Springtime in Europe

After winter’s harsh weather, the people of Europe are ready leave their homes and fill open-air spaces as the temperatures climb. Discover the charms of the Old World as it blooms.

Text: XIMENA VILLAR    map: Mathias Sielfeld @oyemathias
       

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Imperdibles alrededor de la calle Verdi:tapas en el Teatreneu y las delicias japonesas del Kibuka.

Attractions on Calle Verdi include tapas at the Teatreneu and the Japanese delights of Kibuka.

PhotoS: getty images

 

Eating Barcelona

The neighborhood of Gràcia is a pedestrian haven structured around a dozen plazas where visitors unwind comfortably at bar and restaurant terraces. It’s the perfect setting for enjoying a snack any time and sampling the wide culinary variety offered on the popular Calle Verdi.

Plaça de la Virreina, Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia, and Plaça del Sol are the loveliest of these gathering spots. The latter is home to the restaurant Kibuka, a world-class name in Japanese cuisine that fuses traditional specialties with Western flavors. Their smartest move was to include Catalonian ingredients and mix them with a taste of Brazil.

The iconic restaurant Sol Soler rules the roost with its dazzling terrace and one of the best views on the renowned Plaça del Sol. The kitchen in open until 2:30 in the morning, and every weekend, the menu outdoes itself with new tapas like potato, spinach and Roquefort pie, fig and quince quiche, or blueberry cheesecake. Pair your meal with something from the selection of domestic cavas, orujos, and cocktails (mojitos and caipirinhas are some of the highlights).

 


 

  • FOTO / PHOTO: PIM HENDRIKSEN


Avant-garde Amsterdam

In spring, the city’s flat topography lends itself to long, easy bicycle rides (the best way to see the city, without a doubt). Take advantage of the reasonably priced Orangebike rentals offered throughout the city by the hour or day.

De 9 Straatjes (The Nine Streets) is a dynamic and cosmopolitan neighborhood located west of downtown. It consists of three narrow streets, a number of arch bridges, and three interconnected canals that are home to the nine most appealing streets in the city.

The neighborhood is nearly inaccessible to cars, so it’s especially attractive to those who want to explore at a relaxed pace. The absence of motor vehicles also means that the area is very quiet, with conversations and bicycle bells the only background noise. Fashion and avant-garde design shops, cafés, and fine restaurants appear one after the next, all complemented by the beautiful homes – many dating back to the 17th century and most less than six stories high – which imbue the neighborhood with a particular charm.

 


 

  • El East End londinense y su mixtura de mercados, tendencias y vanguardia. // London’s East End offers a mix of markets, trends, and avant-garde surprises.

    FOTO / PHOTO: Getty ImageS


Pure Style in London

Bold, eccentric, and new, East London – the “East End” to the locals – is a haven for all things retro, vintage, stylish, and chic. This part of town is best explored on foot.

On Shoreditch High Street, you’ll find House of Hackney, an icon in British fashion. Founded by former Topshop buyer Frieda Gormley, this eclectic brand is on display throughout the store’s more than 2,000 square feet. With a sense of kitsch that greatly appeals to Londoners, these designs seem right out of a Lewis Carroll story, mixing pink flamingoes and palm trees with other fantastical elements. Direct your queries about the otherworldly wallpaper, clothing, and décor items to the store’s many employees, who populate this chic jungle dressed head to toe in the brand.

In the same part of town, the Spitalfields Market is housed in a former Victorian market. It’s the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind items. The sellers change daily, and each day has a specific theme, for example, independent fashion designers fill the stalls on Friday.

 


 

  • Lago Como, mezcla perfecta de tradición y estilo. // Lake Como is a perfect combination of tradition and style.

    FOTO / PHOTO: Getty ImageS


Lake Como Chic

Boating on Lake Como, in the Italian region of Lombardy, is the best way to admire the beauty of these shores, adorned with dense vegetation and majestic architecture. Spring and summer are perfect for enjoying this leisurely pastime, and there are a number of options from which to choose.

The Navighazioni fleet is part of the public transportation system with day passes that cost about 25 euros. Feel free to get on and off at the various terminals, which are linked by a ferry and include Cadenabbia, Varenna, Bellagio, and Menaggio.

