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Archive for September, 2014

many people think that the summer is the best season to visit spain. however, as autumn just started it is time to explore other aspects that reach beyond the beaches that spain is so famous for. one can currently see that the weather is slowly changing and that the sun is less apparent but that does not mean that the beauty of the country disappears. fact is that coming to spain in autumn gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the magical forests and see the shades of the trees changing. the perfect palette of ochre, orange, red and gold colours appears and all these special shades give the spanish mountains a very unique appearance. they provide for the perfect outdoor experience in the beautiful spanish mountainside.

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picos de europa national park in autumn

coming to spain in fall provides you with the opportunity to see the second most mountainous country in europe and enjoy its stunning forests. the most famous woods of the country can be found in the north as these forests are characterized by rather specific shady, leafy and moist trees. there are so many possibilities for those who enjoy hikes in the forest or mountain biking up in the hills since the list of national parks and big forests where this can be done is endless. examples of spectacular forests include the beautiful picos de europa national park and the ordesa monte perdido national park.

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ordesa monte perdido national park

picos de europe

this was the first park in spain that was awarded the title of a ´´national park´´ and the area received the unesco biosphere reserve designation in 2002. the climate in the area of the park is humid and rainy due to its proximity to the sea (solely 20 kilometres away). in winter time it will definitely snow here but there is a possibility to see snow during the rest of the year as well. this special mountain side stands out because of its high peaks, deep ravines and long canyons. moreover, the diversity of the park becomes even more apparent due to the fact that there are four rivers that flow through the park and many different viewpoints where visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature. to make the most out of a trip to this park one should definitely use the fuentedé cable car which can take you up to 1,800 metres above sea level and provides for stunning views.

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fuentedé cable car

ordesa and monte perdido national park

this national park is presided by the monte perdido and part of the pyrenees. moreover, it was declared a world heritage site in 1997 by unesco and falls within the scope of the ordesa-viñamala biosphere reserve. consequently, it is a very special place to visit. the landscape with its high summits and all the different eco systems present, both with an atlantic and mediterranean influence, provide for a rich and diverse flora and fauna. the park is characterized by the great massif of monte perdido with a height of 3,355 metres and by the peaks of the tres sorores.

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monte perdido in the winter season

other options for those who like to enjoy nature include the pedrosa beech forest in segovia (slightly north-west of madrid); the montejo forest, one of the southernmost forests in europe, situated in the sierra del rincón mountains close to madrid. The latter is also awarded with an unesco biosphere reserve status. moreover, one can visit the tejera negra nature reserve in guadalajara; the señorío de bértiz nature reserve in navarre (close to the pyrenees) and the beech forests in the volcanic area of la garrotxa in girona (in the vicinity of barcelona).

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la garrotxa

we recommend coming to spain to visit these beautiful natural areas and discover a different side of spain. the changing shades of the leaves and the contrast of mountains, forests and water to be found in 1 national park provides for an unique experience. the huge oaks, the special chestnut trees and the mist that is so characteristic for the forest will make this a trip with a very special touch. moreover, since most of the national parks are situated close to the bigger cities, one can combine a city trip in barcelona or madrid with some days to explore the spanish nature and enjoy the beautiful forests and their wildlife.

for extra information, routes and prices you can contact us: info@across-spain.es!

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when we scanned our blogpost archives we realized that we do not have any posts about portugal yet nor have any suggestions for you as to what to explore and see there. Therefore, we decided to write this week´s post based on a day trip in portugal.

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so just let me take you to a trip starting in oporto (also known as porto). but before we will start the trip, here is a short overview about the city.

oporto located along the douro river estuary in northern portugal, is a registered unesco world heritage site in 1996. the city’s actual name is porto, but when preceded by a definite article ‘o’ in portuguese meaning ‘the’ in english, it is written as ‘o porto’ meaning ‘the port’ in english.

being the second-largest portuguese city after lisbon, oporto is also one of the most prominent urban areas in southern europe. its rich history which dates back to many centuries enriches its cultural wealth as the city is one of the oldest european centers. varied historical monuments including the cathedral with its romanesque choir, neoclassical stock exchange and the typical portuguese manueline-style church of santa clara depict cultural richness.

since ever  oporto’s shipbuilding industry is growing and growing. its ports have been responsible for the production and export of the fortified wine to great extents. ‘port wine’, a gift to the world is named after the city of oporto.

so our trip starts in oporto and it is not a tipical sightseeing tour as you have in almost every city, no, we will take you on a cruiser and sail through the douro river valley combined with a wine testing of the famous wines of this region. the cruisertrip is offered only for small groups (max. 8 person) so that you have an
individual atmosphere and take advantage of the guide.

