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Posts in ‘Things to do in Barcelona’

Five Fantastic Food Destinations

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At isango! we believe there are two essential yardsticks to measure your experiences when travelling.  One is seeing the sights and the other is sampling the food.  Here we give you a taste of what foods to look out for at five popular destinations.

Flavours of New York City
New York City has been and continues to be the gateway for people coming to the United States.  So you will find every ethnic and world cuisine available.  New York also prides itself on inventing many dishes and foods.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Manhattan clam chowder

Taking a foodie tour of NYC is a delight for the taste buds.  Hot dogs and New York style pizzas in the East Village; a Manhattan clam chowder; Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches; savoury French quiche, and Mexican yucca are just some delights in store for you.  You could also try out a knish appetiser or some Greek spinach pie to go with a succulent lamb souvlaki.   Then there is a sinful choice of chocolates to top off your meal.

Lyon, Gastronomy and Beaujolais
Lyon’s ancient fame lay in its silk weaving industry.  That has however changed.  Over the centuries it has become known as the capital of French gastronomy and its renowned cuisine.  The city and municipality has a deliciously bewildering array of traditional Lyonnais restaurants, called bouchons, serving local dishes such as salade Lyonnais; marrons glacés; coussin de Lyon, sausages, duck pâte and roast pork, and local wines.

Marrons Glacés

Marrons Glaces

The Lyon bakeries, fromageries patisseries and chocolatiers continue to make their wines, breads, cheeses and chocolates the way have for centuries.  In addition to its gastronomic delights, the Lyon area is at the heart of Beaujolais wine region.

Tapas In Barcelona
Barcelona offers a variety of pleasures but none as staggering as tapas!  Choosing or even listing them is a near impossible task.  Salmon sashimi with cream cheese; honey and soy, or cod; passata and black olive pâté; fried fish and seafood, patatas bravas; Galician octopus and ensaladilla rusa; croquetas made with ham, fish, chicken or spinach are just some choices.

Tapas

Tapas Barcelona

Whether you are strolling down La Rambla or feasting your eyes on the fruit, vegetables, fish, cheese or meats of La Boqueria (Barcelona’s food market), you will never be far from a tapas bar.  So feel free to wade into one of them and pick out your choice.  Don’t forget to wash it down with some cava, wine or draught beer.

Bangkok & Food
The two are synonymous and no one needs coaxing to dig in to a plate of Pad Thai (or phat Thai).  Take a walk down any street in Bangkok and you will be constantly reminded of food.  The innumerable fragrances waft out at you from myriad street stalls and restaurants.

Yong Tau Foo

yong tau foo

Thai street food is the safest and tastiest in the world and probably the most reasonably priced too.  Whether it be juicy pieces of grilled pork on a stick or a fiery bowl of ‘Tom Yum’ soup or Tom Yum Goong (Spicy Shrimp Soup) or good yong tau foo and pork stew with green chilli dip, you will find it really difficult to pass it up or stop eating.  Thai food is among the most appetising and popular cuisines in the world and it is an exciting experience to take a cooking class and learn how to make some!

When In Rome – Eat
That’s right!  Food in Rome is just as fascinating as the Colosseum, the churches and the Vatican museums.  Roman cuisine is some of the most delicious in Italy.  It is based on seasonal ingredients, plenty of fresh vegetables, meat and cheeses.  All put together in a simple way.  Lamb roasted with herbs and spices is a very important part of the cuisine so is pizza, of course.  In Rome they have three different ways of making pizza but a Roman characteristic is that it is thin with no lip to the crust.

Pizza

rome pizza

The Testaccio is the best place to find the original and traditional Roman food.  Another great place is the Rione Monti area, a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum, where you will find a range of authentic Italian delicacies in local family run shops and pizzerias.

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What’s New On isango! In July

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With things picking up nicely on the travel front, now that summer is well and truly here, isango! has introduced some really interesting activities and tours to make your vacation outstanding.

