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Paul Klein

Madrid & Barcelona with Virtuoso, by Caroline Chandra

CC Alfonsa room CC Seville lobbyArrived from Chicago via Madrid on Iberia flight to Seville. First time flying Iberia. Great flight even though on coach with my status left opened the seat next to me!  Seville situated in Andalusia, south of Spain.

Checked in Alfonso XIII, hotel is looking really good. I was upgrade to Executive Deluxe Suite. Hotel Alfonso XIII in the heart of Seville. A 1929 landmark renovated in 2012, it symbolizes the city’s Moorish influences and provides access to the renowned Santa Cruz quarter and Guadalquivir River.

Room was not ready upon check-in. I took a stroll just outside the hotel by the cathedral and board a nice 45 minute carriage ride around the highlights of Seville.

CC Carriage ride

After half day tour of Seville along with a river cruise. Tour sites visited Macarena Church, Seville Bullring, 1992 Universal Exhibition buildings, Royal Gardens and of course Scenic boat trip along the Guadalquivir River.

Highly recommend El Tablao Flamenco, the flamenco is a music and dance style which was originated in Andalusia. It is the result of the fusion of vocal music, the art of dance and the musical accompaniment, named sing, dance and touch, respectively. Other influences, either direct or indirect have made it what it is today.

CC Dance Flamanca

The next day we took a full day tour of Granada.  It is a 2 hours 45 mins drive form Barcelona. Main site to explore on my list was the LA ALHAMBRA – GRANADA’S JEWEL, on foot ( 4 hour tour!!). It is the most important Moorish civic building. All the refinement, wealth and delicacy of Islamic art and architecture reached their climax in the south of Spain in this unique building which is a fortress, residence and a royal city all in one and which extends to the gardens of the Generalife. Now a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 9184. it represents the rich and luxurious Muslim tradition based on splendid decoration, one of the most outstanding elements of the construction. The Generalife was the summer residence of the Nazari sultan Muhammad II and his orchard supplied the palace. It also featured a recreation area for the royal family.

In the same complex PARADOR DE GRANADA a luxury hotel in what was once a convent built by the Catholic kings on the foundations of a Nazari palace. Sleeping inside the Alhambra is a luxury that us hard to surpass.

CC Parador de Granada CC Parador fountain

OTHER RECOMMEND HOTELS IN SEVILLE –

  • CORAL DEL REY – located in the center of Seville in the old quarter of barrio Alfalfa just minutes from the Cathedral, the original 17th Century Casa Palacio has been meticulously restored and converted into small private luxury boutique hotel.
  • HACIENDA DE SAN RAFAEL – once a thriving olive estate, has been meticulously restored and converted into a luxury hideaway striking the perfect between rustic charm and modern sophistication.
  • OTHER RECOMMEND HOTELS IN GRANADA-
  • Hotel Alhambra Palace
  • Melia Granada Hotel
  • Palacio Santa Paula Autograph

The following day I took the train to Madrid – Rail Europe 1st Class.  Train station was 10 minutes from the hotel.  I did have to go through a luggage screening before boarding the train. Full breakfast was served in 1st Class. Scenic train high speed ride to Madrid was very comfortable.

Group meeting at Hotel Ritz lobby followed by a city tour of Madrid and private tour of Museum Prado. We had several agents from Made from Spain with us. They ALL joined us throughout our trip which was a great way to connect and introduce ourselves.

Accommodations at Ritz, Madrid – HOTEL RITZ MANDARIN, soon to go through an extensive renovation.  The hotel overlooks the Buen Retiro Park, this luxurious hotel and former royal palace is also 7 minutes from Museo del Prado and 2.7 km from Plaza Mayor… excellent location!

The next morning I went on a guided city tour which included the Madrid Royal Palace and an exclusive private tour of Prado Museum, one of the finest art collections in the world.

I visited the Hotel InterContinental Madrid for a site-inspection followed by a kitchen visit to see how Paella is made. We were served with a vegetarian and seafood Paella for lunch along with a wide variety of other amazing Spanish dishes.

Later that day I had dinner at the Hotel Westin Palace.  During my site inspection, I decided it was by far the least of my favorite.  This hotel has a very busy lobby, the rooms were ok at best! But you can’t beat the location.

The following morning I was off to Barcelona.   The former Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in the neighborhood of El Guinardó, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, is a complex built between 1901 and 1930, designed by the Catalan modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau came into being in 1401 with the merging of the six hospitals in the city of Barcelona at that time. Santa Creu, the Hospital of the Holy Cross, as it was called in CC Church of Colonia Guellthose days, was right in the centre of the city, in what is now the Raval district, in one of the most important examples of Catalan Civil Gothic architecture. By the late nineteenth century, due to the rapid growth of Barcelona’s population and advances in medicine, the hospital became too small, and it was decided to construct a new building. Thanks to the bequest of the Catalan banker Pau Gil, the first stone of the new hospital, designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, was laid on 15 January 1902, though the new facilities would not be opened until 1930. After eighty years of healthcare activity in the Modernista complex, in 2009 the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau moved to new premises built in the north-east of the precinct, thus commencing a new era for the historic pavilions of Domènech i Montaner.

The Church of Colònia Güell is an unfinished work by Antoni Gaudí. It was built as a place of worship for the people in a manufacturing suburb in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, near Barcelona. Colònia Güell was the brainchild of Count Eusebi de Güell.

CC inside church CC ChurchCC hotel W

The path through the industrial Colonia captivates tourists because of its charm and the tranquility this vestige of the Modernist era inspires through the palpable 19th century atmosphere kept alive between its streets and buildings. Currently, an important piece of historic and artistic heritage remains in the Colonia Güell.

Today I had lunch at the Hotel W.  I saw a couple of rooms only during my site inspection. The views from any of their rooms are breath-taking.  It was interesting CC Hotel Vela to see how their area will develop in the next few years.  There is also a  new luxury marina that is being built behind the hotel: Marina Vela.

Hotel Arts views are stunning.

CC hotel arts barcelona night CC hotel arts barcelona night rooftop

The farewell dinner at the Hotel Arts was amazing and it was time to say good bye to my travel companions.CC farewell dinner Hotel Arts

 

 

 

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