Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Postcard from Barcelona - part I

The decision to spend my birthday in Barcelona was pretty much last minute, and I could not be happier that we cancelled our other plans due to a spell of cold weather. In Barcelona, the days couldn't have been lovelier.. mild but not too hot, sunny but not blistering. Above all, I have never been at this time of year, and having had a little bit more time than on previous visits, it was an absolute treat to discover this beautiful, vibrant, fun and amazing city in a little bit more depth.

A great starting point to explore is the wide and elegant Passeig de Gràcia boulevard. It is dotted with orange trees, ornate street lights and benches, and lined with some of the city's most famous modernist architectural gems, inviting Tapas bars, high end shops and boutiques, and of course Hermès. It truly has something for everyone! 


One of the first buildings at the top end (crossing the Av Diagonal) is the Palau Robert. It houses the city's tourist office, and has an elegant public garden, where you can spot monk parakeets darting between orange trees and cypresses, and from one palm tree to another.


Gaudi's 'Casa Battló' (1906) is the most famous of those buildings which form the 'Mansana de la Discòrdia' (block or apple of discord). The expression is catalan word play with a double meaning.. The 'apple of discord' refers to a competition between the three star modernist architects as to who would build the most fabulous façade, and the 'block of discord' refers to the fact that each of the architects had a very distinctive style, which resulted in very different looks from each other and the surrounding buildings of the city block. Hence the 'block of discord'.


A roof right out of a fairy tale.. as if a dragon has fallen asleep on it.


The building next door was designed as a residence for chocolatier Antoni Amatller. The foyer of the 'Casa Amatller' (one of the three major buildings of the 'Block of Discord) can be entered without queues or entry fees, allowing you to marvel at the skills of the master craftsmen and artisans of the time. The details are just breathtakingly beautiful, and the color scheme could not have been more perfect for the house of a chocolatier!




Barcelona's Hermès store is located a couple of blocks from these architectural glories, at No 77.




On the opposite side of the boulevard, an array of Tapas bars invite you to indulge in a light lunch. If you want get a seat by the counter, it is best to come early or late!


Txapela Tapas Bar


No 3 of the famous trio of buildings, the Casa Lleó i Morera, completed in 1906


Again absolutely breathtaking details by master artists and craftsmen. The most difficult part of this blog post was to limit the number of images!




Right across from the Casa Lleó i Morera you find the calm and serene Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The light and modern atrium like setting of it's 'Bistreau' is a perfect place to spend a tranquil moment, whether for a lunch or dinner, or simply for a cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon.


At the end of it's nearly one mile long splendor, the Passeig de Gràcia turns into the 'Av Portal de l'Àngel' shopping street, where I found two pretty summer shirts at Massimo Dutti: a sky blue linen shirt (currently in the wash, but you can see it here online), and this one, with a printed paisley pattern (also available online):


It is feather light and so it will be perfect for summer, and can easily be mixed with cool and warm colors





Capsule pieces: Paisley shirt with burnt orange linen sweater and beige pants (warm tones). Taupe top and white jeans (cool tones).
Accessories: Pendant necklace in or and Hermès Karla bracelet in caramel and Picotin GM in Kraft (warm tones). Waterfall necklace in lagoon and Hermès Picotin PM in Bleu Sapphire (cool tones).
Shoes: Oran sandals in bronze, bi-colored ballet flats, espadrilles wedges in sand, beige and turquoise sandals

The paisley shirt is also a great new companion for the lovely birthday treat I received: Karla bracelet in caramel (in Epsom leather and with permabrass hardware)



The Passeig de Gràcia from north to south:

Jardins del Palau Robert, Passeig de Gràcia, 107, 08008 Barcelona

Hermès, Passeig de Gràcia, 77, 08008 Barcelona. Tel: +34 934 88 05 40

Casa Batlló, Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona

Casa Amatller, Passeig de Gràcia, 41, 08007 Barcelona. Online tickets here

Txapela Tapas Bar, Passeig de Gràcia, 58, 08007 Barcelona, Tel: +34 934 87 22 79

Mandarin Oriental Bistreau, Passeig de Gràcia, 38-40, 08007 Barcelona, +34 931 51 87 83

Casa Lleó i Morera, a modernist building finished in 1905, Passeig de Gràcia, 35, 08007

Massimo Dutti, Av Portal de l'Àngel, 16, 08002 Barcelona, Tel. +34 933 18 22 46
• Paisley print shirt here
• Sky blue linen shirt click here




To be continued..


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45 comments:

  1. I love Barcelona! It has such a wonderful energy and I've always had a good time there...great food, wine and shopping. I have to get back there soon....I need a Tapas fix!

