Monthly Archives: September 2018

Madrid, Spain revisited

As many times I return to Madrid I always experience something new. In mid September I took Carl’s two daughters for their first visit to this amazing city. We arrived and checked into a small hotel I have stayed in before, Catalonia at Atocha 36. There are several hotels owned by The Catalonia group. This is a smaller property off Plaza Mayor. I think the location of the hotel puts it in easy walking distance to all the important sites.

We headed out to explore, stopping for tapas lunch at Mercado San Miguel, a couple blocks from Plaza Mayor. This is one of my favorite stops for everything Spanish when it comes to food. Wander through the food stalls and buy little plates of everything from olives, sliced iberico ham and sliced fruit. Grab a glass of local wine and little pieces of anchovies on bread.

From the Mercado we walked down to the Palace Real, the kings palace. If you want to tour the palace get tickets in advance the line was long. Back to the hotel for a rest before we had a light dinner sitting outside at Plaza Santana, just a couple of blocks from the hotel. This plaza is home to several outdoor restaurants. We chose Tabernacle Vina and enjoyed several simple plates of grilled vegetables, sausages and the iberico ham, of course a bottle of local wine to complement the food.

Then off to see the late show of Flamenco at “casa Patas”, there are several flamenco shows, but this is a small space very close to the hotel and has good dancers.

Just as a reference I had also stayed just up the street from our hotel at Catalonia Puerta Del Sol. This is owned by the same group and a larger hotel, however I think the rooms were newer and brighter at our smaller hotel.

We were up early the next day and headed to the Prado museum for a tour of the collection of Spanish art in the older part of the museum. Always a must for anyone not just on your first visit, but every visit. We grabbed a taxi and joined friends at a amazing restaurant outside to town in an area called FUEN CARRAL, the restaurant is called “Filandon” 917343826. Filandon is a beautiful property, you will not see tourists at this place. If you go order the fish the serving is more than generous to share.

After our lunch we headed back to town and a short nap before we headed out for the next surprise. CHOCOLATERIA SAN GINES, at Pasadizo de San Gines 5, this 100 year old shop is famous for serving chocolate as thick as pudding with Cairo’s for dipping. A must visit!
It always seems that the more you explore the more discoveries, we walked to the neighborhood called Malasana where we discovered “Mercado San Ildefonso” a 3 story building filled with little food stalls each one more inviting than the last. The street, Calle Fuencarral, offered an assortment of great small shops with many local products. The girls headed out to see their first bull fight while I took a well deserved rest. src=”https://reneebehnke.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/img_1354.jpg” class=”size-medium alignright wp-image-1553″ width=”4032″ height=”3024″>

We had a late dinner close to the hotel at ” El Barril de Las Letras”, Cervantes 28, good choice in a new upscale space. I had a perfect steak tartare, the girls had their steak grilled, and we shared 2 large grill red prawns with a little side salad of local tomatoes.
We ventured out early and had a nice breakfast at La Terraza in Plaza Santana then it was time for shopping in the upscale area. The main street of Serrano offers every high end stores with every beautiful thing you could dream of wearing. Serrano street is a few blocks from the museums and high end hotels. Since we were in walking distance we went to visit the Monet exhibit at The Thyssen museum. Our lunch was simple tapas in the courtyard of Plaza Mayor.
Dinner at Tabernacle Laredo, Calle Doctor Costello 30, is always good. I had a salad with little shrimp and a plate of rabbit ribs cooked to a crispy finish, perfect. The bar is casual with young people sharing small plates and the dining room upstairs is bright and has a bigger menu and great wine list.

There is a new hotel I would like to try sometime—GRAN HOTEL INGLES, Calle Echegaray 8.
A couple of restaurants I wanted to go back to but did not reserve in advance so ran out of time. CASA BENIGNA, great paella and rice dishes. Another is LA TASQUERIA de JAVI ESTAVEZ, Calle Duque de Sesto 48.

