Museu Marítim de Barcelona Restaurant

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Around nine months ago, on my now annual La Merce festival trip to Barcelona (one of usually 3-4 trips to Barcelona a year), three of us went on a pre-civil war tour with a young Irish lady called Catherine (see link below).

http://runnerbeantours.com/tours/city-of-contrast-barcelona-pre-spanish-civil-war-tour/

I should really do a write up on the tour but i’ve probably forgotten more than Catherine told us but it was thoroughly enjoyable with the added free weed to breathe in (if you’ve ever been through Jardins de Rubio i Lluch you’ll understand…). Catherine also does a civil tour in conjunction with Nick Lloyd who has been doing this tour for a little bit longer and Nick’s tour is also very good which will also mean Catherine will be very good as well (see link below).

http://iberianature.com/barcelona/history-of-barcelona/spanish-civil-war-tour-in-barcelona/

What’s all this got to do with food, well at the end of the tour, Catherine takes you into the courtyard at the rear of the maritime museum and mentioned the menu del dia was good and only €10, well it had gone up to €11 or €16 at the weekend. On this trip the whole five of us did the weekend (and two of us the weekday just for comparison). The main difference is an extra dish at the start which was sardine or similar (can’t remember but here is a picture…)

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What do mean there’s nothing there, as if i forgot to take a picture before scoffing it…

So that lovely dish was followed by crispy chicken starter, pork skewer with red rice and a curry sauce, a superb wine (as normal for a menu day dia the drink is included) and a fruit salad with ice cream for the dessert. So €16 for four courses and a large glass of lovely wine.

And here is the weekday version of green bean salad, burger with a blue cheese sauce and lemon sorbet for dessert (and a glass of wine again).

A bit of a hidden location but so glad i found out about it, as been back again at Easter and will be there again in September. It can get very busy so try and book, as one day earlier in the year i couldn’t get in for two hours so went elsewhere.

Bombing of Gernika by the German Condor Legion 1937

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The bombing of Gernika (or Guernica in Spanish) during the Spanish Civil War happened on this day in 1937, less than a month after Durango nearby was also bombed.

Again, like Durango the people were targeted although the Germans claimed they were aiming for Factory and war related sites which explains why they decided to carpet bomb the centre and destroyed houses and churches instead, and killed anything up to over 1500 people (the figure is still disputed to this day).

Gernika is famous also for the painting titled Guernica by Pablo Picasso which is currently in the Reina Sofia art museum in Madrid. For those unlucky enough to follow me on twitter or as a friend on facebook, you may have noticed there is a copy in the back room of Tasca el Corral which is a sideria bar in Carrer Merce in Barcelona.

Not going to give the ins and outs but this wiki page can give you enough info on what happened that day (quite a thorough review).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Guernica

RIP all those who died that day

 

Madrid February 2017

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For those who know me, or have seen the odd bit on here, a few years ago (can’t remember exactly when but probably 6-7 years as a minimum) i started getting into reading about the Spanish Civil War that took place between 1936-39. With my frequent trips to Barcelona, i’ve been able to study a bit more on things that happened within the city itself and out in the sticks of Catalunya, where in September 2014 i had four days of touring round the Ebre river area which has a lot of historical civil war sites.

Just over a year ago i found out that there was going to be an 80th anniversary trip to the Jarama battlefield organised by the AABI (Asociacion de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales) in conjunction with the IBMT (International Brigades Memorial Trust).

After booking a flight to Madrid in May, i almost missed out on the trip as was waiting for details and didn’t see them get posted up. A few emails with Pauline of the IBMT and was sorted for the Saturday trip out to the Battlefield which is south-east of the city not far from Morata de Tajuna which is a small town we would come back to for lunch in the afternoon.

I’d booked to fly from Stansted as was due to be on a work trip down south that ended going the shape of pears which meant not only would i have a four-hour drive, i’d booked a hotel on the outskirts of North London pre-airport, and with a flight at 8.30am i had to leave early the following morning. Mind, i did have a couple of pints then a curry that i thought the rest of the flight would be regretting the following morning. Luckily for them, all was good…

Arrived at Stansted to utter chaos, there had been a fire alarm about thirty minutes before which evacuated the whole place, so thousands were trying to get back through security with those who had already been through having to be manually sorted. Fair play to the staff on the day with getting everyone through very quickly to ensure no missed flights and majority of flights were leaving to schedule.

