Multiethnic Street Mural at El Raval, Barcelona

Ethnic mural in Barcelona

On one of the alleys that ends up in La Rambla del Raval, there is this beautiful mural showing the multiethnic diversity that characterizes this neighborhood in the old part of Barcelona city. Unfortunately it is hard to know who's art this is sometimes, I hope the author reads this post and give his name. It is not strange that artistic manifestations reflect reality: El Raval quarter represents 3% of Barcelona's population. There are almost 45.000 hab./km2 in this area, a figure that clearly doubles the 16.000 hab./km2 for the whole city. More than half of the inhabitants in El Raval, are immigrants. In 2012, there was an 18% increase in the number of inmigrants in Barcelona, while there was a 49% for El Raval alone. Many nationalities are represented in this part of town, but the most significant in members are Pakistán, Philippines, Bangladesh and Morocco.

The Broken Bell of Sant Miquel del Fai

The broken bell of Sant Miquel del Fai

Sant Miquel del Fai has been featured in this blog in the past. I recommend you follow the previous link for more information about this natural park. In fact the bell was included in yet another post titled Sant Miquel del Fai Church. I really love this broken bell standing still, enduring the passing of time, right in front of a church built under a cave, in a place that seems to have held acts of pagan cult a long, long time ago and that later became l'Església de Sant Miquel (the church of Sant Miquel) around the 10th century. There is nothing like the charm of an ancient object such as this beautiful bell to blow your mind and embark you on a voyage towards a time of faith, self sacrifice and devotion when monks decided to seclude themselves in the most incredible places to carry the word of their god.

Gem Stores in Barcelona: Blue Howlite

Blue Howlite

Blue howlite has antiinflammatory and detoxifying properties, helps the immune system and it is used to deal with heartburn. It is also good for your memory and it is very soothing in general. It calms your anger, reduces anxiety and tension. It is said to prevent insomnia and help you remember what you dream.

Wow, considering I am not an expert in such matters and rather agnostic about gemstones and crystals I have to admit something that beautiful must have powerful qualities of some sort. Be it true or not, I love that blue. There are many gem stores such as the one selling the gemstones in the picture spread around Barcelona, here are some of them: 

Jaume I nº16
Tel: 93 268 44 52

C/ Call, 19
Tel. 933 024 830

C/Call 24-26.
Tel. 933185846

Barcelona Buildings Main Entrance: Rambla Catalunya

Main Entrance Hall at Casa Modernista in Rambla Catalunya, Barcelona

Barcelona map is studded with numerous emblematic casas modernistas, sumptuous buildings with exquisite main entrances that are a pleasure to the eyes of those who take the time to stop and snoop inside. This one here is a good example. You can find it at Rambla Catalunya near Gran Via. That polished floor, the elaborate ironwork and the old elevator so well preserved, make you feel as if you were traveling in time somehow.

Catalan Cuisine Suggestions: Restaurant La Violeta, Castelltersol, Barcelona

Violet Marmalade and Fried CheeseGaspacho
Tuna Fish and riceIcecream with Strawberries on top

One the good things in life, if not the best, is to go out and find a nice meal, at a nice restaurant in a nice place. When it comes to enjoying excellent Mediterranean dishes, Catalan cuisine, is one of the best choices. It's been a long time, I haven't recommended an interesting restaurant in or out of Barcelona and in fact I always forget to use cellphone pictures I take while traveling around Catalonia to share them here with you. That's what a blog is for after all. Today I want to suggest Restaurant La Violeta in Castelltersol (there should be a letter cedilla after the R but Google spiders don't like foreign letters too much). This Catalan municipality that is part of Barcelona province which historically devoted to the textile industry and took its name after a castle that dates back to the ninth century. Restaurant La Violeta and the hotel with the same name, are located in a house from 1860, restored in the 90s of XX century. Apparently is just another normal local restaurant, but I have to say that if you happen to be nearby, you shouldn't miss it because its cuisine is certainly worth tasting. When I say nearby, I mean, you could be watching eagles fly in renown Cim d'Aligues natural park or admiring the views at Sant Miquel del Fai

