Sunday, October 9, 2011


(does not include Andalusia, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Catalonia (including Barcelona), Extremadura, Galicia, city of Madrid, Mallorca, La Rioja, or Valencia)

GuiasMonasterios –; lists monasteries (that provide accommodations to secular travelers) across country, by region and town; in Spanish, so look for words like hospedaje, hospedaria, and residencia.
Heritage Tours Private Travel – 121 West 27th Street, Suite 1201 (New York, NY); 212-206-8400 or 800-378-4555;; operated by Joel Zack; can arrange tours throughout country; can focus on Jewish heritage.
Homeaway, Inc. – 1011 West 5th Street, Suite 300 (Austin, TX); 512-782-0805 or 877-228-3145;; lists rental properties throughout world, with good Spain selections.
Made for Spain – 4-1D Antonio Flores or 7 Plaza de las Salesas (Madrid); 011-34-914-487-275 or 310-7070;; often works with American clients; can arrange everything from shopping spree led by Lorenzo Caprile (among Princess Letizia’s designers) to cooking lesson in chef’s home.
ServiCaixa –; La Caixa Bank service accessible from any La Caixa ATM; partnership with TicketMaster; can obtain tickets to wide variety events and locations, from Sagrada Familia in Barcelona to most cultural and sports events.
Top-Tour-of-Spain –; from affordable half- and one-day sightseeing trips, to economic, multi-day tours encompassing several cities, to luxury/privatised Spanish tours.

Sights & Sites
Las Salinas de Torrevieja – Calle Múnera (drive to Calle de las Lavandores, park there, walk towards lake (100-150 m);; very pink color caused by algae that releases red pigment under certain conditions; salinity level is very high, so you can float; mud is in abundance; best time to visit is from June-September; no infrastructure.

Sights & Sites
Cabo de Gato-Nijar Natural Park – Paraje de Las Amoladeras (Almería-Cabo de Gata, km 7); 011-34-950-160-435;; among Mediterranean’s least touched coastal environs; hike well-marked;7.5 mile San Pedro-El Plomo-Agua Amarga trail.
Museo Refugio de la Guerra Civil – Plaza Manuel Perez Garcia; 011-34-950-268-696;

Hotel Hiberus – 2 Calle del Puente; 011-34-876-542-008;
NH Ciudad de Zaragoza – 125 Avenida Cesar Augusto; 011-34-976-442-100;

Bodegas Almau – 9 Calle Estebanes; 011-34-976-299-834;; beautiful with outdoor tables.
La Cueva en Aragon – 16 Calle Libertad; 011-34-976-204-645; tapas; serves nothing to eat but mushrooms, freshly cooked and stacked up on bread.

Sights & Sites
Torre del Agua – 101 Avenida de Ranillas;; designed by Enrique de Teresa and constructed of concrete, steel and glass; transparent structure erected in droplet-of-water shape over big, 3-story basement.

El Habana – La Pereda; 011-34-985-402-526;; cozy; closed December 14th-March 14th.
Hotel Sablon – 1 Playa del Sablon; 011-34-985-401-987;; cozy; closed December 14th-February 2nd.
Casa Buj – 13 Calle Mercaderes; 011-34-985-401-072;; cheese.

Casa Gaspar – 6 Calle de Lopez Muñiz; 011-34-985-860-676.

El Puerto de Santa Maria
Bars & Nightclubs
Bodega Gutierrez Colosia – 40 Avenida Bajamr; 011-34-956-852-852;; for sherry palo cortado (“cut stick”); bodega sits along Guadelete River, few blocks off Cadiz Bay; arrange visit so owner can explain sherry-making process and significance of palo cortado.
Bodega Obregon – 51 Zarza; 011-34-956-856-329;; rare bar in that there is no bar; simply tall room, lined with bullfighting posters, and filled with barrels and few seats; for palo cortado.
Aponiente – 6 Calle Puerto Escondido; 011-34-956-851-870;; 22-seat restaurant owned chef, Angel Leon; specializes in sustainable seafood; 1 Michelin star.

Sanlucar de Barrameda
Bars & Nightclubs
Hidalgo-La Gitana – 42 Calle de la Banda de la Playa; 011-34-956-385-304;; for palo cortado.