Madrid airport metro line closed so took the option of shuttle bus to Terminal 4 and the Renfe train with a quick change at Nuevos Ministerios to Sol (actually much cheaper than the metro).

Accommodation for this trip was Hostal Esmeralda (http://hresmeralda.net/en/) which cost just over €40 a night for a single room. Room was small and bath was large enough to bathe a kitten but it was a one minute walk from Sol so was ideal and easy to get to all the bars and restaurants within Santa Ana and Huertas areas. To top it all off i was two floors above a Museo del Jamon where for 50c you could get 200ml of lager or for 90c 300ml plus a small bit of food.

Once checked in and unpacked, went for a wander arund the Huertas area which has now been coined Barrio de las Letras to push the area more for tourism, with the ultimate aim of finding somewhere for a beer and food. Unlike Barcelona, Madrid has a tapa scene where most bars give you a small tapa with the drink. Over the four days of the trip, apart from the pre-booked meal for the trip to the Jarama valley i spent €15 in total on food not given out with drinks. I think i must have eaten a whole tuna on my own in the time i was there.

The bars i mainly frequented round in Huertas were mainly on or close to Calle de Jesus, of which the main few were El Diario, La Fabrica, Granja Blanco and La Dolores. I remembered La Dolores from about thirteen or fourteen years ago as a little stand up bar with minimal tables at the far end.

I basically ended up camped out at various times in El Diario, think it was about €2.50 for a doble Mahou and just over that for wine, and each time food came, anything from tuna or pepper on a piece of bread to bowls of paella. I think at one stage i had about four pieces of bread with peppers, jamon, tuna and cheese as toppings all with one drink. This explains for the first time i can remember i actually put weight on whilst on holiday. The paid for food in here looked decent and the tables at both ends of the bar were usually full apart from first thing in the morning and late afternoon. Staff were great hence why i was in this place each day, plus obviously the decent food given out, which meant i didn’t feel overly drunk at any stage on the trip.

Only occasion i managed to get into La Fabrica was lunchtime on the last day, place was absolutely heaving each time i went passed and couldn’t be bothered forcing myself in when there were other options.

Granja Blanco was a lot quieter and was half decent but nowhere near as good as a lot around which probably explained it being quiet, but still ok for a beer or two.

La Dalores on the other hand was pretty busy most of the time apart from one afternoon after the main lunchtime rush. Spent time in here drinking and watching the staff behind the bar preparing Anchovies from a large bucket into the glass containers for no doubt the evening when it is always packed out. And a good tapa of sardines given here a couple of times which were lovely.

Right, less of the food and a bit about the actual reasons behind the trip. Mind i still didn’t get round to seeing Picasso’s Guernica as ran out of time on the last day…

Early start next morning, well not early but 8.15am (bleeding early enough when on holiday) to walk to the hotel where the coaches were picking up from for the journey to the Jarama Valley. First stop of the day was the memorial to Charlie Donnelly which is in the town of Rivas Vaciamadrid. It was being rededicated that morning. Back on the coach for the drive via Morata where we passed a banner on a balcony supporting the Falange which got booed by all on the coach. As i’d never done this trip before we got to the area of the valley we were heading for, we drove passed the Clenched Fist memorial before parking up, and there were loads of cars here for the event. First part was overlooking areas beyond the sunken road towards Suicide and Conical Hills, then the masses walked around the battlefield towards another memorial (can’t remember what this one was).

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On the coach in front of me was Nils and Chrissie Wintringham and Nils was the grandson of Tom Wintringham who was in charge of the British Battalion at Jarama, and was credited with transforming the Home Guard in Britain during World War Two. Nils and Chrissie were a lovely couple who i chatted to throughout the day.