Thames Jetboat Cruise

Thames Jet

When you are done with seeing the sights around London you can get your rush on by getting on a Jetboat and zooming on the Thames a la James Bond.  Up tempo music blasting out of the sound system will accompany you as the boat skims across the Thames.  You will get a unique perspective of London as you roar past The Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.  At 35 knots not only will your hair be flying, so will your heart.

Oxford & Downton Abbey Tour

Downton Abbey1

A visit to Oxford, the world’s second oldest university is a must.  The “city of dreaming spires” is famed for its academic excellence.  Oxford is also celebrated for the architecture of its beautiful buildings.  There are examples of every English architectural period dating back to the Saxons.

The added flavour to this tour is a trip to a Downton Abbey filming locations.  For Downton Abbey addicts, there is an exciting visit to the village and the elegant home used as the fictional Grantham House that features so prominently in the Christmas Special of the TV-series.

Barcelona On A Segway

Barcelona Segway

You are going to love this!  Barcelona is a large city and many of its iconic sites are quite spread out.  So to save you from tramping around in the warm Barcelona sun, now you can zip around on a soundless, smooth-running Segway.  The tour is designed for small intimate groups.  You can visit some of the instantly recognizable landmarks of this wonderful city.  Some highlights of the tour include the Arc Triomf, Passeig Luis Companys, the wonderful park and zoo of La Ciutadella Parc and the statue of Christopher Columbus.

Dubai Aquarium And Underwater Zoo

Dubai underwater zoo n aquarium

In the heart of Dubai, you will find a fascinating and interactive underwater world.  The Dubai Aquarium is located in the centre of Dubai Mall, the world’s largest.  There is a 48 metre long tunnel that runs under the aquarium and gives you a view of the wonderful aquatic creatures swimming all around.

The Underwater Zoo is marvelously designed so that you can interact with creatures as diverse as Otters and Penguins.  You can also observe, up close, such exotic ones as Piranhas and Scorpions and Giant Camel Spiders.  The zoo is divided into different ecological zones that give you a perspective of the creatures’ habitats.

The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil – Vegas Show

Beatles

The Mirage, Las Vegas has custom built a theater for this show.  The unforgettable music and lyrics of the legendary Fab Four is combined by the incredible acrobatics and interpretive freestyle dance of the Cirque du Soleil.  Using over 6,000 speakers and 24 digital projectors, the show is a powerful experience and entertainment at its very best.

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4 Reasons Why Barcelona Is Great To Visit In Summers

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Every summer there comes that time when you have to decide where to spend your vacation. Most often the decision making is compounded by what to do. The ‘where’ and the ‘what’ can often cause head scratching. This is where Barcelona scores on every level.

Let’s see now. The weather is warm in summer and just right. There are miles of soft sandy beaches; a hectic nightlife fuelled by a huge variety of bars, discotheques and clubs; entertainment in the form of concerts and fiestas; unbeatable cuisine – Catalan and international; natural beauty with a gorgeous coastline and nearby craggy mountains; an extraordinarily rich culture seen on every street and in museums. There is plenty more, of course, but above all there is endless sunshine!

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Without attempting to push any particular itinerary, here is an outline that encapsulates what you can see and do in Barcelona in the summer!

Beaches
If you are looking to just lay back, get a tan, not do much and release those work-related tensions then the beaches of Barcelona are just the ticket. There are five notable ones with individual characteristics.

Barceloneta Beach is the closest to the city centre with attractive beach shacks serving great cuisine. Nova Icària, is the prettiest and most popular beach with plenty of good restaurants. Marberlla is famed for its free-spirited and nude bathers. It has plenty of eateries and drinking places and easily accessible from the city. Sant Sebastià, the oldest, has calm waters and a long golden stretch of soft sand. Bogatell Beach is the most central. It is populated by the athletic and fitness types who can be found pounding the paved jogging paths and volleyball courts.

