facilities. The solarium gives the impression of being enveloped in a cocoon-like cave, resplendent in calming amber lighting and Zen music. I alternated between the sauna, stream room, hot tubs and heated pool. In a bustling and busy city like Barcelona, Hotel 1898 will provide the much needed “relaxation” element of your holiday.

Hotel 1898
La Rambla, 109, 08002, Barcelona
Tel- +34 93 552 95 52
http://nnhotels.com