But let's talk about the menu at La Violeta. For starters, I recommend you don't miss their special tapas, like Formatges arrebossats amb melmelada de violetes (breaded cheese dice in violet marmalade) in the picture above, or the Patatas Bravas a la Violeta. In fact, my wife and I fell in love with that violet flavor and that's why we always try to return when we have the chance. They have Continue reading "Catalan Cuisine Suggestions: Restaurant La Violeta, Castelltersol, Barcelona"

A Day at Cafe Zurich, Barcelona

Cafe Zurich, Barcelona, Spain [enlarge]

With more than 150 years of experience Café Zurich summons the essence of XIX century Barcelona. Founded in 1862 as a canteen called La Catalana and located in a train station the place originally used to sell beverages but soon it became a chocolate shop until a Catalan that had worked abroad, decided to name the premises after the famous Swiss city. 

In 1920 the chocolate shop was bought by family Valldeperas for 50 000 pesetas and their descendants still own the place. It was precisely the founder's son who turned the shop into a beer house around 1925. Later on and as a result of the works to bury Sarria railroad tracks underground the waiting room at the station was annexed to the canteen to turn it into a big salon. Some time afterwards, the terrace was inaugurated to give Cafe Zurich the wonderful looks it has today. Please check my previous post about Cafe Zurich

Wrought Iron Door by Manuel Ballarin, Palau del Baro de Quadras, Barcelona

Ironwork door, Palau Baro de Quadras

This a detail of the ironwork at the entrance of Palau del Baro de Quadras in Barcelona. This exquisite modernist wrought iron door was made by artist Manuel Ballarin i Lancuentra. From his foundry Casa Ballarin, the most important in the city by the end of the XIX century came out most of the iron art works present in the buildings by architect Puig i Cadafalch like Casa Amatller, Casa Macaya, Casa Serra among others. Check this lamp post at Passeig de Gracia by Ballarin or this remarkable gates detail at Casa Marti.

Grape Vine Rootstocks of D.O Montsant

Grape Vine Rootstocks of D.O Montsant

D.O Montsant wines

Near Siurana town, the latest muslim stronghold in Catalonia, reconquered by Christians in XII, there lies a prosperous community of over 60 cellars integrated under D.O Montsant (Denominación de Origen or Designation of Origin/Wine Apellation). The Romans used to cultivate vineyards in these valleys located in a vast area of Tarragona province that was once under the sea and where limestone and clay prevail. In fact, this kind of soil has an incredible drainage capacity, something that is ideal for obtaining good wine. These rootstocks in the picture above, are 80 years old! Their roots grow one meter every ten years in search of  subterranean water, so there are 8 meters of root below the surface. Isn't that amazing? Old vines, that is, any of those over 50 years old are more resistant to external factors. Such vines produce less grapes but with a higher quality. The entangled roots of the flowers in the image give the vine the opportunity to retain some water before it inevitably sinks down the natural drain. Montsant wines due their history of success to Carthusian Monks established on these hills in the Middle Ages although they did not become particularly popular until XIX. These wines are basically an association between Grenache and Carignan grapes although some other varieties are used like Merlot or Syrah for example. D.O Montsant has gained recognition in the international arena over the last 10 years and has been declared as 'a great discovery' by prestigious magazine 'The Wine Spectator' recently among other outstanding reviews. To conclude, I would like to point out that over 70 % of the total amount of bottled wine in this cooperative of wine makers is sold abroad. According to them, this is due to the fact that their production is relative Continue reading "Grape Vine Rootstocks of D.O Montsant"

Meat Grinder for Sausages

Meat grinder for stuffing sausages

The color of raw meat, the remnants of a life that is no more, the blood and tissue that randomly entered the food chain on the expense of any odd pig to feed some any odd civilized and superior animal thanks to a sophisticated tool this very same primate took eons to produce: a meat grinder. This one in particular prepared to stuff sausages with a funnel. Please check previous posts about sausages: Rack of Catalan Blood Sausages and Botifarra: The Slaughter

