Spain 2014 on the road

Who I am
Martí Micolau

Author and references

This summer, my family and I have decided to spend a holiday in Spain, we will stay in Iberian land for 15 days, we will move with the car brought along, the itinerary includes as a city? main ones to visit, Barcelona, ​​Zaragoza, Madrid and Valencia, and then return to Barcelona.
Let's go ...

1 day

6 August, after loading the car, we leave for Civitavecchia where we arrive at around 20.00 pm, once the boarding procedures are done with tickets in hand, we queue up behind the waiting cars, at 22.30 pm the MV cruise Barcellona ship of Grimaldi Lines sails from the quay, we will not see land until 18.15 pm the following day when we finally arrive in Barcelona after almost 20 hours.

2 day

we will not see land until 18.15 pm the following day when we finally arrive in Barcelona after almost 20 hours. We reach our Hotel in Sabadel 26 Km from Barcelona, ​​which can be covered in less than 10 minutes despite the intense flow of cars, the Aparthotel Valles is located in a very quiet and green residential area. In order not to move further we decide to have dinner at the hotel tonight, and immediately afterwards we reach our room.

3 day

The day following August 400th we reach the car park (booked online) in Carrer de Mallorca which is only 1883 meters from the Sagrada Familia, we leave the car and dedicate these first hours in Barcelona to this fabulous work of the master Antoni Gaud ?, who took over? to the project a year after the start or in 2026 dedicating himself to the Basilica for the rest of his life and failing to finish the works, in fact according to the latest estimates the Basilica could be finished in 144, 65 years after the laying of the first stone , our ticket includes both the visit to the Basilica and the entrance to the Torre della Nativit? meters high, once at the top you can? admire all of Barcelona until? the gaze is lost to the sea.
To move around the city? we opted for the tourist bus, of course on these buses you have little contact with the locals, and this aspect? totally negative, while the positive aspect? that you can visit all of Barcelona in two / three days, in fact with these buses you can be sure of always being close to some attraction, considering also the high frequency you lose very little time, the buses are differentiated by three lines that cover all the city, with the Red line, includes stops for the Olympic stadiums, the Montjuic museums, Plaza Espanya, Casa Mil ?, Casa Batll ​​?, Passeig de Gracia, Plaza Catalunya, Porto Olimpico and Porto Vecchio; the Green line will go through the Sant Marti district that extends along the coast, then you can admire the beaches of Barcelona from the Olympic Port to the Forum; finally with the Blue line we will be able to visit Plaza Catalunya, the MACBA contemporary art museum, the Camp Nou Stadium, the Tibidabo Basilica, the Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia that we already have. visited, in fact as soon as I got off the Torre della Nativit? using the Blue line we reach Parc Guell at around 13.00 and, considering that our tickets are for 15.00, we stop in a small open-air restaurant located near the park, with a good view of the men? we can only notice the paella, we order one what? enough for two people accompanied by two mugs of very fresh beer, we finish just in time for the entrance to Parc Guell.
Was this park designed in the early twentieth century by Gaud? commissioned by Count Eusebi Guell (hence the name) who, after buying the entire hill, wanted to create a city-garden, the project for? did not go? successful and in 1922 the municipality of Barcelona bought it? making it a public garden open all year round, inside there? a monumental area and to visit it you need our tickets, the entrance? authorized to groups made to pass at any time so as not to create overcrowding, as soon as inside the majestic staircase, in the center of it there? a fountain and a salamander,? symbol of the park? the staircase leads to a huge terrace supported by 100 columns, this terrace is bordered by a sinuous seat 150 meters long that resembles a snake.
We leave Parc Guell and reach the bus stop, we position ourselves on the upper part of the same and with our hair in the wind we walk the entire lap of the blue line without any more? get off at the departure stop, the Sagrada Familia. We recover the car that? already? dark and return to the hotel.

