Posts filed under ‘Travel’

The birth of a research assistant

I had been planning to go to Girona to collect some documentation for a long time now but couldn’t figure out the best time to go. As usual, the decision was made for me when I found out that a famous Spanish historian would be giving a public lecture in Girona on Thursday night. Perfect, I thought. We’ll go to Girona, I can do research during the day while Alan wanders around, catch the lecture at night and we could spend the night. With that in mind we set out on Thursday morning.

I found a very nice two-star Pensión near the cathedral. Pensión Bellmirall is in a 14th-century house on a nice side street. We were very pleased with our room:

Room 2 at Bellmirall

After checking in, we set out to the Archivo Diocesano de Girona, where I had to collect some documents. Alan didn’t really feel like wandering the sights on his own so he volunteered to take pictures of the documents I needed. Since this was the first time he handled 14th-century documents, he was in constant awe. I’m always telling him about the neat books and documents I see people working with at the archives here in Barcelona and he was pleased to have the opportunity to handle some of these himself.

Register of Letters from the bishop Opening the books

This one still had its original cover:

Pink cover for an account book

Every once in a while we would find little drafts and notes stuck inside the books:

notes

I was very pleased at the two archives I needed to visit. The people at both the Archivo Diocesano and the municipal archives were very friendly and nice. There was no red tape to speak of – no one demanded an introduction, reference letters and the like – and I was allowed to bring anything in the room. Very low profile. Both archives are also up to date with their use of technology and are working hard to digitize their documents.

After the work at the archives was done, we went out for lunch and took the afternoon off to explore the city a bit. The old town of Girona is beautiful and considered one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. The city is also considered the best place to live in Spain. We had been there before and you can see some pictures here and here.

I really enjoyed our time there, maybe I’ll make the Jewish community of Girona my second project… That way we could spend a year there 😉

Despite feeling guilty for abandoning my main research here in Barcelona for a few days, the trip was successful and we can home with a few hundred pictures of documents that I can use for my thesis… And Alan has been named my official research assistant 😉 Go here for Alan’s take on his new job. Now, if only I could teach him paleaography….

March 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm 5 comments

Amazing food in Girona

Of course, after all that researching we needed to eat! I was determined to have a good eating experience and after a bit of research, I decided to have lunch at Mimolet, a new restaurant about a block away from the cathedral in a tiny side street. Call it gourmet Catalan at its best. It’s not cheap but for a restaurant of its class I didn’t find it terribly expensive either. A three-course lunch menu is 14.75 euros (at night an 8-course degustation menu runs at 40 euros, which is not bad at all). The meal was well worth it. We set right beside the cheese counter and all my efforts to live dairy-free went up in smoke and I had the five cheese taster for a first course. All I can tell you is wow, it was great.

How could I resist all those wonderfully smelly cheese??

Cheese at Mimolet

As a main course I had grilled dorade, a tasty white fish from the Mediterranean, served with some nice grilled vegetables. The fish was done to perfection – cooked only until it reached opacity. Alan had Arroz con sepia, which is a rice cooked with a kind of calamari. We both had coconut sorbet with ginger as dessert, served rolled in a nice bit of crepe. I liked the meal so much that I would love to go back one day to have the tasting menu…

At night we went to the Creperie Bretonne for some highly-recommened crepes. Although the crepes were all perfectly done and I discovered a new-found love for dessert crepes, which were never my thing, the neat thing about this place was the decor. They had a bus – that’s right, a bus – inside the restaurant! The bus was hollowed out and the waiters used it as the salad counter:

Bus Bus 2

All in all, a very successful eating holiday 😉

Mimolet is on C/Pou Rodó, 12 tel 972 20 21 24

Creperie Bretonne is C/ Cort Reial, 14 tel. 972 218 120

—–

Update: There’s a Creperie Bretonne in Barcelona as well! It’s located under the big golden fish at the Passeig Maritim. And this one also has a bus inside:

Creperie Barcelona

Photo from Creperie Bretonne’s website.

March 17, 2007 at 2:06 pm 2 comments

Lunch on top of a mountain

Map of CatalunyaAs some of you know from Alan’s blog, last Sunday Sebastian, Alan and I took the train up to Vic for a bit of hiking.

What a day! We left Barcelona on the 9:22 train to Vic and our friends Pau & Mireia met us at the train station. We first met Pau & Mireia at Jackie & Sebastian’s place. Mireia is a PhD student who worked with Jackie at the research lab in Barcelona. Pau works as a contractor (sort of – they call it a “technical engineer” here) and, as a member of a hiking club up in Vic, he helps preserve the regions’ trails. They are a wonderful couple and some of the nicests & warmest people we have met here and the reason I get very deffensive when anyone says the Catalan are cold and unfriendly.

