Candacetravels

The Travel Diary

Month: December 2016

Candacetravels’ 2016 Year In Review

“When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup.”

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Babe’s Cafe – Brecksville, Ohio

What a year! 2016 doesn’t owe me a thing. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly eventful. I gazed across the city of Dallas, TX from 470 ft up in the air, as well as dined on-the-go, spent Valentine’s Day strolling through South Beach in Miami, chased butterflies in Aruba, snorkeled and sampled cactus liqueur in Bonaire, lived like a local in St. Maarten while staying at Alegria, smashed dinner at my favorite spot on the French side, Cynthia’s, in St. Martin, changed planes a few times in Curaçao (visited there a few years ago,) stood in a ridiculously long security line in Newark, skipped along the cherry blossom filled Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., relaxed like a queen at The Ritz Carlton in Arlington, ate at a cute lil cafe in Eufaula w/my sis, let the ocean breeze blow over me in Panama City, where I saw the most beautiful sunset, chowed down on some delicious food in Atlanta w/a friend, while in between cities, attended the CAVS championship parade in Cleveland, among various other activities, made some new connects in Orlando, caught like a million flights back and forth between FL and OH alllll year long, learned about horticulture in Clermont during my down time, kicked back in Tampa and Clearwater when I wasn’t working, ate the best pumpkin risotto and mushroom sliders in Oslo, where I would happily spend my summers, staying at Scandic Vulkan, danced at the base of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, where I celebrated my B-day with friends, prayed inside the gorgeous 100+ year old Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, after eating some yummy paella, spent a few hrs in beautiful Lisbon (which wasn’t long enough,) chilled out in the hot tub in Boston after my flight back to the US, and slept like a baby in Detroit! In the process, I smiled alot, caught a ton of flights ✈️(approximately 30,) rode on quite a few trains 🚉 (too many to remember) and in quite a few cars 🚘, (definitely lost count) as well as hit the water on a handful of boats 🛥 (that sounds about right) this past year too -and thanked God all the way thru! 🙏🏾In the midst of all of this, I met great people, sometimes traveled alone, while at times with others, and always with my favorite items – and wrote about many of my 2016 adventures on/in Candacetravels.com, in Upscale Living Magazine, on A Luxury Travel Blog, in Global Living Magazine and on Black Enterprise.com – I’ve included several links above for you!! Just click to read the full articles or posts. A HUGE THANKS goes out to all of you for your support, and a big thank you to 2016 for a superb Global Expedition that included 7 countries (well technically 8 because St. Maarten and St. Martin are considered two separate countries,) and a host of cities. But… now it’s time to make room for 2017!🏾 Let’s prepare to create some new epic adventures together. Happy New Year everyone!!

✌💕

Candacetravels

This post includes both sponsored, as well as non-sponsored material. However, the events noted above do recount my actual experiences regardless of post. My goal is to provide you with useful information to make your travel experience as rich as possible.

5 Fun Things to Do in Barcelona

Hola friends! Welcome back to The Travel Diary. Today we will take a look at a few of my favorite to do’s in the beautiful city of Barcelona. This locale is home to some of the most unique architecture in all of Spain. From the fabulous works of Antoni Gaudi, which are spread throughout the area, to the top of the Monument a Colom, located at the lower end of the famed, Las Ramblas Boulevard- there is much to see and do. So kick back…and enjoy reading about some of the best Catalonia region to dos.

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  1. Sagrada Familia

A visit to this renowned church is a must! The construction of this project first began in March 1882 by architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, who resigned shortly after, leaving the job to the acclaimed, Antoni Gaudi, to complete. It has been 100 years since his death and the basilica is yet undone. Despite being fully completed, this neo-gothic piece of history is still remarkable inside out. While the exterior leaves much to the imagination, considering its “busy” design, (which is in true Gaudi fashion,) it’s the interior that really takes your breath away. I have never laid eyes on anything even remotely comparable to Sagrada Familia, before in my life! Everything about it draws you in. There are stunning stained glass windows, a striking ceiling and pillars, statues adorned throughout and carved inscriptions. To call this church impressive doesn’t even begin to do it justice. There is also a designated space for worship and reflections within the basilica, in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence. Here, all are welcome, regardless of faith, to witness this “symbolic expression in stone of the Christian faith.” (sagradafamilia.org). The church is meant to serve as a place where people can come together and unite as one. Sagrada Familia holds masses throughout the year, where visitors can attend. There are also several other items on display in the outer hallways from times past. Though a work in progress for the last 100+ years, post Gaudi’s death, the church is finally slated for completion in the year 2026. And to think, this is only “one” of his creations. There is also the Park Guell, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo to name a few. Since it’s difficult to put into words how magnificent the Sagrada Familia is, I’ll just have to show you below. The church is also located in an area that is surrounded by numerous souvenir shops, restaurants, businesses, living quarters and markets. I’d highly recommend purchasing tickets in advance, to avoid the sell-out crowds that this landmark draws in. Nothing comes close to this marvelous piece of history. Stay prayerful and enjoy your visit!