the source of the river is in spain, 200 km from where it spillst out into the atlantic in oporto. yet the douro valley in northern portugal between mesão frio and pinhão, where the vineyards precariously cling to the steep terraces on either side, of the river is the most beautiful part with one of the most beautiful wine regions worldwide and one of the best ways to full appreciate to travel through it by river cruise.

the landscape looks like a giant’s steps and the views are truly majestic. this is where port wines are produced in historic quintas (wine estates), and the region is a magnet for wine collectors as portugal’s most famous cult wines are made here from barca velha to quinta do noval.

d3.jpg during the day trip you also will make a stop and visit one or more (depend on the touroperator) of these boutique cellars (enjoying a private tour and wine tasting) and have lunch or dine in a traditional portuguese restaurant.

the trip is a must-do for all the people who enjoy the different tastes of wines or just want to spend a romantic day with their lover on a cruiser, enjoying the view and try the best portuguese wines.

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the national museum of catalan art (mnac of barcelona) is, along with the museu d’art contemporani de barcelona (macba), one of the most important museums of the city of barcelona. it is a museum with an extensive collection of romanesque artefacts. this collection is considered to be the most complete one in the world.  it is therefore, seen as the biggest attraction of this beautiful museum.

if one looks at the history of the museum itself, one will find out that it was solely established in 1990. the current state is a result of the merge of the collections from the former museum of modern art, of which the establishment dates back to 1945, and the museum of catalan art, built in 1934. the building of the mnac consists of several separate buildings however, most famous is the stunning main building, the national palace of montjuïc, that was built for the international expo of 1929.

palace of montjuïc and oval hall

palace of montjuïc and oval hall

exhibition-wise, the mnac the museum shows the general history of catalan art from the romanesque period up until the mid-twentieth century. the owner´s discourse of the romaneque as well as the gothic collections stands out particularly since their provenance (the chronological line of previous owners) has been mostly catelan, which is unusual when compared to the other artefacts exhibited in the museum. the renaissance and the baroque collections are indeed, mostly characterized by a more international discourse of owners as the most famous painters in this field are e.g. el greco, velázquez and rubens.

without a doubt, the most famous artefact exhibited at the national museum of catalan art is the pantocrator climent de taüll, stemming from the romantic era. this painting attracts many visitors. of all the works displayed in the mnac romanesque works of art are the most prominent.

mnac dome and the pantocrator climent de taüll

mnac dome and the pantocrator climent de taüll

when planning your visit to the mnac in barcelona, we suggest to take the following aspects into account:

opening hours
• summer opening hours (may 2 to september 30): tuesday to saturday 10 am to 8 pm sundays and holidays from 10 to 3 pm.

• winter opening hours (october 1 to april 20): tuesday to saturday 10 am to 6 pm sundays and holidays from 10 to 3 pm.

• on monday the national art museum of catalunya remains closed. the same goes for january 1, may 1 and january 25.

interior of the mnac

dome and interior of the mnac

tours and special events
to fully explore the notable works of the museum different audio tours are offered. moreover, previous to your visit you can do a virtual tour on the museum´s website in order to have an idea of what to expect and plan your trip.

we recommend the exhibitions:

the graphic work of a forerunner by the painter antoni viladomat i manalt (1678-1755). this exhibition runs from 10/05/2014 until 02/11/2014.

this exhibition is an ambitious project that is simultaneously held in various venues around the country. it relates to the year 1714 with regards to the artistic activity of that time. the project consists of a total of five exhibitions and shows, for the first time in history, the complete oeuvre of this artist.

pearl oysters-maker and oval-maker. baroque avant-garde and agrarian. based on works from inter alia: joan brossa, salvador dalí, pablo picasso, antoni tàpies and jacint verdaguer. this exhibition runs from: 09/10/2014 until 11/01/2015.

This exhibition will be set up in the context of the celebration of the tricentenary of 1714. the artist, perejaume, has prepared a project for the museu nacional that focusses on the connections between artistic tradition and avant-gardism in catalan art. it takes a cross-cutting look at catalan artistic creation.

works from the 2 featured exhibitions

works from the 2 featured exhibitions

a very nice event to attend is the special dance event ´´come to dance?´´ that takes place once a month on a saturday afternoon and is combined with free admission to the museum. on those days everybody is invited for some jazz dancing in the beautiful oval room of the museum. the upcoming dates for an afternoon out are:

