I have visited Pensacola many times before but this viist was a more soulful experience in the high summer season with no agenda in mind ,just mindless meandering and enjoying this beautiful city. From the powder fine glistening sands of the best beaches in Florida (in my opinion) to the mouthwatering restaurant offerings ,Pensacola is a welcome summer solstice for the rejuvenation of any soul. Activities are abundantly abound in the downtown areas as well as in the neighborhood pockets. Theatre , concerts , beach bands days and the famous Naval Air museum are just a few of the many interesting and varied offerings here . Beach wear is the choice of natives and visitors alike for a laid-back existence for the better part of the day, evening wear depends on your dinner plans and such. The weather these last weeks was perfect in the high 80’s in the days with a slight cooling at night. Thunderstorms in the afternoon is not unlike most of Florida but gives a great respite for siestas before evening activities . Follow me as I share some of the sights I captured during my Pensacola respite!
The village in July was an exceptional treat for me ,I had never spent quality time there before and I pleasantly surprised! The weather was a little muggy on the Friday we got in but it was all part of the adventureous aspect of traveling to another city for a weekend with your best friend who is flexible as well. Our main purpose was to be with family at a memeorial for a dear friend who was like family to me since my teen years. We arrive at JFK from PBI and was entertained at the airport by a Beatles Tribute Band, they were actually very good and had a huge audience of transients drifting to their respective gates . We boarded the Airtrain towards Howard Beach which took us to the A Train eventually arriving at our stop at West 4 the Street in the heart Washington Square. The first night we surprised my cousin for her birthday gathering at “The Loft” overlooking the fabulous New York Skyline including the Empire State Building. The Washington square Park Monument heralded the sights ,taste, aroma of the happenings in the park which carried on into wee hours of the morning every single night! N.Y.U. Provided the fabulous energy for the area as it is situated right there by Washington Square. The happenings included outdoor piano playing, featuring pieces from the best classical composers, night time music was young and hip but older folk like myself were content to just inhale and absorb the youthful energy all around us. We visited a few great eaterie including “ Jack’s wife Freda” for a scrumptious nutritious breakfast. “Friend of the farmer “ was also a great little breakfast spot which didn’t disappoint either. There is also another great breakfast spot at the hotel across from our weekend residence called North Square , the breakfast was superb ,served in a setting below sidewalk level with fantastic ambience . My fiancé and I are foodies and this weekend’s offerings were definitely pleasing to our palates . The activities for the weekend including the memorial brought valuable memories and strengthening of family values and a new appreciation of what people mean when they say “ I love New York” !
Malaga is a little gem situated approximately one and one half hours south of Barcelona by flight .We picked this city originally because it had great approximated tours to Morocco and Gibraltar ( we didn’t make it to Morroco due to weather constraints). We arrived via Vueling Aitlines which was pleasant and cost effective ( Hand luggage only). We took the Renfe train from Malaga Airport right into the middle of everything via Maria Zambrano station. This was fabulous as our spectacular hotel , The Barcelo Malaga had its own private entrance off the station . The hotel was fabulous with a great price through Amoma. Friendly, helpful staff , good restaurant and a fantastic breakfast made to order ! Proximity to wonderful restaurants and great public transportation routes just outside the doors. Our tour to Gibraltar started at 7am with Julia Tours and the meeting point was a short 15 minute walk from the hotel . The Maria Zambrano Station is home to some fast food eateries and a small supermarket with fresh baked breads , squeeze your own orange juice, cheeses fruits and chocolate bars with hazelnuts! These supplies were added to our hotel mini fridge that served us well to keep supplies cold . We also took Renfe Trains for our adventure to Ronda a couple of hours away which was the highlight of our Malaga connection. I loved Malaga for many reasons not to mention I got engaged while we visited in March 2018! Of course our favorite restaurant is Los Mellizos where the question was popped ! The food was awesome ,especially my favorite the fried cod and the house salad. A visit to the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro Castle topped off our stay in this Andalusian City. Follow me as I lead you through our time here via pictures . Remember there are many more pictures in the gallery section on my blog!
My first trip to Spain was via Barcelona ,a beautiful , diverse, interesting meca of endless sites ,sounds and tastes! Follow me in my capture of the city in photos.
Visiting Barcelona is not complete without a visit to the Gothic Quarter( El Gotic). Wandering around this area in Barcelona is exciting as it is intriguing , an awesome collection of shops,eateries,museums, galleries,churches and history to absorb. Come with me as I show you some of the interesting sites of this interesting area of Barcelona!
The centerpiece of Barcelona has seen has seen five generations since its inception in 1866. This spectacular church while still under construction is a beautiful and awesome Church to experience the works of Antoni Gaudi and the importance of worship in Spain . We visited in March , opting for the self guided tour with the audio guide and an addition of a visit to the passion tower . We arrived at a pre-selected time printed on our tickets which we purchased online before arriving in Barcelona. The ticket had a special entrance gate and the line was minimal compared to the lines for people buying tickets . The passion tower was accessed via elevator only about three people at a time ,decent was by foot some seventy-five meters down! Before your ticket purchase for any of the towers it advises that you will have to be limber with no ambulatory or visual deficiencies to be able to do this part of the tour. The view from the tower was absolutely fabulous and the adventure descending was memorable as well. The Church was the architectural brainchild of Gaudi and is said to be fashioned the Temple off of a forest .All the columns and upper tresses are reminiscent of trees in the forest and gives a feeling of openness . The centerpiece of course is Jesus on the cross and is magnificently displayed under a canopy adorned with lights. There are also tributes to Matthew, Mark,Luke and John in the form of prominent emblems adorning the upper columns in the main vestibule of the church . There is a section on the left side behind the pulpit area for praying at your visit , no photos can be taken here, just solemn reflections .The stained glass windows captures the light allowed into the Church in such a spectacular way that can only be fully appreciated by visiting ! You are able to wander as much as you like , repeating your steps to listen via your audio guide again and again. The front of the Church is a masterpiece of sculptures adorning the facade of the building and tells a story in it’s intriguing display. To appreciate a tour of this fabulous creation of Gaudi and UNESCO World Heritage site, plan your visit for no less than two hours . Go see it!