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Sagrada Familia Exterior Side View

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Sagrada Familia Exterior View

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Sagrada Familia Interior View

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Sagrada Familia Interior View

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Sagrada Familia Interior View

  1. Monument a Colom

This beautifully chiseled monument sits in the Placa de la Porta de Pau square. It provides some of the best 360 degree views of the city, from atop the 197 ft tall column. Just an elevator ride up, and visitors can behold the amazing Barcelona views! You will see the neighboring port and the famous Gothic Quarter, among other notables from up high.


Barcelona Port and City Views from Atop Monument a Colom

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Here’s a little history. The monument was designed by Catalan architect, Gaieta Buiga, and it first opened in 1888, in honor of Christopher Columbus’ first expedition to the Americas. There are items for purchase on the base level and different entrances and exits. Make sure to have your cameras ready, and have plenty of space on your sim cards.

Visitors can also do a wine tour, through the Mirador de Colom wine tourism experience, on the base level.  Guests can sample different cava and wine, and get additional information on other wine experiences in the region. Salud!
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Monument a Colom Exterior View

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Barcelona City Views from Atop Monument a Colom

  1. Authentic Paella on Repeat

I am happy to say that I got my fill of vegetable Paella this Barcelona run. My first time in the area was limited; thanks to a 3 day delay in NY, so it prevented me from indulging too much. But this time… success! I pretty much sampled paella everywhere I went to eat, and I don’t regret it at all. This dish is one of my favorites at Cuban restaurants in the states, so I just had to try it (again and again,) while in Spain. Did I get sick of eating it? NOway! It was delightful and prepared a bit differently each place I went. While dining at one restaurant, Ultramarinos, I did get the opportunity to also nosh out on some pretty yummy guacamole and chips, too. Their paella actually came in at number 2, behind a little local gem nestled amidst other small eateries, over near Sagrada Familia in Eixample. They had the best olives and…I was so famished that first day, after such a long night, I don’t remember much else. My stomach won the head battle that day. Yep, that’s me- the crazy hungry, travel blogger. Moving on. The cool thing about Ultramarinos -is that it’s located right on the popular La Ramblas strip- in the midst of all the action. The ambiance and décor is awesome, and the street views are great. From the colorful lights to the signatures of prior guests scribbled across the walls, it was the perfect spot for a rainy afternoon lunch. My suggestion- eat as much paella as you can while in Barcelona!

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Ultramarinos Restaurant

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Ultramarinos Restaurant Lights

IMG_0047Tea, Guacamole and Chips at Ultramarinos

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Authentic Paella at a Local Restaurant in Eixample

4. Stroll Las Ramblas 

This acclaimed boulevard is a tourist and local favorite. There are numerous hotels nestled throughout, as well as tons of restaurants, markets, souvenier shops, vendors and museums. Located near Port Vell, where the cruise ships come in, it is considered the heart of the city. The atmosphere is bustling, both day and night, and the La Boqueria Food Market, even offers a paella cooking workshop. I couldn’t resist mentioning that, lol. The street is pedestrian friendly, and is known for having street performers, artists and tourists from around the globe. From people watching, to eating and shopping, this is the place to be, so get your walking shoes on!

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Street Performer on Las Ramblas

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Museu de Cera (wax museum) located on Las Ramblas 

  1. Explore. Explore.

Visit as many other museums, monuments and sights as you can.  Barcelona has something for everyone to see. There are walking, city, bike, sightseeing, food and cultural tours. There is an endless list of places to explore. From Picasso to the theater, you will not get bored. Also, depending upon when you visit, consider making a trip to the beach. Yes, Barcelona has beautiful beaches, where you can swim, relax or even sail. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time this trip, so I missed out on the beach. The city is so vibrant and colorful, and equally as much multicultural. I met shop and restaurant owners and workers from various parts of the world, who were really nice. Also, don’t forget to mail your postcards back home, while you’re out exploring! Have fun!

Visit Candacetravels on Instagram to view more photos and videos of this gorgeous destination.

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Candacetravels Mailing Postcards Back to the US in the rain

City Details

Locals can be heard speaking both official languages; Catalan and Spanish. There are numerous taxis, as well as a subway, buses and airport shuttles. Hotels are plentiful throughout the city, and range from moderately priced to deluxe. If you don’t plan to rent a car, consider staying on or near Las Ramblas. This location will provide easy access to entertainment and sights, as well as to the metro stations. I split my time between Eurostars Monumental in Eixample (which is in walking distance to Sagrada Familia) and Arc La Rambla, which is located on Las Ramblas Boulevard.

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Hotel Arc La Ramblas Front Entrance

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Views from my 7th Floor Room- Eurostars Hotel in Eixample 

Thank you for stopping by today. I hope that you learned a little more about this beloved Spain destination- and are eager to explore. Until next time, I bid you safe and happy travels. Adios amigos!

A special thank you goes out to the Barcelona Tourism Department’s Premium Division, for assisting with my stay, and for sponsoring my press access to the area’s landmarks.

 
 

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