Never Too Many Cooks in bcnKITCHEN

bcnkitchen-8 The secret to Spanish cooking is good Rais

Ever since Thomas did his cooking class in Cambodia, I’ve been looking for my own similar Food-Venture. Luckily, our stop in Barcelona included a day at bcnKITCHEN, a unique facility which offers everything from cooking classes to show-cooking to corporate bonding sessions.

When I think about it, Catalonia Tourism was probably strategically using our day at bcnKITCHEN as a type of corporate bonding session to allow our group of traveling bloggers to connect while exploring Catalan cuisine. It was a brilliant move, a recipe for success.

And the secret to this recipe, like much of Spanish cuisine, was good rice… I mean Rais Continue…

La Mercè

La Mercè in Barcelona

Today marks the end of La Mercè, Barcelona’s most famous festival. The celebrations honor the Mare de Déu de la Mercè, the Virgin of Grace, who is said to have delivered the city from a plague of locusts in 1687. Festivities include parades of papier maché “giants,” booming gun salutes (not for those who overly value their ear drums), acrobatic human tower building, fireworks, and more. It’s tons of fun as well as a photographic delight. And there wasn’t a locust in sight, so the Virgin of Grace still seems to be keeping up her end of the bargain. 🙂

La Mercè in Barcelona

Experience Catalonia

Torre Agbar, Barcelona
Starting today, Catalonia Tourism has invited ContemporaryNomad.com on a whirlwind blog tour of Catalonia and its spectacular capital, Barcelona. With milder fall temperatures and the annual La Mercè Festival featuring a parade of giant papier maché puppets, the timing couldn’t be better. The itinerary includes a long list of exciting activities highlighting the best of what Catalonia has to offer visitors.

Catalonia is perhaps most famous for its art, architecture, and innovative spirit, all embodied by Barcelona’s wildly cutting-edge Torre Agbar shown in the lead picture above.  But there’s much more. Catalonia is about food, nature, quaint villages, adventure, coastal scenery, and a uniquely creative Catalan vibe.

Follow along live during the tour via Google+, Facebook or Twitter and check back for posts featuring one of Spain’s coolest regions.

#catalunyaexperience

Mammoth Street Murals of Seville

Giant Street Art in Seville

Spain is excellent hunting ground for those on a quest to find the world’s best urban art. Spanish street art can easily match anything back in Berlin. While exploring the area behind the bus station, we discovered these magnificent murals. To get a sense of the scale look for Thomas in each photo Continue…

Seville Splendor

Seville tilework

Beyond the delicious tapas, Seville is also a feast for the eyes. And it’s not just futuristic architecture, the remarkable city is full of distinctly Andalusian detail. The dizzyingly elaborate tile work and ornately carved roofs of the city’s Alcázar bring the rich Islamic past to life. That past extends to the crenelated and carved splendor of the Torre del Ora, the Giralda and the impressive remnants of the once grand city walls.

And not to be outdone by cities such as neighboring Cordoba, Seville has its fair share of Continue…

Great Tapas in Seville

Seville tapas

OK, it’s not exactly hard to find tapas in Spain. But it is a bit of a challenge for visitors to find GOOD tapas here when they don’t know the secret hot spots. Honestly, we were about to give up hope until we got to Seville. The city’s tapas scene is very competitive and Sevillanos have some pretty high standards.

A bit of research led us to Vineria San Telmo. The amazing little cafe serves up some seriously delicious, extremely innovative tapas that finally made it clear to us what tapas should be. Dishes include mouth-watering creations such as Continue…

The Metropol Parasol of Seville

The Metropol Parasol of Seville

We love love love Seville’s insanely visionary Metropol Parasol. Created by German architect Jürgen Mayer-Hermann, the bizarre wooden structure manages to achieve a thousand things at once: it’s avant-garde and traditional, whimsical and serious, sculptural and functional. The complex work consists of six towering parasols composed of interlacing boards which morph their way over roads and restaurants into what is now claimed to be the world’s largest wooden structure. It kind of feels like Seville has been invaded by a giant space-waffle-fungus, but in an entirely good way.

The Metropol Parasol is more than an artistic statement; it’s also highly functional. Obviously, it provides an important source of shade for La Encarnación Square. Perhaps more of a surprise, the base platform houses the Antiquarium, a museum designed to preserve Moorish and Roman ruins discovered on site. And most spectacularly, the entire structure Continue…

Córdoba’s Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

Cordoba's Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos

If there is one thing that Spain does better than any other place on the planet, it just might be gardens. With the possible exception of Kashmir, we’ve never been anywhere that even comes close.

So what makes Spain better than the rest? It represents that magical crossroads between the lush, contemplative gardens of the Islamic world and the highly structured gardens of Europe. What’s more, as a leading colonial power for centuries, Spain had the ability to collect plants from around the globe. And unlike other colonial powers, the Spanish could actually grow those plants back home.

The palace gardens of Córdoba’s Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos are just one stunning Continue…

The Mezquita of Cordoba with 360 Panorama

The Mezquita, CordobaClick for 360 panorama

The Mezquita of Cordoba, Spain is unlike any other building we’ve ever seen. Built on the ruins of a Visigoth church between 784 and 987AD, the Mezquita is the largest surviving Moorish mosque on the Iberian peninsula. It’s world-renowned for its stunning arched hypostyle hall and exceptionally ornate mihrab. When Catholic rulers regained control of Cordoba, they cut an enormous chunk out of the heart of the sprawling medieval mosque and constructed a towering cathedral right in the middle of it. The result is a unique mosque-church hybrid with wildly contradictory architectural and artistic styles. We love it!!! And so does Continue…

Bioparc Valencia

Bioparc Valencia is extraordinary. Even if you hate zoos – and I’m not really sure I should even call it a zoo – there’s a good chance that you might make an exception for the Bioparc. And before you write this off as promotional hype, I remind readers that I come from San Diego, California, home to America’s most famous and beloved zoo. I don’t pile on the zoo praise easily.

The Bioparc isn’t the biggest zoo, and its animal collection is not the most extensive. What distinguishes the park is its phenomenal, immersive design. The entire complex seems to have been conceived of as a single construction, which manages to convey the experience of wilderness far better than most zoos. It’s a unique Continue…