The most romantic and luxurious alternative is a cruise ship. Navighazioni offers a Belle Époque-style cruise, with the option of sailing by night and dining to the sound of an orchestra.

There are also other options, like the modern hord-bords offered by a number of private agencies, which allow you full autonomy of travel. Or, if you’re looking for more personalized service, taxi-boats with private drivers let you decide the itinerary and duration of the voyage.

 


 

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PHOTO: Francisco Cruz

 

Art & Sand in Berlin

When the gallery is on the street, it’s hard to ignore the obvious: urban art is taking over the city walls. The outdoor exercise of creativity is a popular activity among Berliners and a form of artistic expression that has transformed the city into an immense open art space, where the walls are decorated in graffiti, stickers, collages, scratch tags, and other techniques.

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PHOTO: Getty Images
Artists like Banksy, El Bocho, and Alias & Blue have made their mark on the German city, where urban art can be found everywhere, particularly in the neighborhoods of Friedrichstein, Kreuzberg, Mitte, and Prenzlauer Berg. While the quality of certain pieces make them worthy of permanent display, works on the street deteriorate rapidly. The exception is the classic East Side Gallery: less than a mile remains of the original Berlin Wall, its east side covered with more than 100 colorful murals created by artists from around the world.

As a contrast, pay a visit to the “pacifist bunker” that houses the Sammlung Boros gallery. In 2003, Christian Boros came up with the unusual idea of repurposing an old bunker to showcase his contemporary art collection. The result is an exceptional atmosphere featuring famous artists like Sarah Lucas and Santiago Sierra. Admission is limited and by reservation only (available online).

For a more relaxed ambiance, head to the “beaches” of Badeschiff, on the banks of the Spree. Access to these private spaces is well worth the price for pleasant sand, canvas chairs, beer kiosks, and swimming pools, where tanned bodies enjoy rhythms spun by DJs. It’s a great option for a summer afternoon in Berlin.

If you still have energy and high spirits come sundown, head to the longest party in the world. The historic nightclub Berghain offers admission to the huge club on a Friday night that lasts through Sunday: guests can come and go as they please. Electronic music predominates, but there are different spaces for different musical tastes.

www.berghain.de

 


 

  • Madrid desde lo alto. Destaca el magnífico edificio Metrópolis. // The magnificent Métropolis building is just one of the highest highlights in Madrid.

    FOTO / PHOTO: Circulo de bellas artes

 

Madrid from Above

In downtown Madrid, the Círculo de Bellas Artes is a great place to enjoy an excellent panoramic perspective on the city. With a view of the four cardinal points, you’ll be able to spot the Gran Vía, the Palacio de Cibeles, or Calle de Alcalá. You can also appreciate the Madrid skyline, filled with the skyscrapers of Paseo de la Castellano, with Torres de Colón in the foreground, the Telefónica building, and – on the other side – the museums of the verdant Paseo del Prado and the church of San Jerónimo el Real.

This rooftop terrace becomes a popular spot once the weather clears, and the biggest attraction is its excellent restaurant (book reservations in advance). There’s also a cocktail bar with comfortable deck chairs, perfect for sipping an aperitif as you admire Madrid from this wonderful vantage point.

Last summer, the “roof cinema” program kicked off, showing classic films with the sound broadcast on a wireless headphone system.

 


 

  • FOTO / PHOTO: francisco cruz


Picnicing in Lyon

Summertime picnics are just the thing in France, and if we’re talking about Lyon, the choice of venue is clear: Parc de la Tête d’Or. This glorious green space dates back to 1856 and is now home to more than 9,000 trees, several rose gardens, and a zoo whose elephants seem to have adapted perfectly to the local pace.

Head out wearing a Panama hat and sunglasses, with a big blanket and basket in hand, then stock up at the neighborhood’s boulangeries and épiceries with sandwiches, gourmet delights, fruit, beverages, and perhaps a pair of flutes for enjoying some bubbly.

The parks offers many attractions, including a marionette theater that attracts scores of children on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and a lagoon where you can rent canoes and paddle to Lîle du Souvenir, the site of a bold World War I monument by visionary artist Tony Garnier. in

 

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