"Gargoyles & Graffiti"chronicles architectural elements that I find interesting or unique in my travels. Gargoyles are my passion, but today graffiti (which I hate but am learning to love as it is everywhere) is as much a part of architecture as the gargoyles and decorative railings that thrill me.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Nuria Restaurant at Barcelona

Nuria Restaurant since 1933

I remember back in 2009 when I was planning my first trip to Barcelona, I read about a vegetarian restaurant near the top of Las Ramblas named Nuria. I never found it that trip. I have no idea how I missed it, but I did. The next time I stayed in Barcelona, in 2011, I found it but never went in. I could never decide what type of vegetarian dish I would want to try. Today, I finally made it there. 

Photo of the original Nuria Restaurant
I found the service great and the food wonderful. The only thing is I did not find one vegetarian dish on the menu. I had a hamburger! The pastries look wonderful and the cappuccino was excellent. Price wasn't bad either for Las Ramblas. My bill was less than 10 euros. 

The guy who waited on me was so nice. He even dug up a menu for me in English. I could read the Spanish one just fine, but it was nice of him to offer.

Nice waiter at Nuria
 It was a fun place to people watch. The crowds outside were just beginning. There was a funny thing that happened. There was a guy who seemed to endlessly bring chairs in from outside. It was weird as I never saw any go out, only in. Who knows where they were coming from? And they weren't really chairs, but some kind of odd looking stools. Too bad I didn't get a photo.

Customers at Nuria Restaurant


I did photograph a customer making a decision on what she wanted to order, and another of the staff. I highly recommend Nuria for good food and service if you are visiting Las Ramblas at Barcelona.

Staff at Nuria Restaurant







La Sagrada Familia: Home of Gargoyles

La Sagrada Familia at Barcelona


 The last time I visited La Sagrada Familia was in 2009 at 8am. I can't remember if I bought my ticket ahead of time or not. I don't think I did, but there was no line. A few people arrived as I was walking through. It is a sight to see and I missed it the last two times I was in Barcelona, so I decided to go back again. I heard in the metro that the lines were forever long, so I opted to just take some photos from the outside.


Cleaning of La Sagrada Familia



Even though the Church is not completed, restoration work is going on now to clean it. From the photo above, you can see what has been cleaned and a part that remains. It is still as magnificent as ever. This time though there were hundreds of people waiting to get in and a line of people waiting to buy tickets that wrapped around the front and both sides.

Getting there was half the fun. I decided to use the metro as I had a T-10, a ticket for 10 passes and had only used 2 yesterday. I could have walked but after my excursion to the MNAC yesterday, I realize how out of shape my legs really are. So I walked to the Passeig de Gracia station and tried to get on the L2 to the Sagrada Familia exit. Just as I went to board the train, an announcement was made that the L2 was down. So I was lost in underground hell for about half an hour. In the end, I took a round about way but finally made it to my destination. When I walked out of the metro, there I was, right in front of one of my favorite places on earth - La Sagrada Familia (the Sacred Family.)


Another view of La Sagrada Familia

Man speaking French and waving in front of La Sagrada Familia


As I took photos of the front, a man speaking in French said something to me and waved for the camera. The crowds were everywhere. I especially loved seeing all the young people around.


Young people in front of La Sagrada Familia

More information on this wonderful Gaudi creation can be found here. It really is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and a great home for gargoyles. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Barcelona: A Day of Books and Roses

Sant Jordi Festival at Barcelona 2013


It never fails. I always arrive at Barcelona when there is some kind of festival or other. Today is Sant Jordi. I walked around all day watching people carrying roses and there is a bustling book fair. Right in front of my hotel, there are Catalan books being signed by famous Catalan authors and everybody carrying red roses. 



Sant Jordi Festival on 23rd of April 2013

So when I returned to the hotel, I looked up Sant Jordi Day, and it is the day of St. George, who is the patron saint of Catalan. The story of how books and roses began to be exchanged on April 23rd is explained here. It is really quite fascinating. 

Balloons seem to be pretty important too!

Balloons celebrating the day of Sant Jordi













Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Malta Memories

My niece Sarah entering a Church at Malta

If there is one place I would like to return one day, it would be the old city of Mdina in Malta. I loved it there. A few small, select families have this magnificent former capital city of Malta. You can keep Valleta with its crowds and buses. Give me Mdina any time.

The Maltese falcon is there. Gargoyles reign supreme and there is no graffiti.


Sarah in front of the Maltese Falcon


Door Knocker Malta

There are gorgeous door knockers and wonderful roof top details. I could probably search for weeks and still I would be finding architectural details to thrill me.


Rooftop at Mdina, Malta

They even have aristo-cats!


Maltese cat

Next time, I want to visit the Cathedral Museum. Our tour did not include it and we didn't have enough spare time to visit. Next time!



Cathedral Museum at Mdina, Malta

Monday, April 8, 2013

Back to Croatia: Part of Eastern Europe


Map of Eastern Europe

I don't know about you, and maybe it has a lot to do with when I grew up(the old Cold War era,) but I really don't know that much about Eastern Europe. Many of the countries were part of the Soviet Bloc. In school, it was more about fear than it was about knowledge as far as Russia was concerned, so I don't remember learning about the history or geograpy of this area. 

On my upcoming cruise, I will be stopping at two places in Croatia and one in Slovenia. I have been to Dubrovnik before and was struck by the beauty of the Adriatic Sea. More information on the location of these countries can be found here.


Old town Riga, Latvia

Aerial view Riga, Latvia


I only hope that Split is as beautiful as Riga, Latvia, which I did on a Baltic cruise in 2010. I think it will be. As much as I loved Dubrovnik, I'm not too keen on revisiting a place, so I picked a tour to the countryside this time when we port at Dubrovnik. I am sure it will be fun!


Dubrovnik, Croatia


Hopefully I can continue to explore all these countries and make up for what I didn't learn in school!






Sunday, April 7, 2013

Norwegian Jade: Here I Come

Norwegian Jade
A few weeks from now, I will be on my yearly cruise to Europe. Using points for my airlines ticket and negotiating an amazing price, I was able once again to scrape together the money to go. It is the way I recharge my interior design batteries, so it is as much a work trip as a pleasure trip. I spend two weeks immersing myself in all the architecture of Europe and a lot of gorgeous beach scenery too. Cozumel is beautiful, but nothing beats a mountain view from the water. It is different and makes me appreciate where I live so much more when I get back.

Cagney's Steak House on Norwegian Jade

I can't wait to continue my gargoyles and graffiti tradition, but I also plan to eat well. I made four reservations in specialty restaurants. I will dine alone, with my Kindle in hand just in case I need it. I never know if I will read or end up chatting. Either way works for me. I have dinner reservations in Cagney's Steak House, Jasmine Garden, the Brazilian Churrascaria restairant called Moderno and Le Bistro, the French restaurant. I had dinner at the French restaurant on Jade's sister ship, The Pride of America, and it was great.

Jasmine Garden on Norwegian Jade
I am not sure how much pool time I will have as I am going on excursions every day in port. I also love to walk around the deck, so I only hope the 7th floor deck is as good as HAL's lower promenade for walking.

Pool area on the Norwegian Jade
Outdoor cafe area on Norwegian Jade
Can't wait now ... only 14 days until I leave for Europe!