Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation Dreams, Part One: Spain

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I'm putting together a list of places I'd like to visit on my next trek around the globe. From time to time I'll be plugging in the pieces as blogposts, and, hopefully when I'm done, I'll be able to unplug, re-arrange and create an actual travel schedule.

Vacation Dreams - who hasn't imagined a wonderful time away in a distant place? I'm tagging and bookmarking and sharing these vacation posts with all of you. After all, maybe YOU have been thinking about holiday in Spain, or France or Hawaii or who knows where!

Today I'm looking at Spain: specifically, Barcelona and Madrid.

NOTE:
Cheaperthanhotels offers last minute and year round accommodation at hotels , apartments and hostels in Spain at prices generally less than direct, with free inclusions and use of facilities.

Places to Stay:

Hotels in Madrid : http://www.cheaperthanhotels.co.uk/Spain/Madrid/

Hotels in Barcelona : http://www.cheaperthanhotels.co.uk/Spain/Barcelona/

Hoteles en Barcelona : http://www.hotelsespanol.com/Spain/Barcelona/

Barcelona (Catalan IPA: [bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish IPA: [baɾθeˈlona]), is the capital and most populous city of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain, with a population of 1,605,602 in 2006. It is located on the Mediterranean coast (41°23′N, 2°11′E), between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and is limited to the west by the Serra de Collserola ridge (512 m).

Barcelona is a major economic centre, with one of Europe's principal Mediterranean ports, and its airport is the second largest in Spain. Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona and the Crown of Aragon. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination and has a rich cultural heritage. Particularly renowned are architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Catalan government, known as the Generalitat de Catalunya; of particular note are the executive branch, the parliament and the Supreme Court of Catalonia. The city is also the capital of the county (comarca) of the Barcelonès.

Nightlife in Barcelona: Barcelona is widely considered one of Europe’s great party cities and deservedly so. Things may start slowly with some food and a few drinks after siesta finishes (at approximately 1700) but they soon gather pace and by 2300 the city is buzzing. Friday and Saturday nights are when the city is at its liveliest, although the drinking and dancing keeps going throughout the week. Bars are usually open until 0200 or 0300, while clubs and discos keep going until 0500 or 0600. The legal drinking age in Barcelona is 16 years and the price of tipple ranges from €1 for a small beer or glass of wine to €5 for something stronger, such as a rum and coke, depending also on the type of establishment.

Port Olímpic is particularly buzzing on summer nights, as is Port Vell, where the Maremagnum shopping complex bizarrely metamorphoses into a nefarious collage of cafés, bars and nightclubs, open late into the night. In the last few years, bars modernos with music and designer decor have been popular with a young ultra-hip clientele across the city. The trend is to dress quite smartly when going out in Barcelona.

Barcelona Photos

If you are in Barcelona, and you miss good, organic, tasty, heavy, whole food bread; There is a place you should go: BarcelonaReykjavik, Doctor Dhou 12. –In the Raval, not far from the MACBA square and from the Ramblas. [more from Softguide Barcelona Blog]

thebadrash.com is a blog by Tom Clarke in Barcelona, Catalonia, covering politics, music, film & opinion.

The city has developed its own website, complete with a mapquest-like "how to get to" page!

Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. Residents are called Madrileños. The city is located on the river Manzanares in the center of the country, between the autonomous communities of Castile and León and Castile-La Mancha. Due to its economic output, standard of living, and market size, Madrid is considered the major financial center of the Iberian Peninsula; it hosts the head offices of the vast majority of the major Spanish companies, as well as the headquarters of three of the world's 100 largest companies. As the capital city of Spain, seat of government, and residence of the Spanish monarch, Madrid is also the political center of Spain.

As the capital of Spain, Madrid is a city of great cultural and political importance. While Madrid possesses a modern infrastructure, it has preserved the look and feel of many of its historic neighborhoods and streets. Its landmarks include the huge Royal Palace of Madrid; the Teatro Real (Royal theatre) with its restored 1850 Opera House; the Buen Retiro park, founded in 1631; the imposing 19th-century National Library building (founded in 1712) containing some of Spain's historical archives; an archaeological museum of international reputation; and three superb art museums: Prado Museum, which hosts one of the finest art collections in the world, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, a museum of modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, housed in the renovated Villahermosa Palace.

Nightlife in Madrid:

Everything you’ve heard about traffic jams in the small hours and office workers heading straight to work from the clubs is true; the madrileños’ reputation as party fiends is more than justified, despite municipal meddling and earlier closing times. El terraceo (terrace-hopping) is the preferred nightlife activity during the city’s warmer months.

For straightforward drinking, the perennial favourites are Viva Madrid (C/Manuel Fernández y González 7, 91 429 36 40) and Los Gabrieles (C/Echegaray 17, 91 429 62 61), with their fabulous floor-to-ceiling tiling (and wall-to-wall tourists), and the dusty old tabernas around Los Austrias, with aproned barmen and vermut pulled from silver taps. For a younger, funkier atmosphere, Malasaña has it all, from cineaste’s delight Pepe Botella (C/San Andrés 12, 91 522 43 09) to the Iberian Friends set that is La Ida (C/Colón 11, 91 522 91 07, closed 1wk Aug).

For bar-hopping until 2am or thereabouts, C/Huertas, the Plaza Santa Ana and the streets around are unbeatable. Close by, you’ll also find the monster seven-floor Kapital (C/Atocha 125, 91 420 2906, www.grupo-kapital.com, closed Mon-Wed), with every kind of music and a rooftop bar for gazing at the stars, and the sassy techno den the Room (C/Arlabán 7, 91 523 86 54, Fridays only). A stone’s throw away is the eclectic Lavapiés, popular with the bohemian crowd. For traditional flamenco performances, Casa Patas (C/Cañizares 10, Lavapiés, 91 369 04 96, www.casapatas.com, closed Sun) is a highly prized, if pricey, establishment. For glitzy monster discos, explore the triangle between Sol, Callao and Gran Via. Joy Eslava (C/Arenal 11, 91 366 37 33, www.joy-esclava.com) is the granddaddy of them all. Nearby is the stylish Cool (C/Isabel la Católica 6, 91 542 34 39, closed Mon-Wed), where the crowd and the decor wrestle for aesthetic supremacy.

Chueca is the centre of Madrid’s gay scene, but it’s also the place to be for the determinedly hip. Though its hub is the Plaza de Chueca, itself thronging with terrazas in summer, close by are mixed bars such as Stars Café (C/Marqués de Valdeiglesias 5, 91 522 2712, closed Sun & 2wks Aug) or Liquid (C/Barquillo 8, 91 532 7428, closed Mon).

Just when you thought it was all over, it’s time to head to ‘los afters’, Sunday morning clubs that refuse to keep the Sabbath holy. Now officially illegal, they still thrive, but open and close with gay abandon – keep an eye out for flyers or ask around to find them.

3 comments:

Carlos Lorenzo said...

Thanks for the link and the helpful information you offer about Barcelona.

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