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As in every city the place to be, and to be seen in is ever changing. New areas are revamped, businesses are created and tourists flock to a place they would never have dreamed of going on a previous visit.  Inevitably, this revamping, remodeling and breathing of new life has occurred  in Barcelona.

In the last few years the Born area of Barcelona has been transforming and is now THE new area to be and be seen in in the dazzling city.  To the east of the ever popular Ramblas and on the other side of Via Laietana lies this maze of old narrow streets interspersed with small squares and merchant palaces from the 15th Century.  Although getting lost in this labyrinth is part of the charm, this fashionable district of Barcelona invites you into its heart with  wine and tapas bars, candlelit restaurants and designer boutiques.

This born again zone of Barcelona neighbors the Gothic Quarter and together they make up the old side of Barcelona. The Port is also neighbor to the area, and the Ciutadella Park ,to the East, provides the ideal place to stop and relax under the shade of a tree.

At the center of this now fashionable zone is the Maria del Mar church which dominates a beautiful square with an abundance of cafés.  A masterpiece  illustrating  14th century Catalan Gothic style, it was built on the ancient chapel of Santa Maria de las Arenas of 998AD.  The Mediterranean was much more inland than today, so being close to the sea it was constructed thanks to donations from the sea farers.

Behind the Santa Maria square is the main street, Paseo del Born, which is where the witches were executed and burned in Medieval times.  This passage today, invites you to dine at various restaurants with a variety of cuisine to choose from, or maybe just take time out to sip a refreshing glass of Cava in one of the many bars.

The Picasso museum is most surely THE museum to visit in Barcelona, for the artist and,  for the building which is made of five palaces joined together to make the museum.  An enjoyable visit here is a must to understand the formation of Pablo Ruiz Picasso.  The permanent collection of the genius’s work, here at the museum,  comprises of more than 3.500 works of art.

The former Born Market, a magnificent wrought iron structure built in the 1870’s, was once the city’s main wholesale market, until it closed in 1971.  Thanks to the market, the area of Born was once the city’s trading area.  After years of being forgotten, in 2001 excavation work uncovered some amazing remains.  Much debate ensued on the fate of  the market, but in September 2013 after extensive work was completed, the building opened again as the Born Cultural Center,  a civic center and covered plaza home to a permanent exhibition of thousands of artifacts discovered here.

Another market, alive and kicking today, is the Santa Caterina Market. A fantastic place to stop for a quick bite at a good price or just to peruse the array of rainbow colors that the stallholders sell. With market stalls spread over 3 floors it is a valid rival to the famous La Boqueria. But, Santa Caterina market is not only colorful on the inside, view it from outside and you will see the magnificent roof is alive with over 300,000 colored ceramic tiles.

Many of our Private Food, Wine and Cultural tours include stays in Barcelona to discover this fantastic city via private tours and/or giving you free time for your own sightseeing.

Join us on the Highlights of Spain Tour to combine some fantastic gourmet, wine and cultural experiences while staying in Barcelona, Girona, Penedes, Seville and Madrid.

Cosmopolitan Girona is a vibrant city with much to offer:  a wide variety of retail options, top class restaurants, fascinating culture and excellent public transport connections.  It has all the vibes of city life but with a personal approach, as with its outstretched arms Girona pulls you in to its enchanting soul.

Through the heart of this up and coming city lies the River Onyar lined with its characteristic colorful houses,  dating back to the end of the middle Ages, and various bridges that criss-cross the old and new parts.

Over 1000 years of history make up the charming old part of Girona, located around the single nave Cathedral, the Jewish quarter, Sant Feliu church and Sant Pere de Galligants monastery.

In the patrimonial ensemble of the Santa Maria Cathedral of Girona the must see features are:
– The Gothic Nave, the widest in the world, without columns, at 22.80m (14th-16th centuries)
– The Creation Tapestry, one of a kind in Western Medieval art (11th-12th centuries)
– The Romanic Cloisters from the 12th century, and a collection of sculpture, painting, manuscripts, altar pieces and textiles (10th-12th centuries)

In the proximity of  the Cathedral are Sant Feliu church and Sant Pere de Galligants (now home of the Archaeology of Catalonia Museum), as well as the Arabian Baths.

