FRAGMENTS_ Acusa Seca

In my previous blogpost I raved about the cave dwelling we stayed at in Gran Canaria, so today I wanted to share more photos of that experience.  In this post I’m taking you on a tour of Acusa Seca, a small village of cave dwellings dating back to the 6th century with a breathtaking view over Roque Nublo (the appropriately named cloud rock).  During our hike through the surrounding valley we encountered even more breathtaking views, hence the picture overload.  Have a look at the photos below and wander through Acusa Seca with me!

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EXPLORED_ a cave house in Acusa Seca

Explored_ acusa seca cave house in gran canaria

When I was planning last summer’s holiday, I came across an intriguing airbnb by accident.  A house carved into the rocks, with an incredible view right at its front door.  Thinking it was probably somewhere really far away and exotic where I wouldn’t end up in the near future, I saved it for “someday”.  A few weeks later, when I wanted to show that impressive Acusa Seca cave house to a friend, I noticed it was located on Gran Canaria.  The island where my sister was planning to spend 5 months for her Erasmus.

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FRAGMENTS_ jardins fontserè i mestre

Before we started our 50 km roadtrip, Eline and I first had to drive our car from the airport of Barcelona to our hotel in Girona.  To make sure we had the best possible experience during our first drive with the prius plug-in hybrid, the toyota team programmed a scenic route into the GPS.  We drove along some of Barcelona’s most impressive views, but there was one in particular where we could not resist to make a quick stop.  When we spotted the lushious vegetation and interesting architecture of the Jardins Fontserè i Mestre, we just had to pull over!  Unfortunately the greenhouses were closed, so we didn’t get the full experience, but I did manage to snap a few photos that convey the atmosphere quite well.  Definitely a place that should be listed in my city guide for Barcelona!

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FRAGMENTS_ Las Palmas in pastel

FRAGMENTS_ Las Palmas in pastel - Hannelore Veelaert for au pays des merveilles

Normally I would try to recap my holidays in a more or less chronological way, but once I started editing photos of our last evening in Las Palmas, I couldn’t wait to share these dreamy pastel fragments of Gran Canaria’s capital.

As you might have guessed from all the spamming I did on Instagram (you can find all images from our trip here), visiting my sister on her Erasmus destination was pretty spectacular.  The island of Gran Canaria truly has it all, from black beaches and deserts to lush vegetation and breathtaking mountains (more on that later!), while Las Palmas is one dreamy sequence of exotic palm trees and sublime pastel hues.  Quite the opposite from the all-in resorts that I imagined beforehand, but hey, I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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FRAGMENTS_ the 50 km road trip

all pictures by Eline Ros and me

It came as quite a surprise when Toyota asked me if I wanted to try out their Prius Plug-in Hybrid.  I’m not a car expert, in fact, I just passed my driver’s license test and still had to pick up my driver’s license.  However, I do care about sustainability and love traveling, so this trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out that brand new driver’s license.   Toyota challenged me and my friend Eline to go on a 50 km road trip, discovering interesting spots in a 50 km radius around the Mas de Torrent hotel where we were staying.  Why 50 km?  This is the Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s driving range using only its battery.  Yay for no emissions!

I was very curious to discover the Catalonian provence of Girona, as I’ve traveled to Spain multiple times but only ever visited Barcelona.  As it turns out, Girona holds beautiful beaches, incredible views, picturesque medieval villages, interesting architecture and, last but not least, excellent coffee.

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WHERE TO GO IN BARCELONA

where to go in barcelona via au pays des merveilles

When I visited Barcelona for the third time, I did something I’ve never done before: prepare for a trip.  Usually, I prefer traveling without a to do list and I like to be surprised by unsuspected discoveries, but now that I have a smart phone, a well prepared trip seemed a lot less of a hassle than before.  So for the first time ever, I searched blogs (Sir Magazine, Why Not Monday, The Epic Guide and 12hrs) and asked friends (Lise, Lien, Hanna and Mariona) for tips and gathered all of them in one helpful guide.  (When I do research, I do it well!)  Because we had so much fun with this list of Barcelona tips, I decided to gather every place I’ve tested and approved in one blog post.  In the list below, you’ll only find the places that have been approved by yours truly, while on the google map at the end of this post, you can find all the recommendations I found, including the ones I haven’t tested myself.  I trust my friends and fellow blogger’s opinion, so these are still on my to do list for my next visit.  I do think you cannot visit Barcelona without seeing some of Gaudi’s work, so I’ve included some of his buildings and some other touristic must do’s in this list as well.  I’ll warn you: tickets to see these don’t come cheap and it’ll probably be crowded with tourists, but it’s worth it anyway in my opinion.

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FRAGMENTS_ architecture in Barcelona

architecture in barcelona by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

 In November I made a trip to Barcelona, where I spent a couple of days with a friend and two days on my own.  My friend had to head back sooner than me but I preferred to have more time off from my busy schedule in Belgium.  With “Fiets & the city – Barcelona” in hand, I took the metro to Poblenou to check out their recommendations on modern architecture.  Herzog and de Meuron’s Museu Blau, the natural history museum, was my favorite discovery, with it’s interesting textures and reflections.  Next to Museu Blau, you can also find the Diagonal 00 Telefonica Tower (by Enric Massip-Bosch_EMBA), with its graphic lines.   My last stop was Can Framis, Jodi Badia’s concrete museum which houses a collection of contemporary Catalan art.  As it was Monday, both museums were closed so unfortunately my architectural field trip was limited to outside views only, but worth it anyway.

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EXPLORED_ Bunkers in Barcelona

bunkers in barcelona by hannelore veelaert for au pays des merveilles

In November I made a short trip to Barcelona to escape all the graduation and internship stress.  My travel companion had to head back sooner than me, so I spent a couple of days on my own in this Spanish city.  On my last day in Barcelona, I hiked my way up to the bunkers of El Carmel.  These old remains of an air raid civil war bunker offer the most amazing view over the city of Barcelona and are the perfect spot for a picnic.

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FRAGMENTS_ Montjuic

FRAGMENTS_ Montjuic by Hannelore Veelaert for Au Pays Des Merveilles
In November I made a short trip to Barcelona with my friend and textile designer Ella De Vos.  We both visited the city a couple of times already, so our plan was to do absolutely nothing but relax.  We needed a few days to escape our busy lives in Antwerp and a few days where nothing was planned but drinking coffee or wine and eating tapas seemed perfect to us.

One particular day, we decided to be a little more adventurous, so we followed this book‘s advice and rented bikes to ride up to Montjuic.  Maybe Definitely a little too ambitious for someone who doesn’t work out regularly (the hill is really steep), so we decided to make stops on the way up instead of on the way down, like our city guide recommended.   This still is quite an effort, but the views you get along the way definitely make up for it.

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