Food option was back in Morata at Meson El Cid which was paid for as part of the trip, unfortunately the food was mediocre including cold Albondigas (meatballs) but included red and white wine and water for every small groups on the tables, and was only another €10 for a bottle of wine. Due to eating never got the chance to visit the civil war museum on site before we had to return to the coach. We had an option to either go to the concert back in Rivas Vaciamadrid or return to Madrid, with the fact the coach wouldn’t leave the concert for about another six hours, half of the coach went back to Madrid after dropping off the rest near the concert venue. A few quick drinks at the hotel bar (slowest staff ever) and then a short walk back passed Atocha Station to Huertas and the regular bars for err beer and food…

On the Sunday some of us met up at Moncloa metro which was a simple hop from Sol for me to have an informal tour around the University City area that was a major front line in the siege of Madrid. Right outside the metro is the Ministry of Air which was built on what was the Modelo Prison. Also right outside facing north-west is the Victory Arch that Franco built, yet another monument the Fascists put up to celebrate or to honour their own fallen whilst giving no shits about those they murdered. Apparently on a clear day you are supposed to be able to see the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen which is where the Fascist midget is buried, and a lot of Republican prisoners were used as labour to build the monument).

Next down through part of a very hilly Parque del Oeste (again part of the front line) where there is a monument to Federico Rubio which has lots of bullet holes in it, and then slightly further on to some concrete machine gun posts constructed by the Nationalists.

We then headed into the University City itself where a lot of fighting took place all around the faculties, some of which bear the scars of fighting and one that was nigh on destroyed and rebuilt to the same design. It is in this area where there is an International Brigades memorial and also one to commemorate those who were killed in the terrorist bombings of the trains in Madrid in 2004 (there is also a memorial outside Atocha station). Here we met three families from Madrid of which i think one of the guys was a Doctor but he had been researching the Civil War and took us to the north end of the area to where there were trenches to be seen, again this was quite a hilly area. From here they took us back down and over to a bus stop so we could get back into the centre easier. Many thanks to them for this and also to Isabel who had taken us round from the morning onwards.

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After a little bit of food and a rest as had to been walking for about five hours i headed back out towards Calle Atocha to see the memorial to the Lawyers who were assassinated by right wing Fascists in 1977. The memorial is just outside Anton Martin metro station with the offices based just down the road at number 55.

That night i went in search of some bars that i had researched, however they were either packed or closed (most were closed) so ended up wandering back towards Huertas and back towards the normal bars i’d been in but went via a couple of new one which were thankfully non touristy.

On the Monday i fancied a nice quiet day so headed off via the Opera House back to the Southern part of Parque del Oeste, first thing of note is yet another Fascist monument to their fallen, it’s just part of a theme! Also here is the Temple of Debob which is an ancient Egyptian temple donated to Spain, and this is actually on the site of the Montana barracks that were destroyed in fighting. Decided to walk to Caso del Campo which is part of ancient royal hunting grounds and with the cable car only running at weekends i headed down via Estacio del Nord which i now Principe Pio, but the original station is still in place and a lot of Republican troops including the International Brigades passed through this area as Caso del Campo was also a battlefield. Had a quick couple of lunchtime drinks at a restaurant next to the lake and headed into the hills hoping to find evidence of the civil war. Apart from some obvious former trenches and bomb blast holes found nothing that i was expecting but found out later that on the way south to catch the metro back, if i’d headed east again within the park then would have found some proper evidence but i can look for those on a future trip. Only spent about five hours walking, so spent about two hours back in the hostal recovering before a night of beer and free tapa…

Tuesday was a late start after a good night’s rest and then out for lunch before heading back to the airport to fly home.

First time back in Madrid for nearly seven years, one thing is for sure is that i will not be leaving it that long again, though i’m going to need to ensure i’ve lost plenty of weight before the trip as a tapa with every drink doesn’t half put weight on.

 

 

 

Liverpool 3 – Everton 1

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I was going to put a picture up of me last time Everton won at Anfield but photography didn’t exist back then.

Last four home derbies have given us 12 goals for and 2 against which were yesterdays fuck up (our defending at set pieces hasn’t improved for years) and a lucky screamer from Jagielka back in 2014 which i missed as had only landed at Speke from holiday when it kicked off (my record for us playing at home closest weekend to 24th September is amazing – put your house on us playing at Anfield that weekend as i’m in Barcelona…).

