Best of Barcelona!

What springs to mind when you think of Barcelona?

Is it the exuberant Spanish flamingo dance experience, or the colourful exciting streets of Las Ramblas with its array of shops, restaurants, culinary delights, street artists and it’s Market de Bouqeria.

Is it the amazing architectural must-see attractions, the Sagrada Familia, history-steeped streets and alleyways of the Gothic Quarter, or the entire whimsical world of architectural genius  that is Gaudi.

Or maybe it’s the freshly prepared seafood paella, sautéed calamaris, garnished potato bravas, freshly fried cherros with delightfully melted chocolate dips.

Or just simply sipping iced pina colado on Barcelonetta beach , basking in the golden Mediterranean sun, whilst unashamedly chair-dancing to Ed Sheran’s new beat ‘Barcelona Barcelona .

The land that brought us FC Barcelona and Messi ( oh yes Magnifico Messi – let’s sigh), and once hosted the 1992 Olympics.

For our EIC, it was all of the above. She recently got back from this most vibrant city in Europe and sat down with us to recount her experience. Take it away Genevieve….

When did you visit? The last bank holiday in May for a week.

Who were your travel buddies? I went with my family. My daughter was on half term break, so it’s was perfect timing to escape for some well needed cultural and culinary experience. Oh and to get that healthy dose of vitamin D!

Where did you stay? We stayed at a rather elegant and luxe hotel called Eurostars Grand Marina located by the port of Barcelona. It’s is such a great location because it’s close to both the beach area and the city centre. The metro was literally 5 mins walk and close by the big shopping mall MareMagnum.

What was the highlight of your trip? Oh there were so many , like the cultural and chaos buzz of Las Ramblas and sheer enormity of the fresh produce stores at the Merkat de Bouqeria. Then by constrast, strolling along the beach promenade along the Port Olympic area, and dining at the seafront restaurants overlooking super yachts and the Marina.

Our hotel had the most amazing views of the city from its roof terrace .

What are the main must see attraction? The Sagrada Familia is a definite must, the Barri Gothic area and if you have time Casa Milla , Parc Guell and Montjuic.
Interested? Find out more about how Ecclestons travel team can help plan your next travel trip.

Quintessentially Valencia

Earlier on in the year, our very own travel team visited the beautiful city of Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, but one which is less visited compared to its sisters Madrid & Barcelona. A blessing in disguise, it was a welcome escape of the beaten track and truly a hidden gem.

This unpretentious, authentic & charming port city lies on Spain’s south eastern coast, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea. It has several great beaches, the Las Arenas & Malvorossa among the best known.

Valencia, we discovered is the birthplace of the spanish Paella, and every variation of this gastronomic delight can be found here. Our advice? Forget about the carb diet when you are here!

It is also known for it’s City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural genius of futuristic buildings and structures which include a planetarium, an oceanarium and an interactive museum. You will easily be forgiven to feel like you have been transported into a Doctor Who episode. Fans out there, would also be interested to know that the new sci-fi series were filmed at this location.

When did you visit Valencia?
During the Easter break in April. We were keen to escape the April rain for some mild Mediterranean sun around that time of year.

Where did you stay?
We stayed at this amazing luxury hotel called Hotel Las Arenas, which is literally a stone throw from the Malvarossa beach with stunning ocean views from our hotel suite.
The hotel is actually famous for its impressive gardens, terraces and almost one century old spa and a stunning swimming pool complex. Definitely one we would recommend for that weekend spa retreat.

What were your first impressions of the city?
We found it to be a charming and a welcoming place with an unpretentious vibe to it. On landing at Valencia Airport, we were greeted warmly by our female concierge and driver who had been sent to pick us up courtesy of our hotel. Coupled with the warm mediterranean weather and plenty of palm and orange trees on view, our first impression was that of genuine excitement and curiosity.

What was the highlights of your trip?
There were plenty of amazing experiences to be had. But one that stands out for me was lunching at Placa de la Reina, people watching and simply soaking in the ambience and culture.
The day spent at the oceanographic at the City of Art & Science was also awesome.

Staying so close to the beach, we loved the stroll along the promenade, lined with palm trees and numerous restaurants, were you can sample real Valentian paella.

What are the main attractions to see?
Placa de la Reina
This is one of the best places in Valencia to visit if not the best. A beautiful historic square with views of the Valencia Cathedral. Visit the cathedral and if lucky view the chapel with the Holy Grail. Be sure to check out chapel’s opening times to avoid disappointment.

There are also plenty of bars and cafes at Placa de la Reina, where you can lunch, have a drink and soak in the charm.

Another must visit attraction is Torres de Quart. Twin gothic-style defensive towers that were built in the 1400s as part of Valencia’s city wall.

Pay an Entrance fee of just 1 euro to walk up the stairs in this 15th century building to the roof top. It is one of the highest points in the city. Here you will have incredible picturesque views of the old city, with all of the beautiful churches and attractions in view.

Another must see is the city of Art building, an architectural masterpiece, which features the great science museum and oceanografico, designed by the architect Félix Candela and the structural engineers Alberto Domingo and Carlos Lázaro.

Be sure to check out the dolphin show which is one of the biggest “dolphin arena” in Europe.

Interested? Contact us to find out more about how our Ecclestons travel team can help plan your next trip.