Well it’s been a while! It’s been over six months since we’ve been anywhere of note so we haven’t updated this blog as we wanted to keep it travel related. Things are a lot different than this time last year when we had almost seven months of straight travel ahead of us. Now it’s the occasional holiday, shorter days and Bord Snip cuts that lie ahead, different times indeed! It’s not all gloom though, since coming back to Ireland we’ve moved to Strandhill in Co. Sligo, got married and found work (ish). Our wedding plans kept us going though the winter and everything went perfectly, it was a fantastic day. We felt we’d be pushing it if we went somewhere far afield on honeymoon, so we booked a trip to northern Spain, somewhere that neither of us had been before, and got immersed in Spanish and surrealism for a wonderful week.

Mae West Room

We started our trip in Barcelona where we’d prebooked the Jazz hotel for three nights. It was pretty good value (about €100 per night) and had a high rating on trip advisor, but we were a bit disappointed when we got there because it was a bit worn and had a sterile, ‘businessy’ feel about it. We’d stayed in some real hovels when we were away, but wanted our honeymoon to be special so the first thing we did after eating some dodgy tapas across the road was look up some decent hotels and change our booking for the next two nights to the Abac. Good decision.

Boqueria Market in Barcelona Tapas Bar in the Market
Eating Rabbit Cabezas (heads)

After a much needed full nights sleep, we went for a stroll around Las Ramblas, one of the main drags of Barcelona. Like the main drags of most other european countries, there wasn’t anything too exciting to see until we got to la Mercat de la Boqueria, a great food market just a stone’s throw from the main street. We wanted to get some real tapas after the previous nights attempt, so headed for the stall with the biggest concentration of locals (it was called Bar Boqueria). After a lot of dishes and a mooch around the other stalls (markets are somewhere we can both spend hours looking around, even when they only sell food!), we got a taxi up to the Zona Alta to our fancy new (expensive!) home for the next few nights, the lovely Hotel Abac.

Happy Customer Abac Spa

The Abac is a fifteen room boutique hotel that was built to provide rooms for customers of its two Michelin-starred restaurant; it’s a haven of white and wood and the kind of place you don’t really want to leave when you’re there. It took us a while to figure out how the room ‘worked’, there was only one solid wall for instance, the rest were made of glass and had remote controlled curtains to give you your privacy. The remote also controlled the lighting and heating. The bathroom didn’t have a shower, or so we thought until we found out that the entire ceiling was a rainforest shower. All of the electronic equipment in the room was Bang and Olufsen, the toiletries were Hermes. I’d never been in such a place before, it was a techophiles dream :-)

We ventured down to find the underground spa that we’d read about and found out that it was for the exclusive use of two people at a time. We lounged about on the hot seats, the pool and the fart seats that Riona found a button somewhere for. It was bliss. I could have stayed inside that hotel for the rest of our week and went home happy!

Gargoyles in Guell Park Guell

We did get out an explore more of Barcelona though and bought a two day tour bus pass. I didn’t realise how big a city it was, not somewhere you could explore on foot unless you have lots of time. We took in most of the highlights, were a little bit disappointed with Gaudi’s Park Guell but blown away by La Sagrada Familia. We also managed to do lots of good eating – it was one of the aims of our honeymoon. Friends had prearranged dinner for us in a great seafood restaurant, La Bota Fumeiro as a great wedding present and we had a delicious asian tasting menu in Con Gracia that consisted of about nine courses in all, with different wines accompanying a lot of them. After a gluttenous three days in Barcelona, we picked up a rental car and headed north for Emporda, our second port of call.

We’d managed to get this booking right. We’d made a reservation for Castell d’Emporda based mostly on its website and it didn’t disappoint. We paid around €100 per night bed and breakfast which was excellent value. The hotel is a restored castle in the middle of the countryside, about ten miles from the coast. The grounds overlook a beautiful green countryside, something that didn’t meet my sterotype of a dry, arid Spain.

Castell d'Emporda Castell d'Emporda View

The biggest attraction with the Emporda region is the amount of medieval towns scattered around the place, just waiting to be explored. Most of the ones we came across were almost deserted, it was like being in the south of France without the crowds or the expense.

Weather Vane Empty Plaza Village Archway

The north west region of Spain around Girona is probably best known for it’s most famous son, Salvador Dali. We were on the edge of the ‘Dali Triangle’, a trio of museums in three different towns in the area. We managed to visit two of them, his muse Gala’s house castle, Castell de Pubol and Dali’s own museum that he opened himself in 1974 in Figueres.

Castell de Pubol was a place that Dali created for Gala that he put off limits to himself unless invited. The furniture and collections of paintings and other tat are fantastic, they reminded us of a cross between Pablo Neruda’s house in Valparaiso in Chile and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. Gala herself is buried in the crypt of the castle, overlooked by statues of a giraffe, some horseheads and a human torso.

Girraffephant Gala's Chair Ceiling in Castell Gala Dali
Finger Chess

Dali’s Thatre Museu in Figueres contains more of Dali’s work than Gala’s castle, but a lot of other art that he collected also. Because we were running out of time, we visited both museums on the same day which I wouldn’t advise as it’s a lot of weird shit to take in in one day especially with all the giraffe-ladies and doll-heads.

Scary Doorway Giraffelady Leda Atomica

An example of one of the rooms in the museum is the Mae West Room. you can see that the room is laid out as her face, but when you climb up a ladder at one end of the room and look through a large lens, all of the elements come together to give the real effect. It’s pretty cool!

Mae West Room Mae West Room From Above

We had a great week in Catalonia. Spain is somewhere that we both want to return to, there seems to be some much to the country once you stay away from the tack and trouble of the resorts. It was nice to practice our Spanish again too. If you’re looking for somewhere that’s reasonable to get to and full of rich culture, great food and fantastic scenery, you can’t go wrong with Catalonia.

Big Feet

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6 Responses to “Catalonia”

  1. Bionic Laura Says:

    Great post, sounds like you guys had a lovely honeymoon, nice and relaxing, it’s what you want after all the buzz of a wedding. I’d really like to visit those museums you mentioned. I love surrealism and all that jazz. The Abac hotel sounds very cool.

  2. davidc Says:

    Those pictures make the trip look great. I was never mad on Dali but the colors are brilliant. The old towns look really interesting as well. We must visit that part of Spain.

  3. Eddie Says:

    Bionic Laura, you’d really the north of spain, lots of little artisan shops all over the place.
    Davec, I’m surprised you’re not a Dali fan, I would have guessed differently! If you guys ever do head over there (it’s great value), we have a book on the area you can borrow before you go.

  4. Feargus Says:

    Looks like a great trip Eddie. i was in Figueres once diving in a place called Montgo i think also dived the medes isles further up in L,estartit. Girone from the little I saw of it was beautiful and spent a while in Barcelona which is mind blowing some of the buildings just regualr ones on the street, then the sagreda de familia and all the rest.
    On a different not are you a dremweaver techie or know anyone that is? I need to get a few small adjustments on the tedshreds site but need to be done from the office here.

  5. Serena Says:

    Pics look amazing, although the sheep heads are still freaking me out! Really want to go to those museums, the photos really look like they do them justice. Makes me want to go straight back to Barcelona as well, specifically to try out that hotel Abac, good call moving by the way, you need to be spoilt on your honeymoon. All looks/sounds class!

  6. Eddie Says:

    Feargus – give me a shout about your dreamweaver thing (I don’t use dreamweaver for websites but should be able to help you out).

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