Wednesday, January 30, 2013

An Update on the Cockroach Situation!

So, back in the beginning of November I posted a little cry for help. I was, if I am being honest, a little (or a lot) horrified by the non-paying tenants in my new flat in Las Palmas. The cockroaches. Ugh. They were strolling around in here like they owned the place as soon as the lights were turned off at night, and not even a full fumigation got rid of them. They kept coming, and who knows how many there really were, as they were only seen in the moment you turned on the lights in the morning, before they got time to hide. I mean, they might have been having parties every night for all I know. Still, meeting a couple every single week was not a nice thing to deal with in the comfort of my home, and I was a bit desperate to get rid of them. 

So I posted on here, hoping that someone might know a little trick, and I was especially hoping for a natural remedy, as I have great experience with that in different areas. And there was someone anonymous, leaving me a tip:

I have heard that fresh laurel leaves keep them away. They can't stand the smell. 
Leave them laying around, inside cupboards, drawers, behind furniture on the floor etc. 
You shuldn't have any problems finding laurel in Spain, because everywhere I've been they 
usually have potted bushes on the street. Cockroaches there are humongous and hopefully 
you're  not dealing with the flying ones. I empathise. Good luck, and ask you're neighbours 
how they deal with them.

And I just wanted to say THANK YOU again to this person again, whoever you are! You gave me a tip that has changed my life here (haha!) As soon as I found a place to buy fresh bay laurel leaves I have not seen A SINGLE ONE! At first I thought it was just coincidence that I hadn't seen any more, it seemed too easy, and very strange that a couple laurel leaves would have a better effect than a fumigation. But it's now been about 4-5 weeks since I got laurel in the house, and 4-5 weeks since I saw a cucaracha here. THANK YOU!!!

It wasn't that easy to find fresh bay laurel leaves though. I asked in flower shops, but they looked at me strange and told me laurel came in big bushes and that they did not know where I could buy just a few leaves. But then I tried to go to the Central Market of Las Palmas (Mercado Central de Las Palmas) and there I found a stand where different herbs were sold, and ta-da! A whole bunch, for the beautiful sum of ..... €0,60 !!! Yes, that's right. I couldn't quite believe how cheap it was. 

So, if you have this problem and need a tip, I am happy to recommend this one. 
Cheap, easy and very effective! Hurray! 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Casa Milá, My Favourite Museum in Barcelona. Part 2

So, as promised on Friday, today it's time for the post from the inside of Casa Milá. 

The inside patio
 Casa Milá is actually an apartment building, and people live there. 
However, one apartment has been opened to the public as part of the museum, and you 
get to see how it looked back when the apartments were finished. Gaudí also designed furniture.

Although you can't really appreciate it in the photos, there are no real edges or corners in this apartment. Even the walls are rounded. That was one of the things characterizing Gaudís work. 

The loft is also a big exhibition with lots of info on Gaudí and his other work as well. 

Furniture, designed by Gaudí

And as if this wasn't enough, you get to access the roof terrace! I have a thing for roof terraces, I love them. (Especially this one, although this one is not at all bad either!) But the one at Casa Milá is very special. Not just are the views spectacular, but the roof is decorated in such a cool way.

A chimney, decorated with broken glass bottles!

Beautiful mosaics

And the roof is not a bad place to see the sunset! In the summer there were jazz concerts up here. I didn't get to go, but I imagine it must be a wonderful setting for an evening concert!

       (I have previously written about other works of Gaudí, such as La Sagrada Familia, and Parque Guell.) 

Casa Milá is located at Passeig de Gracia 92, 
just a short walk from Plaza Catalunya.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Casa Milá, My Favourite Museum in Barcelona. Part 1

Casa Milá in Barcelona, also known as La Pedrera, was the first museum I entered in Barcelona, and also the one that stuck with me as my favourite in the city. Having been fascinated with Gaudí for as long as I can remember it was big to finally be in the city that had been his playground. Scattered all around the city, I suddenly had access to see, admire and enter several of his big works.
(Like, La Sagrada Familia, and Parque Guell.) 

What's so special about Casa Milá? Well, first of all I should explain the nick name,  La Pedrera. 
It literally means the Quarry. 

