Sunday, April 21, 2013


Sights & Sites
Burana Tower – Balasagun (7 kms out of Tokmok);; 11th Century minaret; among 1st such buildings in Central Asia; original height 45 ms; today is 24.6 m (remaining portion came down during 15th Century earthquake; in 10th-12th Centuries, Karakhanids khanate was great Central Asian and Kazakhstani feudal state; founders, karakhans, chigil tribes, lived in Tien-Shan and, for short time durin 10th Century’s 2nd half, they conquered large territory; among their state’s capitals was Balasagun; Burana tower, mausoleums and other buildings found after archeological excavations are witnesses that time period.

Monday, April 15, 2013


ALICANTE (includes Cocentaina & Pinoso)
Hospes Amerigo – 7 Calle de Rafael Altamira; 011-34-965-146-570;; delightful boutique; contemporary.
Hotel Melia Alicante – 3 Plaza del Puerto; 011-34-965-205-000;; large, well-equipped property near beach and close to restaurants.
SHA Wellness Clinic – 5 Verderol; 011-34-96-681-1199;; strikingly beautiful setting.

L’Escaleta – 205 Pujada Estacio Nord (Cocentaina); 011-34-965-592-100;; contemporary restaurant with world-class wine list.
El Monastrell – 7 Calle de Rafael Altamira (at Hospes Amerigo); 011-34-965-146-575;; Alicante’s high cuisine seat; for aficionados; Catalan and Mediterranean dishes; local, organic produce; Iberian ham from acorn-fed pigs, saffron, and lemon oysters with cucumber and red tuna with lemongrass soup and rocket sprout are typical of the menu.
Nou Manolin – 3 Calle Villegas; 011-34-965-200-368;; institution; regional cooking based on best local ingredients.
Paco Gandia – 2 Calle San Francisco (Pinoso); 011-34-965-478-023;; try rice with rabbit and snails or gaspatxos (stews).
La Taberna del Gourmet – 10 Calle San Fernando; 011-34-965-204-233;; considered among Spain’s best tapas restaurant; friendly and lively.

Casa Canto – 237 Avenida Pais Valencia; 011-34-965-730-629;; hour’s drive up coast from Alicante; handsome place with great view and varied menu; strong on regional cuisine; try octopus puchero (2-course meal, starts with soup and then cooked octopus).

Hotel Ferrero – Carretera Ontinyent-Villena, km 16; 011-34-962-355-175;

Restaurant at Hotel Ferrero – Carretera Ontinyent-Villena, km 16 (at Hotel Ferrero); 011-34-962-355-175;

Quique Dacosta – 1 Carrer Rascassa; 011-34-965-784-179;; try “Oyster Guggenheim Bilbao” (single oyster, draped in edible titanium-silver alloy film to mimic museum) or “Animated Forest.”
Restaurante Miguel Juan – 39 Calle Loreto (Denia); 011-34-628-948-232; 1929 vintage, urban tavern; traditional local food with emphasis on seafood.

La Sirena – 14 Avenida Madrid; 011-34-965-371-718;; sophisticated seafood restaurant with lively tapas bar.

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Horchateria El Siglo – 2 Plaza de Santa Catalina; 011-34-963-918-466; Valencia famous for drink called horchata (chufa (tiger nut) juice), dating from Islamic period (8th-13th Century); pair with café cortado and farton (fluffy pastry finger dusted with powdered sugar).

Bars & Nightclubs
Bar los Picapiedra – 25 Calle de los Caballeros;; bohemians, miscellaneous walk-ins, and students guzzle cider out of large, spouted glass porrones, which look like watering cans.
Café Negrito – 1 Plaza Negrito; 011-34-963-914-233; for after-dinner drinks.
MYA – 5 Avenida Autopista del Saler; 011-34-963-319-745;; domed club underneath landscaped walkway leading to Principe Filipe Science Museum; Studio-54-meets-Imperial-Spain-meets-Jersey-Shore; starts around 1:00 a.m.
Slaughterhouse Books – 22 Denia (Russafa); 011-34-963-287-755;; former butchery (still has meathooks); now combination bar, bookshop, gallery, and performance space.

Hospes Palau de la Mar – 14 Navarro Reverter; 011-34-963-162-884;; design hotel built in adjoining 19th Century mansions; melds arches, detailed woodwork, and marble stairs with 66 minimalist-chic rooms.
Petit Palace Germanias – 14 Sueca; 011-34-963-513-638;; in 19th Century residence; comfortable 41-room boutique hotel in Russafa neighborhood.

Balansiya – 3 Paseo de las Facultades; 011-34-963-890-824;; out-of-way restaurant authentically recreating medieval, Moorish Valencia; exquisite décor; great prix fixe meals.
Carosel – 6 Taula de Canvis (Barrio del Carmen); 011-34-961-132-873;; chic but unpretentious restaurant; prix fixe menu is bargain; make sure to try assaffa (Andalusian pasta with chicken, cinnamon, and nuts), waraka inab (cereal-stuffed grape leaves in almond-mint vinaigrette), and xarab Andalusi (flower, fruit, herb, and spice drink).
L’Estimat – 16 Paseo de Neptuno; 011-34-963-711-018;; best paella; make sure to try paella Valenciana (made with chicken and rabbit).
Maipi – 1 Maestro Jose Serrano (Russafa); 011-34-963-735-709; small tapas restaurant; fills up in early afternoon; soccer fan favorite.
La Pepica – 6 Paseo de Neptuno; 011-34-963-710-366;; best known paella restaurant; on shore.

