Feliç Sant Jordi

Known as Saint George a Greek soldier for Roman Emperor, who has been sentenced to dead for not refusing his faith just like other martyrs we know, so far. However Saint George is too more famous and loved saint ever and the patron saint of countless countries, cities, universities, professions and organisations. I guess this is due to the story of the princess and the dragon.

The legend describes the saint taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices; the saint thereby rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. Not sure if the soldier and the princes were in love but who cares, since we have the dragon, an undoubtedly beautiful princess and the martyr soldier. It´s bound to be an immortal story and here we are centuries later celebrating St Georg´s day throughout the world.

Well, as I said the fellow is patron saint of England, Georgia, Greece, Catalonia and the long etcetera.  In Georgia they  have even built 365 churches of Saint George for each day of the year and I´ve seen many celebrations and I´d say  the Catalan  La Diada de Sant Jordi is the most beautiful, enjoyable and once in-a lifetime experience.

In Catalonia April 23 is their patron Sant Jordi´s day and happens to coincide with international book´s day held as a tribute to Shakespeare and Cervantes, since, according to another legend they both died that day.

Following the tradition man gives a rose to woman and woman gives a book to the man. Entire Catalonia is invaded by books and roses. Thousands of roses are sold, though more roses than books but the booksellers do not complain, some have reported that Saint Jordi´s day sales equals year-round sales.

Crowds standing in long queues in front of book stops where writers sign and chat with the readers, with their saint patron watching them from Gaudi’s Casa Batllo facade after beating the dragon. Needless to say that almost half of Catalan males are Jordi named after Saint and the most prestigious distinction awarded by government of Catalonia is precisely the cross of Sant Jordi. Walking around Catalonia and especially its capital you´ll find the patron saint in every corner.

 

To sum up, if I had decided visit Catalonia, I´d do it April 23.


Dragons In The Air!!!

Dragons Are In The Air!!!
If you´ve been in Barcelona you might noticed dragons everywhere you look around in Old City or the modernist Example neighbourhood. Whatever space was suitable for local sculptors and architects geniuses to put their work into shape, La Casa De Les Puntxes, Casa Amettler or El Palau and almost in every building by Antonio Gaudi you´ll find unless one dragon.
Well, looks like this mythological animal served as inspiration for Catalan architects or it could be due to unconditional love of Catalan people to Saint George and his fights with dragon.

At iconic Casa Batllo where Antoni Gaudí was beyond the mythological allusion to this animal, converting the building into the living representation of the legend of Saint George and shaped in the building´s face, the most popular story of the Catalan people. He designed the roof with the shape of the back of the large animal, it is covered with ceramic scales ceramic in different shades symbolizing the blood shed of the victims. He also ordered a cross to crown the facade as if it were a sword alluding to when the noble knight saved the princess from the fearsome dragon. Here it is Saint George (San Jordi in Catalan) a patron saint of Catalonia.
23 of April celebrated as book´s day around the world and also is Saint Georg´s day in Catalonia the day of books and love. Saint Jordi has been the patron saint of Catalonia since the 15th century and on the other hand we have the famous legend of St George and the dragon and the old medieval tradition of visiting the Chapel of Saint Jordi in the Government Palace, where a rose fair or “lovers” fair used to take place. This is why Saint Jordi is also the patron saint of lovers in Catalonia.
According to tradition couples exchange gifts: a book for the men and a rose for the women.
For me it is the most beautiful day in Catalonia, streets are full of books and you will be able to find the latest publications, see well-known artists signing copies of their books, and of course, smell the scent of the roses.


Homage  to Pontevedra

Known as Pontus Veteris in XXII, was named Pontevedra (Old Bridge, from Latin) after the integration of Gallaecia in the Roman Empire. It is an old city but, at the same time, the most modern not only in Spain but also in the whole EU.

Years ago the mayor banned traffic from the centre, which means that there is not a single pollutant car engine that makes noise, but clean and quiet streets for walking, running, riding  the bicycle and enjoying the fresh air.

Pontevedra pedestrianized its 300,000 square meters and, oh surprise, life did not stop and the industries didn´t go bankrupt, people can still commute, children reach the school and the ambulance still comes to help you. And check this out: 65% of trips in the city centre are made on foot and almost 70% of CO2 emissions have been reduced. The city received the European international prize “Intermodes” in Brussels in 2013, the United Kingdom. The Nations Habitat Award in Dubai in 2014 and the “Excellence Award” of the Center for Active Design in New York City in 2015.

In 2010, Pontevedra was the first provincial capital in Spain to reduce the maximum speed in the city centre to 30 km. per hour and introduced the Metrominuto pedestrian plan for urban mobility, it is a map with the appearance of a subway map, but for pedestrians and marks the distances between the most important points of the city and the time it takes to make it on foot.