But I digress. Back to our hike. Pau had made reservations at a restaurant – Sanctuari de Cabrera – at a centuries’ old house on top of a mountain outside of Vic. It seems to be quite a local institution and families make a big outing out of hiking to the restaurant on the weekends. We drove part of the way and then hiked the last two hours to the restaurant. You can read all about it here. The path up there was wonderful and the building itself was…. well, you’ll see it on the slideshow below:

Click here to start slideshow

The place was obviously known only to locals. The owner freaked when Pau told her that we were from Canada & Brazil. It was the best trip we have done here. That’s what travelling is all about for me – going off the beaten track and connecting with the locals. And this weekend we got a taste of the real Catalunya…

Needless to say we had a wonderful time and will be going out with Pau and Mireia on another excursion soon… The question is: will it be the sleepy towns around the Pyrenees or the Costa Brava?

February 23, 2007 at 12:42 am 4 comments

If the world was a village of 100 people…

This video was sent to me by a friend. It’s very sobering and gives us some sense of perspective… You can watch a Spanish or Portuguese version here.

February 7, 2007 at 11:56 pm 1 comment

Pictures from Arenys de Mar

The problem with having a film camera is that I’m always behind when it comes to posting pictures on this blog…

Anyways, the pictures from our trip to Arenys de Mar are in! Click on the image below to watch a slideshow:

Arenys slideshow

January 31, 2007 at 9:22 pm 2 comments

Monks, kings, markets & calçots

Yesterday was amazing! We drove through wine country, discovered a gorgeous thirteenth-century monastery, wandered through the market at Valls, and drove through half the region searching for calçots.

I can´t wait to tell you all about it but since I´m at work right now, I´ll direct you to Alan´s blog, where he talks about our day and shares some of the beautiful pictures he took.

January 29, 2007 at 5:28 pm 4 comments

Travelling the world…

At our friend Zephyr’s birthday party yesterday we met a very cool couple. Peace and So Jung are from Korea and are taking a thirteen-month trip around the world. In the past seven months they’ve been through Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and then by land through Cambodia, Laos, China, Tibet, India. From India they flew to London and Liverpool (he’s a big Beatles fan), and then Barcelona to study some Spanish before they start the next leg – South America! This morning they left for NY for ten days. The next six months will take them through Cuba, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, then back to Europe to explore Scandinavia & Eastern Europe before they moved on to Japan and then home.

I really admire people who do that…. I secretly hope I can do that one day…

GOOD LUCK PEACE AND SO JUNG!!!!

Peace & So Jung

January 27, 2007 at 4:03 pm 1 comment

Pobles de Catalunya: Arenys de Mar

As described below, Alan and I went to Arenys de Mar on sunday with out friends Matt & Elena. Known in the Middle Ages as Santa Maria d’Arenys, this town of about 9,000 inhabitants had a very important port from the 16th century onwards. It had then four shipyards and a large shipbuilding industry. After the ports of Spanish America were opened to Catalan commerce in the 18th century, Arenys quickly moved ahead to supply ships for the journey. There were 45 regular ships that travelled to America by the end of the century. The town lost much of its strength in the 19th century, with the advent of steam engine ships and the construction of the docks in Barcelona. Since then it has dedicated itself mostly to tourism and fishing.

We left Barcelona on the 10:18 train and arrived in Arenys a little after 11 AM. The town is quite pretty, spread between the mountains and the sea. We walked from the train station to the older part of town and saw our first odd sighting: bottles of cava. They were everywhere, by each door, reaps of bottles. At first we thought they had some big party on saturday night. But then we realized there were no other kind of bottle – surely if they had a party there would had been beer & wine bottles as well? Other than that, the streets were charming, with that quaint mediterranean seaside feel to it.

We continued our walk and made our way up the hill to the cemetery, which is supposed to be one of the high points of Arenys. I like cemeteries. Oddly, I can’t go to funerals -I didn’t go to any of my grandparents’ funerals, and the few funerals of strangers (usually a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend) I attended left me feeling ill. But somehow, I find cemeteries quite nice and peaceful. The one in Arenys was on top of a hill overlooking the sea and had lots of really nice monuments. I struck conversation with an old lady that was watering the flowers near her family’s grave and she was obviously very proud of the place, despite complaining that the town used to be much nicer thirty years ago. She did enlighten us on the cava bottle mystery. Apparently, in Arenys de Mar everybody puts out their cava bottles on sunday for recycling. Not any bottle, just cava bottles!