Antonio Gaudí
Honestly, this man is synonymous with Barcelona. His works dominate the skyline, are architectural benchmarks and epitomise the city’s Catalan heritage and style in a spectacularly original way. He has done everything from parks to churches. Seven among his brilliant creations have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Barcelona Twitter Parc Guell

His works are worth visiting just to see what a brilliant and creatively unfettered mind he had. Some of Gaudí’s creations are the Casa Vicens (a private residence); La Sagrada Familia Basilica (his definitive work, which is still incomplete); Park Güell (his creative and spatial genius is evident here); Casa Batlló (displays Gaudí’s fascination with nature’s shapes) and Casa Milà (aka La Pedrera, is his most innovative, daring and religiously inspired work).

History
Barcelona can seem like a gleaming futuristic city but it has plenty of history. Many remnants of its past are still in well-preserved condition and can be seen all over the city. The best and most convenient place to see examples of Barcelona’s past are in the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter). The heart of the city, this area has buildings dating to Roman and Medieval times. The beautiful narrow winding picturesque streets are worth wandering through. Highlights of the Quarter are the remains of the squared Roman Wall near Tapineria, Avinguda de la Catedral and Plaça Nova to the west, Carrer de la Palla to the south and El Call, the medieval Jewish quarter.

shutterstock_156943976

Just an hour’s travel out of Barcelona is the magnificent Montserrat Basilica and monastery. The Basilica is where the famed Montserrat Boy’s Choir (l’Escolania) sing every day at 1pm. Across the Basilica and underground is an extraordinary museum with a superb collection of paintings by the likes of El Greco, Caravaggio, Sisley, Picasso and Dalí and valuable artefacts and items from ancient Egypt.

Entertainment
When your day of sightseeing or beachcombing is done the evening and night beckons and there is plenty to fill those hours. There is entertainment and leisure to suit all tastes and budgets.

You can have dinner while taking in a Flamenco show at one of the several notable tableaux. Barcelona is absolutely crammed with a variety of pretty and traditional tapas bars where you can treat your palette and sip on some excellent wine or beer.

La Ramba, one of the most famous and interesting boulevards in Europe is a super place to spend the night hours. This pedestrian only avenue is packed with buskers, living statues, mimes, artists and salespeople selling everything from lottery tickets to jewellery. There are plenty of bars and restaurants.

Barcelona has everything to give you that satisfied feeling of having had a real good holiday.

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Montserrat – A Rocky Ensemble

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Montserrat monastery

There are many reasons to visit Montserrat. It could be religious, musical, architectural, historical, ‘must see; must do,’ discovery, hiking, rock climbing, or just good old fashioned sightseeing. Whatever your compulsion you will be gratified and probably get more than you expected.

Montserrat in Catalan literally means "saw (serrated as the teeth of a handsaw) mountain."  They are the handy work of nature’s sculptural efforts over millions of years. The multiple peaks rearing up to its highest 1,236 metres (4,055 feet) at Sant Jeroni are simply spectacular.

This rocky ensemble is just 50 kilometres (31 miles) northwest of Barcelona. The trip takes about an hour by train or ninety minutes by road. The route takes you through some truly beautiful Catalan landscape and along the Llobregat River.

Once you get to Montserrat itself there are a number of ways you can get up to the various delights that the place has to offer. You could drive up; take the cable car or the rack railway.

The Aeri de Montserrat cable car is a dizzying 5 minute ride. Since these are always full you could wind up squashed in the middle and miss out on the stunning views as the car crawls up to the halfway stage. The Montserrat Rack Railway is a 15 minute joyride taking you back to child-like thrills. Or you could take the road – bus or car.
 
The first phase of your rise up to the Montserrat experience ends at the roughly halfway mark. This is where the 1,000 something year old Montserrat Monastery (Benedictine Abbey) and the Montserrat Basilica home of “La Morenta,” the black-faced Madonna have been built.

