Friday, April 22, 2011

Spain

Just got back from Prague and Barcelona/Tarragona two days ago, and wanted to share some photos with you.  Unfortunately, I have no photos of Prague to share (yet...) because the Boyf's camera is so nice that we took all our pictures with it, so I don't have them a the mo'.

Prague was necessary -- a welcome break from the stress of my and the Boyf's daily lives.  Plus, we stayed at the most awesome hotel, Miss Sophie's.  We splurged for the full apartment, which was still under $600 for five nights, and totally worth it.  Really helpful staff, and a beautifully decorated modern space (I want to post pics when I get hold of the Boy's camera!).

One thing that bums me out, though, is that I feel a lot of people only get to see the fairy-tale side of Prague -- the beautiful architecture, the legends, the music, the beer... but they miss that it is a much more complex place than that.  The Soviets were in Prague until 1989 -- which means that all of the adult Czechs you see remember living under extreme oppression.  Wenceslas Square/Vaclavske Namesti is not just a mega shopping boulevard; it was also the site of massive protests and even immolations.  It was all so recent, but the city has jumped so fully on board the capitalist train, and has done such a good job promoting itself as a fairytale place that I just want future visitors to remember this when they come.  Visit the real neighborhoods where Czechs live (and no, that's not a pretentious thing to say -- in all honesty, most Czechs do not live in Praha 1 or 2), like Holesovice or Andel or Devjice or Zizkov.  They are so close and easy to get to, but it is really easy, with all the entertainment in the center, not to see these neighborhoods.

On to Spain!

little alleys in La Ribera, Barcelona

tiny flower-things for sale at a flower stall on La Rambla (too crowded and touristy for anyone else?  Why do all the guide books recommend it?)

Barceloneta -- the beach!

one of Gaudi's many chimneys atop La Perdrera (P studied architecture -- man, did we see some amazing buildings!)

Rambla Nova, in Tarragona

And Catalunya was really wonderful, as well.  Though I aspire to be a good vegetarian (and used to be very strict about it), I do eat the local food wherever I am (I am also an insane foodie), and so I was stuffed to the limits with the most amazing cured meats and seafood EVER.  I would also really highly recommend our hostel in Barcelona, with the caveat that it is difficult to find, and if you want to stay there, I will give you REAL insttructions!

(PS, as usual, no one is asking me to promote them -- I honestly had really good experiences with these hotels.  But since I get tired of saying "I'm not paid to say this," I think I will just start saying if I AM paid, how about that?)

3 comments :

  1. Oh wow! I am traveling to Barcelona in September. I would love the name of the hostel you stayed at.

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  2. I stayed Bed and Breakfast Yulya, in La Ribera. It was about $42 a night for my half of a double, which is pricier than a lot of places, BUT includes free breakfast every morning and access to a really modern, clean kitchen. Also, the location cannot be beat -- I barely needed to take the metro, because I could easily walk through La Ribera, the Barri Gotic, and down to the waterfront and beach. So for location and value, it was well worth it.

    The nearest metro stop is Urquinaona, but you can also walk from Catalunya. From Uquinaona, walk south on Laietana a couple of blocks, and St. Pere Mes Alts (the narrow alley Yulya's is on -- the same road as the very famous Palau de la Musica Catalana, so easy to get directions) is on the left. There is NO SIGN for Yulya's, but it is right on the corner of Laietana and St. Pere Mes Alts, so you have to look at the doorbells for the one labeled YULYA. Make sure Yulya knows when you're arriving, because there is no reception and she has to let you in.

    Enjoy your trip -- let me know anything you think other travelers should know about the city!

    --Julia

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  3. Thank you so much! The pictures you posted have just increased my excitement. They look beautiful! I'm glad you had a good time.

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