Archive for September 15th, 2018

September 15, 2018

Again Barcelona, an overview!

So its time to come back to Barcelona, will be there early October, but need to tell you a bit more on the history and my favorite things to do and see there. Barcelona is very nice by the sea, different northern beach town, and lucky to have visited.

As have it, it is one of the few cities in Spain where I have been by air direct and not from inside Spain. Like I said it is different yet into the microscopic blend that is old Spain. Let me tell you a bit more on it.

Barcelona is the administrative and economic capital of Catalonia, and the province of Barcelona. Located on the Mediterranean coastline, it is crossed by the rivers Llobregat and Besòs and bordered to the west by the Serra de Collserola which culminates at 512 meters with the Tibidabo. It is also the city that has the largest metropolitan park in the world, Collserola Park. Having been founded by the Romans, the city became the capital of the Counts of Barcelona and then one of the major cities of the crown of Aragon and, after that, the capital of the Principality of Catalonia.

A bit of history I like

Excavations have discovered a part of the Roman city of Barcino which is exhibited at the Museum of History of the city. This archaeological work has allowed the city Council of Barcelona to publish a historical dossier devoted to the history of the city from its origins to the contemporary era. In December 414, Barcino was taken by the Visigoths of Athaulf from Italy. At the fall of the Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Visigothic kingdom latest at  531-548).  In 714-716, the Moors armies under the command of Mûsâ Ibn Nusayr took over the city during the first assault. They named it  Barshalûna where the present name derives, and named as Governor Sulayman ibn Yaqzan ibn al-Arabi. Barcelona is then part of Al-Andalus.

In 801, the Carolingians conquered the city; they transformed it into the capital of the county of Barcelona, before incorporating it into the Spanish March (Marca Hispanica). In 856, it was again occupied by the Moors. In 859, Barcelona was looted by the Vikings of Chief Hasting, who came from Nantes and had overwintered in the Camargue. Over time, the county gained some independence from the Carolingian dynasty, whose reign officially ended in the 10C. In 985, Al-Mansur, the almighty minister of the Umayyad Caliph of Cordoba, took Barcelona. Count Borrell II asks for help from his overlord of France. Neither them nor his Byzantine ally could help him, as feudal law required, the county denounced its ties of suzerainty and took a de facto independence. The Counts-Kings (later became kings of Aragon, Valencia and Majorca) had to contend with their third State. The establishment of a feudal state in Catalonia during the 11C did not only involve the county of Barcelona, which took some dominance over the other counties of the Spanish March(the frontier in the pyrénées of Caroligians and the Al Andalus ,moors created by Charlemagne in 795AD).

During the War of Succession (1701-1714), Barcelona, like most of Catalonia, took the part of Archduke Charles against the Bourbon King , Felipe V. After the siege of 1697, the city opened to the Archduke’s army and proclaimed it king under the name of Carlos III (Hadburgs). So the Bourbons (French) are not like here anyway ,not just now….

On 14 April 1931, following the municipal elections, the candidate of the Catalan Republican Party ERC, Francesc Macià, one hour before the proclamation of the Spanish Republic, proclaimed the Catalan Republic which ultimately led to the autonomy of Catalonia. It had its constitution from 1931-1936. From 1936, Spain embraced during the Civil War where Barcelona supported the Republican forces and organized the popular Olympics in 1936  to challenge the organization of the Berlin Olympics. It was severely bombarded by the Italians in March 1938 before being taken by the Franco forces in February 1939. More modern is all over the newspapers, hoping for a still kingdom of Spain to be it.

A bit on the distribution of districts in Barcelona to maybe help you guide while walking on the city or public transports. In 1787 the first census including the annexation of Vallbona  to Barcelona takes place. In 1860, the Barceloneta was attached to the city. In 1897, Les Corts, Gràcia, Sant Andreu de Palomar, Sant Gervasi de Cassoles, Sant Martí de Provençales and Sants i Vallvidrera are attached to Barcelona. In 1904, it was the tour of Horta and finally, in 1930, Sarrià, part of which had already joined Santa Creu of Olorda.

