Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Paella

This dish is simply a taste of Spain. You’ve got to know where to eat it though, cause there are lots of fake and horrible ones around. Many bars heat up frozen ready-made yellow rice, (yeah I call it that cause it’s an insult to call it Paella!) The safest and best place in Barcelona is at the fresh fish restaurants in Vila Olímpico, they take their time preparing it (like it should be!) and it’s so worth the wait. 

You can normally choose between the most typical Paella de marisco – seafood-Paella, or Paella mixto, which also has meat (chicken and rabbit). Then you have the vegetable-one, Paella de verduras and the classic here in Catalunya (the county) is the Arroz negro = black rice, delicious! The main ingredient in black rice is sepia, cuttlefish, and the colour of the rice comes from the ink from the cuttlefish. There is even a variety that is made with a thin short kind of spaghetti, instead of rice, the Fideuá.
Top it up with a delicious chilled white wine and you simply can’t ask for more!
These are the most typical ones though. I saw a menu in Málaga, at the Restaurant El Patio , they had an immense variety of Paellas, I guess only imagination puts a stop to what you can make a Paella about.


Seafood paella
So if you are in Spain and you want to have a proper Paella, a good way of knowing if it’s the real kind is to ask how much time it will take to make it, or how much time until you’ll be served. A proper paella takes about one hour to make, so keep that in mind!

Autumn has arrived

...and it's just beautiful!
 





Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Palau de la Musica Catalana

On Sunday Brad and I were just walking around again, doing touristy stuff, talking and having fun. In the afternoon we walked by an incredibly beautiful building and found out this was the Palau de la Musica Catalana (meaning literally Palace of Catalan music). Some sort of concert hall. It's situated in the Gothic quarter, a labyrinth of narrow narrow streets, and this beautiful Palau is squeezed in between some buildings on all sides on one of these narrow streets, so we didn't see it until we were right in front of it. That also made it very hard to actually get a good picture of it, and it's a shame cause the building itself is stunning!


Another picture from outside, from when we came back at night
We went inside to have a look, but unfortunately you needed to buy a ticket to enter the concert hall, like in a museum. We weren't sure what to do when we found the box office, and saw that they were selling the last tickets for that nights concert for only 6 euros!! We didn't think twice, the guided tour, and also the museum ticket was more than 6 euros, so there wasn't much to consider really. We'd get to see the Palau like you should, with an orquestra!

We bought our tickets and came back at night. Oh. My. Goodness! I have never seen such a beautiful music-hall ever. The Palau was built between 1905 and 1908 and is modernistic. In 1997 it was added to Unesco World Heritage sites. The main "attraction" is an inverted glass-dome lit up only by the sun-light and the ceiling, the walls, the stage- everything is so beautifully decorated, and it made the musical experience just magical.

I wanted to take pictures but it wasn't allowed, so I have used some photos from their website





When I asked Brad before he left Barcelona what was his favourite touristy moment he said the concert at Palau de la Musica, without a doubt. We got to see a great orquestra and I agree it was definitely a night to remember!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Montjüic


So, Brad finally arrived late Friday night. After 12 hours on the train… 12 hours!! Turns out it wasn’t the express train… Well, I picked him up at the station and we had some tapas. Great to see him again, I have really missed him after I left Málaga. 

Saturday we were all around the Barcelona sights, had to show him some of the most wonderful places in Barcelona! And then we decided to have a closer look to Montjüic, where I still hadn’t been. We read all these wonderful things about this area in my guide and we wanted to go explore!