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    1. I am ready for a Tapas fix too, miss it already! Hope you can get back one day soon!

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  2. So very happy to read about this beautiful city through your eyes! What a special treat you had for your birthday celebration and lucky to get to spend with your two guys!
    Your architectural photos are so very beautiful! Stunning city, Barcelona!
    Your new tops look and sound perfect for summer days! Love your birthday H bling,too! Karla is a new style to me.
    All in all, this adds up to a sublime birthday treat! Thank you for taking us along as always! I look forward to part two!
    Welcome home, my friend! Much love, T xx

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    1. Aww my dearest friend, thank you for the warm welcome back! Can't tell you how much we loved Barcelona, and it was such a treat to have both my guys with me.. our 'Easter holidays' don't often coincide with my birthday (and even less often with Easter, lol). The Karla is a wonderful piece of 'bling' and I love the permabrass hardware.. it goes beautifully with gold and silver! Much love and have a wonderful rest of the week xx

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  3. P.S. If it wasn't pouring rain here, I would head out for tapas and a glass of cava! You made me hungry;-) xx

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    1. Would you just hop on a plane, and I'll head straight back to Barcelona with you!

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  4. Such a feast for the senses -- what a perfect birthday destination. Thank you for bringing it home to share with us in these glorious photos! And I love the Mediterranean colors of your new acquisitions -- no apple of discord here, just oranges in lovely harmony!

    xoxoxo,

    Azalie

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    1. Thank you, dearest Azalie! So happy you enjoyed the pictures, and that you like the new acquisitions. Mediterranean sunshine hugs xx

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  5. MaiTai, happy birthday! I'm pleased that you got to enjoy Barcelona. I was there in the fall (my first visit) and simply fell in love with the city. Thank you for bringing back happy memories. It is such a beautiful place with art everywhere. I look forward to seeing how you are influenced by the Barcelona aesthetic.

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    1. Thank you for the good wishes! So nice to know the post brought back happy memories, and hope you'll enjoy the upcoming postcards too!

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  6. OMG!!!

    You have been in my town!!!!

    Have you been in the amazing exhibition "La maison des carrès"?? It's just a 5' walk from the HPG store...

    And for this occasion Hermès has made a special edition scarf" La maison des carrès a Barcelone"...just spectacular the CW it’s inspired in Gaudi’s La Pedrera colours.... I’ll try to send a photo ..

    And I couldn't believe my eyes.. Massimo Dutti it's one of my favourite shops for buying clothes.. Good quality , sensible prices... and classical but with and touch ...just perfect for us... and Yes I have both the blue and the paisley blouse !!!!!

    I do hope that you enjoyed you birthday in my town!!

    And, please if you of anyone of the lovely ladies of this salon it's planning to pop around please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will more than happy that give you some inside details..

    Warm regards from Barcelona

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    1. Love, love, love your town, my dearest ilsa! We had a most wonderful and happy time, and DH and DS enjoyed it as much as I did. Missed the Maison de Carrés expo, but would love to see a picture of the Gaudi inspired CW! Massimo Dutti has such great clothes (finally a store that ships to our oversea swans!), and being a Spanish brand, the prices were up to 30% less than in France (wasn't it founded in Barcelona?) So nice to be shirt twins with you..the two of us are all set for summer! Hugs xx

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  7. Dear Mai Tai, you will not be astonished that we have the same addresses.... We always go to the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
    Your pictures are beautiful. We like so much Barcelona. And sea, so kind people, restauraurants, and all I can say.
    Thanks to Ilsa ! Next week I will go to visit the exhibition La Maison des carrés....
    Amities

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    1. I am not surprised at all, chère Monica! Our address books seem to criss-crossing all the time :-) We only went for dinner to the MO, but hope you like the hotel we stayed in (you'll see it in one of the next postcards). Have fun at the La Maison des Carrés, and a fabulous time altogether!

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  8. Dearest MaiTai,
    What a wonderful was to start my day off- father's day:) - with warm weather, sunshine and your breathtaking pictures of Barcelona! I feel like i'm on holiday myself. Also for me, the pictures brought back beautiful memories- but immediately convinced me to travel there again and take a closer look. An exhibition of carrés sounds even more tempting! I'd also love to see pictures of it, so please share with us, dear Ilsa!!! Your Birthday gift is a real treat for the eyes- more gold in your box:))) Thanks for taking us along on your trip! Greetings from another Massimo dutti fan,
    Katja

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    1. Dearest Katja, it's a bank holiday here too, but no Father's Day (or Mother's Day) yet! Enjoy the lovely day off, hope it is guilded with some lovely spring sunshine. So happy you like the new bracelet, and congratulations again to the huge gold addition to your box! Hope you make it back to Barcelona one day soon, and that you enjoy the upcoming postcards too!

