Fun Fact: Granada means “pomegranate” or “grenade” and while I didn’t see either while I was in Granada, it was still quite the adventure. Granada is a hippie central and for that reason I loved it. It reminded me so much of my beach town at home in San Diego. There are many people called “perro-flautas” which are hippie/wanderers that have a dog (perro) and play a flute (flauta). Our teacher flirted with a few of them and bribed them with beer to tour us around the alternative side of Granada.
Darling white washed houses and traditional Spanish roofing tiles abound. The graffiti is colorful and inspiring. The vibe of the city is a positive one and it’s just so sunny! The Alhambra is breathtaking and you’ll wish you could move right into this expansive castle. Plan to spend a lot of time there as the gardens alone can take all day to explore. Granada is easily one of my favorite Spanish cities, you have to visit!
Cordoba is full of history and bursting with the traditional Southern Spanish culture. The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is the main highlight, and for good reason. The combination of Muslim and Christian architecture is gorgeous and tells an amazing history. Cordoba has an unexplainable charm and is a romantic city to explore. The small idling streets with whitewashed homes are beautiful to explore. When you visit Spain be sure to take at least a day trip to explore Cordoba.
My most recent trip to Chicago was prompted by my Uncle’s wedding, which was absolutely spectacular! Visiting Chicago with the entire family was great fun and I have a few recommendations. Take the Chicago river boat architectural tour. You’ll learn so much Chicagoe history and it really helped to reinforce some concepts I learned in architecture school. The tours are fun and family freindly, everyone is sure to have a great time! I may have learned more on that boat tour than I did in architecture school!
Millennium Park is very cool to walk through. It’s full of odd modern art that you can look at and try to figure out what it could possibly mean. The giant bean, called “Cloud Gate” is the most popular landmark in the Millennium Park. Be sure to stand under here and take a funny picture. Also grab a beef sandwich at Al’s!
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, as all good Americans know. But what they may not know is that Barcelona and much of Europe does amazing work with Christmas lights. From October to January I’d say nearly all city employees are working overtime installing, maintaining, and taking down Christmas lights. They don’t celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving, so they can just skip right to the important one, Christmas. The city absolutely glows!
Each street has it’s own pattern of lights that repeats and they seem to change every few years. This Christmas, 2013, they were nearly all white lights, which was a bit boring. But I’ve included some earlier photos too. Experiencing the holidays in Barcelona is amazing and you really should try to stop by some winter!
Since all the main roads have different lights, you’ll want to keep walking and walking to see them all. On my street, Rambla de Catalunya, they put giant noodles called “galets” on display. These are the traditional noodles in a meatball soup that’s eaten in Catalunya at Christmas time. These are fun for parents to put their kids inside for a Christmas photo.
Also for New Year’s be sure to wear red underwear for good luck! Also follow along on the TV to eat 12 grapes for the last 12 seconds of the year.
Tantarantana: Carrer d’En Tantarantana 24, Barcelona
The Born neighborhood is one of the best things about the city of Barcelona. This old neighborhood has charming winding streets and cute cafes and restaurants abound! One of my favorites to take visitors to is Tantarantana. It is the epitome of Barcelona’s Born neighborhood: cozy, cute and typically Spanish. It has very much of a “hole in the wall” place feel. and is housed in a 16th Century building with exposed stone walls. Great authentic vibe.
It’s a place to drink red wine from the Rioja and Catalunya and share tapas with friends. There are also many options for Gin Tonics to top off the night. Visitor’s favorite tapa is consistently the fried eggplant chunks topped with lime and honey. It’s a very different combination of flavors and is probably their best tapa dish. The jamon and pan con tomate are essentials. The “huevos estrellados” meaning “broken eggs” which are fried potatoes mixed with jamon and fried eggs, are tasty as well! The toast with sobrassada and cheese is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!
This is a great tapas place to eat among locals and experience a real tapas feast when visiting Barcelona! It’s less than 15€ a person usually, excluding alcohol. It’s an affordable tapas extravaganza!
Hollywood’s walk of stars is a must visit when anyone from outside of America comes to visit you. This most recent time involved taking my Spaniard’s family to visit and take their picture with their favorite celebrity stars.
As for food while you’re in Los Angeles I recommend a visit to Pink’s Hot Dogs which is a staple part of LA history. They make giant hot dogs topped with an amazing chili. I also recommend a visit to Philippe’s which makes amazing French dip sandwiches. You can still buy a cup of coffee for 30 cents just like in the 1920s. The authentic feel of this place is unbeatable!
Walk along Rodeo Drive to enjoy the nice cars and window shop at the luxury shops. If you’re lucky you’ll see a celebrity!