Roman Holiday

Cajun and Pirate along the Tiber River
Cajun and Pirate along the Tiber River
Fountain of Trevi at night.
Fountain of Trevi at night.

This December we went back to Italy and visited the fabulous city of Rome.  We were very fortunate and had beautiful, sunny skies during our visit and a crisp air and temperature of around 50 degrees.  It is always nice to visit a city like Rome in the winter months when there are very few tourists.   However, when visiting in the winter,  you take the chance of getting weather that may not be optimal.  Lucky for us, it was perfect during our stay.

 

We stayed at Hotel Albergo del Senato which is located on the Piazza della Rotunda and overlooks the majestic and beautiful Pantheon.  It was the absolute perfect hotel and location.  We were mesmerized by the Pantheon itself; built in 126 AD and one of the world’s largest unreinforced concrete domed structures centered by an oculus providing natural light inside.  It was originally built as a shrine to pagan gods but was converted to a church hundreds of years later and still serves as a church to this day.  We spent countless hours during our stay sitting at outdoor tables of enotecas and trattorias along the Piazza della Rotunda.  We always sat under delightfully warm heat lamps, devouring bottles of wonderful red wine and admiring the view of the Pantheon.  Our hotel room’s balcony also looked out onto the Patheon’s front portico and we loved observing the busy comings and goings of people visiting each day.

Overlooking dome of the Pantheon
Overlooking dome of the Pantheon

We visited other Roman must-see places such as the Fountain of Trevi, the Spanish Steps and the Castelo Sant Angelo.  We walked across the Tiber River on ancient bridges and browsed the high-end shopping paradise of the Via del Corso.  The window shopping was stunning with huge storefronts for Italian fashion houses like Prada, Valentino, Roberto Cavali, Armani, Versace and Bulgari- just to name a small few.

Wine with a view..
Wine with a view..

Another highlight was the wonderful food.  We mostly just wandered in to small trattorias and sampled their specials throughout the day. We drank lots and lots of Italian red wine with each and every meal.  It was a wonderful stay!

 

After Rome, we went to the French sea-side town of Toulon and took a fantastic tour of the Bandol wine region in the Provence region of France.  Known for their fantastic Rose’ wine, the Bandol vintners we visited did not disappoint.  We loved every sip and have found some new favorites to ship home.

It was a wonderful European getaway which was followed by a transatlantic cruise to Florida.  15 days of rest and relaxation as we crossed the Atlantic- pure heaven!   We did stop in some other great European ports (Barcelona, Azores), but we have visited those places before and written about them here on Gumbopirate.   We came back rejuvenated and ready for the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  Also, we came back to face a long-awaited knee-replacement surgery for the Pirate.  Ugh..   But now I am happy to report that we are 3 weeks post-surgery and Pirate is doing well (no need for a peg leg) and back on his diet staple of rum!  Each day he makes great strides with his knee and he is working hard to rehab before our next adventures- our annual trip to the Daytona 500 and a fabulous tropical getaway to St. Martin and Anguilla!!  Stay tuned….

roman fountains everywhere
roman fountains everywhere
Enjoying afternoon sun
Enjoying afternoon sun
Cajun in front of Pantheon..
Cajun in front of Pantheon..
Curbside at a trattoria.
Curbside at a trattoria.
Beautiful at night
Beautiful at night
Bandol winery Terrebrune
Bandol winery Terrebrune
Happy pirate
Happy pirate
Inside the cellar
Inside the cellar
Beautiful Bandol
Beautiful Bandol

Reminiscing about our 2013 summer beach adventures….

Happy in Hope Town
Happy in Hope Town

As the cold weather is keeping us bundled up inside (well not too bad as we are in New Orleans) and the Pirate is recuperating from his third and final knee surgery (they put in a new one this time), we are thinking about the fun times we had this summer in the warm and sunny climates of the Bahamas and Nantucket.  I never did get around to uploading photos and trip reports from those trips and now seems a good a time as any….

In July we spent a wonderful 12 days in the Bahamas with our friends Sloane and Mike.  We rented a beach home in Hope Town, Abaco.  The house was perfect, named By the Sea as it sits directly on a beautiful beach.   However, it was quite windy while we were there making the surf untenable.  Lucky for us, we also had a pool!  We mostly lounged by the pool and made all sorts of tropical drinks each day.  In fact, it is quite obscene the amount of rum and champagne that we went through.