When it was built (from 1905-1910) the locals didn't care much for it. It was an unusual, strange and very untraditional design at the time, with it's flowing structure (no corners) 
and wrought iron decoration of the  balconies.

The exterior mimics the flowing waves of the sea. 

Casa Milá was decleared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1984.

Fun-fact: Gaudí wanted the people living in the flats to know each other, 
and not be all big city anonymous. So, he designed it to just have lifts on every second floor, 
so that people would run into each other and actually communicate.

It's actually an apartment building, and people live there. However, one apartment has been opened to the public as part of the museum, and you get to see how it looked back when the apartments were finished. The loft is also a big exhibition with lots of info on Gaudí and his other work as well. 

Here you can see pictures from the inside of Casa Milá, from the apartment that has been decorated like it originally was, the loft, and the beautiful rooftop terrace (where the first picture in this post is from).
I love this, cause it's just so unique, special and different.

Casa Milá is located at Passeig de Gracia 92, 
just a short walk from Plaza Catalunya

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Teide National Park

The trip to the National Park of Teide in Tenerife made a deep impression on me. 
I had never been to a volcano before, and I didn't know what to expect. 
It was so interesting how the landscape constantly changes on the way up there. 

After passing through the town of Orotava, you drive through a pine forest, 
from about 1000-2100 meters above sea level. The suddenly at one point, there's no more trees, 
and you enter a desert that varies from sand, to small stones, to bigger stones to 
enormous rock formations. 

The park is centered around the highest peak in Spain, Teide, of 3718 meter, 
 third largest volcano in the world from its base. It is currently dormant.

The landscape constantly varies in colours from sandy beige, to green, to red,
 to brown, to black. Very fascinating and so beautiful.

For the aboriginals of the Canary Islands, the Guancehs, Teide was a place of worship.

It was decleared National Park in 1954, making it one of the oldest National Parks in Spain.

Apparently there are significant similarities between the planet Mars and the landscape of Teide National Park, which makes the park ideal for testing instruments that will travel to Mars!

I took way too many pictures up there, but I just couldn't help myself- it was so beautiful.

A perfect day trip when in Tenerife! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh what a beautiful little ... oh ... DO NOT TOUCH THAT THING!

On my daily walk on the beach today, there were a little surprise for me... 
A beautiful blue/purple thing was washed up on the beach. 

Turns out it's not something to pick up/play with/touch etc. It's a quite mean jellyfish

They come from time to time, but it's the first time ever I have seen it since I arrived at the end of September, so I guess it's not often. The tides bring sand, in and out. The beach changes from week to week. Sometimes there's more sand, other times less. Turns out the tide brings other things as well!

So... if you see one of these, stay away! They can burn quite badly.
At least this one floats, so it's easier to spot, than those who are deeper in the water.
If nothing else, it's like a beautiful work of art - at a distance.

Have you ever seen these? Or been stung by a jellyfish? 
I would love some tips on what to do if you get stung, you know, just in case... 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Cava & Sant Sadurni d'Anoia

Today I want to talk about Cava! What better subject on a … Monday? (Or any day!)

I have a feeling there is a conception from people outside of Spain that Cava is not really as good as Champagne, that the quality is bad and that Cava is just “cheap champagne”. Am I right?

But did you know that Cava is the Spanish version of Champagne and that it is made with exactly the same procedures as Champagne? When they started making Cava, they used the same method and even the same grapes. They actually called it Spanish Champagne, but it was later prohibited as Champagne has Protected Geographical Status in the EU. In other words, Champagne can only be labeled as such if it comes from the designated region Champagne in France.

The name cava comes from cave or cellar, which is where the Spanish Champagne was produced, preserved or aged. Cava became the new name of Spanish Champagne.

About 95% of all Cava produced in Spain is produced in Catalunya, and the Cava is very popular there. It is used for all sorts of festive occasions, and you are basically the one to decide what’s festive enough for popping a bottle. I love this! In Norway sparkling wine (what we call it mostly) is saved for special occasions and not used a lot. I love the Catalan spirit of it!

The production of Cava goes all the way back to the 1860’s. After having visited the Champagne region, Josep Raventos was inspired to see if a similar product could be made in Spain. And the rest is history.