These are today as such: District and then, neighborhoods are:  Ciutat Vella :  Raval, Gòtic, Barceloneta, and Ribera. L’Eixample : Sant Antoni, Nova Esquerra de l’Eixample, Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample ,  Dreta de l’Eixample , Sagrada Família and Fort Pienc.  Sants-Montjuïc : Poble Sec, Marina del Prat Vermell, Marina de Port , Font de la Guatlla , Hostafrancs, Bordeta , Sants-Badal , Sants, parc de Montjuïc , and the Free Zone of the port. Les Corts : Les Corts, Maternitat i Sant Ramon ,and Pedralbes. Sarrià-Sant Gervasi : Vallvidrera, Tibidado i les Planes , Sarrià, Tres Torres, Sant Gervasi-Bonanova , Sant Gervasi-Galvany , and Putget i Farró. Gràcia : Vallcarca i els Penitents,  Coll, La Salut , Vila de Gràcia, Camp d’en Grassot i Gràcia Nova.  Horta-Guinardó : El Baix Guinardó, Can Baró , Guinardó, Font d’en Fargues ,  Carmel, Teixonera , Sant Genìs dels Agudells, Montbau , Vall d’Hebron, Clota and Horta. Nou Barris : Vilapicina and Torre Llobeta , Porta, Turó de la Peira, Can Peguera, Guineueta , Canyelles,  Roquetes, Verdum , Prosperitat , Trinitat Nova, Torre Baró , Ciutat Meridiana and Vallbona. Sant Andreu : Trinitat Vella, Baró de Viver, el Bon Pastor, Sant Andreu, La Sagrera, El Congrés i els Indians, Navas, and Sant Andreu.  Sant Martí : El Camp de l’Arpa del Clot , el Clot, El Parc i la Llacuna del Poblenou , La Vila Olimpica del Poblenou ,  Poblenou, Diagonal Mar i el Front Marítim del Poblenou ,  Besós i el Maresme , Provençals del Poblenou , Sant Martí de Provençals  and Verneda i la Pau. I have highlighted as for me the best ones for a walk and sightseeing.

The transports here are superbe!

By Air (Barcelona International Airport at Prats about 15 km, but also those of Girona and Reus at about one hour), maritime (the port is one of the most important of the Mediterranean), railway (the city is connected to Madrid by a fast line AVE) and Highways (the city is connected to Madrid by AP-2 and to Valencia and France by AP-7). A network of commuter trains, Rodalies de Catalunya, composed of seven lines and operated by the RENFE . The main stations such as Barcelona Sants (main, to the west of the city) and Barcelona França (large station terminus, at the seaside). Since 2004 , the tramway is back with four lanes (broken down into six lines) with a total length of 45 km, all governed by the Autoritat del Transport Metropolità (ATM). Their function is to provide service to the peripheral areas while creating connections with the metro lines. These are two independent networks: the Trambaix and the Trambesòs who are not connected as yet. The dense bus network of the TMB, the metro lines are 11 in total (including three automatic lines). Eight of them are governed by the transport Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) as well.

Some things to see and do as my favorites because the choices are endless are:

Port Vell offers a wide range of activities, whether in the field of culture, leisure or business. The Maremagnum, the Aquarium, the Museum of History of Catalonia, the Maritime Museum and the Marina Port Vell are concentrated.  The Olympic Port set up during the 1992 Summer Olympics and a host of restaurants, bars clubs etc. In 1888, Barcelona organised its first universal exhibition, which allowed the expansion of Catalan modernism, a movement that marked the city deeply and lasted until the second universal exhibition of the city in 1929, where the Noucentism took over

The Ramblas is the emblematic avenue and promenade of Barcelona connecting the Plaça de Catalunya, the nerve center of the city, to the old Port where the Christopher Columbus column stands.

In the heart of the Old Town, the Barri Gòtic is the oldest district in Barcelona. It includes vestiges of Roman Barcelona such as the wall or columns of the temple of Augustus as well as many medieval buildings including the Cathedral of St. Eulalie and houses various administrative buildings of Medieval origin including the Casa de la Ciutat (City Hall) or the palace of the Generatilat of Catalonia. From the maze of alleys, Plaça Nova has two cylindrical towers dating back to Roman times or Plaça del Rei, seat of the Palau Reial Major, County and Royal residence. Also very popular, Plaça del Pi is one of the central hubs of this area stretching to the edge of the Born.

The Eixample is the result of a planned extension of the city (in Catalan, eixample means “widen, enlarge”)  of houses called Maçanes, themselves interspersed by perfectly parallel streets and boulevards, with the exception of three avenues: the Meridiana, to the north whose north/south route runs along an arc of Meridian, the parallel to the south whose east/west route follows a parallel and diagonal Avinguda Diagonal  which crosses the entire city from the southwest to the northeast. There are a large number of modernist buildings, including the famous Sagrada Família, an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí, which began more than a century ago.


The works of the three main Catalan architects are found at Passeig de Gràcia: The Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch; The Casa Batlló and La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudí; La Casa Lleó Morea de Lluís Domènech i Montaner.  This block is called La Illa de la Discòrdia or the Islet of Discord, as the greatest modernist architects competed side by side. The most famous house is nevertheless the Casa Milà by Gaudí, nicknamed La Pedrera or the quarry. The Casa Batlló, another masterpiece by Gaudí, is already a myth of art. Behind an exceptional modernist façade, representing the waves of the sea after the lull, lurks a world of surprises and a refined succession of architectural details… The Casa Batlló was built in 1904.

The Parc de la Ciutadella is the place where the Universal exhibition of 1888 was held. From that time on, there was the Arc de Triomphe by which we entered the exhibition grounds and the present Museum of Zoology, which housed a café-restaurant. The park is named because Felipe V (the representative of the Bourbons in the war of Succession from 1702 to 1717) built a citadel there by removing a neighbourhood as it was used to monitor the inhabitants and above all to avoid a certain rebellion; the Parc Güell, located on the heights of the city, was commissioned by the Count Güell to Gaudí where nature and architecture merge and complement each other in these places.