Bugalu – 6 Calle de la Lonja; 011-34-963-918-449;; accessories and clothing by French, Spanish, and Swiss designers, as well as international labels like Paul Frank.
Gnomo – 12 Denia (Russafa); 011-34-963-737-267;; design boutique.
Madame Bugalu y Su Caniche Asesino – 3 Danzas; 011-34-963-154-476;; accessories and clothing by French, Spanish, and Swiss designers, as well as international labels like Paul Frank.
Slaughterhouse Books – 22 Denia (Russafa); 011-34-963-287-755;; former butchery (still has meathooks); now combination bar, bookshop, gallery, and performance space.

Sights & Sites
L’Almoina – Plaza de Decimo Junio Bruto (Barrio del Carmen); 011-34-962-084-173;; museum focused on ancient Roman origins; visitors walk over glass floors through which can see ruins.
Barrio del Carmen – city’s creative center and oldest part; check out Plaza del Tossal for bars and tapas restaurants.
Cabanyal – decrepit seaside neighborhood; art nouveau buildings and huge, maritime tile murals.
City of Arts & Sciences – Avenida Autopista del Saler; 011-34-902-100-031;; buildings’ billowing, curved facades resemble everything from whale skeletons to giant eye’s upper half (completed by reflection in pool); make sure to visit L’Oceanografic, Valencia’s marine complex; designed by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela.
Jardin del Turia – Calle del Turia;; former river bed wholly converted into gardens.
Lonja de la Seda – Plaza del Mercado; 011-34-963-153-931;; 15th Century, late Gothic, silk exchange.
Mercado Central – 6 Plaza del Mercado (in Barrio del Carmen);; high-fashion party locale.
Russafa – city’s Muslim immigrant community center; alternative hub for artists and students.


Restaurante Asador San Roque – 2 Calle de San Roque; 011-34-94-118-2888;

Sights & Sites
Colegiata de San Miguel – Plaza de España; 011-34-94-118-0133;; built in 16th-17th Centuries; inside admirable reredoses, among which Main Reredos (Saint Michael image) by Gregorio Fernández, Central Reredos (Virgin of Rosary), Chapel of San Ildefonso (magnificent La Dolorosa image), and Chapel of San José (13th Century Gothic Christ); known for storks’ annual return and nesting (festival in February), creating largest colony in world.

Quesería Tres Puentes Anguiano – 13 Carretera de Lerma; 011-34-67-936-4696;; cheese.

Sights & Sites
Monastery de Santa Maria de Valvanera – 3 miles west of LR 113; 011-34-94-137-7044;; monastery’s name comes from Latin Vallis Venaria, which means “valley of veins of water”, because set in valley with springs, streams, and waterfalls; church visible today dates from 15th Century, but origins go back to Visigoth temple.

Sights & Sites
Dinastia Vivanco – 232 Carretera Nacional; 011-34-90-232-0001;; wine museum.

Venta Moncalvillo – 6 Carretera del Medrano; 011-34-94-144-4832;; superb; worth special trip for innovative, local cuisine.

Sights & Sites
Museo de Paleontologico – town center; 011-34-94-139-6080;; showcases local finds; there is also “Dinosaur Route”; follow signs to rocky area with many 3-toed prints.

Finca de los Arandinos – Carretera LR-137 (km 4-6); 011-34-94-144-6126;; countryside setting; built in concrete and glass; interior decorated in modern, playful style.

Tierra – Carretera LR-137 (km 4-6, at Finca de los Arandinos); 011-34-94-144-6126;; try pochas (white bean stew).

Mantas Ezcaray – 10 Calle González Gallarza; 011-34-94-135-4034;; wool products.

Restaurante Terente – 17 Calle Lucrecia Arana; 011-34-94-131-0023;; horno asado (restaurant specializing in roasts) since 1867; beloved by locals for roast suckling pig; service is discreet, food savory and succulent, dishes prepared according to traditional regional recipes; local peaches in season make best dessert.

Sights & Sites
Iglesia Parroquial de Santo Tomás – 5 Calle del Santo Tomás; 011-34-94-130-3801;; single-naved Renaissance and late Gothic church completed in 1564; intricately sculpted plateresque portal on south side and gilded baroque organ facade towering over choir loft.

Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Chocolateria Moreno – 612 Calle Peso; 011-34-941-222-029; hot chocolate and churros.

La Taberna de Baco – 12 San Agustin; 011-34-94-121-3544;; great tapas in seeming hole-in-wall; famous for ensalada.

Alejandro Sausages – 80 Calle Las Canas; founded in 1987 by Rituerto family; choricera.

Bars & Nightclubs
Bar Virginia – 1 Calle del Samaniego; 011-34-94-136-2585;; specializes in Riojanos Caprichos, elaborate miniature riojanos traditional dishes with creativity.

Sights & Sites
Monastery de Santa Maria La Real – Plaza de Santa María; 011-34-94-136-1083;; originally royal foundation; ceded by Alfonso VI to Cluniac order; important pilgrimage stop on Camino de Santiago; particularly well-known for church choir woodwork.