I remember last time we lost an Anfield to a single goal from Kevin Campbell, actually no i don’t as it was in 1999, feels like last century when i was a young 27 years old…

We’re unbeaten in derbies since 17th October 2010, i was a slightly older 38 then. That’s 14 games which is a record shared with two Everton teams of past, so as we normally play at Goodison first these days, hopefully we can break that record right there. A win will also mean we’ve won more derbies at Goodison Park than they have which will give all Liverpudlians great delight in constantly reminding them.

We have the best home unbeaten record of 18 games from 2000 to current day.

Back to yesterday, i’ve not been well for three weeks and had only one day of feeling half decent in all that time, was due to go out Friday night but made a choice that if i did i might not be well enough for the match. Friday night cancelled, still felt rubbish yesterday but a couple of pints and a swift G & T to settle the nerves worked a treat for a change.

Everton came into the match with a far better current form than we had, we’d played poorly since December apart from games against the top six (or seven as it has now turned into) and they also had Lukaku who is the current league top scorer and you can see why after his marvellous performance yesterday…

Everton’s new manager Ronald Koeman was replaced temporarily by Joe Royle who let his dogs of war off the leash and yes i know we’ve got away with some red card tackles over the years (Kuyt at Goodison was great to be fair and he got away with it). Pube hair boy Barkley who got a yellow instead of a red in the last derby could have picked up a yellow (though others are saying possible red for that one but not seen it apart from at the match), then a red and another yellow for diving, he got away with one yellow but to be fair he was so poor if he’d been sent off it would have been better for the opposition rather than us. Williams should have got a red for a rake of studs down Can’s back and Davies was lucky with a yellow.

One soft goal conceded and three superb goals from Mane, Coutinho and Origi settled it yet again for the mighty fucking red men.

Long may our Derby superiority continue.

Durango – Spanish Civil War

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Today is the 80th Anniversary of the bombing of Durango (Near Bilbao in the Basque Country) by the German Luftwaffe on behalf of the midget twat Franco.

Obviously looking for military targets to hit (just like Gernika a month later) they picked on Santa Maria Church as a focal point to hit the towns military targets (yes i’m taking the piss) which had a mass on at the time but thankfully not full, but also within the area the market was on.

336 people died that day by targeting civilians by the fascists, the bombers came back later with fighter bombers to machine gun those trying to help remove the dead and injured.

Buying wine En Primeur

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Although i’ve been buying wine for a number of years and lately have been buying a larger range of wine with pricing from £5-£30 a bottle, last year i finally ventured into buying wines En Primeur. Basically En Primeur is when you buy the wine prior to it being bottled and that can take a year or more to happen depending on the wines. You pay for the actual wine itself up front (and delivery included with the wine society) and then once it hits the UK you either store it under bond or in reserve at their warehouse or pay the duty and vat to get your hands on it…

First venture is a total of 30 bottles of Rhone wines from http://www.thewinesociety.com/ and for those who don’t know The Wine Society, they are a mutual run for the customers (we all buy in for one share which is £40 but £20 back as a voucher) so apart from paying for their staff and other associated costs like buying and storing wine before releasing it for sale with some wines they are working for you, which means their pricing most of the time is by far the best you’ll get in the UK because you aren’t paying for larger profits being made or dividends to shareholders.

Laudun Cotes du Rhone Villages Ch Courac 2014 12 bottles ordered and worked out at £7.49 a bottle and drinking window is this year to 2022.

Plan de Dieu Cotes du Rhone Village Chateau Saint Jean 2014 12 bottles ordered and worked out at £8 a bottle and drinking window is this year to 2023.

La Rosine Rouge Collines Rhodaniennes Domaine Ogier 2014 6 bottles ordered and massively expensive (not really) worked out at £13.19 a bottle and drinking window is this year to 2022. This one is supposed to be similar to Cote Rotie, so if it’s close i’ll be pretty happy.

Getting my hands on them this Saturday direct from the warehouse whilst down at my mums darn sarth, mind i’ve ordered 9 bottles of Spanish to collect at the same time so i may have some wine at home come Sunday (already have about 35 bottles in a cupboard).