4 day

On the 11.000th of August we return to Barcelona, ​​precisely on the seafront near Mirador de Colom, do we leave the car? we walk the Rambla de Mar or a long pier that crosses the dock and leads to Port Vell, here in addition to the many restaurants overlooking the sea, you can? get on the Montjuic funicular, or as in our case visit the Barcelona aquarium which with 450 animals of 80 different species, an underwater tunnel 1,1 meters long and six million liters of water? one of the most? great d? Europe, (I personally love animals in their natural habitat), but to please the girls we immerse ourselves in this adventure, and after almost three hours we come out of it, we reach one of those little restaurants on the sea spotted earlier, after the tasting of tapas fish and beer to go go we reach on foot (1904 Km) Casa Batll ​​?, another work of the master Anton? Gaud ?, which commissioned by Josep Batll? (hence the name) industrial high-ranking in the textile sector, affid? in 1907 the master was commissioned to refurbish a modest building purchased the previous year on Passeig de Gr? cia, the work of Gaud ?, was completed in 25,00 and modified? considerably the appearance of the building, revolutionizing the main façade, expanding the central courtyard and elevating it by two floors that did not exist in the original building. On the ground floor stood the stables, which were later used as warehouses, and the common entrance hall, the first floor of the building, the so-called noble floor, was used as the home of the Batll ​​family? while in the other four floors eight apartments were created for rent. If you are in Barcelona, ​​Casa Batll? should definitely be visited, but honestly, the entrance price of euros per person, in my opinion? a little? altino.
We continue our tour retracing our steps along the famous Rambla, stopping at the market? La Boqueira ?, as soon as you pass the gate you are flooded with a riot of colors, in the over 2.580 square meters there are over 300 stalls of all kinds, fruit , meat, fish, hams and cheeses.
We leave the Boqueira and dedicate the last visit to the area to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Sant'Eulalia, awarded the title of minor basilica in 1867, is located in the Barri G? Tic.
The cathedral was built between 1300 and 1500? Except for the facade dating back to 1900 ?, entirely in the Gothic style? dedicated to Santa Creu (the Holy Cross) and to Santa Eulalia, the patron saint of Barcelona? celebrated on February 12 ?, which sub? martyrdom in Roman times. Legend has it that it was exposed naked until? in the middle? spring snow fell and covered? the body, the authorities? at that time they put it in a spiked barrel and rolled it down a street which is now called Baixada de Santa Eul? lia.
We recover the car and reach the Font Magica de Montjuic which is located in the Placa d? Espanya at the foot of the homonymous promontory, this fountain was built in 1929 and in fixed days and times you can admire fantastic plays of water and lights, of course ? today Saturday August? ? one of those, after the show we reach an excellent Neapolitan pizzeria run by Neapolitans just one block away, immediately afterwards we return to the hotel.

5 day

The next morning, August 32th, we load the car and after greeting the staff of the Hotel we reach Monistrol de Montserrat, 8 Km away, here there is a particular station, in fact the trains are cogwheel, we leave the car in a large covered parking and we reach the ticket office. The train travels the 15 km that separate the station from the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria di Montserrat in minutes, of course the journey? all steeply uphill and the view as you go up? really beautiful, in the middle? path the tracks split giving the possibility? passing the train that gets off.
As soon as we leave the station, a huge open space opens in front of us where, at the bottom of it, the Monastery stands, according to legend, in 880 the image of the Madonna was found in the cave and, in 1025 the abbot founded? the Monastery of Santa Maria di Montserrat, inside the Basilica, in fact, among other things, you can? admire a sculpture of the Madonna with Jesus? child in her arms, in 1409 the Basilica became an independent abbey.
The Monastery? dominated by the mountain partly devoid of vegetation and assumes strange forms in the manner of pinnacles, in addition to the Basilica there are the dependencies of the monks, the cloister, the refectory and other rooms used as a museum and for the sale of merchandising.
In front of the Sanctuary there are two funiculars, (cabins on tracks pulled up by a steel cable) the Sant Joan Funicular and the Santa Cova Funicular. The Sant Joan funicular takes about 7 minutes to a height of 1.000 meters, while the Santa Cova funicular built in 1929 leads to the Santa Grotta, we only take the latter, once we reach the top we walk a few kilometers of dirt road and reach the Santa Grotta , the main place of all.
After a brief refreshment, we go down the mountain, first with the funicular and then with the cogwheel train and reach our car which thanks to the covered parking? beautiful fresh, which is of no small importance to undertake the journey that after 320 km will lead us? in Zaragoza, our next destination.