Montjüic is a hill located somewhat in the centre of Barcelona overlooking the harbor to one side, and the city to the other. It was the location for the summer Olympics in 1992, and just to illustrate the stunning location, here's a picture from the diving events at the Olympics: 

source
 
Palau Sant Jordi, the indoor sporting arena from the Olympics and the Olympic stadiums are still used for sporting events and also  for big concerts, and right next to the stadiums there is an Olympic and Sports museum. A big Botanical Garden and a fortress are other attractions up there. Fundació Joan Miró, a big museum of modern art honoring Joan Miró is also located in the big area of Montjüic. 
In 1929, for the Barcelona International Exhibition they built Poble Espanyol there, which is a sort of  open-air architectural museum with copies of typical streets and buildings from all over Spain. And on the side facing Plaza Espanya, the big and oh so beautiful castle-looking building Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, housing an enormous art museum and in front of this museum is the so-called Magical Fountain, a big fountain with sound and lightshows at night. 

As you can see there’s plenty of interesting stuff to explore! 

So we headed up there, and walked and walked… and found mostly nothing of all the afore-mentioned exciting stuff! I realize this sounds a little weird, but the area is huge and I guess we just got lost! Haha, we walked and walked….and all we saw was paths, lots of trees and roads far from all this fun stuff. We did find a few nice spots with great views though!! 


We hadn’t done much research, and after a long time of not finding all this stuff we gave up and headed back to the centre.

Here's a picture of the  Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, taken from Plaza Espanya. I guess next time I try to have another go at Montjüic, I'll start at Plaza Espanya instead of the port!


 Brad has now left on another 12-hour trainride back to Málaga. Sad to see him go! I'll tell more about our weekend, just need to split it up a little so it doesn't get too long!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another great night of salsa in Barcelona

 
Yesterday was the big anniversary-party for Antilla, one of the salsa places in Barcelona. They celebrated 13 years at their current address, and every year around this date they have a big party. A gift, a free glass of cava, cake, and a fabulous live band, yes please!! The group sounded amazing, La Farandula completa. I haven't found any videos or even a homepage for this band but it is seriously one of the better salsa bands I have heard here. 

The gift, a hat!!
Back in Norway, we were lucky if once a year we could attend a salsa party with a live band, it only happens on a rare occasion up there, while here there are live bands playing at different salsa places every single week! (I guess we could see this in connection with the amount of people dancing salsa in Norway vs. Spain...) Anyhow it is brilliant to dance to live music and I feel privileged and very happy to be able to enjoy live salsa music this much!

I am so happy today, not just because of the great night last night, but because this weekend, my dear friend Brad is coming to visit! For those who haven't been with me for that long, Brad from Australia was one of my flat mates in Málaga. Lucas from Poland was the other one. Lucas is back in Poland, but Brad is staying in Málaga this whole academic year and right now he's on the train on his way up here!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lost in translation

I kinda love languages, and I think it's so much fun learning another one. And quite often misunderstandings happen and I am indeed lost in translation, but this time it's not really me who's lost in translation... This time it's the Spanish who's just got it all wrong.

I happened to flip through a magazine while at some waiting-room. It was the prestigious "Hola magazine", basically gossip and big photos of celebrities I have no clue who are. Not very entertaining at all...until I came to the latest gossip on the British Royal Family!
Then it got interesting.

See, queen Elizabeth is not called Elizabeth in Spain. She's got a whole new name! She's ISABEL!
It doesn't stop there... Prince Charles is not called Charles, he is CARLOS!!
Prince William...... is GUILLERMO!
And his brother Harry is ENRIQUE....

How this all came together I don't know, but I find it very fascinating!

Carlos, Guillermo and Isabel!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Beware when looking for a room in s shared flat in Barcelona

When looking for a room in Barcelona, you can expect weird things. I had an intensive week after I arrived here, looking through hundreds of ads and contacting people for viewings and I found a little bit of everything on my way to the place I now call home.