• 13th september , from 17 to 19 pm. on stage: flat floot floogie boys

• 4th october, from 16 t0 17.45 pm. on stage: stradixie’s

• 15th november, from 16 t0 17.45 pm. on stage: juli aymi’swing

• 13 december, from 16 to 17.45 pm. on stage: saphie wells & swing cats

during and after the visit
if you are tired, we suggest to have a bite to eat or enjoy a nice glass of wine on the rooftop of the museum or in its café/restaurant. the rooftop charge is 3€ but definitely worth the money because of the stunning views over the city that can be enjoyed from here.

outside
if you are visiting the museum during the weekend, consider to go see the beautiful fontana magica in front of the mnac after your visit. at night a spectacular water show accompanied by beautiful music is presented and many tourists make the trip uphill to enjoy this magical happening.

as part of your trip to barcelona, we definitely recommend to visit this special museum with afterwards some time to relax and enjoy the beautiful watershow and the stunning views from the top of the montjuïc mountain!

fontana magica and the come to dance event

fontana magica and the come to dance event

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the bullfighting in spain is questioned since years, people saying that the act and killing of the bull should be forbidden and not be longer a part of spanish culutral activities. however when the event is taking place the entrance card are sold out quickly and banns thousands of people for some hours in the world of bullfighting with all his emotions.

in this blog we will not focus so much in the history of it moreover we want to present famous bullrings as “the plaza de toros” in ronda, “plaza toros las ventas”  in madrid and  “plaza de toros de la maestranza” in sevilla. for sure there are a lot more rings all over spain, as almost every bigger city has his own bullring, but as the three “plazas” mentioned before are the most important ones in spain, we will have a closer look to them.

but before presenting the three rings let me take you shortly through the history of the bullfighting in spain. the bullfighting in spain as we know today was created in the early 18th century from francisco romero, while the first ring was build in 1749.

one of the oldest plaza de toros in spain, younger and smaller than that at sevilla, but home to one of spain’s most famous ‘schools’ of bullfighting, is ronda.  this city became the city of birth of the traditional bullfighting and the city of practice for the first toreros. torero is the definiton off all people participating during the act. otherwise there are novilleros, matadores, banderillero and picadores. however the main protagonist is the matador who is angering the bull with the “muleta“, the red cloth, and giving the bull the deathblow witht the sword.

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the traditional bullfighting, corrida in spain, and his main act are divided into three parts

tercio de varas

in the first part the torero is meeting the bull, this part should give him the opportunity to get to know his enemy, read his movements, and get along with him. some movements of the torero are accompanied by the audience with an “olé”

tercio de banderillas

in the second part the banderillos, helpers of the torereo, comes into the act. their task is it to weaken the bull by stinging 3 banderillas, colourful spears, into the back of the bull

tercio de muleta y estocada

the final showdown in which the torero is trying to prick the rapier into the bull´s heart and finish him off

today the plaza de toros is a museum, open to tourists, and used only in the spectacular september goyesca bullfights, in which combatants dress in the manner of goya’s portraits of 18th century life in spain. this year the act will be performed the 6th of september.

however the plaza de toros de las ventas in madrid became through the decades to one of the  most important ring of bullfighting worldwide. the plaza was build up in 1929 and presents since then the bullfighting spectacle to their audience. the ring has a capacity of ca. 25.000 people, who can enjoy the fighting.

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the season of the bullfighting is from may til october, however the best time to experience this act is during the san isidro festival in may and june, where almost every day a bullfight is shown to the audience.

apart of the bullfighting it is posible to visit the ring and his museum, a tour giving you the opportunity to learn more about the history of bullfighting and about the spanish passion for it.

the third ring which is being presented is the plaza de la maestranza in sevilla, the oldest and most significant bullrings in spain. it took more than 100 years to build up this ring with all his beauty. in this ring the bullfight moved from horseback to foot, and many of the cherished theatrical traditions of the matador evolved

 

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during the feria de abril, a week-long celebration of all things in seville, the season´s most prestigious fights are held. every afternoon, crowds pack the plaza de toros (under locals known as “the cathedral”) to see the “dance” between the matador and the bull. 

if the spectacle turns your stomach and is to much for you, you might like to visit only the museum and leave it at that. here you will find the chapel where the matadors pray, the hospital area in case of accidents, bull´s heads and matador´s costumes

bullfighting for sure is not as popular as it was once, but people still go and enjoy the act. for most of the outsiders it is hard to understand how people can get joy of this spectacel. but this not understanding exists in for example every kind of sports, not everyone likes futbol, saying what is so interesting about when 22 people are trying to catch a ball. and as long as the goverment will not forbid this event, the audience will go on jellying and shouting an “oléééééééééééééééé”

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