Sights & Sites
Suso Monastery – LR 421; 011-34-94-137-3082;; Suso is older building; believed to be built on hermitage site where Saint Emilian (Spanish: San Millán) lived; major claim to fame is as place where Basque and Spanish language phrases 1st written; uninhabited since Ecclesiastical Confiscations of Mendizábal in 19th Century.
Yuso Monastery – Calle Prestiño; 011-34-94-137-3049;; this monastery and Monastery de Suso are UNESCO-designated world heritage sites; 2 monasteries’ names Suso and Yuso (meaning “upper” and “lower,” respectively, in archaic Castilian); Yuso developed as Benedictine community; abandoned for some years in 19th Century, but then reoccupied; currently houses Augustinian community; monastery partly converted into hotel.

Casa Josephine – 8 Calle Concejo; 011-34-94-144-7166;
Casa Rural Hermedaña – 20 Iruela Street; 011-34-69-559-1734;; rustic, small.

Lola Barazoain Almazuelas – Finca el Molino de Sorzano; 011-34-94-144-7215;; Spanish quilts made in restored mill.

Hotel Viura – Plaza Mayor; 011-34-945-609-000;; affordable; architectural marvel (glass and reinforced concrete cubes, stacked off-kilter on top of one another); friendly staff.


Area de Trece – PR-G38 (Costa da Morte).

Puerto Arnela – Plaza del Carmen; 011-34-98-170-5477;; on waterfront; stone manor house with delightfully rustic rooms.

Puerto Arnela – Plaza del Carmen; 011-34-98-170-5477;; on waterfront; stone manor house; family-run, simple restaurant serves basics like grilled chicken and seafood.

Sights & Sites
Museo do Encaixe – Praza Insuela (by town hall); 011-34-98-173-6340; Camariñas area known for traditional encaixe (lacework) and this is its museum.

Meson O Barometro – 23 Calle de Manuel Fraga Iribarne; 011-34-981-420-295; Galician seafood.

Alborada – 25 Maritimo Alcalde Francisco Vasquez; 011-34-98-192-9201;; Michelin star.
As Garzas – Porto Barizo; 011-34-98-172-1765;; overlooks rocks and sea.
La Traida – 1 Calle de Torreiro; 011-34-981-229-321; Galician tapas.

Sights & Sites
Torre de Hercules – Avenida de Navarra; 011-34-98-122-3730;; world’s oldest lighthouse.

Bares Peninsula.

O Semaforo – Faro de Finisterre; 011-34-98-172-5869;; lovely hotel is actually restored lighthouse; spectacular views.

Sights & Sites
Lighthouse – Punta Laxe.

Restaurante Cabanas – 3 Pinto Laxeiro; 011-34-986-782-317; Galician food.

Hotel Semaforo de Bares – Porto de Bares; 011-34-98-141-7147;

Sights & Sites
Lighthouse – Punta de Barca.

Parador de Santo Estevo – Monasterio de Santo Estevo; 011-34-98-801-0110;; restored monastery makes good base for exploring eastern valleys.

Sights & Sites
Baixa-Limia Serra Do Xures Natural Park – OU 540; 011-34-988-448-048;

Casa do Castelo de Andrade – Lugar do Castelo de Andrade; 011-34-98-143-3839;; lovely, 300 year-old farmhouse.

Solla – 7 Avenida Sineiro; 011-34-98-687-2884;; Michelin star.

Sights & Sites
Lighthouse – Punta Roncudo.

Restaurante Casa Solla – 7 Avenida Sineiro (Pontevedra); 011-34-986-872-884;; among world’s top restaurants; order Iberico ribs with pea pods.

Hotel Pazo de Altamira – 18 Rua Altamira; 011-34-981-558-542;; 16 bright, modern rooms; affordable.
Parador Hostal Dos Reis Catolicos – 1 Praza do Obradoiro; 011-34-981-582-200;; in formter 15th Century hospital; opulent.

Abastos 2.0 – Rua Ameas (at Plaza de Abastos); 011-34-981-576-145;; tapas.
Casa Marcelo – 1 Rua Hortas; 011-34-981-558-580;; mod-rustic gourmet dining just down hill from Praza do Obradoiro; “mod” part includes menu on iPad; daily, different, 5-course creative feast; specialties include cockles with mango and pepper; kitchen in full view.
O Gato Negro – Rua Raina; 011-34-981-583-105;; Galician food; try percebes, steamed mussels (really barnacles).

Mercado de Abastos de Santiago – Praza de Abastos de Santiago; 011-34-981-583-438;; market.
Productos Casal Coton Chocolat – 51 Rua Franco; 011-34-981-888-246;; candies, chocolates, and liquors.

Sights & Sites
Catedral de Santiago de Compostela – Praza Praterias; 011-34-981-581-155;
City of Culture of Galicia – Monte Galas; 011-34-881-997-565;; cultural building complex designed by architect Peter Eisenman and office; buildings designed to look like rolling hills with high degree contours; nearly every window (Ks) on external façade has own custom shape; concept is “new peak” on Monte Gaiás, made of stony crust reminiscent of archaeological site divided by natural breaks that resemble scallops (Compostela’s traditional).