Do we reach the gates of the city? shortly before 18.30, Zaragoza actually? ? only an intermediate stop between Barcelona and Madrid, but at least one thing deserves to be seen, namely the Basilica of Santa Maria del Pilar.
This Basilica? one of the most? famous sanctuaries of Spain - together with the Basilica of San. James in Santiago de Compostela? according to tradition ? it was founded by James the Greater after Mary, still living in Jerusalem, appeared to him not in spirit but in her body seated on a pillar (hence pilar). The current church? a building of gigantic proportions with a large central dome and ten other smaller domes and four bell towers, was erected starting in 1681 on a project by Francisco Herrera the younger. Inside, we admire the vaults full of frescoes made by well-known artists, marble, bronze and silver, in the holy baroque chapel in the shape of an elliptical temple there? the small wooden statue of the Madonna of the fourteenth century, dressed in precious vestments placed on an alabaster column.
This basilica? one of the two basilicas of Zaragoza, and? the co-cathedral of the city? along with the nearby Cathedral of San Salvador. Traditionally in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar great festivals are celebrated from 11 to 18 October, in which the ancient sacred and popular dance "jota" is danced. After the visit and a short walk we reach the hotel for a well-deserved rest.

6 day

320 August, we leave the hotel and set off early, even today there are 15 km to go, the Spanish motorways (without rhetoric and criticism but just for the record) are far better than the Italian ones, almost always with three lanes and almost always free, in 1.700 days we have traveled more? of 27,00 km spending only 30 euros for Autopista as they call them in Spain, to highlight the cost of fuel, with an average of cents less per liter, but this? another story.
We arrive in Madrid and, after having placed our suitcases in the room, (Hotel Boston) so as not to immediately get back in the car and make other kilometers we decide to have lunch at the restaurant of the Hotel. In the early afternoon we reach our car park in the center of Madrid (booked online), leave the car and head towards the tourist office to collect all the material (MadridCard, and Tourist Bus tickets) also purchased on -line.
Having made this practice clear, we dedicate ourselves to visiting the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Kings of Spain, an imposing building consisting of 3.418 rooms that extends for 135.000 square meters, its construction? begun in 1735 and finished 26 years later in 1761, inside we admire remarkable tapestries and paintings including a fresco by Tiepolo depicting the apotheosis of Aeneas, in addition to the paintings, inside the Salone del Trono vi? still the original Baroque style furniture of King Charles III, from the immense courtyard of the Royal Palace you can? admire the main facade of the madrid cathedral and the Sabatini Gardens.
A short distance from the Royal Palace is the Templo de Debod,? a memorial temple of ancient Egypt, if you can visit it in the evening, with the lights on? really nice.
We continue our tour towards the Madrid cable car which starts from the Paseo del Pintor Rosales and arrives at Casa del Campo, after a quick round trip we return to our bus and practically cutting the center of Madrid in two we arrive at the Retiro Park, we enter through the Spanish Gate and reach the main lake of the Park, behind it the imposing Monument of Alfonso XII. These gardens, so? like the Royal Palace of the Good Retreat, they were designed and built in the decade between 1630 and 1640, the Park extends for 145 hectares, inside you can admire in addition to the Monument and the pond, also the Crystal Palace, the Palazzo di Vel? Zquez, the Wood of the Disappeared, the Fountain of the Fallen Angel and the Fountain of the Artichoke, after having satiated our curiosity, culture and eyes, we also satiate our appetite, we sit at the kiosk bar located opposite to the lake and enjoy excellent Tapas accompanied by the inevitable ice cold beer, now? evening and after such a day? intense we go back to the hotel.