Pontevedra is the second city of Galicia for its rich heritage, and now it is even more charming without clouds of smog and an endless soundtrack of motorcycle engines, so typical in Spanish cities. Now you can really enjoy the beautiful and picturesque medieval squares, which look so natural and medieval with birds tweeting, people  walking, as the only vehicle that reminds you of the current century is the bicycle.

Also Pontevedra is the capital of the tourist region of the Rías Baixas, with extensive coastline and around 45 different beaches. Famous of its food taken locally from the ocean, known as delicious and of very high quality.

For Stephen Burgen from The Guardian “it’s a paradise” https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/sep/18/paradise-life-spanish-city-banned-cars-pontevedra

Well, if you imagine yourself in one of those medieval squares, sitting on the terrace of the bar with glass of Spanish wine, getting fresh air coming from the Rias Baixas bringing that smell of fish and seaweed, I´d agree, definitely this is a paradise, the Paradise worth of visit.


Barcelona´s 31 Michelin   *

Everybody knows or has heard about Michelin guide books, published by the French tyre company Michelin for more than a century. The oldest European hotel and restaurant reference guide, which awards up to three Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.

It all started in 1900, in order to increase the demand for cars and, accordingly, car tyres. Car tyre manufacturers and brothers Édouard and André Michelin published a guide for French motorists in 1900, the Michelin Guide. Michelin subsequently introduced guides for Europe, Algeria, Tunisia, Northern Africa, Southern Italy and Corsica with maps and expanded information to a recommended Hotels and Restaurants in each country. During the WWI and WWII it has been suspended and only published a special edition for military use (requested by Allied Forces).

Only in 1926 the so famous Michelin stars were introduced as an award for dining places, following the hierarch from 0 up to 3 stars.

*  A very good restaurant in its category (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie);

** Excellent cooking, worth a detour“(Table excellente, mérite un détour);

*** Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage);

The guide  sends anonymous reviewers to the establishment and the star and review are based on their experiences. The reviewers are called inspectors, the company has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain the anonymity of its inspectors. Company´s top executives never have met any inspector, they aren´t allowed to speak to journalist and even to release to their families their work.  No one in the restaurant knows who is the inspector or if there is any Michelin 007 among the diners at all.

This year Michelin awarded, with two new third – star two restaurants in Spain, which shows the important place the country has in the world’s gastronomic landscape.

One of those three star restaurants is in Barcelona and with this add we have 17* plus 4 ** and 2 ***, 31 Michelin  in total , not bed for a city of Barcelona, I would say.

The two restaurants with a maximum of three stars are  ABaC by Chef Jordy Cruz and Lasarte  by  Martín Berasategui, the two  WORTH  A SPECIAL JOURNEY.

 

Bon Appetite!!!

 

 

https://guia.michelin.es/restaurantes/barcelona/restaurantes-2-estrellas/restaurantes-3-estrellas

 

 

 


Back to School

So it´s time to get back to school after long summer vacations. They say that a person may suffer from post vacation blues (this is how they call it BLUES) after returning home or to a normal routine from a long vacation. But not everybody has vacations in summer and puts them off for September, which for me is the best time to take a break. Everyone is back home, everything related with vacations like flights or accommodation are cheaper, tourist attractions are less crowded and you have more chances to find locals and share their lifestyle.

September is here and Barcelona is getting back to a routine again, you can see that walking on the streets, companies are open again, queues of parents are formed at school entrances, waiters are rushing to serve coffee early in the morning and also something I said before less people with maps, photo cameras and backpacks. But party is not over, in September we celebrate La Mercè, annual festival of the city of Barcelona held from 21 to September 24.

The celebration of La Mercè has religious origins, honouring the Virgin, patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona, and co-patroness—along with Saint Eulàlia—of the city.

In Catalan, the word Mercè has meanings related to service, help, a sense of compassion, and loving mercy. In the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, there is a basilica dedicated to the Virgin, where a wooden image of her is venerated.

Each year there is a guest city and this year it is Lisbon, so it turns out to be a total Mediterranean party with its famous food and know how to enjoy life.

There are over 600 activities and shows go on during the week with more than 2000 artists and professionals taking part. The best part of it is that all of it is free of charge and there is no excuse to miss it, if yours is urban tourism it´s your chance to enjoy the city.

Join us, stay with us and enjoy the city with us.

 

 


Coctelerias of Barcelona

 Catalonia and its capital are famous of Michelin restaurants, but Barcelona is getting famous also for its cocktail bars.

I´ve got a couple of recommendations for those who are nostalgic of vintage but still attractive and the most modern and cool places where you can have one of those creasy cocktails.

On one hand, there is a real cocktail Mecca which has been there for ages  and is known for everyone in the city even they aren´t  frequent visitors, everyone in the city, unless once, have had a drink in Milano.

Milano is like a travel to a past, once you cross the door you´ll pass from Barcelona to Chicago´s a kind of underground cocktail bar with its red booths and dim lighting, giving a delicious aesthetic of the 1940s. It´s not only interior design it´s a live music, waiters who look just jumped from white and black gangster movie. It´s generous cocktail menu can make you doubt and if you are not sure just tell to the waiter the mood you´re and they´ll get you the best drink you´ve ever had.