According to legend, Saint Narcissus, the Bishop of Girona , and Saint Felix, his deacon, both died as martyrs, and the relics of Narcissus can still be worshipped in Girona Cathedral today.  Many miracles are attributed to this saint, such as that of the “Mosques de Sant Narcís” (‘flies of Saint Narcissus’). This legend stems from the time when the then King of France came to Girona with a powerful army, besieged the city and destroyed everything surrounding it. For the inhabitants, this was an inevitable catastrophe, because the French troops were much stronger and they were helpless. Until one day swarms of enormous and aggressive horseflies emerged from the grave of Saint Narcissus, which was sealed with a large, heavy stone slab. These flies traversed the walls of the city and attacked the French army.  Anyone who was stung by them instantly suffered a painful death. The surviving French enemies then fled back to their homeland. Since then it has been a superstition that the horseflies and flies are particularly numerous, keen to sting and agitated on Saint Narcissus Day, the 29th of  October.

As you wander through the enchanting streets of the Jewish quarter, one of the most important in Europe where a Jewish community lived for over 6 centuries, you will step back in time.  The city of Girona has long been home to myths and legends that are hidden away in its streets and buildings. Numerous symbols direct the curious to stories, which have lived on for very many years and been told in the city for generations.  The streets here are named after the medieval activity practised in them and the markets offered in them; l’Argenteria (silver), Mercaders (salesmen), Plaça de Vi (the wine square), l’Oli (oil), and de les Castanyes (of the chestnuts)…

 

At the heart of the old town lies the wide tree-lined avenue of  La Rambla.  Rambla de la Llibertat (it’s full title) is the main thoroughfare of the old town and starts at the Stone Bridge. Bordered by cafés and businesses, its arcades evoke the Middle Ages, at which point in history this street was the setting for an important regional market. The thoroughfare continues as the much narrower Carrer de l’Argenteria  leads to the Sant Agustí Bridge.

The 9th century city Wall has today been renovated and provides an exceptional route to follow some sections of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe.  Enjoy the views of the city and the surrounding landscape from the various watch towers which provide excellent vantage points.

From traditional stores to designer boutiques: prestigious international brands, avant-garde decoration, signature jewelry, original crafts, unique antiques, delicatessen products and many more , Girona guarantees a shopping spree will be pleasurable.

For wining and dining the city has many restaurants offering a wide range of fare: Catalan, Mediterranean, market and signature cuisine.  The gastronomy of this city has now become an international model of quality, with Michelin-starred restaurants that include El Celler de Can Roca, proclaimed by the prestigious Restaurant Magazine as the Best Restaurant in the World!

And, not to be forgotten are the museums of Girona recalling bygone days: The history of the Jews, Museum of Art, History of the City, Cinema Museum …… and the modern and cosmopolitan side of Girona on the retail and leisure side.

The city is completed with the Devesa Park.  Situated between the rivers of the Guell, the Onyar and the Ter, this fantastic city park extends for more than 40 hectares and is the most important Catalonian plane tree plantation. The plane trees that shade the famous Barcelona Ramblas came from this park and renowned poets have made it the subject of magnificent verse and songs.

Many of our Food & Wine Tours include private guided visits to Girona, Spain, in their itinerary.

Our Highlights of Spain Luxury Tour  is a complete tour including private visits in Girona, Barcelona, Seville, Toledo, Madrid and Medieval villages aswell as visits to Spanish wineries, winetasting, cooking classes, gourmet tastings and authetic meals.

As all our tours are exclusively private we can customize any tour to suit your preferences. Contact us for more information.

Salvador Dalí Domènech was born in May 1904 in Figueres, in the Empordà region of Catalonia, Spain.  In 1929 he fell in love with Gala, who became his wife 5 years later.  Throughout his lifetime Dalí experimented with many art forms, entered into the world of Hollywood and lived in the United States for 8 years.  He rubbed shoulders with many intellectual and artistic personalities such as: Federico García Lorca, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, the Marx Brothers, Sigmund Freud, Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock.

 

Today, in numerous worldwide cities, Salvador Dalí creations are proudly exhibited, but his life and the majority of his works can be enjoyed in three distinct locations in the province of Girona, Spain, where they are collectively known as the “Dali Triangle”:

Púbol Castle near La Pera, Spain

In 1969 Dalí purchased Púbol Castle, restoring and decorating it, for his beloved wife, Gala.  The castle became her fairy-tale residence during the 1970’s.   After her death, in June 1982, Dalí lost much of his will to live, and moved to the castle.  The King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, had appointed Salvador Dalí the honourary title of Marquis of Púbol so it was only fitting that he lived there.  But, after a  fire in his bedroom, a suspected suicide attempt, in 1984,  he moved to Torre Galatea, in Figueres, where he lived until he died in January 1989.  The castle was opened to the public in 1996, and on display here are works that Dalí gave to Gala to decorate her home, along with a collection of her haute couture dresses, furniture and Dali’s treasured Cadillac.

