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Archive for October, 2014

we all know the situation, just booked a trip and telling it to your family and friends and the first thing they say is: “you have to bring me sth.” who did not do this experience yet. well we are sure all of us know this situation.

now imagine you arrive in your destination, in our case madrid, and you think about what kind of presents you can buy. well you feel yourself somehow obligated to buy a small present, because if not we will somehow feel bad that we did not do it.

however imagine now a second you are in madrid and are searching something. the first stores you see in the city for souvenirs and gifts are the typical ones where you can find this:

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normally you go inside these shops and buy a stupid thing. however, today we will stop being normal and be a little more special.

let us inform you about some old, traditional shops in madrid, where you can find traditional spanish products with a good value for money. let your loved or friend feel for just once a bit of your trip.

alvarez gomez, a century perfumery

the story of the perfumery alvarez gomez started when three cousins decided to leave their hometown, león,  for searching a job in the capital of spain. they started there journey in a drugstore of a relative.  when this relative decided to retire, circumstance and opportunity that the cousins took advantage of by buying it, which was a very important step for their future. their ideas and visions made the small drugstore nowadays to a famous and popular perfumery in spain. they produce and develop own perfum.

our first recommendation is to buy a small present in the perfumery and relate it with a short explanation of the history of this place. give your relatives the feeling of getting something special from a more than hundred years old store.

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pastelería el pozo, handmade sweet delights

rumors are saying that this is the oldest bakery in madrid. a bakery where the sweet delights are still made in the traditional way, that means more or less completely handmade.
also famous is the bakery for their roscone de reyes, a sweet delight. for enjoying this you have to make a reservation days, weeks before you visit this place as the demand is quite high.

our recommendation is to visit the bakery and just try different delights, as a present you should buy a small mixed package the day before your departure.

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almacén de vinos mariano madrueño, a trip across spanish wines

this company was founded in 1895 actually as a distellery of aniseed, liquors and syrups. over hundred years it was runed by family members til 1999 when the company closed its doors as a distellery. the new philosophy since then is to offer a selection of the best wines from all over spain and its different regions. the shop will be found close to the city center at the plaza callao.

our recommendation is to visit the shop, be advised by someone working there and knowing about the best spanish wines.

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bombones la violeta, the violet flower of madrid

this small shop is dedicated since 1915 to the sale of chocolates and candies. but this shop is famous in all madrid for its candy “violet”. this is a small flower-shapped candie and flavored with a violet aroma. one really nice and popular gift from madrid.

our recommendation is to buy this beautiful, very unique candies. give your relatives a different taste than they ever had in their life.

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sombrerería casa yustas, hometown of madrids hats

in the casa yustas you will find three floors where you can find all kinds of caps, berets and hats, in any size and price. the store has its own workshop where they produce there products handmade. besides in this store you can find military items, things for a small present or any decoration.

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we hope you have for your next visit now some ideas about what present you could get and which are not normal stuff as 85% of the visitors of madrid are buying.

however, finally we just want to give a small hint for the one who is travelling to madrid…:)

in madrid there is the possibilty of having lunch or dinner in the oldest restaurant of the world, the “el botín”. specialized in traditional spanish food the restaunt is a must-do if you come to visit the capital. the most famous dish is the piglet and the lamb. the mix of it old atmosphere, delicious food and best spanish wines is making this place to an unforgattable place.
but do not forget to make a reservation as this place often is fully occupied if you just go spontaneously. and for our clients we have special prices…;)

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here is a map for you to see where the different shops are, as we can see all of them are located in the city center.

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catalonia as a region is famous for many things, its beautiful beaches, is great modernista architecture, its passionate football mentality  and also for its delicious cava. the latter is  called the ´´champagne of spain´´ and is produced in one of the oldest viticultural regions in europe. this region, the penedès, is located a little south-west of barcelona and definitely worth a trip if you are visiting the capital of catalonia. its bubbles and culinary traditions have been attracting tourists and sparkling wine-lovers for decades and that is not for nothing!

a small historical recap shows us that this wine producing region finds its origin back in the days of the roman empire. the specific attributes that we were used by the romans then can now be found in the wine museum of vilafranca del penedes, one of the area´s most important wine towns. then, during the time of the moorish occupation, the wine produced here was exported to countries all over europe and even beyond, to south america (we are talking about the 18th century here!).