Pirate and Mike at ferry landing in Marsh Habor
Pirate and Mike at ferry landing in Marsh Habour
Our porch on the beach..
Our porch on the beach..
Sampling tropical concoctions at the bar
Sampling tropical concoctions at the bar
Beautiful beach views
Beautiful beach views

We also took day trips to Marsh Harbor to see friends who live there and to Guana Cay to the fun and rowdy Nippers and the more subdued Grabbers.  The Sea of Abaco was pretty rough to make the crossing to those islands in the small boat that we rented so we opted to take a larger power boat and all was great!  Even better since someone else was captaining beside us, we didn’t have to limit the number of Nippers and Guana Grabbers we consumed.

Birthday dinner for Pirate
Birthday dinner for Pirate
Pirate at Nippers
Pirate at Nippers
Hope Town Light House
Hope Town Light House

We ate loads of conch and grouper at a myriad of beach shacks all around the island.  Our main mode of transportation was a golf cart, which got us everywhere we needed to go.  We had a fantastic and relaxing time.   The Bahamas is not our favorite place, but spending it with great friends made it a trip to remember.  We will probably never go back to Hope Town, but we will definitely see Mike and Sloan again in other beachy locales each summer!

 

Our trusty transportation
Our trusty transportation

In September we spent some time on Nantucket with our besties Amie and Bill.  They invite us to their home there every year and we never turn them down!  Amie and Bill have also flown down to meet us on the boat each year for the last 6 years.  The weather was a tad chilly when we visited them in Nantucket this year so we didn’t do our usual beach days and shore fishing.  However, we did do our usual bar hopping and decadent eating.  We also enjoyed another fabulous meal at the Galley with our friends Karen and Jim.  As Pirate was suffering with his beat up knee and Bill was suffering with his beat up back, we did lots of relaxing and game playing at the house.  We killed a few bottles of rum and wine and dozed in the yard under the trees.  It was the perfect getaway!

Chilling at beach for sunset with Bill and Amie
Chilling at beach for sunset with Bill and Amie
Bill and Cajun at Cisco Brewery
Bill and Cajun at Cisco Brewery
A walk on the beach..
A walk on the beach..
Pirate and Cajun enjoying sunset
Pirate and Cajun enjoying sunset

 

In addition to these beach vacations, we had lots of fun times in our little town of Newport.  Newport is quite the bustling place in the summer months.  And we did our yearly trek to the Indy 500 to see our good friend Jim.  It was a busy and fun summer that flew by as all summers tend to do.   We are now ready for our next summer adventures.  Bring it on 2014!

Amie and Cajun at Castle Hill for Sunday brunch
Amie and Cajun at Castle Hill for Sunday brunch
Our gang
Our gang
A lovely Sunday at Castle Hill
A lovely Sunday at Castle Hill

 

 

Visiting Valpolicella

Beautiful Villa Bertani
Beautiful Villa Bertani

While in Italy, we completed our wine tour of the Veneto region by spending a couple of days in Valpolicella and enjoying their spectacular wines, especially their world-renowned Amarone.  Valpolicella was an amazingly beautiful region of lush, green verdant vineyards and hills.  The name Valpolicella comes from “val polis cellae” which translates to “valley of many cellars.”  We set out to visit as many of those cellars as we could!

Green and lush Valpolicella region
Green and lush Valpolicella region

One special place that we visited was Monte Dall’Ora, a small family-run winery owned by the Venturinis.  Alessandra V. generousy welcomed us to her vineyards, cellars, tasting room and home.  It was quite impressive to see how they run such a tight operation while raising their two young children. Their wines were amazing, especially their Amarone.

Vineyards at Monte Dall Ora
Vineyards at Monte Dall Ora
Monte Dall Ora cellar
Monte Dall Ora cellar

 

Happy faces
Happy faces

After visiting the small Monte Dall’Ora, it was time to then move on to the ornate and gigantic Villa Mosconi Bertani.  Villa Bertani is constructed in the French Chateau style with a large manor house and sprawling and immaculately groomed grounds.  It is an estate that has long been in operation and in fact the name referred to as “Amarone” was said to be coined at this estate in the 1930s.  The Bertani’s gave us a private tour of the estate and regaled us with stories of how they preserved their wines by hiding them in the walls during WWII.  They also put out an amazing spread of tasty treats for us to enjoy while we sampled all of their wines.

Tasting at Bertani estate
Tasting at Bertani estate
Inside Bertani's grand parlour
Inside Bertani’s grand parlour
Bertani's beautiful grounds
Bertani’s beautiful grounds

 

Valpolicella was beautiful and the people were incredible.  Looking forward to visiting again!