There is one main "cavatown" in Catalunya, Sant Sadurni d’Anoia, a quaint little town with about 80 different cava producers. 80! I can’t quite wrap my head around such a number, in such a small town. The town centre is small, but as soon as you step outside, all you see is acres upon acres of vineyards. Beautiful!

Walking around the town, most big buildings have some connection with Cava, names of 
families and producers.

Colloquially, many Spaniards simply call cava "Champan"(Spanish), or "Xampany" (Catalan)
Some of the bigger producers, such as Codorníu and Freixenet have guided tours all year round, but the first weekend of October is Cava-fiesta-weekend, a weekend completely dedicated to the lovely bubbles. On the Sunday of this weekend, all the producers open their doors, also those who normally never opens to the public. Big and small.

The main grapes used for Cava production today is Macabeo, Parellada and Xarello, where each one bring characteristics to the table that complement the others.
-          -Macabeo gives sweetness and perfume
-          -Parellada gives freshness and aroma
-          -Xarello gives body and structure.

Cava is produced by the traditional method of a secondary fermentation in the same bottle the wine is sold, and that is how the bubbles are formed naturally.

Cava is cheaper than Champagne, but not necessarily less good. There are several factors making French Champagne more expensive and it's not all about quality. Give Cava a try and tell me what you think! Go for a "Brut Nature" or a "Reserva" and you shouldn't be dissapointed.

I have visited both Codorníu and Freixenet, and it was the most wonderful experiences. Wine production is oh so exotic to me, coming from cold Norway. I enjoyed these visits like a kid in a candy store. Posts from both cava producers are coming up!

The "car-stoppers" (I think I just invented a word? Don't know it in English!) in Sant Sadurni d'Anoia are cava corks!
The little Cava-town, Sant Sadurní d'Anoia can 
be reached by train from Barcelona,
 it’s only about 45 minutes away. 
Absolutely worth a visit!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Back from Tenerife, the Neighbour Island

Hello everyone! I am back from the Neighbour Island, and wow! I have had such a great time, and again, I am completely blown away. 

Remember I told you I previously had prejudices about Gran Canaria? Well, it wasn't really about Gran Canaria, but the Canary Islands in general. I quickly learnt that I was so wrong, but because of those stupid prejudices I wasn't expecting too much from Tenerife either, as I have never really bothered to learn much about it. In fact, the main reason for the trip was a ticket to see Cirque du Soleil's Alegria. A huge fan of Cirque du Soleil could not pass up on the opportunity to see them now that they were "so close", right? Oh well, if nothing else, it was a great excuse to plan a trip and go see another island!

Having incredible beaches right off my door step in Las Palmas (and Gran Canaria in general), beaches were not on the menu for Tenerife. So, just like in Gran Canaria I wanted to see if I could find unexpected things, stuff that most tourists don't find or know exist. And I think I did!

Like this beautiful magical forest, El Bosque de las Mercedes. More on this later, it was a little bit like a forest out of a fairytale. Beautiful!

.... and a pretty old town, La Orotava, with lots of the typical wooden Canarian balconies (reminds me I have not written about them yet!) They are all over Gran Canaria as well. And I will get back to this town later too, because of a wonderful event celebrated there.

And going to the National Park of the highest mountain of Spain, Parque Nacional del Teide. Spectacular!
(What you sometimes can see from Las Canteras beach in Las Palmas)

...and more... I am so full of impressions (and new photos, or well my computer is) and I need some days to digest it all! Wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Have you ever been to Tenerife, and did you see any of these things?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Neigbour Island

Normally, when looking out to sea from Playa de Las Canteras 
in Las Palmas, all you see is just more sea. I love that by the way. 
Coming from inland Norway, whenever I went to the coast, 
I loved looking out to sea. It's so relaxing. 

But on some occasions there's something in the horizon. 
Sometimes if the weather is clear, we can see Tenerife, the neighbour island, from Gran Canaria. 
Well, what you see the best is El Teide, a volcano which is actually the highest point in 
Spain with 3718 meters (12,198 ft). 

Like this night, beautiful light just after sunset:

I have never seen Tenerife as clear as this day, normally the views are like the photo above. 
(Both photos are taken from the same location, just at a different angle.) 

But right now as we speak, I am there! I am off exploring this island this week!