Revenge trip culminates in Spain

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Revenge trip culminates in Spain
La Boqueria, is a haven for food lovers. Here you will find all kinds of sausages, hams, cheeses, fruits and spices. Impressive interiors of Sagrada Familia.

As the saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” This will be the second to the last “chapter” about the revenge trip I went on last month with friends, and it is about what we did in Spain following our cruise.

When Keren Pascual, Leo Katigbak and I were planning our Celebrity Beyond cruise, we realized we could stay in Spain for a couple more days after the cruise and stay in the homes of friends who offered the free use of their homes to us while they were in Manila. Leo and I have a doctor friend who graciously offered to lend us her condo unit in Barcelona, while Keren’s friend offered the use of his house in Malaga. It isn’t surprising to learn about Filipinos owning properties in Spain since the Spanish government opened its Golden Visa program to non-EU nationals. To become eligible for the Golden Visa, one can invest in real estate and would need at least 500,000 euros (around 30 million pesos).

And so, it was settled: After the cruise, we would spend a few more days touring Spain. I’ve only been to Madrid once, and that was more than 20 years ago. I was therefore excited at the prospect of visiting Barcelona and Malaga for the first time.

At the end of our memorable cruise aboard the Celebrity Beyond, we got off in Barcelona on July 21, where another adventure awaited. When we got to my friend’s condo, we settled down and made a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on supplies. We also decided to kill time there while waiting for another friend, Tim Son, who was arriving late in the afternoon to join us from Brisbane, Australia. We bought our lunch of paella, BBQ ribs, and almondigas from the grocery store and took it home.

Facade of the Museum of Barcelona Contemporary Art.

After Tim got to the apartment and freshened up, we headed out to visit the iconic Sagrada Familia, the unfinished church that is perennially under renovation. I suspect that the 26 euros they charge visitors to enter the church goes to its renovation. Because they do not allow walk-ins, you have to book online. Luckily, we got there at around 5 p.m. and saw that there were available slots for 6 p.m.

After killing time in a fast-food restaurant across the street, we explored the Sagrada Familia. Though hefty, the entrance fee was worth it if only for the opportunity to gape in awe at the breathtaking architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

We then made our way to La Rambla, a tree-lined pedestrian street stretching 1.2 kilometers that’s famous the world over for its many restaurants, shops, gelaterias, etc. We dropped by the La Boqueria market, which is a haven for food lovers.

Here you will find all kinds of ham, sausages, cheeses, fruits, and spices, anything that will and can delight your appetite. It’s a feast for the senses and you will be wowed by the colors and smells.

After La Boqueria, we slowly made our way to Los Caracoles, the oldest restaurant in Barcelona that goes back more than 180 years. This was where Keren suggested we have dinner. Caracoles is a snail, and is cooked in onions, tomatoes, green pepper and chorizo. It has a distinct taste but I prefer our kuhol sa gata or escargot cooked in lots of butter. Aside from the caracoles, we also had calamari, roasted chicken, bacalao and cuchinillo.

Impressive interiors of Sagrada Familia.

Since we only had three full days in Barcelona, we had to plan our trips wisely. After Sagrada Familia and La Rambla, the next item in our itinerary was a visit to Park Guell. It is a beautiful, colorfully-tiled park with sculptures and gardens by the world-famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, the very same architect behind the Sagrada Familia. One must trek to Guell’s highest point to see outstanding views of the city and take photos from the serpentine benches while soaking in the extensive green area and rich diversity of species.

The only museum we got to visit was the MACBA, or the Museum of Barcelona Contemporary Art (its acronym is in Spanish). It featured several limited period exhibits on photographs, textiles and pop culture.

In the afternoon, we headed out to the Sant Miguel beach in front of the Placa del Mar, one of the busiest beaches on the Barcelona coast. We found ourselves a shaded area in one of the outdoor restaurants and ordered mojitos while enjoying the view and people. When it wasn’t too hot, we took a cab to drive us around so we could see Casa Mila.

More popularly known as La Pedrera, this is another Gaudi work which began as a residential apartment but has now been converted to a cultural center that hosts art exhibits and performances. We also drove by the Casa Batlló, another Gaudi masterpiece.

Last on our “must” list was a stroll around the Gothic Quarter, which was part of Barcelona’s old city. It was nice to get lost along the narrow medieval alleys and enjoy the architecture of the buildings, especially the Barcelona Cathedral. Of course, we allotted some time for pasalubong shopping, and I immensely enjoyed bargain hunting in Primark and my new discovery Muy Mucho.

Barcelona is a truly beautiful city bursting at the seams with arts and culture. But sadly, three days is not enough to enjoy its countless sights, sounds and food. I will definitely make another trip to this uniquely wonderful city in the spring or fall when the weather is more comfortable. Till next time, Barcelona.

(For inquiries on how to avail of the Golden Visa, please contact Dra. Luisa T. Puyat, marketing director of Vive Espana at 0917-3188420 or visit its website https://vivespania.com.)

Exit of Park Guell.


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