Let’s Go for a Walk!

Let’s Go for a Walk!


Anne’s walking flats on Gaudi-designed sidewalk in Barcelona.
We never quite know what a day will bring as we explore Europe with our tours, but one thing’s for sure, there will be LOTS of walking! We’ve clocked over 20,000 steps in a day more than once, and oh, do we miss it! So we’re always looking for great shoes that we can walk in all day. For us, the holy grail of shopping is a pair of shoes that look cool and feel comfortable for a full day of walking. It’s taken many years of experimentation, and our closets are full of wannabes that don’t quite cut it, but we’ve managed to find 8 pairs that we can wear walking all day without pain.
Kirk and Anne at a Slow Travel Tours gathering.
Our daughter, Sunshine Woodyard, is also a travel writer, and we collaborated with her on this story about the 8 Best Shoes for Walking in Europe. Kirk is devoted to his Mephisto shoes for travel, and I also love wearing flats by Me Too, Aerosoles, and Allbirds  – their Treebreezers are pretty, comfortable, and great for walking.
It’s a long walk to Capri’s Arco Naturale – wear good shoes!
We’re still dreaming of travel past and future, and we’d like to share the story of one of our favorite walking destinations: The Eternal City. A couple of years ago, we spent just one day in Rome and managed to squeeze in many of our favorite spots. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration for your next Italian journey! Italy is always captivating, and we are planning our return in the Spring for our Wonders of the Amalfi Coast tour. Perhaps you’d like to join us!
Our Wonders of the Amalfi Coast tour takes us all around the Island of Capri.
If you have a particular travel bucket list item to fulfill, there’s no time like the present to create a grand plan! Our custom private tours can make your dreams come true. If you’ve got an idea for a European destination to explore, and you’d like some personal guidance, we hope you’ll connect with us at info@musicandmarkets.com
Tapas and Modernistas in Barcelona

Tapas and Modernistas in Barcelona

Tuesday, November 22, 2011, part 2
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: New Year‘s Jazz in Italy

Kirk takes me on a mini- Modernista walk on our way to dinner, past yet another impressive example of the genre just a block away from our flat: a confection of brick and sgraffito inspired by the Alhambra in Granada.

The Moorish keyhole shapes and decorative ceramic show up in unexpected places, such as atop the windows of the pharmacy on the ground floor.

We’re tempted once again by a market, and just have to peruse the colorful stalls… artfully stacked fruits,

the requisite jamón ibérico

and sausages of all shapes and sizes.

There are several Modernista pharmacies throughout the Eixample district, and this one boasts fanciful glass panels – shopping with a monkey???

A lace-y more traditional Art Nouveau doorway graces this façade

Then we see an inimitable Gaudi doorway – HIS unique take on Art Nouveau

on the craggy, cliff- like La Pedrera on Passeig de Gracia.

Even the pavers on the sidewalk of Gracia are Gaudi designed.

Our eyes are sated… now to give some attention to our stomachs!
We’re going on a Tapas Crawl in the hip Born district, and our first stop is Euskal Etxea, its counters laden with tasty Basque bites,

each one a work of art, and each one only 1.80€!

Next stop, Xampanyet, another Basque spot, and quite a contrast to sleek Euskal Etxea.
They’re advertising fresh beer from the barrel,

and we can hardly get in the door!

The jolly guys behind the counter urge us to try one tapa after another and after a few raucous minutes, filling our mouths with tasty morsels, we seek out a quieter spot to finish our evening.

Bar del Pla quietly satisfies us with roast suckling pig, fried artichokes, and the ever-present pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomatoes).

Buenas noches, Barcelona…

Vistas and Tapas in Barcelona

Vistas and Tapas in Barcelona

Monday, November 21, 2011
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: New Year’s Jazz in Italy

We like to choose a different route each time we walk in a city or town, so we can see as much as possible. Meandering through the Eixample district of Barcelona is an adventure. You never know what you’ll see – the district is quite a showcase for Catalan Modernista architects. This morning we walk down Carrer Ausias Marc and spot a tree holding up a balcony. The grafitti rather subdues the pleasure of the view, but it’s still intriguing.

Just down the carrer we pop into an open foyer to admire a swirly door, Barcelona’s Art Nouveau at its traditional best.

In a few minutes more, now in the historic district closer to the beach, we’ve stepped back into the 18th century, with the elegant sgraffito of this 1763 beauty.