Vejer de la Frontera (includes La Muela)
El Palmar – 15km out of Vejer; sandy, wide beach with restaurant or 2 to choose from.
Casa la Siesta – Camino de los Parralejos; 011-34-956-232-003;; new-build with charm and elegance of 100s years proof is in perfection, from perfect dinners and lavender-scented landscape, to finely tuned music and romantic bedrooms; 7 rooms include 4 suites and self-catering casita; free WiFi, gardens, bikes to borrow, stables and book/CD library; in rooms, preloaded iPod and REN bath products; heated pool in garden overlooking green hills and distant wind turbines; no restaurant, but owners lay on table d’hôte 5 times weekly; breakfast is served between 9-11 am, lunch between 12-3 pm, and dinner from 8:3-midnight; light bites can be brought up to your room from noon until 7 pm.
V Boutique – 11-13 Calle del Rosario; 011-34-956-45175;; situated in beautiful hilltop village, affording surrounding countryside and windswept beach views (as well as Moroccan skyline across water); stunning, 17th Century mansion with Moorish charm; 12 rooms; airy rooms are decorated in riotous color schemes and furnished with idiosyncratic antique and modern furniture mix; levante winds occasionally sweep down from north; many area beaches are completely unspoilt; no restaurant but salads and tapas, making use of fresh seafood and local produce, available in courtyard or on roof terrace; also, no bar as such, though guests often congregate on sofas in cozy saloon, where they can get drinks from honesty bar and relax to soft music.
La Casa del Califa – 16 Plaza de España (in medieval quarter); 011-34-956-447-730;; North African-inspired cuisine among vaulted stone cellars and peaceful gardens.
Restaurante Patria – 48 Patría (La Muela); 011-34-956-448-463;; small but frequently changing menu and wide Spanish wine selection.
Ventapinto – Calle de Vejer (La Barca); 011-34-956-450-069;; typical Andalusian restaurant.
Sights & Sites
Conil –; village notable for protected cove beaches at looming cliff bottom.

La Gomera Island
Rural Ibo Alfaro – Calle de Ibo Alfaro (Hermigua); 011-34-922-880-168;; 150 year-old manor house; 17 rooms; no pool or room service; ask for Viñatico Suite.

Gran Canaria
Seaside Grand Hotel Residencia – 32 Avenue del Oasis (Maspalomas); 011-34-928-723-100;; set in 1K year-old palm grove; just steps from beach and dunes; 7 2-story villas in distinctive Spanish and Moorish architecture, designed by well known French designer and architect Alberto Pinto; all rooms and suites feature wooden balconies and terraces.

El Hierro
Punta Grande – Lugar Las Puntas (Frontera); 011-34-922-559-081;; quirky; 4 rooms in 1884 building made of black pumice on lava spit that reaches out into Atlantic Ocean; ask for Room 2.

La Palma
La Casona de Argual – 6 San Pedro (Los Llanos de Aridane); 011-34-922-401-816; dating from 1732; 4 rooms with balconies overlooking garden.
La Casona de Argual – 6 San Pedro (Los Llanos de Aridane); 011-34-922-401-816; dating from 1732; traditional Spanish food.
Segundo Muelle – 227 Calle Leon y Castillo; 011-34-928-292-214;; international chain (other countries are Ecuador, Panama, and Peru); seafood dishes.

Tenerife Island
Hotel San Roque – 32 Esteban de Ponte (Garachico); 011-34-922-133-435;; 17th Century mansion with 20 rooms; small pool and service (everyone speaks English) is excellent.
Sights & Sites
Auditorio de Tenerife – 1 Avenida de la Constitución (Santa Cruz De Tenerife); 011-34-922-568-600;; Calatrava-designed auditorium.
Masca – white-washed hamlet.
Pico del Teide – desolate volcanic peak (and Spain’s highest mountain).
Taganana – tiny coastal village beneath hills thick with dates and oranges.

Almagro Parador – 31 Ron da San Francisco; 011-34-92-686-0100;; reconstructed 15th Century Franciscan convent; guests sleep in former nuns’ cells.

Hotel Convento del Giraldo – 12 Calle de San Pedro; 011-34-969-232-700;; still home to cloistered nuns on carefully blocked off 2nd floor.
Parador de San Pablo – Subida a San Pablo; 011-34-969-232-320;; exquisitely restored 16th Century convent.
Manolo de la Osa – 49 General Borrero (at Ars Natura); 011-34-967-161-089;; inside museum’s sleek pavilion; 11-course tasting menu; amazing Old Town views.
Sights & Sites
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Gracia – Plaza Mayor; 011-34-969-224-626;; gothic, Norman cathedral; beautifully preserved.
Museo Ars Natura – Calle Rio Gritos, 5 Cerro Molina; 011-34-969-271-700;; natural history museum consisting of glass, sleek pavilions.
Museo de Arte Abstracto Español – Canonigos; 011-34-969-212-983;; home to Fernando Zobel’s private collection, as well as more recently acquired works; administered by Juan March Foundation.
Museo de la Semana Santa de Cuenca – 13 Calle Andres de Cabrera; 011-34-969-221-956;; museum dedicated to holy week parades and their history.
Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site; famous for casas colgadas or “hanging houses” – homes perching precariously on cliff edges; many house museums.