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endless vineyards in el penedés

then, things took a very interesting turn as the phylloxera plague occurred. this plague changed the course of growth and the type of the grapes as they were now slowly changed into white ones instead of red ones. the latter resulted in the start of the production of cava around the 1870s. the white grapes are currently the most dominant ones in the region as the red wine production only plays a small role in the landscape of the vineyards in the penedès region.

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white grapes now prevail in the region

the penedès area is currently seen as one of the most modern and innovative spanish wine regions. their grapes have been widely researched by wine pioneer miguel torres and he is the one who provided the region the fame it enjoys today. 95 % of all the cava produced in spain finds in origin in the penedès region and in 1991 the region got recognized as a DO region, in catalan: a denominació d’origen region. this means that the wine produced here is officially recognized and it is even seen as one of the best of spain after the rioja area.

Ruta del Vino del Penedes. Caves Pere Ventura

the famous codorniu caves in the penedes area

cava is produced using grapes from different regions and blending them into a perfect mix of delicious bubbles. if you get bored by just drinking the ´´normal´´ plain cava, you should definitely try the rosé version that consists of 3 different types of grapes, the xarel.lo, macabeo and parellada. moreover, there are many young wines produced in this region, white ones that are very fruity and crisp whereas the red one are more full-bodied and aromatic, characterized by an intense red color. although, the is apparently some choice in other wines, cava stays our favorite!

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cava label

we recommend to visit the penedès as it is the centre of one of the most fascinating wine regions in spain, full of history and culture. the spanish rail system is a very handy way to travel down the penedès and from barcelona, it’s just 90 minutes to tarragona. this trip takes you along the a catalonian coast where you will find some beautiful small towns such as cadaqués, a colourful fishing village was the birthplace of salvador dali. you can stop at several wine cellars along the trip and do a winetasting while your at it! another options is to stop in the beautiful beach town sitges (check our earlier post about this famous town) and enjoy a day at the beach and a night full of partying. all in all, we can state that this regions has an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to leisure combined with the typical catalonian culture.

please contact us for more information or requests!

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the stunning landscape of the penedian vineyards

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is there a spot where you can enjoy the wide variety of spanish architecture all in one place? the answer is yes, at the poble espanyol in barcelona. this emblematic village houses 117 buildings reflecting the typical spanish architecture coming from all fifteen autonomous communities in spain. this special town was built in 1929 by the modernist architect puig I cadafalch for that year´s Barcelona international exposition (as was the national palace of montjuïc that was mentioned in one of our earlier posts). the poble is located close to the fontana magica on the montjuïc mountain.

hearing a conversation that goes like ´´pardon me but how do I get to andalucia?´´ and ´´that is easy, you just go to mallorca and that it is the first street on the left!´´ is not unusual when visiting el poble espanyol. entertainment is key in the 5th most popular tourist attraction in barcelona because there is something to do for everybody.

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el poble espanyol from a bird´s-eye view

lovers of modern art & nature can enjoy the fundación fran daurel, which is a permanent collection of over 300 artefacts from spain´s most famous artists among which picasso, dalí, miró and barceló. moreover, visitors can see the famous sculpture Entorn-Contorn from josep guinovart and the beautiful sculptural gardens that offer stunning views over barcelona. this green oasis on the high up the hill is large enough (5000m2) to spend a whole afternoon strolling around and enjoying nature.

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the sculpture gardens on the montjuïc mountain

shopping & craft lovers can enjoy themselves in el poble espanyol as well since there are 22 shops that are open every day, some of them offer workshops while others sell ceramics, paintings or jewellery. other activities include, music instrument building, espadrille making and glass crafts. consequently, you can spend a whole day strolling around the village visiting all the different shops and trying out different typical spanish activities.