Beautiful Verona!

Atop Castelvecchio Bridge overlooking the Adige
Atop Castelvecchio Bridge overlooking the Adige

As we prepare for our next trip to Italy in a couple of weeks, I figured it was time to catch up with the blog and finish posting about our last Italian adventure, back in May.  There are still several places we visited that I have not gotten to writing about yet.  One such spectacular place is the city of Verona.

Verona is located in the northeastern area of Italy known as the Veneto region, about an hour from Venice.  It was a wonderful place to stay as it was not as tourist-infested as Venice.  It is nice to not see all of the meandering tour groups and large crowds of photo-takers.  Instead, Verona was filled with Italians!

Verona at Dusk
Verona at Dusk
Verona sights
Verona sights

 

We loved our hotel, Il Sogno di Guilietta, a tiny gem located in the heart of the city.  One of the awesome things about the hotel is that it hosts the courtyard and balcony that inspired Shakespeare to pen Romeo and Juliet.  Thousands of people come each day to take pictures under the balcony, rub the statue of Juliet for good romantic luck and even leave love notes in the cracks of the walls.  While the courtyard is a sea of people each day, the gates are locked at 6pm and then the courtyard is private for the guests of the hotel.  Such a beautiful setting!

Courtyard at Sogno di Guilietta under the Romeo and Juliet balcony
Courtyard at Sogno di Guilietta under the Romeo and Juliet balcony
Pirate perched on balcony with a glass of wine
Pirate perched on balcony with a glass of wine

 

We also enjoyed walking the streets of the city and discovering the many beautiful public squares and watering holes.  The food in Verona is delicious.  Even an afternoon stop for a casual glass of wine ends up being a decadent display of savory treats.

Time for a snack!
Time for a snack!
Relaxing in the Piazza Verona
Relaxing in the Piazza Verona

 

Finally, we loved visiting Verona’s Castelvecchio and walking across the castle bridge.  The view over the Adige River looking out to the city was amazing.

Karyn on the Adige River
Karyn on the Adige River

Such a wonderful city!  Can’t wait to return one day soon.

Un Bella Cosa Birthday to Remember…

Beautiful Borghetto!
Beautiful Borghetto!

For the Cajun’s birthday, we had a special day planned.  This included a morning filled with bubbly, an Italian feast for lunch and an afternoon picnic in a perfect Italian village.  It was a fantastic way to celebrate!

The Bubbly!

We began the day with an introduction to fine Italian sparkling wine in the area known for making Italy’s best-  Franciacorta.  Franciacorta is considered to be the crème di la crème of sparkling wines in Italy.  It is not Champagne as something can only be labeled as Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France.  It is not Prosecco, as that is named after a sparkling wine produced in another region of Italy.  It is only considered Franciacorta if it is produced by grapes grown within the boundaries of the tiny Franciacorta region which boasts highly mineralized soil from ancient glacial activity in the area.  The result is fantastic bubbly!

Birthday girl in Franciacorta
Birthday girl in Franciacorta

We visited  Il Mosnel winery there. This house traces its history back to the 16th century and the cellars from that time are still used today.  Mosnel has only relatively recently transitioned from still production of red wines to sparkling production of Franciacorta.  We sampled every release and variety of their product and had a great time doing so!  Each sip was better than the last and we left with arms full of bottles to bring back to the hotel.

Cheers to Il Mosnel!
Cheers to Il Mosnel!
Exploring the ancient cellars..
Exploring the ancient cellars..
Our private tasting begins..
Our private tasting begins..

The Brunch!

After getting tipsy on Fraciacorta, we were happy to have a driver to take us to Uva Rara for a lovely lunch.  It was a fabulous meal!  Even better, the menu was pre-planned just for us with matching wines for each course.

 

The Borghetto!

After lunch, our driver took us to the lovely village of Borghetto located near lake Garda.  The small village has the River Mincio running right through the center of town.  It is such a beautiful setting with lots of medieval style houses and watermills that are still in operation with the strong current flowing in the river.  Visiting Borghetto really is like stepping into a fairy tale.  We enjoyed a bottle of our Franciacorta in a tree-lined park along the river and watched the people stroll by and the ducks struggling hard to swim in the river’s strong current.  The weather was gorgeous and we were even treated to a concert from a traditional village band.

