Thursday, August 25, 2011

a snapshot of spain

The absence of the next chapter in KPPG travels appears to be the subject of much inquiry! I apologise to my readers and can assure you that full details of our Spain trip will be conveyed in the coming days. While internet cafes have not been overly easy to come by, I have been meticulously recording all trip highlights (yes Dad, including detailed descriptions of the delicious Spanish cuisine!) so that I can easily convert these into blog form. Today is our last day in Barcelona and we are off to Park Guell shortly but I do have time for a few quick highlights while Dave is checking us in for our flight tomorrow morning.

Our stop in Madrid was only brief, though we did enjoy some sensational cuisine and definitely adopted the locals approach to late night dining - on both nights, we did not sit down to a meal until 10.30pm! A visit to a heaving taberna in the Chueca district treated us to pinxos of grilled pork fillet topped with caramelised onion which were complimentary with our first drinks.  We were so impressed with the flavours that we decided to stay on for a more substantial meal - this proved to be an excellent decision! A plate of grilled oyster mushrooms and lashing of jamon on crusty bread drizzled with olive oil has without doubt been one of the food highlights of Spain. A chance meeting with an Aussie mechanic from the Blue Mountains who was visiting his girlfriend, Lupe, a Madrid local, allowed us to enjoy some nightclubbing Spanish style - they sure know how to party that´s for sure, even on a weeknight! This also gave me a chance to improve on my Spanish language skills and share some typically Australian phrases with Lupe - she was particularly intriqued by the concept of a ¨pub crawl¨ which I explained after seeing a group of travellers partaking in this very Australian past time.

After the mayhem of Madrid, we spent five glorious days in Valencia.  This may be a hot contender for my favourite Spanish city, running a very close second to Granada which I visited on my trip to Spain five years ago. It is an amazingly picturesque city that runs at a much slower pace to Madrid and Barcelona.  The locals are warm, the regional tapas is tasty and the nearby beach offers a wonderful escape from the city.  The day we spent at the beach enjoying a seafood paella while gazing at the mediterranean was without doubt one of the most memorable parts of our time in Spain. In the short time I have to do this update, I cannot even begin to scratch the surface about my passion for this city - it deserves an entry of its own and I promise to provide that shortly.

Arriving in Barcelona was definitely a change in pace! We spent our first day immersed in all things Gaudi, moving between La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlla and La Pedrera.  Exploring the recreated apartment and Gaudi museum housed within La Pedrera was an exceptionally enriching dose of art, history and culture. We opted to stay in a self contained apartment in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona and this has been a welcome change from a hotel environment.  Visiting the fresh food markets in nearby Boqueria and the food hall in El Cortes Ingles, Plaza Catalunya and actually being able to buy and later cook the wonderfully fresh produce has been a real treat. 

The above is only a small snapshot of all the culture, cuisine and special moments we have shared in the past two weeks.  With only a few hours left in Barcelona, the comprehensive Spanish edition of KPPG travels may have to wait until I am back on home soil - I wouldn´t want to leave out any vital details!


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