Atrio Restaurante Hotel – 1 Plaza de San Mateo 011-34-92-724-2928;; in walled, medieval city (3.5 hours from Madrid); 14 rooms designed to take advantage of breath-taking views; also, tremendous modern art collection.
Parador de Caceres – 6 Calle Ancha; 011-34-927-211-759;; 4 star, luxury hotel; 14th Century palace with lovely siena-colored patio; city’s most charming inn.

Atrio – 22 Avenida de Espana; 011-34-927-242-928;; 2 Michelin stars; lush formal décor; deeply flavored dishes; best wine list in Spain.
Meson San Juan – 3 Plaza de San Juan; 011-34-927-626-648; straightforward tapas in lively tavern atmosphere.

Sights & Sites
Real Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe – Guadalupe; 011-34-92-736-7000;; UNESCO World Heritage Site; origins in late 13th Century, when shepherd from Cáceres discovered Blessed Virgin statue on Guadalupe River bank, apparently hidden by local inhabitants from Moorish invaders in 714; chapel built on site; King Alfonso XI invoked Santa Maria de Guadalupe in Battle of Rio Salado; ascribed victory to Madonna’s intercession; in 1389, Hieronymite monks took over monastery; in 1474 Henry IV of Castile entombed; here, in Extremadura, that Christopher Columbus made 1st pilgrimage after discovering America in 1492; remained most important cloister in Spain until monasteries’ secularization in 1835; in 20th Century, revived by Franciscan Order; dominated by templo mayor, built by Alfonso XI and his immediate successors in 14th & 15th Centuries; square Santa Catalina chapel also 15th Century; known for ornate, 17th Century tomb cluster; 16th Century reliquaries chapel connects Santa Catalina with baroque sacristy (1638-47), lavishly decorated and boasting Zurbarán painting series; behind basilica is Camarin de la Virgen, octagonal baroque structure (1687-96) with impressive stuccoed Chamber of Virgin and 9 paintings by Luca Giordano (one showing Madonna with elephant); jewel of this profusely ornamented hall is throne containing statue that gave monastery its name; other notable structures include Mudéjar cloister (1389-1405), with magnificent Plateresque portal, late Gothic cloister from 1531-33, and new church, commissioned by Columbus descendant in 1730.

Hospederia del Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Guadalupe – 1 Plaza Juan Carlos; 011-34-927-367-000;; working monastery with austere but pleasant rooms.

Hospederia del Real Monasterio de Santa Maria de Guadalupe – 1 Plaza Juan Carlos; 011-34-927-367-000;; excellent food.

Restaurante Nardi – 19 Braulio Navas; 011-34-927-481-323; lighter, updated versions of regional classics.

TRUJILLO (includes Jerte)
Hotel-Spa Tunel del Hada – 10612 Jerte (Jerte); 011-34-927-470-000;; in village; cozy country inn with upscale touches and beautiful views.
NH Palacio de Santa Marta – 6 Ballesteros; 011-34-927-659-190;; tastefully renovated with modern amenities.

Meson La Troya – 10 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-927-321-364; centrally located restaurant featuring regional cuisine; white walls are decorated with ceramic plates, potted plants, and red tiles; devouring fixed-price menu, with more-than-ample portions; food items change daily; local dishes include prueba de cerdo (garlic-flavored pork casserole), carne con tomate (beef cooked in tomato sauce), and spit-roasted goat.
Restaurante Pizarro – 13 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-927-320-255; traditional Extremadura fare; next door to La Troya; quieter; menu includes dishes like chicken stuffed with truffles, and frito de cordero (lamb stew).

Zafra Parador – 7 Plaza Corazon de Maria; 011-34-92-455-4540;; 15th Century storybook castle with stone battlements, 9 looming towers, and original coats of arm in hallways.


Sights & Sites
Sima de los Huesos – Carretera Logroño 44 (Ibeas de Juarros, Burgos for Fundación Atapuerca); 011-34-94-725-7067;; Sima de los Huesos (means “bone pit”); more than 5.5K human bones dating back 350K years from about 28 skeletons of species Homo heidelbergensis.

AVILA (UNESCO World Heritage Site; includes Arevalo, El Barco de Ávila, Cardenosa, Guisando, Madrigal de las Altas Torres, Las Navas del Marqués & El Tiemblo)
Bars & Nightclubs
Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; tapas.

Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; 14 rooms available; simple, slightly ramshackle arrangements at moderate prices.
Parador Avila – 2 Marqués de Canales de Chozas; 011-34-92-021-1340;; gorgeous garden (with archaeological ruins); good restaurant; long walk to town (especially at night); largely rebuilt 16th Century medieval castle attached to massive town walls; guest rooms have terra-cotta tile floors, leather chairs, and 4-poster beds.
Palacio de los Velada – 10 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-025-5100;; beautifully restored, 16th Century palace; ideal spot if you like to relax between sightseeing; lovely interior patio; comfortable, elegantly decorated, modern rooms; major discounts for last-minute, midweek, or off-season stays.

Las Cancelas – 6 Calle de la Cruz Vieja; 011-34-92-021-2249;; locals flock here for tapas; can push through loud bar area to dining room; there, wooden tables heaped with combination platters of roast chicken, french fries, fried eggs, and chunks of home-baked bread; classic T-bone steak, chuletón de Ávila, is enormous; succulent cochinillo (roast piglet) bursts with flavor.
Restaurante El Molino de la Losa – 12 Calle Bajada de la Losa; 011-34-92-021-1101 or 011-34-92-021-1102;; sitting on Adaja River edge, boasts among best town wall views; 15th Century mill (working mechanism of which preserved, providing much distraction for those seated in animated bar; lamb roasted in medieval wood oven, and beans from nearby El Barco (judías de El Barco) are famous; garden has small playground for children.