Have also got two other En Primeur offers on the go, ordered a 5th Growth Bordeaux last year which should work out about £22 a bottle which for a classified Bordeaux growth is a bloody bargain although once i get my hands on that next summer the drinking window doesn’t open till 2023 (fucks sake), and just had confirmation today that this years (2015 vintage) order of Rhone has been confirmed, only 18 bottles this time but not far off the price the 30 cost me so the quality should be upped a bit.

Will do an update to this once i have tried each of the three wines, to see how they are obviously and will stick the rest in a second cupboard as i have no room in the first one to store more wine…at least i might keep them a bit longer that way.

Koska Taverna (Barcelona)

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After my blog post on Carrer de Blai and some of the pintxo bars along it, here is the first of at least a couple of longer blog posts to go with that main post and Koska Taverna will be the one to start with.

Koska is a Basque style taverna in Poble Sec, Barcelona and is run by a Basque and Argentinian partnership (who also run the new restaurant not too far away called Rioba).

Unlike the majority of places on the same street it is different as most of the other bars offer mainly pintxos but Koska also offers slightly more substantial plates as well. Some of the food on offer include tortilla (and it’s very good), tuna tartar, cheeses and various cured meats including very good chorizo.

Did i say the tortilla is very good, seriously the tortilla with chorizo is probably the best tortilla i’ve ever had.

They also do a small range of desserts.

There are a few beers on offer and the draught lager is Kronenbourg, and a good wine selection which is reasonably priced, and as it is a Basque taverna, you can get cider, for those not aware it’s nothing like the fizzy stuff you mainly get in the uk, a bit of a mix between that and still cider.

The ambience is lovely inside as although it can be busy, it never appears as manic as the rest of the street, probably due to the food offering being different and the lack of a need to grab pintxos in a mad rush along with everyone else in a bar does help.

A few tables outside and although not massive on the inside, there are some tables in the rear part whilst the bar area mainly caters for standing customers.

All in all, one of the better options on the street.

 

Carrer de Blai Pintxos crawl (Barcelona)

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Carrer de Blai in Poble Sec is an institution these days for a pinxto bar crawl. Located slightly uphill in the Poblec Sec area of Barcelona though to be fair apart from the very bottom of the area it’s all uphill…, it has become more popular over the last few years as an area for a night out but thankfully in the main tourist free (what do you mean i’m a tourist…yes but not a typical one). There are plenty of streets around with more bars, for instance the well known Quimet i Quimet montadito bar is close by and one of my favourite beer bars Cerverceria Jazz is a few minutes walk away. There’s are literally hundreds of bars within 5-10 minutes walk of Carrer de Blai.

Carrer de Blai is easy to get to from other parts of the city, it has two metro stations (Poble Sec and Parral-lel) and both are on line 3 that runs passed Camp Nou, Sants Station and up the Ramblas towards Gracia and line 2 from Parral-lel that heads up to Sagrada Familia and various bus routes though the most handy of these is the D20 that runs all the way down Parral-lel from Placa Espanya and ends up in Barceloneta.

There are plenty of options on the street but i will only be reviewing the ones i’ve actually been to (short reviews on here and slightly longer on individual posts for some of them anyway), well the ones that i can remember the names of and that means they were forgettable. Common issue is how busy they are and they won’t usually go over their limit of places in the restaurant and if it says maximum of 30, it usually means that, which might put some people off but makes it more manageable and yes this has meant some of the ones i’ve wanted to visit i still haven’t managed to get into even after numerous attempts. Some do have tables outside which are usually very busy as well unless it’s absolutely chucking it down with rain and you get wet (My friend Sami was half wet/half dry on one evening of sitting outside until we managed to run inside the bar we were at).