On the other hand, there is a place called Dr. Stravinsky. A mysterious light calls you from a hidden corner in Gothic part of the city. An amber-colored liquid falls, drop by drop, in a hypnotic process of cold infusion. This is one of the many processes they use to create drinks they serve, even the water they use they bring it from Tamariu´s natural source.

Definitely it´s an alchemists laboratory they have mixes you never heard and they taste like nothing you´ve tried before, for example you can get a cocktail with weird mix and served with foie gras ice cream.

My favorite is Camp Nou a mix of syrup of dill, thyme and coriander, house-distilled gin, limes and camomila, has a freshness and flavor like nothing you’ve ever tried. Just in a 6 month after opening they´ve been named “Best New European Bar” by Mixology Bar Awards.

Obviously there´re more bars where you can get a cocktail and the good one but I pointed out these two as Milano and cocktail are joined at the hip and Dr. Stravinsky is that corner of the old city you can´t miss.

Cheers !!!!!


Treasures of Barcelona

Today I´ve my favourite building in Barcelona for you, ladies and gentlemen meet her majesty La Casa Amatller!

Catalan chocolatier Antoni Amatller Costa came in to the family business from his father.  The young entrepreneur modernised and improved production chain, introduced new products  and ended  as one of the most  successful  businessman of that times, now days we still enjoy his chocolate,  but his baby isn´t Amatller Chocolate but the Amatller House.

On March 1898 Antoni  Amatller bought a property, built in 1875, at Paseig de Gràcia in Barcelona, in order to turn it into his place of residence. He put Josep Puig i Cadafalch in charge to remodel the building. Josep Puig i Cadafalch was a Catalan modernist architect, who designed many significant buildings in Barcelona, as la Casa Martí (known as “Els Quatre Gats”) among them, a place of ideas and social gatherings frequented by Santiago Rusiñol and Ramon Casas. Puig’s style separated him significantly from his contemporary Antoni Gaudí, they were not best friends but they collaborated in construction of Café Torino.  Puig created more modern style architecture, using traditional arts as a base adapting them to new materials. An essential factor was the collaboration of craftsmen who, revived and fortified by the historical and literary renaissance.

The project ended in a radical transformation of the building, including the demolition and subsequent rebuilding of the façade, for me the most impressive part of the building. For the new façade, with connotations from the Romanesque to the Baroque, the architect shied away from the vertical alignment of the components, distributing an uneven number of openings on each floor, and even looking to create an effect of balanced asymmetry and a fictitious irregularity, seeing as all horizontal. The singular stair-like top that crowns the building serves to integrate the new photographic studio built on the roof (by law it had to be separated by some metres from the neighbouring buildings) with the rest of the building. It was a solution that the architect adopted, in order to resolve the apparent problem of terraced houses with gabled roofs.

La Casa Amatller shares a wall with Gaudi´s so famous Casa Batllo, the most beautiful fairy tale house I´ve ever seen. The fact that Gaudi is far more famous and the two buildings are together makes that La Casa Amatller isn´t appreciated properly, which is a pity, as for me it´s a real treasure of architecture, maybe far more interesting then Gaudi´s Casa Batllo o La Pedrera.

 


Gourmet Barça!

Hoy voy a recomendar algunos restaurantes para culés, para después del partido si os apetece. Bueno, si sois merengues y de buen comer también os dejarán entrar.
9 Reinas – uno de los dueños es Javier Mascherano y como no podía ser de otra manera sirven carnes deliciosas de todo el mundo. Si tenéis suerte os vais a encontrar con algún que otro jugador disfrutando su matambre.
Bellavista Jardín del Norte – propiedad del mismísimo L10, dentro encontrareis varias ofertas gastronómicas como pescadería, pizzeria, parrilla argentina, además se puede ver fútbol comiendo, como no.
Yours! – uno de los socios es Gerard Piquè y la cocina está a cargo del chef Juanjo Mestres. Sirven carne, carne y carne… hamburguesa, tartar con bovino, costillas…Y algo que se me olvidaba… entre los socios están ´´Els Amics de les Arts´´, grupo pop catalán, tienen su piano en el local y de vez en cuando tocan para el público.
Botego FOgO/Alquimia FOgO – del lateral derecho de FCB Dani Álves y regentado por su ex chef personal João Alcantara. Son dos espacios en uno, Botego FOgo de día, es un espacio popular con comida tradicional de Brasil, aquí podéis disfrutar de una autentica feijoada brasileña. De noche el local se convierte en Alquimia FOgO (ya os dije que es de Dani Álves, alguna sorpresa tenía que tener 💗) con platos más sofisticados, la única opción es menú de degustación compuesto de platos típicos de las regiones de Brasil como churrasqinho o mandioca con enfoque moderno pero sin perder la esencia.
Bon Appetit !!

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