The Castell de Montjuïc dominates the city and its harbor offering a magnificent viewpoint. A gondola allows access to it. Below is the Olympic site of 1992 and, even lower, the site of the Universal Exhibition of 1929, dominated by the Palau Nacional which hosts the National Museum of Art of Catalonia (MNAC) as well as by the Font Màgica whose games of water, sound and light has welcome many tourist and locals at night.


Originally fishing districts and sailors, while slums barracks occupied the beaches until the years 1960 — the most important being that of the Somorrostro, at the northeast limit of the Barceloneta bordering the old Port (port Vell) of the City. Beach with lots of action.

The culmination of the Collserola dominating the city, the Tibidabo has also become one of the things to see in Barcelona. The Tramvia Blau (blue tram) and the funicular which make it possible to climb and the amusement park symbolised by its Avió were all inaugurated in 1901. The atoning Temple of Sagrat Cor, visible from the urban areas below and illuminated at night, was built between 1902 and 1961. The Fabra Astronomical observatory was built in 1904, making it the fourth oldest active observatory in the world.

Couple of webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

City of Barcelona on things to see in its Districts

Tourist office of Barcelona

There you go another magical city in my beloved Spain. I will be back soon and hopefully new pictures lol!

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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September 15, 2018

The Grund, Luxembourg city!

Let me bring you back east to a wonderful little country we have always like. It is like going to a cinderalla story and find Snow White ::) Well sort of ok you get the picture ok!

We have been to the city and the country many times and never tired of it, in fact I am thinking now….. Since moving to the Morbihan of Brittany I have been a bit away from the east of France as before from Versailles we went even just for lunch to Luxembourg city lol!

Well let me tell you about a magical place right out of cinderalla or snow white or whatever you think is nice, and a must to visit there. The Grund , yes is a canyon like district right in the city and now a very sought after place to live with plenty of ambiance.

Grund is one of the 24 districts of Luxembourg City. It is in this district, located at the foot of the upper city-or Ville-Haute and southeast of it, that the Pétrussese falls into the Alzette river , a tributary of the Sûre river.

Nestled in the fortified   Ville-Baisse or lower town of Luxembourg, just a few steps from the center, the Grund district, known for its cultural and architectural heritage, is undoubtedly one of the prettiest and most authentic areas of the city. You will have to go down the small cobblestone streets and along the points of water to walk into the Grund. But it’s worth it! It is a good stroll, summer and winter, to enjoy the beautiful landscapes surrounded by trees, stone buildings and old bridges. There, you just have to lift your head to enjoy a sumptuous view of the green heights of the city center or discover a detail about the historic buildings.

The cobbledstones streets dating back to the 10C (like the Bisserwee), 14C walls and buildings of the 14C punctuate this very charming district. The abbey of Neumünster restored, now a cultural center of encounters, after serving as a prison from the 19C to 1984. the National Museum of Natural History; and the St. John’s Church are some of the things to see here.



You will also find charming places in the “British” style where you can go out for a drink in the evenings when the area comes alive. We prefer to walk there, via the elevator/lift of the Saint Esprit or Holy Spirit, or by car, to enjoy the calm and tranquility that characterise the neighborhood. The Grund is also a beautiful starting point to start a walk on the Vauban circuit, or to take a bike ride to Hespérange. Conducive to strolls, the district of Grund is known for its calm and its atmosphere of a preserved small village.



Little public transport outside of buses 20 and 23 that go to the Grund. It is better to take the elevator/lift of the Holy Spirit or to walk up the paved Bisserwee street to reach the Upper city. The district of Grund is located in 20 minutes thereabout on foot from the central train station of Luxembourg city. Ladies, prefer comfortable shoes with high heels (to walk in cobbled stones streets). Count at least half a day to take full advantage of this historic area.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Luxembourg city

City of Luxembourg on the Grund

The Unesco recognition of the Grund

Also,included in this district and below town is the  Pétrusse Valley, located under the Adolphe Bridge ,it separates the upper town from the Bourbon Plateau. Accessible by the stairs or via the elevator/lift of the Holy Spirit, this valley has been arranged for the enjoyment of its inhabitants.



On the Grund side, enjoy the mini-golf and miniature train for the little ones, as well as the skate Park; On the Hollerich side, a public basketball court is at your disposal. The Pétrusse Valley also serves as a setting for the famous duck Race which takes place every year in the city, with thousands of ducks coming down the Pétrusse river!

The Pétrusse Express is the tourist train that takes you on a run to visit the city of Luxembourg, especially the lower town. The departure is about every 30 minutes and located at the Montée de Clausen near the bunkers of the Bock. More info here: info and purchase online tourist train of Pétrusse

In all , it is a very charming city with friendly people and beautiful architecture as well as dandy history including a Duchess from Havana ::)

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




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