Like I said in the post about how to find a place to live in Barcelona  it’s important to have a critical eye. If it’s a guy renting only to girls, try to read between the lines and don’t be naïve. Maybe it’s simply because he thinks girls are nicer and cleaner than boys, or maybe it’s because he want something else. If the price is low, or there is no price, that should get the red lights blinking!
I collected a few goodies … 

Chico de 34 años ofrece una habitación interior equipada en la zona centro de Hospitalet a chica atractiva, a cambio de relaciones íntimas y tareas del hogar

Translated:

Boy, 34 years old, offers equipped room in centric Hospitalet to attractive girl, in change for intimate relations and house-work. Mind you- an internal room ! (link)

Or this one:

Ofrezco habitación gratis para chica guapa, (máximo 30 años), simpática y cariñosa! ;) Si sabes hacer masajes mucho mejor. Yo soy chico de 29 años, con buena presencia y muy divertido! La habitación tiene unos 10m2, está amueblada y no se te cobraria ni alquiler ni gastos. Interesadas un mail y explico condiciones.

=

I offer a room for free for a beautiful girl (max. 30 years old), nice and loving. If you know how to give massages, even better. I am a guy of 29 years old,good- looking and very funny. The room is 10m2, furnished and I wouldn’t charge you rent nor bills. If interested, send me an email and I’ll explain the conditions.

I guess you got the picture already, but I just have to add one last one.

Yo quiero compartir mi cama con una chica guapa y joven. No hace falta pagarme nada solo cambio por algo. Soy un chico de 27 años, sincero, guapo, cariñoso y simpático. El piso esta muy bonito. Si estás dispuesta, escríbeme y lo hablamos.

=

 I want to share my bed (!!!) with a beautiful and young girl. It’s not necessary to pay anything I just want something in return. I am a guy of 27 years old, good looking, loving and kind. The flat is very beautiful. If you are up for it, email me and we’ll talk.

I also had a reply to a “normal ad”, although a little less extreme, still not quite ordinary; a guy why told me he liked to be naked at home, and would love for me to do the same…
It’s a big city, and there are lots of … “personalities” out there. Be careful, use your gut and head when choosing. 

Then you have the scams: a family renting out their very beautiful apartment, fully equipped with fantastic things, at a price that is too good to be true. Barcelona is no exception: if it sounds  too good to be true, it probably is. The father/husband in the family is normally a priest sent off to an African country to do missionary work and they want someone to take care of their home while they are away. The only problem is that they are already in their new country, so just as long as you send them a deposit, they will send you the key. Don’t even bother to reply to these!

It is hard work finding a decent place here. And to find flat mates you trust and feel comfortable with. You meet some people for 10 minutes when seeing the flat, and then you move in with them, not knowing what sort of crazy people they might be… It can be a scary thought, but I just had to focus on the thought that the majority of people are good people, and people like myself who want nothing but finding someone nice to share their home with.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cadaqués - ahhhhhh!

So, this weekend it was time for my first trip out of Barcelona. I have heard so much about all these pretty small towns and villages around Barcelona and there are a few that are high up on my list, so I thought I'd better get to it!

Cadaqués was on the very top of that list. It's got to do with my fascination of this guy:



Mr Salvador Dalí. I have always loved his surrealistic work, and I really wanted to see this town where he spent his summer holidays as a child, and where he later settled down (well, almost: he built a house just outside of Cadaqués). It was supposed to be so so beautiful and I was getting very curious to see it. 



Other artists such as Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Joan Miró, Antoni Pitxot, René Magritte, Federico García Lorca, and more also spent time there. The atmosphere, the bars and the restaurants are so artsy and I loved it! 


It is a small whitewashed fisher-village, and just plain idyllic and beautiful, with narrow, cobbled streets and a very laid-back feel.



It's got a few beaches




And lovely restaurants with food so tasty, and much cheaper than in Barcelona


Fresh, so fresh fish! Lubina, and tuna.
Great views from the church


And also so beautiful at night!


The town is located on Costa Brava, the coast north of Barcelona, a couple hours drive away, and quite close to the French border. 

I definitely want to come back here! 
I also visited Port Lligat, and the house of Salvador Dalí which is now a museum. I might tell about that in another post!