Toledo (includes Oropesa)
Valdepalacios – km 9, Corta de Oropesa a Puenta del Arzobispo; 011-34-92-545-7534;
Sights & Sites
Alcazar – 2 Cuesta de Carlos V; 011-34-92-522-3038;; Charles V’s fortified palace; stands on former Muslim, Roman, and Visigoth fortress site.
Iglesia de Santo Tome – 4 Plaza Conde; 011-34-92-525-6098;; built in 12th Century; tower among Spain’s finest Mudejar architecture examples; El Greco’s Burial of Count Orgaz portrays church’s benefactor’s burial with St. Augustine’s and St. Stephen’s posthumous assistance; El Greco included lifelike portraits of people he knew; self-portrait is 3rd from left, looking out at viewer immediately above St. Stephen’s head; Andres Nuñez, parish priest and El Greco’s friend on extreme right; El Greco’s son appears as young page at front left (El Greco’s signature appears on handkerchief in boy’s pocket).
Museo de Santa Cruz – 3 Calle Miguel de Cervantes; 011-34-92-522-1036;; 16th Century Gothic & Plateresque style combination; carved wooden ceilings & cloisters, Spanish ceramics; upstairs is atmospheric cruciform gallery that contains archaeological display, Flemish religious art, numerous El Grecos, crucifixion attributed to Goya, flag from Battle of Lepanto & 15th Century Tapestry of Astrolabes.
Toledo Cathedral – 1 Cardenal Cisneros; 011-34-92-522-2241;; Primate of All Spain’s Seat; among Europe’s most important Gothic buildings; among most important artworks are Goya’s Arrest of Christ, El Greco’s 12 Apostles and Spoliation of Christ, & Caravaggio’s John the Baptist (1598).

Sights & Sites
Museo Histórico Arqueológico De Almedinilla Córdoba – A339 (Km 37); 011-34-957-703-317 or 011-34-606-972-070;; Roman ruins.

Restaurante de la Calle – 85 Antigua Carretera de Andalucia; 011-34-918-910-807;; 30 miles south of Madrid; Castilian classics (oxtail stew, creamy rice pudding) and fresh vegetables.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial
Sights & Sites
El Escorial – 1 Calle Juan de Borbón y Battemberg; 011-34-918-905-902;; huge granite fortress housing painting and tapestry collection; also serves as Spanish kings’ burial place; took 21 years to complete (remarkably short time considering size); original architect, Juan Bautista de Toledo, replaced upon death by Juan de Herrera, Renaissance Spain’s greatest architect, who completed it; King Philip II, who collected many paintings exhibited, did not appreciate El Greco and favored Titian, instead, but 2 El Greco works worth seeing are Martyrdom of St. Maurice & St. Peter; other superb works include Titian’s Last Supper and Velázquez’s Tunic of Joseph; Royal Library houses priceless 60K volume collection (among world’s most significant), including St. Teresa’s handwriting sample to medieval instructions on playing chess; see, in particular, Muslim codices and Gothic Cantigas from 13th Century reign of Alfonso X (“Wise”); can visit Philip II Apartments (strictly monastic, which he called “cell for my humble self” in this “palace for God” (Philip became religious fanatic and had his bedroom erected overlooking 295' high basilica’s altar, which has 4 organs and whose dome is based on Michelangelo’s drawings for St. Peter’s; choir contains crucifix by Cellini; by comparison, Throne Room is simple but worth seeing because on walls are many ancient maps; Bourbon Kings’ Apartments lavishly decorated; under church’s altar is extravagantly regal mausoleum, Royal Pantheon, where most of Spain’s monarchs buried (from Charles I to Alfonso XII, including Philip II); in 1993, Barcelona Count Don Juan de Borbón (and King Juan Carlos’ father) interred nearby; on lower floor is “Wedding Cake” tomb for children; allow at least 3 hours for visit.