Sights & Sites
Arévalo – off A-6 (at Avenida Emilio Romero);; La Moraña capitol (where Queen Isabella I of Castile raised); Spanish government has designated Historic-Artistic site due to its many Mudejar influences; castle worth special trip.
Avila Provincial Museum – 3 Plaza de Nalvillos (in Casa de los Deanes); 011-34-92-021-1003;; archaeology section includes artifacts and relics from Paleolithic through Middle Ages; fine arts collection features ceramics, Flemish paintings, and weaponry; annex at Church of Santo Tome Viejo.
El Barco de Ávila – N-110 (at AV-P 662); village worth special day trip; Valdecorneja Castle (12th Century, rebuilt in 14th Century), Church of Our Lady of Asuncion (14th Century), Casa del Reloj, Romanesque bridge, Hermitage of Santísimo Cristo del Caño, Hermitage of San Pedro de El Barco, and 12th Century walls.
Basílica de San Vicente – 4 Calle de San Vicente (Plaza de San Vicente, outside city walls, at northeast ramparts corner); 011-34-92-025-5230;; construction began in 12th Century and lasted until 14th; design attributed to French master Giral Fruchel; Cenotaph of Holy Brothers Martyrs (Cenotafio de los Santos Vicente, Sabina y Cristeta), 1 of Spain’s most important Romanesque sculptural works; Convent of Saint Joseph is 1st monastery of Discalced Carmelite nuns founded by Saint Teresa of Jesus; built in 1562, although most important architectural element, church, built in 1607.
Caprotti Museum – Calle Pintor Caprotti (Superunda Palace); dedicated to Guido Caprotti.
Castro de Cogotas – Cardenosa;,3; archaeological site named for 2 different archaeological cultures known from this site: Cogotas I (Late Bronze Age, pre-Celtic) & Cogotas II (most probably Iron Age Celtic).
Cathedral of Avila – 8 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-021-1641;; construction commenced in 1107 under Alvar Garcia de Estrella; transept finished in 1350 by Bishop Sancho de Ávila; Capilla Mayor features monumental altarpiece by Pedro Berruguete.
Convent & Museum de la Encarnación – Paseo De La Encarnacion (just outside medieval walls); 011-34-92-021-1212;; important pilgrimage stop; where St. Teresa lived, wrote, and had many mystical experiences; entered this Carmelite convent on November 2, 1535; lived there for 30 years, while reforming Carmelite order; left in 1562 to found her 1st monastery and returned in 1571 as prioress; left final time 1574; today, remains active convent but also houses public Museum; can visit monastic cell, tour other rooms associated with her, and see various items used or touched by her.
Convent & Museum of Santa Teresa – 2 Plaza de la Santa (2 blocks southwest of Plaza de la Victoria); 011-34-92-021-1030;; 17th Century baroque church and convent; St. Teresa’s birthplace; to convent’s right is tiny Sala de Reliquias, exhibiting some of her relics, including right-hand finger, sandal sole, and cord used to self-flagellate.
Ermita de San Segundo – Plaza de San Segundo; 011-34-92-035-3900;; 17th Century hermitage located west of town (outside city walls, on Adaja River’s right bank; well-preserved, alabaster St. Segundo statue by Juan de Juni.
Madrigal de las Altas Torres – Carretera Peñaranda (at Carretera Arevalo);; Queen Isabel I of Castille’s birthplace.
Museum of Oriental Art – 1 Plaza de Granada; 011-34-92-035-2237;; small but fascinating showcase for Asian art from China, Japan, Phillippines, and Vietnam; most collection is of items collected by Dominican missionaries; includes stunning ivory carvings and metalwork, as well as room devoted to exotic animals.
Las Navas del Marqués – or; summer home destination for Madrileños; surrounded by huge pine forests; municipality has oak grove called La Fuente del Sauco, where, in summer, can have lunch and dinner; sites include Magalia Castle-Palace (16th Century), San Juan Bautista Church, and San Pablo Convent.
Palacio de Don Diego del Águila – Calle López Núñez; 16th Century palace located inside wall and attached to it.
Palacio Valderrábanos – 9 Plaza de la Catedral; 011-34-92-021-1023;; built in 15th Century in Gothic style; currently, tourist resort.
Real Monasterio de Santo Tomás – 1 Plaza Granada; 011-34-92-035-2237;; Dominican convent dating to late 15th Century; despite being away from historic center, among city’s most important monuments; Gothic monastery once Inquisition headquarters for Avila; for 3 centuries, housed Torquemada’s tomb (1st general inquisitor, whose zeal in organizing Inquisition made him notorious); legend has it that after friars expelled from monastery in 1836, Torquemada-haters ransacked tomb and burned remains somewhere outside city walls, leaving his final burial site unknown; also includes Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sala de la Diputación – 1 Plaza de la Victoria or 1 Plaza Mercado Chico; 011-34-92-021-1300 or 011-34-92-035-4000;; town hall.
Sala del Episcopio – Calle Tomás Luis de Victoria (or on Plaza de la Catedral); 011-34-92-035-4000; former Episcopal Palace (today occupied by post office & public library).
Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Sonsoles – Carretera Vieja de Sonsoles km 4; 011-34-92-022-3367;; sanctuary in beautiful area, housing hostel, picnic areas, playgrounds, restaurant, etc.; statue of Virgin of Sonsoles, town’s co-patroness and patroness of fields in province; tradition to make pilgrimage to sanctuary, making wish to Virgin, arriving at door barefoot until enter church.
Sierra de Gredos Nature Reserve – Paraje el Risquillo (Guisando); 011-34-92-037-4162;; spectacular succession of cirques, crags, gorges, and lakes created by erosion during various ice ages; glacial origin; towered over by Almanzor Peak (highest point in Sistema Central range); home to Spanish ibex.
Torreón de los Guzmanes (Palacio de la Mújica) – 1 Plaza del Corral de las Campanas; 011-34-92-035-7129;; 15th Century; granite masonry façade, divided into 2 levels with no decoration; on 1 corner, large tower with square floor plan; crenellations and smaller watchtowers; entrance under semicircular arch, framed by alfiz; inside is well-preserved Mudejar coffered ceiling; King Alfonso XII stayed here; Provincial Council headquarters.
Toros de Guisando – off Carretera de Avila AV-502 (El Tiemblo);; giant (megalithic), Celtic stone sculptures of bulls; perhaps as old as 2K BCE.
Los Verdugo Palace – 6 Calle Lopez Núñez;; 011-34-92-021-1387; 16th Century palace commissioned by Don Suero del Águila; Plateresque portal flanked by 2 profusely ornamented pilasters; arcaded courtyard lined with segmental arches.
Walls of Avila – 4 Calle Lopez Nuñez; 011-34-92-035-4000;; city’s main monument; dates to 11th-14th Centuries; medieval work started in 1090; 31 hectares with 2.5K meter perimeter; largest fully illuminated monument in world; can walk upon walls for roughly half their circumference.