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  9. Ma très chère Maitai
    Moi aussi j adore Barcelone qui est très riche culturellement est si peu loin de chez nous .
    Le weekend dernier j'étais en Andorre très bel endroit des Pyrénées.
    Et je suis allée chez Massimo Dutti il y a aussi Uterque qui est un cran au dessus de Massimo qui fait parti de la même marque très original et très chic .
    Très joli bracelet qui va enrichir ta collection
    Passe un très long et bon weekend
    Bises
    Myriam

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    1. Très chère Myriam, mille merci pour me faire la connaissance du marque Uterque! La collection (je l'ai regarder sur leur boutique en ligne) est vraiment sympa et original. On n'a jamais été en Andorre, mais un jour... j'espère! Passe un beaux weekend du pont aussi! Bises

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  10. Dearest Mai Tai,

    Welcome back, dear friend! I'm so happy to see that you enjoyed your stay in Barcelona.
    I haven't been there for a long time but I remember it as a very beautiful city.
    Congratulations on your new purchases! They are all so pretty! Having been in Portugal for some days last week, I also visited Massimo Dutti, a lovely brand with affordable prices. Have a wonderful weekend! Much love, Manuela*

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    1. Thank you for the lovely welcome back, my dearest Manuela! Hope you had a most wonderful time in Portugal, the weather must have been so beautiful this time of year! It really is nice to know that there are so many Massimo Dutti fans in LeSalon... and what's more, for once it's a brand which is globally available! Have a wonderful weekend too <3 Hugs x

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  11. Dear MaiTai, Thank you for another truly beautiful post! It has lifted my spirits! What an amazing place Barcelona must be....
    Happy Birthday! Enjoy your bracelet! (can't wait to se it featured in future posts)
    Cathy Wong

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    1. Thanks so much for the sweet and lovely note, dear Cathy! Happy you like the new bracelet, and hope you enjoy the Barcelona follow-ups too :-)

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  12. A Barcelona Birthday! Your images are truly glorious, and happy to know that you had perfect weather. I'm also a fan of Massimo Dutti. I think they're part of the Zara clothing line, which we all love, as well.

    As a side note...I'll be in Paris in August, for 5 days, before I jump on a Silversea Cruise from Copenhagen to Russia!! I'm counting the days!!

    Have a stellar week~

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    1. Oh I remember when you had to cancel your last trip to Paris... so glad you are making up for it! What a great trip to look forward too!! Seems that Massimo Dutti is the most common denominator in our closests, right after Hermès ;-) Have a great week too, and a lovely weekend ahead!

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  13. Happy Birthday, Mai Tai! I have never been to Barcelona, but your lovely pictures and text have moved it to the top of my travel wish list! Speaking of which, I am definitely going to try to acquire that paisley shirt. It must be perfect for summer and I already have your Waterfall necklace in lagoon!

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    1. Thank you, dear Patricia! So great re the waterfall necklace, the shirt is perfect with it. Hope you'll enjoy the coming postcards too, and that a trip to Barcelona will be one the horizon one day soon!

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  14. Always enjoy your lovely photos. Belated Happy Birthday! Susan, London

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    1. Thanks so much for the lovely note and good wishes, dear Susan!

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  15. Barcelona is my next-favorite city, right after Paris. What a wonderful trip! The treasures you brought back are all perfectly gorgeous, just like the photos! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. I can see absolutely why you love Barcelona, dear Annie! I miss it already and wish I could go back right now... there is so much to see and to do.. what a fabulous place!

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  16. Dear MaiTai,
    Belated wishes for a Happy Birthday and a wonderful, healthy and successful year ahead! Thank you for the lovely photo essay/travelogue of Barcelona. I will save it for future reference. Would you mind my asking what kind of camera you use? Your photos were, as always, quite beautiful. I, too, am a fan of Massimo Dutti and just purchased their long suede cape in a taupe kidskin leather... tres chic! I'll be packing that, along with a couple of Hermes shawls/scarves and your versatile shawl/scarf rings for my trip next week to Toronto. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks so much for the kind note and lovely good wishes, dear Elizabeth! Re your question.. I use two cameras, both are by Nikon. The point and shoot is a Coolpix 330, and the SRL a 5200. Your new MD capes sounds beautiful! Have a wonderful time in Toronto.