Sights & Sites
Museo Nacional de Arqueologia Subacuatica (ARQUA) – 22 Paseo Alfonso XII; 011-34-968-121-166;; Spanish underwater heritage in 2 areas; 1st, explains methodology used in underwater excavations; 2nd, depicts Iberian Penisula through dynamic Mediterranean trade history from antiquity to 19th Century.
Museo Naval de Cartagena – Paseo Alfonso XII; 011-34-968-127-138;
Museo del Teatro Romano – 9 Palacio Pascual del Riquelme (Plaza del Ayuntamiento); 011-34-968-525-149;
MURAM – 15-16 Plaza de la Merced; 011-34-968-501-607;; regional modern art museum.
Museo-Refugio de la Guerra Civil – Calle Gisbert; 011-34-968-500-093;

Hotel NH Rincon de Pepe – 34 Apostoles; 011-34-968-212-239;; clean, comfortable, convenient, nice personnel; near Cathedral.
Hotel Silken Siete Coronas – 2 Paseo de Garay; 011-34-968-217-774;; lovely, modern, sleek.
La Pequena Taberna – General Margallo; 011-34-968-219-840;; good for lunch.
Restaurant Jota Ele – 6 Plaza Santa Isabel; 011-34-968-220-730; quaint and typically Spanish.
Sights & Sites
Sala Veronicas – Calle Veronicas; 011-34-968-221-668;; in renovated church.
Espacio AV – 14 Calle Santa Teresa; 011-34-96-893-0205;
Gallery T20 – 27 Calle Vitorio; 011-34-968-215-801;; modern art.
La Conservera – Avenida de Lorqui; 011-34-968-923-132;; contemporary arts center.

Lo Pagan
El Hijo del Rubio – 2 Explanada Reyes Catolicos (San Pedro del Pinatar); 011-34-968-181-807;; famous for caldero del Mar Menor.

Bars & Nightclubs
Marengo – 2 Avenida de Bayona; 011-34-948-265-542; big dance club.

Hotel Castillo de Javier – 50-52 San Nicolas; 011-34-948-203-040;; more affordable than Gran Hotel La Perla.
Gran Hotel La Perla – 1 Plaza del Castillo; 011-34-948-233-000;; recently renovated; ask to see Room 201 (where Hemingway stayed).

El Caballo Blanco – Calle Redin; 011-34-948-211-504; lighter fare in pleasant garden.
Café Iruña – 44 Plaza del Castillo; 011-34-948-222-064;; multi-course pinchos; Hemingway’s local haunt.

Sights & Sites
Cathedral de Santa Maria la Real – Calle Dormitaleria; 011-34-948-212-594;
Museo de Navarra – 47 Calle Santo Domingo; 011-34-948-426-492;

Arties (Val d’Aran)
Parador de Arties – Ctra. Baqueira-Beret; 011-34-973-640-801;; elegant hotel in government-run parador system; primarily ski resort; built around 16th Century Casa de Don Gaspar de Portolà (California colony founder); sweeping Pyrenees views; big enough to be festive but small enough for intimacy.
Parador de Arties – Ctra. Baqueira-Beret; 011-34-973-640-801;; specializes in Pyrenean soups and stews such as civet de jabalí (wild boar stew).
Tauernes Urtau – 12 Placa Urtau; 011-34-973-640-926;; closed Mondays; mind-boggling pinchos and tapas spread.

Baqueira-Beret (Val d’Aran)
Hotel Val de Neu – Calle Perimetrau; 011-34-973-635-000;; new; primarily ski resort.
Hotel Val de Ruda – Ctra. Baqueira-Beret; 011-34-973-645-811;; 35 small but tasteful rooms; extensive spa options; primarily ski resort; glass, wood, and stone refuge with friendly staff and oak- and pine-beam warmth for après-ski wining and dining.
Baqueira Central Reservations – 011-34-902-415-415; general Baquiera-Beret lodging bookings for entire Val d’Aran valley.

Gessa (Val d’Aran)
Casa Rufus – 8-10 Calle San Jaime; 011-34-973-645-246;; “valley cuisine,” which means, e.g., rabbit, steak with foie gras, trout, and venison.

Unha (Val d’Aran)
Casa Maria Adema – 3 Calle Santa Eulalia; 011-34-973-644-169; 1828 home where Senora Adema prepares hearty Aranese meals; same menu every night (olha Aranesa (Aranese stew), lamb chops, and steak).

Vielha (Val d’Aran)
Hotel Irene – 22 Calle Mayor; 011-34-973-644-364;; rustic haven with personal style; elegant and spacious rooms.
Bar Era Placa – 13-15 Avenida Castiero (Placa Dera Gleisa); 011-34-973-640-249; on town square; where skiers go apres-ski.
Casa Irene – 3 Calle Mayor; 011-34-973-644-364;; known for fine mountain cuisine with French influence; 3 tasting menus (expensive) and dishes such as poached foie gras in black truffles and roast wood pigeon with artichoke cream.

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