But the Modernistas have made it to this street too, with the over-the-top extravaganza of the Palau de la Música Catalana.

Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the early 1900’s, it’s covered inside and out with astounding detail.

Even the ticket window is a wonder!

We’ve been reading about the newly-hip and renovated Born District and are eager to get to know this area. The Santa Caterina market, a cornerstone of the Born since 1848, was brilliantly renovated in 2005

and is a stunner inside and out.

Where better to find a market-fresh lunch than right in the market? With a wall planted with herbs at one end,

and a tapas bar at the other, Cuines Santa Caterina satisfies us with a delicious lunch of small bites (full meals offered as well).

And once again, we see that US product, one of two that we’ve noticed in nearly every eatery in every country we’ve visited – tabasco sauce! The other US stalwart? Jack Daniels!

We peek into an ancient courtyard on our way back to the apartment – we’ve learned that if a door or gate is open, to look inside, where beauty often awaits us.

An afternoon of research and preparation for the next couple of days, then we walk to Tapas 24 to meet friends for dinner. We met Gerhard and Darlene a couple of years ago at a French tourist office conference in San Francisco. They happen to be in Barcelona for two days, researching for a future tour, as we are and we’re happy to see them again and hear of their latest adventures. They’ll return to Germany on Wednesday for one of several Christmas Market Tours.

The highlight of this meal was an appetizer- looking dessert: “olives” shaped of luscious dark chocolate, served with mini toasts drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Oh for another plateful right now!Link


The Barcelona Dance

The Barcelona Dance

Sunday, November 19, 2011
Barcelona, Spain

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!
Next on the itinerary: New Year’s Jazz in Italy

I’ve heard and read about Barcelona’s Sardana, a circle dance, for decades, and today we finally have the opportunity to see it!
It’s about a twenty minute walk from our apartment in the Eixample (expansion) District, the area that was designed and developed in the mid-1800’s when Barcelona burst through its medieval walls. Modernista (Catalonian Art Nouveau) architects, the most famous of whom was Gaudi, designed sinuous masterpieces for their wealthy clients, and his shimmering Casa Battló greets us this morning as we walk down Passeig de Gràcia toward the old town. This wondrous building changes color throughout the day and night, depending on how the light hits it.

Mask-like balconies dot the scaly façade – sometimes the house looks like a dragon, sometimes like an undersea fantasy. Amazing!

What a difference as we enter the Gothic Quarter, closer to the Mediterranean. Traditional ceramic tiles adorn exteriors and palm shaded courtyards.

Sunday morning mass fills the Seu, or Cathedral, with alleluias, and incense fuzzes the altar as we peer through the intricately carved marble choir screen.

On the Cathedral steps the band is tuning up, with several unusual instruments unique to Catalonia (Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, which is one of Spain’s regions that clings strongly to its own language and customs).

I am sorry to say that none of my videos of the unusual music and dance came out… I so wanted to share it! There was one large circle, and several smaller ones. As people entered the circles, they would bring their coats and bags into the center, then join the ring and the slow and intricate steps, raising and lowering their hands, sometimes jumping up and down together. I could have watched for hours!

There was no dress code, but several of the ladies changed into ankle-laced espadrilles to dance.

In stark contrast to the ancient buildings (even a portion of a Roman aqueduct) surrounding the Plaça (plaza) is a modern high-rise, the Architects’ Association, decorated with graffiti-style Catalan folk scenes designed by Picasso in the 1950’s.

From the celebration in the front of the cathedral, we walk to the peaceful palm-shaded cloister in the rear.

A lovely place, a little noisier than most cloisters, since thirteen geese, representing the thirteen years of Saint Eulàlia, Barcelona’s martyred patron saint, live there!

Down the winding narrow lanes behind the cathedral are further traces of the city’s Roman origins – four remaining columns of a first century BC Temple of Augustus.

Through the centuries the city’s been built around them – how would you like to hang your laundry out beside an ancient Roman pillar?!

Didn’t see any of these Spanish dancing shoes in the Sardana rings….

Can Culleretes has been dishing out traditional Catalan cuisine since 1786.

Multiple rooms decorated with huge oil paintings, colorful ceramic tiles and vintage bullfight posters (I liked the one trumpeting “6 Hermosos Toros” – 6 beautiful bulls) are filled with families enjoying Sunday lunch.

We begin with tasty salads – mine with smoked duck breast – and continue with duck and plums. Usually we choose different dishes to get a better feel for the menu, but we both really wanted that duck!

To be continued….