First up is Koska. Koska is run by a Basque and Argentinian partnership who now also run Rioba, a new restaurant (not had a proper meal here yet but what i have had is bloody outstanding so hope to try it properly this year) just over the road from Cerverceria Jazz. This is a Basque place compared to most on the street and with a lot of typical tapas dishes they also serve the traditional style of Basque Pintxos especially the likes of Gildas which is an anchovy, guindilla pepper and olive combination which as long as you like anchovies you’ll be fine. I do so obviously i love Gildas… I will be doing a longer review on Koska as i’ve been in a number of times and really like it.

http://www.koskataverna.com/

Just a few doors down on the other side of the road is Blai 9, cunningly named after their address on the street. Blai 9 serve pinxtos at €1 or €1.50 and a small range of wines along with Vermut and three different styles of Moritz beer. Staff here and very friendly and efficient and another bar i have spent a few hours in, so again will do a slightly extended review.

http://blai9.com/

Pincho J further along the street is another good place, again quite small but staff friendly and helpful but slightly more chaotic inside than the previous recommendations but mainly due to the fact that most of the seating is around or very close to the bar, the others had at least a bit more seating set aside plus the outdoor seats.

Punjabi bar opposite is a good option for drinks when it’s a bit quieter, seemed on the couple of occasions i’ve been in as more of a drinking bar than food, though they do have plenty of food but i’ve never tried any and from all accounts it’s not the best and when the street has better options on it then stick to those.

One place i do want to try is La Tasqueta de Blai but it’s always been absolutely rammed with people waiting, some of the others have been hit and miss and some i avoid as they have people trying to get you in and there’s probably a good reason why you have space and others don’t.

Finally, remember that as it’s a pintxos / tapas crawl type street don’t stuff your face in one of them and then find you’re too full for the others. Have a drink or two and a pintxo and move on, it’s not even a necessity to eat at every stop when you’re in a group, just have what you want as and when.

La Merce 2016

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My now annual trip for La Merce festival in Barcelona. in fact this time we barely did anything to do with La Merce, we watched part of the Castellers (human tower building) on the telly in the apartment.

 

Wine festival, nope didn’t go for a change, only the second time i’ve missed it on the trip in last six or seven years. Cue Ripa asking when are you going to the wine festival. Next year…

The correfoc (fire run), well we were in a restaurant called Pork boig per tu, which is just off Via Laietana at the end of the correfoc route. Advantage of being here, well apart from a decent pint of beer and some great food, all the devils, beasts and drummers all turn left onto the street the restaurant is located which meant i was able to pop out between sips of wine to take pictures and videos of the fire run.

The current normal crew were on the trip. Me, the two pensioners (Mane and Larry), Beardy (Sami) and Elf (Ripa). There may have been plenty of alcohol drunk over the six nights (or four for Mane).

We took a trip up from our apartment to see the Olympic Stadium on request from Mane and Beardy (yes we walked up) and took the easy option of the funicular then bus to get to Barceloneta for lunch. Using the obligatory T-10 transport ticket, it worked out at €1 each for the two modes of transport. Best bargain ever.

Bar / food related on this trip (can’t remember all the places obviously) but did cerveceria Jazz, Punjabi Bar, Blai 9 and Pincho J all in Poble Sec. A trip around one block (5 bars visited) on Parral-lel whilst waiting for Mane to arrive. Vendimia, Bar Celta, Les Tapes and Tasca el Corral in Barri Gotic. Pork boig per tu, Bar el Born, Mosquito and Ale & Hop in Sant Pere, Santa Caterina and La Ribera (the proper full name i think for the area that covers between Via Laietana and Ciutadella Park.

 

A great time as always, lucky i’m never in Barcelona!

Working away!

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Gone from being busy at work with no travel to busy as what with some major travel.

Over the last couple of months been as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as the other side of Exeter. A lot of time spent in a VW CC, but thankfully a reasonably comfy VW CC.

Holiday time coming up (i really should start sticking my tripadvisor hotel reviews on here…

 

La merce 2016 coming up in Barcelona in less than three weeks and November has two trips, first one to Barcelona for 3 nights, 48 quid return flight and 23 euros a night in Pensio Alamar, which is a basic pension with shared facilities, but is a great little place i’ve spent maybe 30 nights in over the years. Well worth it if you need to do cheap. Then back to Barcelona and Palma in November for my birthday, it’s a hard life…

 

Next trip after (at the moment) is Madrid in February, 80th Anniversary of the battle of Jarama in the Spanish civil war, one of the major battles. Not going to be the nicest thing to do, but needs to be done.