Destination: Spain

Interview with Gideon Lewis-Kraus: ‘A Sense of Direction’

Interview with Gideon Lewis-Kraus: ‘A Sense of Direction’ Author photo by Rose Lichter Marck

Frank Bures talks to the author about pilgrimage, authenticity and traveling in a world of infinite choices

Read More »

The ‘I Ate at El Bulli’ Genre of Food Writing

Famed Spanish restaurant El Bulli closed Saturday. Among its many legacies, the Telegraph notes, it created a new genre in food writing:

Over the years, however, hundreds of restaurant critics from all over the world made the pilgrimage to northern Spain, establishing a distinct genre of review that has become known in the trade as the “I Ate At El Bulli Piece” (IAAEBP).

A pioneering example appeared in the New York Times Magazine: “Welcoming cocktails of a frozen whisky sour and a foam mojito were accompanied by popcorn that had been powdered and reconstituted as kernels, and a tempura of rose petals. A ‘Kellogg’s paella’ consisted of puffed Rice Krispies to which the waiter added an intense seafood reduction; on the side were a small, flash-fried shrimp, a piece of shrimp sashimi and an ampoule containing a thick brown extract of shrimp heads that you were instructed to squeeze into your mouth.”

Anthony Bourdain’s April blog post about his El Bulli meal would have to stand as a masterful example of an IAAEBP.

Tonight: Bourdain Goes to El Bulli for ‘Greatest Meal’ of His Life

The Spanish restaurant many critics considered to be the best in the world served its final meal Saturday night. Travel Channel host Anthony Bourdain visited Ferran Adria’s El Bulli recently, and his show about it airs for the first time tonight.

Bourdain called the meal he had there during that visit “the single greatest restaurant meal of my life.”

I don’t know if Monday’s episode is the best depiction of what the Adrias did at El Bulli-though I’m pretty damn sure it is. I do know that our producers and camera people and editors and post production people went all out-did their very best work. This show was a labor of love and much gratitude. We were determined to get it right.

Tales of a Travel Chaperone

Funny story concept well executed by the man doing the chaperoning of fifth graders to Spain: Dave Barry. 

Our group consisted of four dads, 18 moms and approximately 27,000 children. There was no way to get an exact count: They move too fast.

Our group assembled at Miami International Airport (motto: “Our Motto Has Been Delayed”). All of us wore identical ill-fitting T-shirts with our group name printed on them. That’s how you let everybody know that you’re a group of sophisticated world travelers.

The Washington Post Magazine covered similar ground this weekend. John Kelly joined a group of junior high students touring Washington D.C.

I began to recognize the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome about four hours into my day touring Washington with the eighth-graders of Centreville, Mich. I was starting to identify with my captors.

‘Europe’s First Travel Guide’ Missing From Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Codex Calixtinus was reported missing Wednesday by distraught staff at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. The 12th century illustrated manuscript was “compiled as a guidebook for medieval pilgrims following the Way of Saint James,” according to the BBC.

This is the oldest copy of the manuscript and is unsaleable on the open market.

Only a handful of people had access to the room in which it was kept.

This edition of the Codex Calixtinus is thought to date from around 1150.

Its purpose was largely practical—to collect advice of use to pilgrims heading to the shrine there. It also included sermons and homilies to St James.

The Guardian adds:

The local Correo Gallego newspaper reported that distraught cathedral staff spent hours searching for the manuscript before contacting police late that night.

“Although security systems have been improved considerably it is true to say that they are not of the kind one might find in a bank or a well-protected jewellers,” the newspaper reported.

Only five security cameras were used to watch the archive area, according to the newspaper, and none were pointing directly at the safe where the priceless manuscript was stored.

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Consecrated After 128 Years

Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Consecrated After 128 Years REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino
REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

The Pope consecrated the Gaudi-designed church as a Basilica yesterday. The building is still unfinished—it’s been under construction since 1882—but the consecration means that daily masses can now be held in the main nave. If tourist entry fees remain steady, it’s hoped that the Sagrada Familia will be complete by 2026.

World Travel Watch: Mudslides in Guatemala, Bombing in Cancun and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Flesh Fines in France, Medical Tourism Risks in South Asia and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

World Travel Watch: Deadly Heat Wave in Moscow, Underground Colosseum Tours and More

Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

Read More »

‘The End of Food Tourism’ in Barcelona?

Food writer Sarah Elton went looking for local seafood and fresh seasonal produce in the Spanish city—and, as she writes in The Atlantic, she came up blank:

I traveled to Spain with my parents when I was 12 years old, and I had vivid memories of some of our meals. I ate green beans with olive oil for the first time on that trip, and I still remember the flavor of the warm oil with the just-picked beans. These days when I travel, I am interested in getting to know places through what I eat, which means choosing foods that capture the terroir and offer a taste of place.

But on this holiday, when I searched for local food, I found long-distance industrial instead. From the hole-in-the-wall joints to swish tapas bars near the Passeig de Gracia, imports ruled.

Catalonia Votes to Ban Bullfights

Or as the Spanish newspaper El País proclaimed in its headline, Cataluña prohíbe los toros.

The historic vote marks the first time a Spanish region has moved to ban the pastime. Reports the New York Times:

In many ways, however, the ban reflected less on the animal rights than on a political debate over Catalan identity and a push by local parties for greater independence from the rest of Spain.

That hasn’t stopped animal rights groups from claiming a victory.

Front Row at Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls

Front Row at Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls Photo courtesy of Rick Steves

On watching the mad, red-and-white scramble at Spain's legendary Festival of San Fermín

Read More »

Tourists in Heat

Tourists in Heat iStockPhoto

Ten tips for how to stay cool while traveling in an increasingly hot planet. (#2: Choose countries with cold soup.)

Read More »

Bullfighting, Hemingway and the ‘Seduction of Death’

Merida, Colombia (Photo: blmurch via Flickr, Creative Commons)

Is bullfighting an important tradition that should be preserved? Is it so cruel it should be boycotted and banned? And why was Hemingway so taken with it?

In a fine TNR review of Bullfighting: A Troubled History, Ben Wallace-Wells offers a brief history of the sport and summarizes the perspective of author Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier.

She falls squarely in the reformist camp, and her history argues that the sport seduced artists, who glamorized and abstracted a cruel and ugly pursuit into something that bore little resemblance to bullfighting itself. On the matter of Hemingway she is not subtle. “Hemingway is an emblematic representative of the aficionados who were in love with death,” she writes.

As I’ve noted before, I’ve had my own brushes with death in the bullring. (Via AL Daily)

World Cup of Travel: Spain vs. The Netherlands

The FIFA World Cup will be settled Sunday. We'll settle which country in the final is the best travel destination right now. Let's go to Robert Reid's chart.

Read More »