Enjoying the shade in Borghetto.
Enjoying the shade in Borghetto.
Sitting along the River Mincio
Sitting along the River Mincio
Birthday girl in Borghetto
Birthday girl in Borghetto
And the band played on...
And the band played on…

 

 

It was the perfect birthday celebration!!

A Visit to the Veneto

Pirate near Soave Castle
Pirate near Soave Castle

Soave and Illasi..

We had a fantastic time visiting the Veneto region of Italy.  The Veneto is in the northeastern corner of Italy and includes the romantic cities of Venice and Verona, both of which we stayed in as a base to explore the rest of the region.  The Veneto is home to some of the best wines in the entire country including Valpolicella, Amarone, Soave, Franciacorta and Prosecco.  The food of this region is also fabulous with specialties including Asiago cheese, Sopressa, Prosciutto, Olive Oils and much more.   To ensure that we hit all of the best spots, we booked a private chauffeured wine and gourmet tour with  Cellar Tours Italy.  Simona, our trusted point of contact, put together a very special itinerary and handled all of the details.  We had a fabulous driver take us to each place and never had to worry about getting lost or holding back on having one more glass of wine!  Everything was perfect!  We cannot recommend Simona and Cellar Tours highly enough.

The first wine area we visited in the Veneto was Soave.  Soave is known for its crisp white wines made from the Garganega grape.  Unfortunately, in the US, Soave wine has a bad reputation as the only kind most people are familiar with is the mass produced and mediocre-at-best, grocery store wine Bolla Soave.  It is too bad that more Soave wines are not imported into the US, because they can be fantastic.

Entrance to Coffele Wine Estate
Entrance to Coffele Wine Estate

Soave is also the name of the tiny town we visited, surrounded by medieval walls and dominated by an imposing castle.  We had a private tasting arranged at the Coffele family wine estate.   We were greeted by Chiara Coffele who gave us the tour around the facility and told us the history of her family’s business and how they go into wine-making.   We were then graciously welcomed into the home of her father Guiseppe, the founder of Coffele Wines.  We were treated to a large spread of cheeses, meats and breads and given a taste (or more) of every wine they produce.  They were all spectacular.  Our favorites were the Ca Visco Soave Classico and the Nuj Rosso del Veneto.

Cajun and Karyn at Guiseppe's table.
Cajun and Karyn at Guiseppe’s table.
Pirate all smiles with the spread at Coffele
Pirate all smiles with the spread at Coffele

 

Soave wines from Coffele
Soave wines from Coffele

After the tasting, it was time for lunch at Lo Scudo restaurant right in the heart of Soave with a view of the imposing castle walls.  The food was wonderful, many courses, many more bottles of Soave.

Karyn at Lo Scudo
Karyn at Lo Scudo
Desert at Lo Scudo
Desert at Lo Scudo

 

Just when we felt that we could not eat or drink another bit, we were whisked off on a scenic drive to the town of Illasi.  Our destination was the Bonamini Olive Oil Estate where a private tour and tasting was arranged for us.  We were greeted by the owner Sabrina who gave us a tour of the facility and her crops.  Then it was time for a tasting.  Wow was it delicious!  So good in fact that we bought a case of their olive oil and shipped it home.  We now know what we had been missing all these years and vow to never use another brand of olive oil again.

Bonamini Olive Oils
Bonamini Olive Oils

 

Pirate tasting the olive oil.
Pirate tasting the olive oil.

 

 

Azienda Agricola Coffele, Soave.

http://www.oliobonamini.com/eng/dove.php

 

 

Magical Tuscany! When can we move here?

 Cajun Under the Tuscan Sun!
Cajun Under the Tuscan Sun!

We love Tuscany!  Out of all of the places we have visited in Italy, I think that Tuscany would be our favorite.  We can actually see ourselves living here one day.  The combination of fantastic food and wine, gorgeous landscapes, wonderful climate and kind and loving people make it so special.  We have traveled up and down the Tuscan hills to many tiny towns; many mom and pop restaurants; many fantastic family-run wineries- all have been amazing and memorable.  We were fortunate enough to book the best guide of all to show us his home and take us to all of his favorite places.  Roberto with Papillion Tours is the best!   While we only intended to book him for one day to drive us to Tuscan wineries so we could sample the goods and not have to worry about driving, we ended up booking him again and again and now consider him a friend.  It makes all of the difference in the world to have a passionate local show you the land they love and introduce you to its people, its food and its history!