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  17. Now I'm hungry for tapas, dearest MaiTai! So glad your birthday trip was wonderful in every respect. How interesting about the Passeig de Gracia story! The buildings do indeed clash but have perhaps established a sort of strange harmony together over the years. My favorite is Casa Mulleras, so elegant. Your photographs are gorgeous, as always. Many thanks for introducing me to Massimo Dutti - and they deliver to the States? Yay!
    Warm aloha,
    Fifi

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    1. Hello dearest Fifi! Even better news re Massimo Dutti, they have an US online store: http://www.massimodutti.com/us/en/ So happy you enjoyed the post, and so true re the buildings..they seem to belong together now! Have a wonderful weekend x

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  18. Well, all I can say is that in your next life (or in your spare time!), you should be a travel writer. You certainly showed Barcelona off to her best advantage. I've never had the pleasure of visiting, but after seeing this fabulous travelogue, I may not need to!

    I love those breezy summer shirts. They look so cool and refreshing, and of course, they fit perfectly into your existing wardrobe - truly the MaiTai way.

    The new birthday bracelet is stunning, too. Your two guys did a very good job.

    So happy you had a wonderful time, but I don't think I'll be alone in saying that I'm equally delighted that you're back.

    Love to you and the boys,
    Jerrine

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    1. How about if we do the travel book together, dearest Jerrine! You do the writing, and I do the pics. Wouldn't it be fun! Think of all the places we could go...
      Much love from here, and have a great weekend xx

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  19. Bonjour MaiTai, Joyeux Anniversaire !

    I had the chance to visit this amazing and very beautiful city too.
    The food you had seems delicious and I like the pictures with building details you took! Cannot wait to see the next episode :-)
    Hope you went to the beach (I did not see it as it was so rainy when I was there)

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    1. Bonjour dear ESP, and merci for the good wishes. We didn't go to the beach this time (Barcelona really has it all!), but perhaps la prochaine fois!

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  20. Happy Birthday Maitai!

    What a lovely way to celebrate. I'm sure the impromptu arrangements made it even more memorable.

    I want to apologise for the absence, I've been really busy with work and at home, so just wanted to drop a quick line to say that I'm still alive! Reading your blog makes me smile all the time, bringing me on a 'time-escape' capsule from here. Thank you for keeping me sane.

    Looking forward to your future postings!

    With all my best wishes,
    Jasmine

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    1. Hello dear Jasmine, how very lovely to see you! Please don't worry about commenting, sometimes it is just so nice to just relax and enjoy :-) I'm truly happy you still enjoy the updates xx

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  21. My dear ladies,

    I’m soo happy that you are enjoying teh wonderful tour that our dearest Mai Tai it’s doing about my town!!!!

    Indeed it’s worth a visit..

    For practical matters: Both Massimo Dutti and Uterqüe are brands belonging to the Spanish Emporium Inditex ( Yes , ZARA!!!!).. And their “target” it’s classier and grow up that the other ones... If you buy them in Spain you can save almost a 30% ... it’s really worth it to take a glance often.. Their natural fabrics, linen, cotton, and even silk and cashmere are really good value for money... And their style goes so well with our beloved Hermès scarves and accessories... Twice a season they make two special collections: Equestrian and New York higher in price but with some amazing pieces that disappear in few days....

    What about a Mai Tai’ encounter in Barcelona???

    It will be lovely to “see” you, I can imagine the bubbling chat, ..

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    1. Dearest ilsa, Thank you so much for sharing your insider tips and hints with us, your are our Barcelona correspondant! I googled Inditex yesterday, it is such an impressive company. And yes, the prices were up to 30% less than in France. Such a good deal for such lovley pieces. We should all go... for some shopping, chatting and fun xx

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  22. Barcelona, such a beautiful city! My falled in love with the "Pana Negra" ham. Every morning, we walk to a little bar in a street near Paseo de Gracia, my husband ordered ham until he was satisfy. As you know, in Saudi Arabia, pork is forbidden, so that little Barcelona bar was like a "ham oasis" . My son was still a toddler during that visit, he a lot of fun playing with the doves in the parks.

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  23. Wishing you a belated happy birthday. Beautiful pics from Barcelona. When I visited I think I was 20 years old with a back pack on my back and a train ticket across Europe, a stunning city.
    Looking forward to more of your summer wardrobe, will live precariously through you. So cold here already. Love xx

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  24. A belated Happy Birthday dear MaiTai!
    Love your post on Barcelona although I must confess that I have always been a little put off Barcelona by stories of petty thefts especially on Las Ramblas however your blog shows such lovely buildings I really feel I would enjoy a trip. I guess the way to go is tour with minimal belongings and have your wits about you! Thanks for sharing your lovely photos. SAx

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