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traditional shopping street in el poble

families can spend the day doing a treasure hunt, which is available in english, spanish, french and catalan. this activity is perfect for kids that are between 3 and 12 who are in for a little game. while unveiling the mysteries of el poble espanyol kids can walk around the ´´town´´ and get to know the most significant spanish monuments in one afternoon. additionally, on sunday a special programme for families is offered and even though it is in catelan, the experience is supposed to be nice due to the many visual aspects, including puppets, music and even magic.

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activities for kids at the main square of the village

flamenco lovers can eat their heart out at tablao de carmen which is located in the andaluz area of the village because this type of dancing originally comes from the south of spain, from andalucia. some say that the best flamenco show in town is performed here so that would be another reason to make the trip uphill to enjoy music, dance and spanish songs. shows are performed two times a night, there is one show at 19.30pm and other one at 21.30pm. there is a possibility to enjoy some tapas while watching the show. finally, a ticket for this show includes a short visit to el poble espanyol so visitors can experience both attractions.

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a tablao del carmen show

as stated before there is something for everybody this statement also relates to the many options visitors have to eat out in the ´´village´´ because there are plenty of restaurants and bars.  all restaurants offer a range of regional specialties in a very rustic admosphere. in summer visitors can sit outside on one terraces on plazas while eating a delicious paella accompanied by a glas of nice catalunian wine.

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terrace on one of the plazas in el poble

then, to fully capture the spanish experience, there is a possibility to rent an audio guide, which is available in english, catalan, french, italian and german. walking around with the audio guide will make this visit a very informative one when walking around plaza mayor, the nerve center of poble espanyol, approaching a magical andalusian patio, visiting a typical spanish house, resting up in a “pazo gallego” (galician country house) or when discovering a catalan monastery.

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el poble´s church

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“where you arrive as a traveller and become a pilgrim”

in today´s entry we want to take you with us through the pilgrimage route camino de santiago, but in a different way than the traditional pilgrimage by foot.

ever heard about the camino de santiago (also known by the english names way of st. jamesst. james’s wayst. james’s pathst. james’s trailroute of santiago de compostela or road to santiago)?

well we are sure that you did but just in case that you didn´t, let us present you what the camino de santiago exactly is. the camino de santiago is the name of any of the pilgrimage routes to the shrine of the apostle st. james the great (santiago el mayor) in the cathedral of santiago de compostela in galicia in northwestern spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. many take up this route as a form of spiritual path or retreat, for their spiritual growth.

Camino-de-Santiago-Route

after his martydrom in jerusalem the remains of the james the great, were moved by a see route through the rio ulla to iria flavia (padrón) and then overland to santiago de compostela. the entire itinary is marked by a spectacle of an unforgettable river cruise. use a different way than walking down the pilgrimage route to arrive to santiago de compostela. sail on a cruiser along some islands and experience a new way of pilgrimage.

“donde se llega viajero y se vuelve peregrino”

as mentioned before, the route starts at the entrance to the estuary of arousa, heading to the island of onza and ons, the o grove península, the island of la toja, the de arousa, pobra do caramiñal, cambados, vilagarcia, the west towers of the time if archbishop xelmirez and heading finally to the confluence of rivers sar and ulla. the route with his spectacular views will be a new experience for any visitor and will fascinate him at the same time.

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in the santiago de padrón church you will find the o pedron, which, according to tradition, is the stone where they tied the boat in which the apostle came to galicia.

at the foot of this town, in santiaguiño do monte arises the promontory where st. james the great preached.

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a historical tour and the local cuisine, which is characterized by the seafood (marisco), are part of the essence of this singular and incentive pilgrim.

at the end of the trip each traveller will get a certification as a prove that you participated in the river cruise. a prove that shows that you sailed through the waters of the sea of arosa and the ulla river that centuries ago the body of the apostel st. james the great was sailing through reminding the first route of pilgrimage to santiago de compostela. a prove that you revived the history and can attest the experience of the knwowing places during the trip.

the program is designed especially for groups and including the following:

boat equipped to sail through the sea and the river + mooring in port + fuel + insurance + cleaning service + maridaje de mariscos (taste seafood) + and various local products accompanied by a fantastic albariño will be tasted while sailing back the ulla river.

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