Here are some of the highlights of our tours of Tuscany:

First course of our Bolgheri feast
First course of our Bolgheri feast

Bolgheri:  a quaint medieval town that has some of the best wine shops and taverns in the world.  Bolgheri is known for its unique production of the Super Tuscan variety of wine.  Bolgheri was only relatively recently put on the international wine map (1974)when it beat out traditional and world renowned French Bordeaux wines in a blind taste test with its now famous wine Sassicaia (at the time only 6 years old!).  Super Tuscan wines are made with grapes not traditionally grown in Italy (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc).  But, a micro-climate exists in this small Tuscan area that allows these types of grapes to thrive.   The result is complex and full-bodied wine in the old world style that rival those from the oldest and best houses in France.

Cajun with all of the Campo alla Sughera wines we tasted.
Cajun with all of the Campo alla Sughera wines we tasted.

We visited Campo alla Sughera winery to see first-hand how Super Tuscans are made and to sample all they had to offer.  Of course, we bought lots of their bottles and left giddy and ready for the next stop which was lunch!   Lunch was at the wonderful tavern of Enoteca Tognoni in the town center of Bolgheri.  The walls of the tavern were lined from floor to ceiling with all of the types of locally produced Tuscan wines.  You simply had to go to the wall and pick what you wanted to drink.  We plucked three bottles of fantastic wine from the shelves and settled in for a feast.  It was awesome!

Pirate at the wine tasting.
Pirate at the wine tasting.

Volterra:  A beautiful village set high up above the Tuscan countryside.  Built by the Etruscans (2,500 years ago), it is dominated by the Piazza dei Priori clocktower.  It also boasts a pretty gruesome torture museum which we skipped in favor of finding more delicious wine tavernas.  Volterra was visually stunning and offered expansive views from everywhere you looked.

Cajun and Karyn in Volterra
Cajun and Karyn in Volterra
Window shopping in Volterra
Window shopping in Volterra
Pirate in Volterra Enoteca
Pirate in Volterra Enoteca
What a view!
What a view!

 

Siena:  This could be the most beautiful city in Tuscany (although they are all beautiful).  What stands out about Siena are the gorgeous Siena Cathedral and the famous Piazza del Campo.  The Cathedral is in the gothic style and was built in the 1200s.  Perhaps only the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona rivals its ornateness and beauty.  Unique about the Siena Cathedral is its interior which is strikingly done in black and white marble stripes.  It was truly magnificent.

Siena Cathedral
Siena Cathedral

 

Interior of Cathedral in black and white marble
Interior of Cathedral in black and white marble

The Piazza del Campo is the central town circle (it is not a square, but a circle).  All along the circle are al fresco bars and restaurants.  In the center, locals congregate and treat it as a park, bringing picnic lunches and blankets.  In the summer is the famous Il Palio horserace around the circle.  Each of the town’s distinct neighborhoods put up a horse and rider and compete for the title.  We were not there for the race, but it would have been something to see- next time.  Instead, we enjoyed a bottle of wine at an enoteca along the circle and enjoyed the view.

Siena's Campo del Piazza
Siena’s Campo del Piazza
Lunch at Osteria Nona Gina.  The best meal ever!!
Lunch at Osteria Nona Gina. The best meal ever!!
A bottle of wine on the Piazza.
A bottle of wine on the Piazza.

 

San Gimignano: A beautiful medieval town known for its preserved 76 watchtowers protecting the city. We wandered the narrow cobblestone streets and felt as we stepped back in time.  This town is also home to an award-winning gelato establishment.  We indulged in giant cones of its gelato and agree that it was the best we have ever had.

Beautiful views from San Gimignano
Beautiful views from San Gimignano
World's best gelato!
World’s best gelato!

 

Tuscany is such a magical place that it deserves a blog post on just its food, another on just its wine, another on each town.  In fact, it deserves its own blog period (which I am sure someone already has established!).  We can’t wait to return.  Pirate also was introduced by Roberto to a fabulous rum shop there (who would have imagined in the land of wine there would be another pirate at heart).  We are coming back soon Roberto!!!

Picture Perfect Portugal.

Pirate in front of Praca do Comercio
Pirate in front of Praca do Comercio

Lisbon is a fantastic city for soaking up sites and relaxing by the waterfront.   We enjoyed pitchers of Sangria while sitting along the Tagus River and admiring the view of the 25 de Abril Bridge. The bridge is an enormous suspension bridge that looks much like the Golden Gate Bridge.  The weather was beautiful and there were musicians in the square keeping us entertained.  What a way to spend the afternoon!