Port-Lligat near Cadaqués, Spain
Salvador Dalí spent long periods of his youth here.  He gained much inspiration from the surroundings and the light, which is evident in his painting.  For over 40 years Dalí and Gala decorated the numerous fisherman’s huts, which they had bought at different times, and joined them together to make his beloved villa by the sea.  The house was opened to the public in 1997 and here can be found Dalí’s studio and library, along with the couples living quarters.

 

But, there’s only really one place where you can see the broadest range of Dali’s works, from his earliest artistic experiences and his surrealist creations down to the works of the last years of his life. of Salvador Dalí’s best works in a museum that he personally designed and was laid to rest at:  the Dalí Theater Museum in Figueres.

Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain


Built on the site of an old theater, the Dalí Theatre –Museum opened its doors in September 1974.  The Municipal Theater of Figueres was originally constructed between 1849 and 1850 but was destroyed at the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939.  Only the basic structure was left standing as the auditorium ceiling had fallen in.  The access corridors of the boxes remained, and the arch and  lateral storerooms of the stage survived.  The vestibule and the foyer were the only parts that remained more or less intact, and the theater remained abandoned like this for decades.

The ghostly remnants of the Theater attracted Salvador Dalí and he decided, early in the 1960’s, to construct his museum inside the ruins of the old Municipal Theater of his hometown, Figueres.   Curiously, yet not coincidentally, the theater stands opposite the church where Dalí was baptized and  it was precisely in the hall of the vestibule of the theater where Dalí presented his first exhibition.

Today, the museum receives thousands of visitors who travel from all over the world to marvel at the wacky wonders housed in this art mecca.  This former city theater is now adorned with large bright white eggs and a pattern of golden bread, because he wanted visitors to do more than quietly stare at his work. He wanted them to be part of the experiment and have a chance to respond to his work just the way an applauding audience does.

In the case of the Dali Museum, you’ll want to have change on hand to participate. Otherwise, you may never know the glory of flooding a mannequin-filled Cadillac in the atrium, looking through binoculars that transform a painting of his wife Gala into Abraham Lincoln, or crucifixes made of the oddest things dancing to music.

The collection in the Dali Theater Museum is impressive, archiving works that show the evolution of this legendary artist from age 18, through his romance with his soul-mate Gala, up until Dalí’s last death-foreshadowing painting, The Happy Horse.  From strange and subversive, to beautiful and dreamy, his mostly surrealistic work makes each room of the Dali Museum an adventure revealing something impressive about Dalí’s deep and twisted mind.

Salvador Dalí Dalí Domènech is buried in a crypt in the basement of the TheaterMuseum.

 

At Gourmand Breaks we are huge Dali enthusiasts, why not let us take you to experiment the works of this wackily tormented genius on our Highlights of Spain Private Tour which includes a private guided tour of the Dali Museum as well as visits to some of Spain’s most emblematic landmarks, prestigious wineries and more!

Unlike many of the seaside resorts in the Costa Brava, Calella De Palafrugell has managed to preserve its old fisherman village charm offering a wonderfully laid back alternative for those wanting to escape the over-crowded beaches of Barcelona. It´s one of the last remaining spots on the Costa Brava which has retained a true Spanish feel and where it is possible to go a whole week without hearing an English accent (gasp). Read more

One of our most idyllic (and romantic) little lunchtime retreats arrives in the form of a 500 year old Catalan mill. Not only is the mill as pretty as a picture but is steeped in culinary history (which gets us really very excited). A visit here is as much about the passionate and knowledgeable owners, Gloria and Joseph Llavina, as it is about the cheese. Oh, the cheese….

 

 

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In Calella de Palafrugell and other Costa Brava ports, to warm up after a day’s fishing and keep the conversation going, fishermen used to drink the classic cremat made with Cuban rum brought from Spain’s colonies. Cremat is prepared by heating rum and sugar with a stick of cinnamon, lemon peel and coffee beans. Then it is flambéed until the flames burn off the alcohol. The best time to try it is during the traditional havaneres singing in Calella de Palafrugell in July.

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To see Antonio Gaudi’s genius in all its finished glory (La Sagrada Familia is still under construction) we take aficionados of his work go to La Pedrera, also known as Casa Milá, on all our Barcelona Tours.

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