Next morning we headed for Barcelona and a new hotel for me, MUR MURI, in a very up scale neighborhood away from the busy tourist area. The hotel also has several apartments that can be rented just around the corner. I did see the two bedroom until and it was great for a family or 2 couples.
We arrived later in the afternoon and just headed out to explore. That evening we had a 9pm reservation at an A+ restaurant called, “WINDSOR” located a few blocks from the hotel, Corsega 286. We shared several dishes featuring local mushrooms since this is their mushroom season. They offered a good wine list and each course was better than the last. We were seated in a courtyard in the back full of amazing plants and flowers.
We did all the basic Gaudi tourist things, remember to buy your tickets on line before going to Basilica of Sagrada Familia. We did not have any problem getting tickets at Casa Bitilo, the house designed by Gaudi and this was one of the girls favorite sites.
We headed to La Boqueria for a late lunch at “BAR CENTRAL”, located in the back of the Boqueria. We ordered plates of razor clams, long thin stirfried clams. The girls had chocolate crepes for desert at another stand and we bought nuts and Spanish saffron at the spice stall. There are many different qualities of saffron so do you homework.
Then continued wandering the old town, visit to the Picasso museum, here again best to get tickets on line before you go. There are plenty of fun shops to visit as you wander through the Gothic area, old town.
Take time to walk on the beach and along the port. There are many little restaurants to stop in have a few olives and pitcher of sangria late afternoon while you watch all the beach activity.
We went up to Gaudi’s gardens for sunset, but the top area is under construction so everyone was crowded into half of the courtyard. The next time you are in Barcelona it should be finished and ready for your visit.
Our last day was just a trip back to the Boqueria for the last look and to buy some Iberico ham that has been vacu sealed so we could bring it home. After so many tapas bars we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at the beautiful Mandrin Hotel on our way back to our hotel. The Mandrin’s restaurant for lunch is so open and cool after walking in the heat of the day. That night we had dinner at “Bardot”, Eric Grwmados 147, a small restaurant close to the hotel with a perfect outdoor seating area in a courtyard shared by several restaurants..
Every time I have the opportunity to visit these cities I find new and exciting places that I look forward to returning again.
Sounds like all we did was eat but I think that is one of the things you will find the Spaniard love to do. Remember dinner after 9 or you will be alsone in most fine restaurants.

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36 hours in Cannon Beach, Oregon

Growing up in Portland, Oregon a trip to Cannon Beach was something we always looked forward to in the summer. Now I try to take my mother down to walk in the sand and just sit on a log and look out at the surf. My mother is 92 years old and still enjoys getting all of her children together around a camp fire on the beach.

We checked into Tolovana Inn just about a mile from downtown Cannon Beach proper. The hotel sits right on the beach and offers rooms right above the beach with a great view. The hotel has an indoor pool for those that want to take a swim. Our room was a suite with one bedroom, kitchen and living room with a queen size hide a bed.

Walking on the beach was perfect exercise for all ages. Families flying kites, and spending time on low tide looking in the tide pools of Haystack Rock.

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Since check in was 4pm we got organized and just had dinner at a restaurant called Mo’s. They are famous for their chowder and fish and chips. The restaurant sits on the beach in front of the hotel. Not the best food, everything fried, but fine for a family. The cabbage salad topped with Oregon shrimp was good as was the chowder. Then my brother built a fire in one of the designated fire pits on the beach and we enjoyed the surf pounding the full moon above.

The next day my brother bought more fire wood and after a long walk we built a fire and enjoyed the day wandering the beach, roasting hotdogs and watching all the families itch dogs and kids in tow.

In the afternoon we drove into town and had a lovely lunch at The Driftwood Restaurant and had a perfect Cobb salad big enough to share. We wandered in and out of the little galleries, ice cream shops and enjoying the lovely flowers every where you looked. The town is clean with plenty of parking.

We had an early dinner back in town at Wayfarer. Wayfarer sits right off the beach with a great view of Haystack Rock and view of the sunset over the water. This is a good upscale restaurant offering fresh fish and salads. I had sautéed razor clams, a real treat when they are prepared correctly and others shared fresh crab cocktails and halibut. Back at the hotel we took up or place on the beach and enjoyed the fire while talking about all the years and memories shared on the Oregon Coast. It is an easy drive from Portland, about an hour and 45 minutes.

Make time for any of the beach towns along the coast of Oregon.

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