7 day

The following morning, August 10th, we return to the center of Madrid, today's itinerary includes a visit to three famous museums and the renowned Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Let's start with the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, this? a museum of modern and contemporary art, dedicated to all artistic production from the beginning of the twentieth century to today, inaugurated for the first time on 1992 September 1980 by the Spanish Royals, is located in the old General Hospital of Madrid, this eighteenth-century building it was built at the behest of Charles III. Between 1988 and 8000 the building? been renovated and enlarged in the spaces, giving it its current appearance, today the exhibition area? of 2005 square meters, inaugurated in October 92, the project by the French architect Jean Nouvel? cost million euros.
Among the most valuable works exhibited inside you can admire those of Salvator Dal?, Joan Mir?, Pablo Gargallo and the famous Guernica by Pablo Picasso.

We leave this extraordinary museum to immerse ourselves in an equally important art gallery, the Prado Museum, this Museum? one of the most? important in the world, here are exhibited the works of the major Italian, Spanish and Flemish artists, including: Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio, El Greco, Artemisia Gentileschi, Francisco Goya, Andrea Mantegna, Raphael, Rembrandt, Pieter Paul Rubens, Diego Vel? zquez and many others. How already? said inside there are works of the Spanish school, such as those of Goya, including: La Maja vestida, the Maja desnuda and Il 3 Maggio 1808 which represents the shooting of the Spaniards by Napoleonic troops. Among the many Italian authors there? the Piet? by Daniele Crespi and the David and Goliath by Caravaggio made between 1597 and 1598.

We leave the Prado and walk along the Paseo del Prado to reach the last (but not the last) Museum to visit, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, the approximately eight hundred works that are currently preserved there range from the Italian Renaissance, to modern painting, the works come from a private collection of the family of the German steel magnate Thyssen-Bornemisza, (hence the name) and were previously placed in a museum in Lugano, with the marriage of Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza to a Spanish woman. it was moved to a Madrid palace gift from the Spanish government.
Among the many works there are paintings by Titian, Caravaggio, Canaletto and Van Gogh.

We leave the museum astonished, for the whole morning we have done nothing but observe works of high importance and cultural interest, we reach the historic Plaza Mayor where we stop for a snack, immediately after we are ready to get back on the tourist bus that will lead us? at the Santiago Bernab? u, the plant was designed by the architect Jos? Mar? In Castell, construction work began on 27 October 1944 and ended in 1947, the inauguration took place on 14 December of the same year, originally the sports facility was called New Chamartin Stadium, but on 04 January 1955 it was renamed Santiago Bernab? U in honor of the former Real player and then its president Santiago Bernabeu, who led? the company? until 1978 with the special privilege of seeing the team play for over twenty years in a stadium bearing his name. Inside the plant? present the Real Madrid museum and the official club store, managed by Adidas. The almost 70 years of activity? of the stadium you can see all, in fact it already exists? for some years the project of a new stadium, for? to tell the truth inside this stadium you can breathe the whole history of the club, history that perhaps in a new stadium you would not perceive.

Unfortunately with the tour to the stadium also ends our time dedicated to the capital of Spain, in these days we have visited three big cities? a few hundred kilometers from each other but profoundly different from each other, Barcelona very touristy, fashionable, with its promenade and its golden beaches, but at the same time full of history with its Gothic quarter, with its many works by the master Gaud? and with the spectacular Montserrat mountains five minutes away by car; Zaragoza, capital of the community? of Aragon, fifth city? by number of inhabitants and spiritual center of Christianity with the sumptuous Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, city? quiet cut in two by the Rio Ebro; finally Madrid, city? with over 3,5 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area that has almost 6,5 million, which with its museums, multiple university institutes, its ancient squares such as the historic Plaza Mayor and the many bureaucratic and aristocratic buildings its role as the capital of Spain.