Pigeon on Street Water Tap

Pigeon graffiti on water tap in Barcelona

Don't bother trying to feed the pigeon, in fact you can go and drink from the tap, the bird won't fly. It was funny, cause the fact pigeons are so many here in Barcelona and so exposed to a great range of illnesses, makes them look sort of unhealthy and you tend to regard them as rats so probably you wouldn't drink with one of them that close. This painting on the wall, did play a trick on me. It is so strikingly real. This picture was taken at a square next to carrer Carders. If you want to see more street art in our city please visit my previous posts: Crucifixion on Decay Wall or Graffiti on Ancient Door or follow labels street art and graffiti.

Fruits of the Forest Icecream in Barcelona

Fruits of the forest icecream detail

Warm weather is here and with it the everpresent icecreams. I spotted this lucious fruits of the forest icecream somewhere in La Barceloneta. Actually, I took a big pistachio scoop. Not that I don't enjoy berries but pistachio and mango are my favorites. Nevertheless, from all the possible choices for an icecream shot, I think forest fruits or frutas del bosque probably is the best. Which one is your favorite?

Paella Menus at La Barceloneta: Lover’s Choice

Lovers kissing at Paella restaurant, Barceloneta

On a lovely sunny day of April, tourists and locals alike start storming the streets of La Barceloneta not only to have a first rendezvous with the beach but also to frequent one of the many restaurants along the promenade in front of the marina. Not that all locals are prone to choose at random in that area as it is well known that many of those restaurants offer pricey menus and could do better with the same old ingredients. The amount of tourists is so gargantuan that it is better to sit and catch the easy fish without a bait than to learn the art of angling. Of course there are nice restaurants along the walk, I have been there sometimes but be careful. Anyway, no matter the quality and the good taste or not, those terraces with people basking in the sun while having some succulent paella and drinking sangria do create a wonderful scene for the expectator's eye on the way to the waterfront. These lovers and their magic kiss unknowingly portray the happy atmosphere of a perfect day of Spring when you are about to enjoy the perfect meal with the perfect sight. On the glass panel, the paella menu, luring or deterring, make your choice.

New Trends: Facial Massage, Carrer Carders, Barcelona

Facial massage carrer Carders, Barcelona

Walking along carrer Carders in Barri de la Ribera, Barcelona there was this very chic salon where this guy was giving his client what it looked like a very proffesional facial massage. Massage is not something that I am very familiar with and thus I shouldn't be talking about here but the skillful hands gently rubbing the man's face, the light and the perfect design of the shelves in the background did make me snoop inside the shop with the camera. As you can see I could not remain anonymous in this case. The fact is that this neighborhood has grown in brand new trendy places such as this that in a way help clean the image of this part of town and attract tourists and locals alike to otherwise forgotten alleys of casc antic.

Top 3 activities in Barcelona

The walls of Barcelona are the secret keepers of its history, guarding who why and when many works of art were created and made visible to all the citizens around the city. But it’s possible to get those secrets out and analyze the modern art of graffiti to understand more of the evolution of Barcelona through its society and political circumstances. It’s a curious and overwhelming discovery that will make anyone look at the city in a different artistic way.
Barcelona sleeps and wakes up by the waves sound murmuring sweet and inviting words to the entire crowd around the seashore. However, sometimes that calling comes from a boat and there’s the option to sail on the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Barcelona and enjoying the beauty of the beaches, the outstanding buildings and the almost infinitive blue while filling up the bellies with tasty tapas and living the life of a real fisherman.
The adrenaline, the fear, the desire and many other mixed feelings cannot be detached from the scare of losing the floor underneath the feet. But that is also what pushes someone out of edge; it is what drives someone to finally jump. Free falling the Barcelonese skies is a one in a lifetime experience! Accompanied by a professional instructor, the feeling of jumping, the falling at fast spend and the view around is truly breathtaking and as astonishing as it can be. 

This is a guest post by