Viewing the Madonna can be a bit of a chore. It has been placed in a tiny alcove reached by a narrow corridor and up a staircase on the right side of the Monastery. You may have to inch your way forwards for more than an hour. More than two million people visit the shrine every year and you only get a few seconds in front of it before you are forced to move by the visitors behind. If you can get there by 9am then there are not many people around.

The Basilica is where the Montserrat Boy’s Choir (l’Escolania) sing every day at 1pm.  Their musical performance is enough to fill your soul to overflowing. Across the Basilica and underground is an extraordinary museum with a superb collection of paintings by the likes of El Greco, Caravaggio, Sisley, Picasso and Dalí. It also houses valuable artefacts and items from ancient Egypt.

From the plaza in front of the Monastery you can go to the top of the mountain via the Funicular de Sant Joan. This is a veritable archaeologist’s delight. The mountain face is pockmarked with the caves of hermit monks who once populated the place. There are also several chapels, stairs and pathways.

The Funicular de Santa Cova is another rack railway that takes you down to the cave, which is the original location of “La Morenta. This grotto is where visitations by the Virgin Mary were first reported back in 880 AD.

If hiking is your thing, then the slopes of the Montserrat hills will be a joy for you. There are six recognised hikes with the longest one to Sant Jeroni. The walk starting from either the mountain base of the top of the Sant Joan Funicular will reveal breathtaking views of the surrounding plains and the Pyrenees.

There are interesting features for nature lovers because of the geology and plants along the way. All of the trails offer amazing views and the locals boast that on a really clear day you can see Mallorca.

Just so you are prepared keep in mind that the funicular railways don’t run in March and carrying a coat is advisable. Montserrat often has strong and chilly winds.

For me the trip to Montserrat was the highlight of my visit.

 

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Five Exciting Things to do in Barcelona

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There is so much to see in the city, sometimes it can be a challenge to decide what and how to do it. But if you’re on vacation, why not try being a tourist with a difference! Here’s a selection of different ways to explore the wonderful, vibrant city of Barcelona – and make sure you make the most of your trip by staying in one of the best Barcelona hotels.

Kickbike and Scooter Tours of Barcelona!

For the eco conscious amongst you, why not take a cross between a bike and a scooter as a way of transporting yourself around the city. Kickbikes are suitable for pretty much anyone, and you can either join a guided tour or just rent the kickbike and take off for the day. Either way, it’s a great way of keeping fit and seeing the sights at the same time.

Barcelona Ice Bar

With a cool -5 ambient temperature, Barcelona’s Ice Bar is the only one of its kind in the world which is built on a beach. Situated at Playa de Barceloneta, the Ice Bar offers the perfect place to cool down from the hot Mediterranean sun. Just don’t forget your jacket and gloves!

Antique Caravan Tours

If you fancy seeing the surrounding area from the back of a traditional horse-drawn caravan, then why not take a tour to discover a little more about the tradition Catalan farmers of the area. From years gone by up to modern days, these tours will give you an insight into the Catalan culture and how the locals live at one with the countryside. The tours last from half a day up to a week in duration.

Rickshaw Tour

Rickshaws are a great way to explore the area, and the fact that someone else is doing the pedalling is always a bonus! What better way to have a local show you around their city, and you never know, you might learn a few words of Spanish along the way!

Go Back to School

No, not seriously, but how about signing up for a cocktail making class and learn how to mix ‘em up like a pro. You’ll be taught some neat bartender tricks, and no doubt be allowed more than just a few tasting sessions along the way. Then at the end, you can watch the professionals show you exactly how it should be done. Cocktail classes are run in a few venues in the city and last a few hours.

Guest post by Escapio.com

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Don’t be Scared of an Alternative Halloween Across the Channel

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Does the thought of having to find a costume for Halloween fill you with more dread than the haunting face of a man wielding a chainsaw? If so, Europe could be the answer. With some semblance of a cultural festival still being celebrated across the Channel you can take advantage of an excuse for a holiday without the dodgy eye make-up, fraying bandages and the handing out of ‘treats’ to hungry teenagers.