Casa Pancho – 13-15 Calle San Lorenzo; 011-34-947-203-405;; tapas.

Sights & Sites
Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla y Leon – 24 Avenida de los Reyes Leoneses; 011-34-987-090-000;

Restaurante Casa Paca – 10 Plaza Peso; 011-34-923-218-993;; classic choice since 1928; meat-heavy menu; ancient dishes like alubias (white beans stewed with pig’s ears & tails) and cocido (meat stew of all trimmings from several animals); diners making night of it tend to ask for meats a la brasa volcánica, or cooked on wood-fired grill (suckling pig, thick beef steaks & racks of baby goat chops); atmospheric dining room with alternating wood-paneled & ancient stone walls; if overwhelmed by formality and opulence of main dining room, opt to eat & drink on bar side, where some of most generous tapas in central Spain provided “free” with drinks: tortilla Española, farinato sausage with scrambled eggs, pig’s ears in tomato sauce (orillas), pastry squares filled with goat cheese & quince jam, small casseroles of meatballs, cod-stuffed red peppers, potato salad.
Sights & Sites
Archivos General de la Guerra Civil Española – 2 Calle Gibraltar (in Colegio de San Ambrosio); 011-34-92-321-2845;
Biblioteca Publica (Casa de las Conchas) – 2 Calle Compañía; 011-34-923-269-317;; built 1493-1517 by Rodrigo Arias de Maldonado, knight of Order of Santiago de Compostela & professor; façade, mixing late Gothic & Plateresque style, decorated with more than 300 shells, symbol of order of Santiago, as well as of pilgrims performing Way of St. James.
Iglesia de San Martin – Plaza del Corrillo; 011-34-923-216-672;; Romanesque church wedged among houses; south portal worth studying for its depiction of St. Martin giving his cloak to pauper; inside, impressive choir stalls & churrigueresque retablo (altarpiece) created in 1731.
Pontifical University of Salamanca – 5 Calle Compañía; 011-34-923-277-100;; take walking tour; beautiful.

SEGOVIA (includes Pedraza)
Hotel Infanta Isabel – 12 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-921-461-300;; overlooks town’s central square.
Hotel Los Arcos – 26 Paseo de Ezequiel Gonzalez; 011-34-921-437-462;; popular with business travelers.
Parador de Segovia – Carretera Valladolid; 011-34-921-443-737;; panoramic views and good restaurant.

Sights & Sites
Acueducto – Spanish National Tourist Office, 10 Plaza Mayor; 011-34-921-460-334;; among most well-preserved Roman aquaducts in world; outside city.
El Alcazar – Plaza de La Reina Victoria Eugenia; 011-34-921-460-759;; hilltop castle.
Ignacio Zuloaga Museum – Castillo de Pedraza (Pedraza); 011-34-921-509-825;; tower of Pedraza Castle houses Zuloaga Museum, established by his heirs; he bought Pedraza Castle in 1926 & after restoring 1 of its towers, installed studio there, where painted landscapes & portraits of village residents; also on display is painting of Christ by El Greco, portrait of Countess of Baena by Goya & 17th Century Flemish still life.
Palacio Real de La Granja – Plaza de Espana, 17 San Ildefonso; 011-34-921-470-019;

Hosteria Solar de Tejada – 1 Claustrilla (on El Collado corner); 011-34-975-230-054;; 18 charming rooms.
Parador Soria (Hotel Antonio Machado) – Parque del Castillo; 011-34-975-240-800;; on hilltop, with commanding views over Duero Valley and mountains.