The rock of Gibraltar sits at the tip of Spain’s south coast and is a British Overseas territory ceeded to them since 1713. The town was originally under Moorish rule in the Middle Ages. Julia tours did a great job in getting me to the region from Malaga City Center. My tour started at 7 a.m. at a pickup stop near my hotel and followed a southward journey through the coastal towns of Andalusia . Some of the beautiful towns dotting our sunrise journey includes , Arroya de la Meil , Benalmádena , Carvajal, Artola , Mejia’s and Estepona . The tour guide gave interesting facts of the region as we rode in the comfortable coach , however we could not eat on the bus but a couple stops were incorporated for snack and bathroom privileges . Arrival in Gibraltar took a little longer than if a private trip was taken because of all the pickup stops in the towns we drove through, however the views made it palatable. The approach to the Rock revealed a spectacular view of this age old region which have been on my list Travel spots for so long. There is a customs check at the “border” , a British border patrol officer entered the bus to check passports. We proceeded by a smaller van to tour the rock and the town of Gibraltar . The winding journey up the rock’s peak took us to altitudes of 426 meters(1397 feet) . Gibraltar is located at the southern tip of the Iberian Sea and across the straits of Gibraltar the continent of Africa can be seen by way of Morocco . The Mecaque Monkeys are the only wild population of monkeys on the European Continent and are roaming free throughout the Rock of Gibraltar peak. They are not shy with humans and are known to snatch your belongings if you are less than vigilant on your visit. The St. Michael’s Cave was included in the tour and provided a great experience to see the limestone formations enhanced by the changing light show. The surrounding town was charming with reminders that I was in Britain and not Spain, the red phone booth the post boxes and the monetary exchange I received after handing over Euros . A visit to Gibraltar will not disappoint .
Just a two hour train ride from Malaga is the must see beautiful town of Ronda . We decided not to take a coach tour which would be a longer trip because of all the pick up and drop off stops. We took the Renfe train from Estacion De Malaga Maria Zambrano which was conveniently just steps from our wonderful hotel The Barcelo Malaga . The train journey was seamless and relaxing as we passed beautiful lush landscapes as well and mountainous regions revealing many little towns along the way., Polígono Guadalhorce, Álora, Teba, Almargen and Antequera a mountainous area where hikers could be seen along the side of the mountain . Arriving in Ronda relaxed and refreshed , we headed to the local tourist office for maps and information. Plaza El Toros De Ronda is steps from the tourist office and cost just a few Euros for the entrance fees, we opted for the self guided audio guide to listen to the interesting facts and history . We will have to return in September to see a bullfight as that is when the season begins. Strolling through the town of Ronda revealed lovely stores and pubs as well as architecture of old.The Ronda gorge (El Tojo) was the centerpiece of our visit, so vast and beautiful , it took my breath away . You are able to see it from the top along the Puente Nuevo bridge and then acces the views from the bottom by hiking down , down ,down. The gorge separates the city’s 15th century old town from it’s new town. Returning up, up, up proved more daunting than the descent. At the helm of the gorge just to the right we discovered the El Morabito Cafe , a beautiful backyard restaurant looking out unto the magnificent views of the gorge. The food here was delectable and the sherry was a perfect pairing to complete a feeling of serene wellbeing . Your visit to the Ronda area will surely leave you with plans to return ....
I had the unrivaled pleasure of getting to this mountain top with a tour that was good but I will have to return . My visit did not even scratch the surface of the five hundred plus years of history embodied here. I felt like Moses getting to the top of the mountain without enough time to soak it all in. Montserrat is roughly about thirty minutes outside of Barcelona , it is a multi- peak rocky range which is part of the Catalan pre-costal range. The main peaks are 1,236 meters high , the range dates back some five million years . I made sure to place my foot on one of those early rocks to cement my union with such wonder from such times. This mountain houses , The Benedictine Abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat which is home to Our Lady of Montserrat (The Black Madonna), Museum of Montserrat and the Montserrat Monastery . The area can be accessed via bus tours , car or train , the Funicular Cremallera goes up the mountain and let’s you off right in the middle of everything. We enjoyed a movie about Montserrat just inside the bookstore , and had a taste of the shops , tour of the Santa Maria Cathedral and walk among the rocks going even further up the mountain. See more of my photos in my gallery .
This museum is one of the best I have visited to date! It wowed in ambiance and presentation from arrival to exit! The museum can be viewed from a block away and as you get closer the amazing architecture takes your breath away , literally . Wander with me as I present some of tases awe inspiring grounds , entrance and art housed inside . Your visit here should be scheduled for no less than a half day to appreciate the wonderful Parc de Montjuic and the Museum proper . There is a little refreshment stand at the foot of the museum where you can enjoy the view of the surrounding area while enjoying a beer or coffee . I tell you this is an outing that made my being sing!