Madrid, Barcelona, Begur

Jul 13th, 2009, 02:42 PM
  #1  
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Madrid, Barcelona, Begur

Our older son has been living large at IES summer school in Madrid. My wife, younger son and I flew Iberia from Washington to Spain on June 27 to spend some time with living large son and come back home together. We rented an apartment from SpainSelect near Plaza Santa Anna, took the Ave train from Madrid to Barcelona and stayed there at the EurostarsBoqueria on the Ramblas, and then took a bus from Barcelona to the Aiguaclara Hotel in Begur. We rented a car for three days in Begur but took the train back to Barcelona and flights back to Washington on July 10.

Madrid. The apartment was great. Two small bedrooms slept three (a fourth could sleep on the couch in the living room). Kitchen. Two baths. Marble floors. Small balconies good for sipping coffee and people watching. Washing machine. Nice small kitchen. Stuff to do: Go rowing in Retiro Park (it's cool if your teenager doesn't know how to row a boat and you do); look at the stained glass ceiling in the Palace Hotel; buy candies in the Violeta, buy a currency converter at Corte Engles; figure out the metro; eat shrimp a la plancha and croquetas and potatos bravos at Cafe Alemania or La Trucha or El Abuelo all near Santa Anna; take a day trip to Toledo, eat luch at the Hostal Cardenal and walk up and down hills and feel just like El Greco; look in at the Ritz Hotel and wish you were rich; go to Botin's for dinner and spend money like you were rich; see Barishnikov dance at the Matedero and ask someone in your flawless spanish where was the bullring with matadores (donde estuvo el correo) but actually ask them where was the post office with matadores (now I think the Matedero Theater was once a slaughterhouse but never a bullring); go to Chueca with homestay hosts of living large son and go to an old restaurant with pictures of Hemingway and Matadores; go to the Teleferico and the Goya Chapel; fix a few meals in the apartment to save money; go to the Prado (Sorolla et al) and get lost; go to the Thysenn (Matisse et al) and get found; sneak in son's pool at the university; don't get robbed (we wern't, but it could happen). On second thought, skip the Teleferico.

Barcelona. Our hotel was on the Ramblas in front of the Boqueria Market. Great location. We had a quiet room in the back with a big terrace looking over the market. Too bad there's no pool. Stuff to do (again): The Ramblas is a great boulevard filled with street performers and street performer watchers and flower shops and pet shops and shoppers. At one end is the port and statue of Columbus, at the other end is the Plaza Catalunua and Corte Engles (or is it the Plaza Espana?). Exciting. We signed up for the BusTouristic tour showing Gaudi sites like Sagrada Familia and Parc Gruell and the rest of the city. We got on and off and on and off and on and off. Many times. At night we explored very good tapas places along the Argenterria (or similarly sounding street) where people swallowed fire and created huge soap bubbles (not the same people, understandably). We followed tapas recommendations in Frommers (gasp!). We also lost our debit card to an ATM because we (well, I actually) couldn't remember our (my) damn pin number. We were unable to rent a car because, we were told, it's July. So we took a bus to Begur.

Begur. The Aiguaclara is a wonderful hotel (per Meribel). Great hosts, great house, great rooms. A tad close to church bells which ring every 15 minutes, bless their hearts, but even a dumb person can learn eventually to close the windows and turn on the airconditioning (smart people may learn to do this more quickly). Or maybe some people enjoy the bells (knowing they toll for them). Joan and Clara helped us rent a car and directed us to great places. Stuff to do (penultimate): take bus down the hill to the beach (Sa Riera); from there walk on the coastal path slowly past the nudist beach (Platja Roja) to another bigger beach for lunch (Platja Raco); on return, stop and swim at the nudist beach, counting on not meeting there anyone from home; drive to Pals and other ancent stone towns built on hills with winding narrow cobble stone streets and Cathedrals and watch towers and really good icecream shops and table cloth shops and ceramics shops and swallows and bats in the evenings; drive to Aiguafreda beach and walk to La Tuna beach; play soccer with your kids (goalie, tougher job than it looks); drive to Figueroa and see the Dali museum (go early on wait on long line) and then on to Cadaques where the beaches aren't that great but nobody cares and there are many french people enjoying their nine weeks of vacation); enjoy sitting with locals along the wall in the plaza in Begur watching tourists; take taxi to train in Franca to Barcelona to plane to Madrid and another plane to home. Wonder if they could somehow possibly squeeze more seats into the tourist cabin of the plane. I don't think so.

Home. Things to do (ultimate): Walk dog. Mow grass. Unpack. Put new table cloth on kitchen table. Make sure sons make some money this summer. Write perky trip report. Go back to work.
santamonica is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 03:31 PM
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Sounds like you had a great trip.! I enjoyed your precise way of telling the story. Full of memories, I can see that.

I don't "get" "living large son".. please explain.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 04:31 PM
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Great trip report, love it! Is it too late to be someone's living large offspring...I'm 40?
JenV is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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"Living large" means living with gusto, maybe slightly beyond one's means. Or at least that's what I meant. I don't think it's a bad way for my son to live, at least for part of his summer.
santamonica is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 12:54 AM
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Santamonica,
'El Matadero' is the former city abattoir.
Revulgo is online now  
Jul 14th, 2009, 01:40 AM
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Thanks for the explanation. I am kind of out of the loop with these expressions I see!
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 01:41 AM
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and yes "matadero".. slaughterhouse
"matador" bullfighter
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 02:27 AM
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On my way to Begur in September and Aiguaclara so thrilled to see your detailed info about where you went while staying there, particularly beach.

Any other thoughts about where you ate etc in Begur or Cadaques?
sfmaster is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 06:00 AM
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sfmaster, I hope you have a great visit. The Aiguaclara is a really sweet place. We had a wonderful dinner there. Other meals were at beach places. We also bought groceries at the little market by Sa Riera and had lettuce and potato salad with wine in our sitting room at the Aiguaclara. Mirable recommends the restaurant at Sa Racassa in Aiguafreda. It looked nice but we didn't get to try it. We didn't eat in Cadaques so can't help you there either. Sorry, we need to go back for more training.

JenV, I agree, we should all get to live large sometime. Spain seems like a good place for it.

revulgo and lincasanova, I often get strange looks in response to my flawless spanish. On another trip, after arriving at an inn close to forest fires, I asked about the terror de timbre, which for some reason I thought had to do with timber and forest fires but actually means terror of the door bell. Almost as bad as matadors at slaughterhouses. Also my son notes that it's not Corte Engles, it's Corte Ingles. Live and learn.
santamonica is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 06:45 AM
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Hey.. have you seen some of my German faux pas?? It is a riot. Sounds like you had a great time. Nice report.
lincasanova is offline  
Jul 16th, 2009, 10:48 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
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I have a a daughter going to Madird with IES for both semesters next year, she leaves Sept 6th. I am so jealous of her I cant stand it! We head over for the christmas/new years holiday since she won't be coming home. Cant wait to experience Madrid from her view point.
badgerboy is offline  
Jul 17th, 2009, 12:51 AM
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Santamonica,
El Corte Inglés (literally The English Cut) begun as a simple tailor shop in Plaza Callao, Madrid.
Revulgo is online now  
Jul 20th, 2009, 07:21 AM
  #13  
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Badger, Hope you have a good visit. If you're in Madrid for more than a few days you might want to look into renting from SpainSelect. We were on Caretas near the Sol metro, across from El Corte Ingles (The English Cut!) and the building-sized banner advertising the Sorrollo exhibit at the Prado. They might also have places to rent closer to IES.
santamonica is offline  

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