life . . . [european tour: spain]

Part II of our European tour in photographs . . . Spain! We made stops in both Madrid and Barcelona, thoroughly enjoying them both. Plus apparently I really like photographing buildings and food ;) Our trip was the perfect mix of learning: museums, history, "field-trips", art and architecture. And relaxing: eating, drinking, enjoying the culture while taking it all in at various restaurants and viewpoints.

Madrid was a treat . . . lovely squares filled with people day & night, restaurants filled with tapas & sangria plus our hotel was perfect. Great location with great views!

Puerta del Sol, pretty neat first views right off the metro [glass fish below] . . .

Plaza Mayor - built in 1619 is a vast cobblestone traffic free space of 17th century Spain. A past stage of Spanish history including bullfights, fires, royal affairs and events of the Inquisition. Today it is simply a gathering place for street entertainers, photo ops and restaurants with a view :)

The Royal Palace, Europe's third greatest palace was packed with royal antiques from floor to ceiling. Overwhelming. But no cameras allowed inside :(

Back to Plaza Mayor for a quick break before checking into our hotel. Enjoyed a free sampling of seafood paella. Best deal of the trip says Matt ;)

I LOVED our hotel in Madrid . . . bright and light with windows on three sides making for excellent views.

The next day Tuesday, we spent the majority of the day at the Prado Museum. A gigantic museum housing over 3,000 canvases including Las Meninas considered by many to be the world's finest painting. ever.

As recommended we went mobile for dinner on a tapas tour, a pub crawl of Madrid. Including a Museum of Ham! Though olives or plain potato chips seem to be the common appetizer set on the table.

La Casa del Abuelo, where we had the most delicious garlic shrimp . . . gambas a la ajillo. Then off to enjoy a little more sangria before the next tapa on the tour: pigs ears!! I must have had just enough sangria to give me the guts to eat ears. Pigs ears are a Madrid specialty but I thought they pretty much tasted like terrible bacon but the potatoes were yummy as always.

Hello Barcelona!

Roman ruins leftover from the original walls surrounding Barcelona.

More tapas for lunch, great for starving tourists since you select your own and however many you would like only to pay by counting up the tooth picks at the end ;)

More lovely buildings with balconies . . . and the Picasso Museum! I really enjoyed the Picasso museum because it told the story of his life and art chronologically. No photos allowed though . . .

Biggest sangria yet! Enjoying the Ramblas in the evening . . .

The Eixample neighborhood home of Gaudi sights including the Block of Discord . . . very interesting unique architecture!

And then you see the Sagrada Família, or Church of the Holy Family . . . WOW what a sight!

Also designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, the figurehead of Catalan Modernism. The modernism movement reached its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries differing greatly from the traditional Gothic style. Gaudi's work transcended mainstream Modernism even, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature. Notice the tree motif in the Sagrada Família - probably why I loved it so! Plus it was the brightest, whitest and most colorful church I have ever seen. We also took the audio tour and learned Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, leaving a meaning behind every SINGLE statue, creation, stained glass . . . the entire place told a story!

Construction of Sagrada Família began in 1882 and has been going ever since, YET the church is not set to be completed for another quarter century.

Still quite the sight for an unfinished project . . . I would recommend a visit ;0

Goodnight Barcelona . . . off on the overnight train to Paris!