Monday, 15 June 2009

Barcelona: the land of Gaudi

La Sagrada Familia
Loving Barcelona! The hot weather,  delectable cuisine, people friendly and the sights absolutely amazing. The view from where I am staying  is the Sagrada Família, the unfinished basilica of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi.

Note that Gaudi took over construction in 1883 and at the time of his death in 1925, the construction is less than a quarter complete. The basilica is estimated to be finished by 2026.

The best way to tour Barcelona is with a bike with its biking-friendly built lanes and bike-friendly subways where the trains have allocated space for bikes. I tried to rent a bike from"bicing"  which is the community bicycle program where one can just  pick-up and drop-off at any point in the city. It is unfortunately offered  to residents only.  I ended up renting a bike at a rental shop in Rauric off Placa St Jjaume.

A typical day for me would be to eat my fave pulpo for breakfast at 11am at the Boqueria, then do the sights. At 3pm, head to the sailors district to mix with the crowd  in Can Paxiano  for tocadillos and one or two copas of cava. Then, hie off to the beach for chill out music and massage.  Then to town for sights or shoppigng, then dinner at 10pm for some point-eating on the montadas for some tapas.
My daily fare Pulpo and Cava for breakfast
Sobrassadas and cava for lunch at Can Paxiano
The Gaudi Museum in Park Gueli 

Not to miss in Barcelona:
1. Champanñeria Can Paxiano for sandwiches and reasonably priced cava (semi-sec). Be prepared to eat standing! Location is in old sailor district, the alley at c/ de la Reina Cristina, 7.
2.  Tapas is the way to go. Make sure to visit Bar Mut at Carrer Pau Claris +34932174338
3. Museums - the MACBA contemporary art museum and the CCB next door, Picasso and Dali exhibitions at the Gothic Quarter and Fundacio Jona Miro!
3. Boqueria at Las Ramblas for everything delectable! I've made this my breakfast ritual to savor fresh fruits and fresh everything.
4. Jamon Iberico for cured-ham. Must try is the iberico de bellota ham from free-range  pigs that roam in oak forests and cured for 36 months.
5. Park Gueli is another Antoni Guadi landmark built in 1900 to 1914. Also visit:  Casa Baitillo

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Before you board, did you check your travel insurance?

Honestly, I purchased my one-year valid travel insurance last month and decided to read the instructions only now in SFO terminal while waiting to board flight to Dublin. It says "we recommend thorough reading of the instructions...". The first page says to make sure to activate card prior to travel. There's an expiry date of 4 June 2010 so I guess my policy has been activated.
Have you heard of a PIR form? Its the abbreviation of Property Irregular Report provided by the airline that must be completed for missing luggage. The insurance will cover expenses 36 hours from the reported loss (you have to call)together with this PIR form. For cancelled or at least 6-hours delayed flights, they need a written proof from the airline.
Medical assistance is limited to emergency treatment that prevent continuation of the trip or in case of an accident or unexpected illness. The good news is the insurance will cover up to 10 physical therapies, medications, ambulatory, dentistry (up to$150), hospitalization, surgery, intensive care and coronary unit, repatriations, transfer of a relative (up to ten days), funerary repatriation; and,including legal assistance from an attorney and loan to pay for a jail bond.
The BAD news is expressly excluded are endemic and/or epidemic illnesses in countries under sanitary emergency status (- - duh! guess with H1N1 pandemic, this means half the world?), training or active participation in all kinds of sports competitions (--- hmmm, triathlons and marathons???) and high risk sports such as water skiing, jet skiing, para sailing, scuba diving (--- at least, there's the Divers Alert Network for diving-related emergencies), mountain climing, surfing, windsurfing, and winter sports. Yikes! most of my sports are not "insurable". I guess the golfers are the only ones covered!
So, in case some unforseen event does happen, make sure to place the call (in my case case to Assist-Card Alarm Center) so the clock starts ticking and then, have all the proper forms from the airline (for delays or missing luggage), an ID card, passport, airline tickets and collect all the receipts.
Thank God I read the instructions! It also says to check voucher for maximum global amounts. What voucher??? I don't have it with me. Well... at least I'm out of an epidemic illness country under sanitary emergency status...