Collado 58 – 58 El Collado; 011-34-975-240-053;; light dining and drinks; Collado Special (chicken breast, York ham, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes); also serves breakfast.
Meson Castellano – 2 Plaza Mayor (across from Ayuntamiento); 011-34-975-213-045;; serves rural specialties, like cured hard pork sausage, eaten by hand.
Restaurante Palafox – 2 Calle Manuel Vicente Tutor; 011-34-975-220-076; local food.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


(includes Central Coast, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Orange, San Clemente, Seal Beach & Tustin)

Dirty Cookie – 2493 Park Avenue (Tustin); 949-324-1574;; famous for making cups out of cookie dough from which you drink milk.
Kean Coffee – 1733 Monrovia Avenue (Costa Mesa); 949-515-3882;
Kean Coffee – 2043 Westcliff Drive, Suite 100 (Newport Beach); 949-642-5326;
Kean Coffee – 13681 Newport Avenue, Suite 14 (Tustin); 714-838-5326;
Orange Inn – 703 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-494-6085;; breakfast and brunch location; juice bar known for smoothies; coffee.
Zinc Cafe – 350 Ocean Avenue (Laguna Beach); 949-494-6302;; where to “follow locals” for mostly vegetarian favorites; well-priced breakfast or lunch; patio seating.

Crow Bar & Kitchen – 2325 East Coast Highway (Corona Del Mar); 949-675-0070;; gastropub.
Huntington Beach Beer Co. – 201 Main Street, Suite E (Huntington Beach); 714-960-5343;; 2nd story brew pub.
Juliette Kitchen + Bar – 1000 Bristol Street North, Suite 11 (Newport Beach); 949-752-5854; trendy French “resto.”
Sharkeez – 211 Main Street (Huntington Beach); 714-960-5282;; loud and cheesy.
Side Door – 3801 East Coast Highway (Central Coast); 949-717-4322;; British gastro pub.

Blue Lantern Inn – 34343 Street of Blue Lantern (Dana Point); 949-661-1304 or 800-950-1236;
Casa Laguna Inn & Spa – 2510 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-494-2996;; seemingly unimpressive, if campy, from exterior; delightful balcony views, courtyard garden, and simply best breakfasts (for guests only) in southern California.
Crystal Cove Beach Cottages – 35 Crystal Cove (Newport Beach); 949-494-3539, 949-492-0802, or 800-444-7275;; built between 1920-1950; painstakingly restored; 13 available for rental for up to 7 days yearly (Shell Shack (best), Sand Castle, South Sea Shanty); must call on 1st of month at 8 a.m. PST promptly, 7 months in advance.
Hotel Hanford – 3131 Bristol Street (Costa Mesa); 714-557-3000 or 877-426-3673;; boutique.
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa – 21500 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 714-698-1234 or 888-591-1234;; somewhat fancy.
Montage – 30801 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-715-6000 or 866-271-6953;; 3 outdoor pools; phenomenal food.
Pacific Edge Hotel – 647 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-777-6328 or 800-843-6895;
Pelican Hill – 22701 Pelican Hill Road South (Newport Beach); 949-467-6800 or 800-315-8214;; Tuscan-themed coastal resort with suites and villas; ask for Bungalow #344 (it’s glorious) – crammed with furniture, wood-burning fireplace, Pacific Ocean view.
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel – 1 Ritz-Carlton Drive (Dana Point); 949-240-2000 or 800-542-8680;; Mediterranean feel; fountains and French doors on private terraces.
Shorebreak Hotel – 500 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 714-861-4470 or 877-744-1117;; boutique atmosphere within minute’s stroll from pier.
Sun ‘n Sands – 1102 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 714-536-2543;; easy ocean access with old school motel charm.
Surf & Sand Resort – 1555 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-497-4477 or 888-869-7569;; beachfront property with virtually all 167 rooms facing sea.