For a last minute trip Paris is the perfect option, and easily accessible. The city of love is slowly becoming one of horror for one night of the year only, but like the rest of Europe celebrates All Saints Day on November 1st, where the dead are honoured and the graves of loved ones are visited to pay respects. This also constitutes a national holiday so many attractions will be closed. The Paris Hop-on Hop-Off Bus takes in all the sights and runs all year, so while Parisians are paying their respects, the city can be explored. The route takes in all the most popular sites such as the Louvre, Champs de Mars, Notre Dame and the Champs-Élysée. continue reading

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Barcelona

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Experience Barcelona

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Park Guell (Flickr by MorBCN)

Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city, which explains the city’s wide array of activities to partake in.  When I was a senior in high school I visited Spain with my Art History class.  Looking back, Barcelona was sadly the city where we had the shortest amount of time and I wish I had a couple more days to experience Barcelona.

As of recent, Barcelona has become one of the most visited cities in Spain because of the vast amount of activities to experience.  Whether you enjoy thrilling tours and experiences, the arts, or learning more about a city’s culture then Barcelona has something to offer. continue reading

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Walking Cities Part 2: Barcelona

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If you’ve missed the introduction to this series, click here.

Sagrada Familia, Gaudi - jurvetson

Sagrada Familia, Gaudi - jurvetson

There is plenty to explore in Barcelona, a city notorious for its relaxed pace of life. Things work on a slower timetable here, great for a walk about! Take your time, you have all day! (Literally, dinner often doesn’t start here until 10 or 11pm, and nightclubs usually don’t begin filling up until around 2am). There’s plenty to do and see, and in recent years, Barcelona has become quite the multicultural hotbed. The area is home to a high population of immigrants, which means not only interesting people, but amazing international food, and a rich collection of books, art, and shopping. Cafés (yum, churros and chocolate!), galleries and parks (with lots of famous street art) galore!

As the home of nine UNESCO World Heritage sites (seven of which were designed by the famous Antoni Gaudí) there are plenty destinations for you to check out on that slow ramble around the city. continue reading

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Check out some MotoGP madness in Barcelona

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Sports fans will be able to incorporate some high-octane entertainment into their Barcelona tours later this year when the MotoGP motorcycling season comes to the Circuit de Catalunya.

The sixth race in the 2009 MotoGP World Championship will be held on the testing track just outside Barcelona on June 14th.

Qatar was the destination for the opening event in the 2009 season last weekend, with Australian rider Casey Stoner taking an early lead prior to races in Japan, Spain, France and Italy before the end of May.

People who make it to the event in Barcelona will be treated to an impressive sporting spectacle as the courageous riders fly around the track at speeds of up to 185mph and attempt daring overtaking manoeuvres.

Other circuits that will feature on the MotoGP World Championship this year include Indianapolis in the US on August 30th and Phillip Island in Australia on October 18th.

Motorsport fans will also be provided with plenty of opportunities for globetrotting by the Formula One season, which will take in such exotic destinations as Monte Carlo, Istanbul, Singapore and Sao Paulo.

Barcelona – Wonderful Gaudi architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere have made Barcelona Spain’s most popular city.ADNFCR-1652-ID-19122003-ADNFCR

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Scooter Tours – Spain’s Newest Way to Tour

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scooter tours in barcelona Spain has always offered a variety of attractions from discovering hidden courtyards and junk shops in the Barri Gotic in Barcelona to sun-bathing on the golden sands of Mallorca. Choosing which of their hottest destinations to visit is a hard decision. Do you want to visit a water park in Mallorca, go to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, or buy knick-knacks in Ibiza? If you do decide on Ibiza over Mallorca you’re immediately left with the sad feeling you’re really missing out on the soft sands of El Arenal beach. Luckily, now there are new tours to help you make the most of your time no matter where you choose. continue reading

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