To escape the traffic and the noise of Lavapiés/Embajadores district (south of El Rastro), head to the rooftop of La Casa Encendida. Located on busy Ronda de Valencia, La Casa is actually a hidden oasis of calm.
This free-admission community education center / gallery / multimedia library / performance venue has a wonderful rooftop where you can sit, relax, read, meditate or chat with other visitors – you choose. If you get hungry, there's
a café downstairs, not to mention all the other things the center offers.
WHAT: Rooftop relaxation
WHERE: La Casa Encendida
) Ronda de Valencia, 2; Madrid
Read the rest of: "Rooftop of La Casa Encendida
If the above title makes you go "¿La Hora de QUÉ
?", you're not alone. Only a short year ago, I myself did not know what "horchata" meant, much less what it tasted like.
As it turns out, it tastes pretty good. If you're in Madrid, dubious, I'll tell you were to go to order a glass that will remove all your doubts...
Read the rest of: "La Hora de Horchata
If you happen to find yourself halfway across the world in mid-August, preferably with a sense of adventure and an affinity for insomnia, I'd advise heading to Barcelona and joining in on the annual revelries of the Gràcia Fest. Every August from the 15th to the 21st, Catalans return from their luxuriously long summer vacations and the small barrio of Gràcia plays host to one of the most vibrant neighborhood festivals in Europe.
The Gràcia Fest is basically a hyperbole of a block party- events and feasts are scheduled all throughout the day, live music persists every night until dawn, and outdoor bars and their patrons make it impossible to cross even the smallest square in under ten minutes. Every year, over a million people flood the narrow streets of Gràcia to gawk and to party until literally flooded out by street cleaners in the morning...
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An unfortunate foray was made by yours truly into Roses, in response to its overly simplistic bus connection to Figueres - a mistake that will not be made again. This beach town on the Costa Brava has a lovely name, and a long and lovely sand beach, and little else of charm.
It is for the most part a package-holiday paradise for French pensioners and young families, with newly built condominiums dotting the shoreline, and many more sprouting nearby. In effect, it is exactly the opposite of what I look for a in a coastal escape...
Read the rest of: "Nothing's Coming Up Roses
To really enjoy Barcelona - without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe - you will be better off steering clear of tourist traps and high-traffic areas. Some landmarks, however, are a "must see"...
Read the rest of: "Gaudí's Barcelona
Somewhat inaccessibly located on the Costa Brava, this small fishing town is the perfect escape from the heat of Spain's major cities, a place to dally for days on end. Some hippies have been dawdling here for decades, and their presence keeps the town from developing into a full-blown designer village, à la Martha's Vineyard or the Hamptons. I can imagine this place becoming a more obscure "south of France" for celebrities, and get the sneaking suspicion that some of the hippies fishing off the rocks might in fact be celebrities incognito.
Cadaqués is famous for being Dalí's home, but my husband and I came for the beaches and stayed for the food and the slightly off-kilter atmosphere...
Read the rest of: "Dallying with Dalí in Cadaqués
While the rest of you are out scoping out scenic bus tours of Barcelona and bronzing on the city beach, please excuse me, 'cause I'll be at the fish market getting back to my Mediterranean roots.
In fact, for me, this place is the only reason to go to Las Ramblas. With 7 kinds of shrimp, live lobsters crawling off tables, hundreds of crazy-looking fish and creatures I don't even recognize, I will be entertained for hours. Thank Neptune (or his Spanish twin Neptuno) we have rented an apartment with a hot plate - now I won't have to go away empty-handed. (Because I would rather eat a raw flounder than leave without buying something. Yes, thank Neptune indeed for that hot plate!)...
Read the rest of: "The Seafood Side of Spain
Fondue in Barcelona? Well, why the hell not? That's what we said when after a five-minute deliberation involving counting dining patrons and talking to a kitchen employee on a cigarette break, we decided to "go for it".
Apparently approving of our decision, the ultra-modern glass door slid away automatically, and with that we stepped inside "GADES"...
Read the rest of: "Fondue'ing at Gades in Barcelona