The walk up the hill opened our appetites so we walked down to the port to look for a restaurant I had heard about that serves only fresh fish and seafood. It was 1:30 pm and the Bar del Puerto was packed already! As anybody who has been to Spain before, 1:30 pm is quite early for lunch so the fact that the restaurant was already full was a good sign 😉

We had salad, calamares a la romana and boquerones en vinagre to start, a platter of mixed grilled fish and seafood as a main (it was really good!), dessert, coffee, water and wine for less than 20 euros per person. A very good meal! By the way, we ate outside, it was nice and warm and we could hardly believe it was mid January!

After lunch we spent a little while exploring the docks, before we took the 4:30 train home. I took a lot of pictures but unfortunately, I won’t have them developed until later in the week. For now I’ll leave you with a few shots I snapped with Alan’s digital (you can also see more pics on his site):

Port at Arenys

Bar del Puerto

The line up at the restaurant continued all afternoon…

Line up

update: for more pictures, go here

January 15, 2007 at 9:25 pm 1 comment

Pre-trip: Arenys de Mar

Since we only have a few more months left before we go back to Canada, I decided it’s about time we explore a bit more of Catalunya. The plan is to mix the occasional weekend trip with a day trip on sundays, depending on how much time and money we have.

So, this sunday we’ll go to Arenys de Mar, a small town in the Costa de Maresme, about 50 min by train from Barcelona. The town has one of the oldest ports along these shores (still very busy), a few nice modernist buildings, a famous cemetery with lots of interesting monuments since many modernist architects were buried there, a mineralogy museum, and literary fame. The famous Catalan poet, Salvador Espriu, immortalized the place in his poems, where the town appeared renamed as Synera (Arenys spelled backwards).

Should be interesting. I’ll have a report tomorrow with a couple of pictures from Alan’s digital. My pictures will take a few days as usual…

January 13, 2007 at 2:43 pm 2 comments

My year in pictures…

Here are some of the highlights of 2006 for me.

In January and February I was in Exam Hell so I would rather forget those…

March

March 22nd we left Toronto to Montreal, where we spent a week relaxing and visiting family and friends. On the 29th we left for Paris were we spent 4 days before heading down, by train, to Barcelona…

Our beighbourhoodAlan's brother's farmBenjamin Angus

April

We arrived in Barcelona on April 3rd, and after settling into our apartment, we took a bus tour of the city to get our bearings… The first thing I noticed were the wonderful balconies in the modernist buildings… And the beach of course! And our first Catalan festival – Sant Jordi!

WindowsSant Jordiand more windowsBeach

May

Our first visitors arrived! Pearl and Al came from Toronto to spend two weeks in Salou, just south of Tarragona. We spent the weekend with them and visited Tarragona and they came to spend a few days with us in Barcelona. At the end of the month, Melissa, a Brazilian friend who was spending some time in Porto, came for a weekend.

TarragonaPearl, Al & MeMelissa at Hospital Sant PauCathedral in Tarragona

June

This month I had a conference in Madrid. After the conference we spent a few days in Toledo, and it was really worth it! Despite being early June, the area of Madrid was hit was a heatwave that brought temperatures up to 40! Our retreat in Madrid became the park El Retiro. Loved Toledo!

RetiroGran ViaPlaza MayorWindowsToo hot in Madrid, off to Toledo

Toledo train stationJewish pastToledo's Alcazarwonderful foodwonderful people

July

Summertime! We discovered St Pol de Mar and our friends Gordon, Jean, and Jen came to visit from Montreal.

Sant Pol de MarGordon, Jean, Al & Francesca in SitgesFriends in Sant Pol de Mar

August

The highlight of this month was a weekend in Delta del Ebre with our friends Jackie, Sebastian, Naomi, and Francisca. The month ended with the Diada Castellera de Vilafranca del Penedes, the best castellers event in Catalunya.

Cycling through the rice fieldsRice fieldsBoatsDeltaDiada Castellera

September

Our friends Norbert and Carole came for a visit and we had a great time showing them our new city. Norbert and Carole had been to Barcelona before, but that was back in the 1960s… Barcelona celebrated its patron saint in the week-long festival of La Mercè…

La MerceGetting ready to performLittle Catalan feetNorbert & Carole

October

My parents came for a visit and my little nephew proved to be quite the little trooper 😉

Beach in octoberMatheusMatheus in Paris

November

We visited Vic and our friend Christine visited from Montreal. Together we explored Girona. Ahh, the wonderful autumn colours

The narrow streets of GironaGironaVic MarketVic

December

Lisboa!! what can I say? you’ve read it all before… I’ll end with table setting for a wonderful Chinese meal we had at Jackie’s & Sebastian’s

Lotus leaf

PS: I’ll be touching up the layout and the links during the next couple of days. I wanted this to come out today…

December 31, 2006 at 8:16 pm 4 comments

Older Posts


May 2022
M T W T F S S
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Flickr Photos

Blog Stats

  • 124,898 hits