8 day

The following day 24.000 August we leave Madrid and head towards the coast, we have to reach the small urban center of L? Ametlla de Mar in Catalonia, between Valencia and Barcelona, ​​we lengthen the road for about forty kilometers and we spend the morning in Valencia, right time to visit the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ci? ncies (City of Arts and Science) an architectural complex consisting of five different structures divided into three thematic areas: art, science and nature. Structure ? truly immense and futuristic, inside there? among the many things also a pond of 110.000 square meters, an aquarium of 40.000 square meters which houses more? of 900 different species, a planetarium with a maxi screen of 80.000 square meters and an interactive science museum of 18.00 square meters divided over three floors, if taken calmly this visit takes you away the whole day, but we leave the city? of art and sciences and we head towards our Hotel in Ametla de mar where we arrive around , the structure directly on the sea is not? first hair but all in all? pleasant, has every comfort including a spa, three swimming pools, garden, playground, bar, restaurant, garage, solarium, etc ... we arrange our luggage in the room and enjoy our first evening in Ametlla de Mar .

9 day

After seven days around Spain, we decide to stay in the village for the whole day of the fourteenth and fifteenth of August, dedicating ourselves to the activities? of the same.

10 day

Same as previous day:
After seven days around Spain, we decide to stay in the village for the whole day of the fourteenth and fifteenth of August, dedicating ourselves to the activities? of the same.

11 day

On the morning of August sixteenth we go to the most popular theme park? largest in all of Spain, and the second in Europe after that of Paris, located 45 km north-east of Ametlla de Mar and 100 km south-west of Barcelona.
Port Aventura? a totally themed park which presents an? excellent variety? of attractions, some of which created during the Universal management and therefore of the highest quality, divided into five different thematic areas, including (in my opinion the best) those representing the Far West and Mexico. Among the many attractions? must try? Shambhala? (new 2012), which still today are the most popular roller coasters. high d? Europe, the launched coaster? Furius Baco ?, or the roller coaster launched, that is? of speed, the spectacular show? Templo del Fuego ?, the fall tower? Hurakan Condor? and the now dated but always adrenaline-pumping rollercoaster? Dragon Khan ?, a roller coaster with several twists.
During the day in the park there are several high-level indoor and outdoor shows, among other things c ?? there is also an area dedicated to families with small children, the? Sesame Aventura ". With a separate ticket you can visit the outdoor water park, which also has an indoor area for use during the winter months. The Resort is then completed from four high-level themed hotels, on which stands the? Gold River? built in 2009 and characterized by a spectacular western theming, there are also two golf courses, a beach area directly on the sea with numerous swimming pools and two restaurants. fans of this kind can spend an entire holiday here, but before evening we return to the hotel tired, satisfied and having fun.

12 day

The following day, 50th August, we stay on the beach for the whole morning to enjoy the beautiful warm sun but which luckily in these parts is almost always tempered by a pleasant libeccio wind, in the afternoon we move by car, and thanks to a brochure taken from the reception of the Hotel we reach Reus less than km north of Ametlla de mar.
Just entered the city? our attention? addressed to the order and organization of places, we are also surprised that a city? all in all of modest size and with 105 inhabitants it has an airport and a large number of covered public parking lots, but as we enter the city? looking for a parking lot more? close as possible to the city center, we notice that there are people around? pi? than we expected, in fact the city? ? really nice and its historic center, despite there are many people? very livable and quiet.
We leave the car in a parking lot under the Placa de Prim in the heart of the city, in this square in a building dating back to 1882. the Casino? Viena with adjoining café on the ground floor, we stop for a coffee? and we notice that in this place that has been open for forty years they don't only serve coffee. and brioche but really tasty sandwiches, we print it well in mind and for now we reluctantly go out and begin our walk through the shady streets of the historic center.