AnQi – 3333 Bristol Street (Costa Mesa); 714-557-5679;; sophisticated, Asian fusion, Vietnamese bistro.
Beachcomber Cafe – 15 Crystal Cove (Newport Beach); 949-376-6900;; enjoy Cocktail, sitting on deck; grab breakfast for under $20; fabulous fries; more tables outside than inside, but inside’s treat for period-style buffs: walls and ceiling paneled with light pine, some taken from original cottage; meal comes on bright Fiesta-style dinnerware and drink served in plastic cup that bears motto, “Where every night is Saturday night and Saturday night is New Year’s Eve.”
Broadway – 328 Glenneyre Street (Laguna Beach); 949-715-8234;; considered best area restaurant.
Crab Cooker – 2200 Newport Boulevard (Newport Beach); 949-673-0100;; old-school, pier-type seafood locale; shrimp skewers.
Crow Bar & Kitchen – 2325 East Coast Highway (Corona Del Mar); 949-675-0070;; gastropub that serves great burgers.
Don Beachcomber – 16278 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 562-592-1321;; kitschy tiki bar & tropical-themed eatery serving Polynesian-influenced American fare & cocktails.
Duke’s – 317 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 714-374-6446;; Hawaiian surf theme; seafood and steaks on beach beside pier.
Five Crowns – 3801 East Coast Highway (Corona Del Mar); 949-760-0331;; standby that caters to old-school Newport crowd with Continental plates (prime rib and Yorkshire pudding); try Sunday brunch on patio.
Harbor House Cafe – 34157 Pacific Coast Highway (Dana Point); 949-496-9270;; 24-hour spot opened in 1939 offering big menu of down-home fare, from egg dishes to Mexican food.
Juliette Kitchen + Bar – 1000 Bristol Street North, Suite 11 (Newport Beach); 949-752-5854; trendy French “resto.”
Las Brisas – 361 Cliff Drive (Laguna Beach); 949-497-5434;; upscale Mexican food; great seafood.
Pete’s Mexican Food – 213 5th Street (Huntington Beach); 714-960-8797; Spartan, hole-in-wall place.
Raya – 1 Ritz-Carlton Drive (Dana Point, at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel); 949-240-2000;; Mediterranean feel; fountains and French doors on private terraces.
Side Door – 3801 East Coast Highway (Central Coast); 949-717-4322;; British gastro pub.
La Sirena Grill – 347 Mermaid Street (Laguna Beach); 949-497-8226;; original location; seafood.
La Sirena Grill South – 30862 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-499-2301;; seafood.
South of Nick’s – 110 North El Camino Real (San Clemente); 949-481-4545;; popular Mexican restaurant.
Stand – 238 Thalia Street (Laguna Beach); 949-494-8101;; try avocado sandwiches or vegetarian burritos.
Sugar Shack Café – 213½ Main Street (Huntington Beach); 714-536-0355; old, family-run favorite for breakfast and lunch; ask for table on patio.
True Food Kitchen – 451 Newport Center Drive (Newport Beach); 949-644-2400;; vegetarian.
Zimzala – 500 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach, at Shorebreak Hotel); 714-960-5050;; Mediterranean cuisine in stylish location.

Bike Hut – Pier 40 (Embarcadero); 415-543-4335;; bike rentals.
City Kayak – Pier 40 (Embarcadero); 800-725-0790;; kayak rentals.
Zack’s – 405 Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); 714-536-0215;; rents whatever beach equipment you need.

A’maree’s – 2241 West Coast Highway (Newport Beach); 949-642-4423;; high fashion at low cost.
Antique Depot – 155 South Glassell Street (Orange); 714-633-3934;
Antique Mall of Treasures – 109 South Glassell Street (Orange); 714-997-4320;
Antique Station – 178 South Glassell Street (Orange); 714-633-3934;
Aris – 1155 North Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-497-8300;; affordable high-end fasion.
Factory Records – 440 East 17th Street (Costa Mesa); 949-722-8101;
Macalistaire at 1850 – 1850 South Pacific Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-497-9080;; vintage.
Muff’s Hardware – 135 South Glassell Street (Orange); 714-997-0243;; antique hardware and old house items.
Orange Circle Antique Mall – 118 South Glassell Street (Orange); 714-538-8160;
Rolling Greens – 3315-A Hyland Avenue (Costa Mesa); 714-444-4025;; nursery.
Sound Spectrum – 1264 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-494-5959;; vintage records since 1970s; memorabilia and music.
South Glassell Street – East Almond & East Chapman Avenues area (Orange);; antique malls.
South Coast Plaza – 3333 Bristol Street (Costa Mesa); 714-435-2000;; upscale, luxury mall.
Zinc Cafe & Market – 350 Ocean Avenue (Laguna Beach); 949-494-6302;; goods – including breads, cheeses, coffee – to go.

Balboa Fun Zone – 600 East Bay Avenue, Suite R (Newport Beach); 949- 673-0408;; amusement park.
Balboa Pavilion – 400 Main Street (Newport Beach); 949-675-1905 or 800-830-7744;; fishing and whale-watching charter terminal; historic structure; boardwalk.
Corona Del Mar State Beach – Poppy Avenue (Newport Beach, at Pacific Coast Highway); 949-644-3309;; very narrow road leads to cliff above ocean; go down paved path to beach; desirable spot for divers and picnickers; seclusion and tide pool are highlights; great beach for families because relatively protected from large waves and undercurrents.
Crystal Cove State Park Historic District – 8471 North Coast Highway (located off Pacific Coast Highway between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach); 949-494-3539;; 3.2 miles of beach and 2.4K acres undeveloped woodland; offshore waters designated as underwater park; tide pools and sandy coves.
Heisler Park – 361 Cliff Drive (Laguna Beach); 949-497-3311;; oceanside park.
Huntington Beach – Pacific Coast Highway (Huntington Beach); known as “Surf City.”
Isamu Noguchi Scenario Garden – 611 Anton Boulevard (Costa Mesa, 3200 Park Center Drive); stunning 1.6 acre sculpture garden; winding stream carved out of sandstone ground, redwood forest; worth special trip.
Laguna Beach – Pacific Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); artists community with galleries.
Laguna Canyon Road – Route 133 (Laguna Beach); best way to enter community from east; winds through towering sepia-toned wilderness expanses before tapering out close to Pacific Ocean.
Main Beach – 107 South Coast Highway (Laguna Beach); 949-497-3311;; Laguna Beach’s largest and most popular stretch.
Seal Beach – Pacific Coast Highway (Seal Beach); quaint seaside community with tree-lined Main Street, which becomes wooden pier (2nd longest in California), where you can eat.