We also enjoyed seeing the beautiful historic limestone buildings along the Praco do Comercio, the Belem Tower, the Cristo Rei statue overlooking the Tagus, the expansive and beautiful Rossio Square and the gothic Eledor de Santa Justa.

A picture perfect day in a picture perfect city!

Sangria in the Square
Sangria in the Square
Elevador de Santa Justa
Elevador de Santa Justa
Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
Ponte 25 de Abril bridge
Cajun all smiles in Lisbon
Cajun all smiles in Lisbon
Sunset on the Tagus River
Sunset on the Tagus River

 

 

 

 

Vive La France! Cannes, Cap D ’Antibes, St. Paul-de-Vence and Marseilles.

Swinging Suspended Art in St. Paul-De-Vence
Swinging Suspended Art in St. Paul-De-Vence

Oh la la! We visited several spots along the French Riviera this past year and all were gorgeous and tres chic.

Our first stops were Cannes and Cap D’Antibes.  There we witnessed where the truly wealthy Europeans come to play.  The yachts in the harbor were many and massive.  The shops were exclusive and their staff appropriately snobby.  Not our cup of tea, but we did enjoy the fantastic outdoor farmers market where we sampled all sorts of French delicacies and warmed ourselves with amazing cafés and croissants.

Christmas decorations in the streets of Cannes
Christmas decorations in the streets of Cannes

On to our favorite French spot, St. Paul-de-Vence, an artsy village perched high on a hill with outstanding views of the Cote D’Azur.  St. Paul is a tiny, well preserved medieval village with winding, narrow and steep stone pathways, old buildings and ramparts.  You can really feel the history oozing out of its pores.  We were fortunate to be visiting during the off season because in the busy summer the small streets are packed wall to wall with tourists.  We were lucky that it was only us and a few others wandering around.  Another interesting characteristic of St. Paul is that it is a true artist’s paradise. In fact, Chagall once lived in St. Paul.   Every other storefront in this tiny town is an art gallery with creations of every type, mostly modern and eclectic.  It was fun browsing and seeing all the odd things an artistic mind can create.

Pirate takes a break in town square of St. Paul
Pirate takes a break in town square of St. Paul
Cajun in the empty streets of St. Paul
Cajun in the empty streets of St. Paul

 

Graves with a view.
Graves with a view.
Flowers in bloom in St. Paul
Flowers in bloom in St. Paul

 

Cajun with the odd art..
Cajun with the odd art..

 

Our final French city was Marseilles.  We visited this busy port town and did a little shopping and then found a café on the harbor front and had a great lunch.  Magnifique!

Al fresco lunch in Marseille
Al fresco lunch in Marseilles

 

A Votre Sante!
A Votre Sante!
Les Poissons et Frites!
Les Poissons et Frites!

 

Beautiful Barcelona!

 Sagrada Familia from afar.
Sagrada Familia from afar.

We visited the beautiful city of Barcelona this year and enjoyed walking the streets and soaking up the sites.  One of the highlights was getting to see the impressive Sagrada Familia.  Designed by Antoni Gaudi in the Gothic style, the church is still a work in progress as evidenced by the many scaffolds erected around its façade.  The ornate details are captivating.  It is simply too much to take in.  We enjoyed the view from afar the most.  It is worrisome that the construction of the new high speed train tunnel under the city and near the Sagrada may compromise the integrity of the structure in the future.

Pirate at the Sagrada Familia
Pirate at the Sagrada Familia

We also enjoyed visiting several other Gaudi buildings and designs including the Park Guell and the Casa Batllo which was a large home that looked like it was constructed of skulls and bones.. very pirate-like!  Gaudi’s curved stonework and colorful mosaics were gorgeous, but after all of that site-seeing we were ready for a more “local” type of experience so we went in search of good food and libations.

The skulls and bones of the Casa Batllo
The skulls and bones of the Casa Batllo

 

Cajun at Park Guell
Cajun at Park Guell

 

We scored some great paella, octopus and calamari at an outdoor café near the Ramblas.  We also found a spot that served outstanding sangria.   It was delicious!  It was  great to sit back and watch the crowds go by as we sipped our sangrias in the sun.  Maravilloso!

Pirate smiles on Los Ramblas
Pirate smiles on Los Ramblas

 

Sangria Time!
Sangria Time!

 

A little octopus and squid does the body good!
A little octopus and squid does the body good!
More Paella Please!
More Paella Please!