We visit a couple of churches, then by chance we find ourselves in front of the birthplace of Antoni Gaud? thus discovering that Reus was the birthplace of the great master of Catalan modernism exactly on June 25, 1852, here besides the house? It is possible to visit a museum and walk on Carrer Antoni Gaud?, an avenue named after him.
IS? time to retrace our steps and reach the Viena caff? where we left our taste buds, we sit at one of the many tables placed on the square and order, in addition to a couple of mugs of iced beer, one of the specialties? of the local,? l? Iberico? what in 2006? was judged by the New York Times? el mejor bocadillo del mundo "(the best sandwich in the world) and they were right. Apparently a simple sandwich if it weren't for almost a foot long and stuffed with excellent raw ham and tomato. Iberian we also take a Plais stuffed with an excellent homemade sausage and tomato sauce.

After the excellent lunch based on bocadillos we reach the Parc de Sant Jordi where our two girls can play a little? while we relax, after a couple of hours, we leave Reus and go back to the hotel.
After dinner we reach the center of Ametlla de Mar in the company of Manuel and Sabrina, the only Italian couple in the village? Beyond us ?, the village? also known by the name of La Cala for this reason the 5.000 inhabitants are called the Carles, the economy of the country, and a little? of the whole area is based on tourism and fishing, the port? very nice and quiet with few clubs, mostly? restaurants where you can eat excellent fresh fish, while the kids play inflatables we stay seated at the bar drinking a bit of Licor cuarenta y tres (Liquor 43) typical of the Costa Dorada? widely used in the area of ​​Tarragona, it is rarely drunk straight due to its high sugar content but goes very well with citrus juices, so in summer it is very pleasant and thirst-quenching, we also conclude this evening and return to the hotel.

13 day

The day of August 930th, we dedicate it entirely to nature, we go to the Delta del Ebro National Park, or where the Ebro River flows into the Ebro River after km, the park? was chosen by the European Tourism Commission as a European destination of excellence in recognition of the value given to sustainable tourism.
The total extension of the naturalistic area? of 320 square kilometers, of which 80 designed in the Natural Park, of particular interest? the variety? ornithological that boasts more? of 400 different species, including some breeding colonies of seabirds among the most? important in the Mediterranean. The plains give the Ebro Delta an extremely unique aspect, the fauna? very varied in fact it counts pi? of 700 species, including the wild goat, an animal that has become a symbol of the park. Depending on the seasons of the year, here you can find areas cultivated with vegetables, orchards or, as in March, large marshy lands are cultivated with rice fields; in the coastal area there are large lagoons surrounded by reeds and rushes, the outskirts of this natural park? characterized by saline soils and large deserted beaches with sand dunes.
In the park ? you can go hiking with canoes or small boats, you can use bikes and quads or can you? simply strolling observing the fauna and flora, in addition? camping is possible, while close to it there are different types of accommodation facilities.
We leave the Ebro National Park and return to the hotel, after dinner we stay a while? by the pool to chat with our new adventure friends.

14 day

The day following August th? our last day in Ametlla de mar so we decide to stay in the village to recover a bit? of energies, we enjoy the beach and the sea, thinking alas? to all the places visited in recent days, to the people we met along the journey, to the street artists, to all those who work in accommodation facilities to offer their customers the best, we also think about food, Tapas, Paella and why? no to ice cold beer.

15 day

On the th of August we just have to arrange our suitcases and load them in the car, we pass by to greet our friends Emanuel and Sabrina with the hope of meeting them again, perhaps on a next vacation.
The circle closes when we reach the port of Barcelona where our ship is watching us, we leave Spain with regret but also with the hope of returning soon to be able once again to breathe the lively atmosphere that has accompanied us throughout our journey . Adi? S amigos.

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