Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cadaqués and Salvador Dalí - Catalunya

The view from our room at Hotel Llané Petit, Cadaqués
There are quite a few options if you are looking for a relaxing weekend trip away from Barcelona. However, there is no discussion that the village of Cadaqués is one of the top attractions for a weekend getaway. If you happen to be fond of Salvador Dalí you will probably already know of Cadaqués where he lived for many years. It will take you about 2 hours to drive to Cadaqués from Barcelona. On the way to Cadaqués you could get the impression that you have made a mistake as the country starts becoming rocky and unwelcoming. However, as you start your descend to Cadaqués via a twisting road your breath will be taken away. The village is situated around a small bay, with small fishing boats and beautiful old houses. Cadaqués is a major tourist destination in particular for the French but it manages to retain all its charm despite the many visitors. Figuring out where to stay before going there was a major challenge for us. After a lot of research we booked a room at Hotel Llané Petit which turned out to be the perfect choice. The hotel is situated at the water’s edge on the quieter right side of the bay with access to a beach and some wonderful rooms with an ocean view (at a reasonable price). The hotel is quiet, clean, friendly and functional. The breakfast is pretty much the standard hotel business which was just fine for us. Hotel Llané Petit is only a short walk away from the village centre via a charming route along the water’s edge. On the way you will encounter many nice bars, cafes and shops. In fact there are countless places in Cadaqués to have a drink, coffee, lunch, dinner etc. from the inexpensive to the more exclusive stuff. 
We went to quite a few places and were not disappointed which we found surprising for such a touristy place. However, we would like to mention two places that we particularly enjoyed. When going from Hotel Llané Petit at the right side of the bay towards the village centre you will pass a cosy little square (Plaça Doctor Pont). You will find a café called Bar Mut here that make a great mojito and the view of the bay is fantastic. The service is super friendly and the food is fine (but nothing exceptional). A great spot to do nothing but enjoy the view, drinks and the sun. Later when we visited to the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres we discovered a painting by Dali of this particular little square so it would seem that Dalí shares our love for this place. Moving closer to the centre of the village you will get to the Village Casino (Plaça Dr. Trèmols 1). This is not the classic use of the name Casino and well worth visiting in the evening. The Casino is essentially a big bar that serves as the community meeting place. We watched a Barça game here with the locals over a couple of beers and some snacks. The atmosphere is fantastic and the place is inexpensive.
In addition, to cruising around Cadaqués checking out the shops, bars, beach etc. you have to make the trip to a small natural port called Portlligat that is situated a short walk from Cadaqués. Salvador Dalí and his wife Gala lived at Port Portlligat for many years and you can visit the Dalí house that is open to the public. The Dalí House Museum is highly recommend and will take you on a tour into the surreal mind of the Dalí's which is expressed throughout the house. The Dalí House Museum exceeded all our expectations. We were really fascinated by the house which is work of art and the fantastic story of Dalí's life.
Cap de Creus National Park
Cadaqués is surrounded by Cap de Creus national park with many walks ranging from trails for the experienced hikers to easy walks suitable for families with kids. The views are stunning at this the most Eastern point of the Iberian Peninsula and as a minimum you should take the drive to the lighthouse and enjoy a coffee while taking in the dramatic scenery. There are countless other activities you can embark on in the area of Cadaqués and we have only mentioned the very tip of the iceberg. Cadaqués and the surrounding area is a must see and we are sure that you will want to return to this lovely spot again and again. The Cadaqués tourist website is a good starting point when planning your trip to this region. DC!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Les Gens Que J'Aimes - L'Eixample, Barcelona

Visiting the bar Les Gens Que J'aime gives you a feeling of travelling to another time and place. This hidden gem is located in a basement on Carrer Valencia in L’Exiample. As you enter you are at the top of a staircase with the whole bar below you. The lights are dimmed and everything is kept in dark colours. You will see guests lounging in old sofas and lounge chairs and at the far end of the room a long bar is situated usually with a couple of the regulars having a chat with the bartender over a gin and tonic. Everything is old in Les Gens Que J'aime and it gives the place a truly unique atmosphere. On certain week days the place is visited by a fortune teller that the guests can have a chat to for spiritual guidance (or just for fun). It is a truly old school experience with tarot cards and the works.
The view from the bar entrance.
This is a quiet bar to have a couple of drinks and a chat with your friends. We normally come here for a pre-dinner drink or after a dinner to have a drink before heading home. The bar is conveniently located close to Passeig de Graciá and would be the perfect spot to have a drink after a long day visiting the many attractions on and around Passeig de Graciá. Les Gens Que J'aime is moderately priced and the selection of drinks is adequate but not extensive. There is no food available. DC!