Author Archives: C.C.
Author Archives: C.C.
The Canary Islands is the place with the best climate in the world for enjoying exceptional holidays any time of the year. Its seven unique islands are perfect for disconnecting from your daily routine, recharging your batteries and returning home feeling physically and mentally refreshed. The beaches, volcanic landscapes, the possibility of choosing from all sorts of outdoor activities, as well as a wide range of quality accommodation and leisure activities mean that the majority of visitors repeat the experience more than once.
Thanks to a wide range of leisure and entertainment services for visitors, the Canary Islands offer fun places where you can enjoy an unforgettable day in one of the zoos, water parks or amusement parks. Climb into a submarine or hire a pedalo to ride the waves and, along with that, watch dolphins and whales swimming freely. You can also choose to ride a camel or a horse or visit a museum and some of the Islands’ archaeological sites. Shopping in its streets and modern shopping centres, attending a show, going out to dinner to enjoy the cuisine followed by a drink on a trendy terrace or relaxing in one of the spas and wellness centres are some of the multiple possibilities on offer.
In addition to the archipelago’s attractive and singular beaches, the seven islands feature an extensive offering of leisure centres designed for endless family activities: aquariums and botanic gardens and the best theme parks are just some of the quality seals that distinguish the Canary Islands for their focus on entertainment that is recreational and educational at the same time. The Canary Islands also offer a range of cultural options to explore, including the monumental site at San Cristobal de La Laguna, which has been awarded the World Heritage designation by the UNESCO, and the work of Cesar Manrique in Lanzarote. Thanks to stable and mild temperatures, the sun usually shines any time of the year.
CANARY ISLANDS BY DAY – With premium-quality facilities, the Islands’ amusement parks are among the best in Europe. All the parks boast modern and safe rides and are carefully supervised by a large and professional team of lifeguards. They include Siam Park on Tenerife, known internationally as the best theme park in the world. Aquapark Costa Teguise on Lanzarote, Acua Water Park on Fuerteventura and Sioux City and Holiday World on Gran Canaria are the most popular and thoroughly enjoyed by families.
The amazing orca and dolphin shows at the Canary Island water parks are especially popular with young children, who are also fascinated by the hundreds of vertebrates and invertebrates that coexist in the archipelago’s zoos, integrated in natural environments and looked after with great dedication and care. In fact, the Canary Islands is home to the largest display of parrots in the world. Tenerife’s Loro Parque, La Palma’s Maroparque, Aquarium Lanzarote and Oasis Park Fuerteventura are the most popular.
The capital cities of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife stage the most striking carnivals that every year attract huge numbers of visitors, such as the Gala events where they choose the Carnival Queen and the Drag Queen, the pageants, the mass outdoor parties and the competitions of murgas (street bands) and comparas (carnival troupes). Across the length and breadth of the archipelago we find examples of these festivals, in some cases notable for their unique features, such as the Indianos in Santa Cruz de La Palma or Los Carneros (Rams) of Tigaday in La Frontera, where young people dress up in furs and ram horns. Other examples include competitions of crazily fast earth-bound and air bound vehicles.
Few cities offer such vibrancy as Valencia. With its year-round attractions such as its climate, long sandy beaches, lively bar terraces and an irresistible programme of activities in store for spring, the City is the ideal destination to welcome in the summer. Valencia offers a combination of avant garde style, culture and Mediterranean spirit, bound to captivate any visitor. Its 300 days of sunshine and average temperature of 19°C make Valencia an ideal destination at any time of year.
VALENCIA BY DAY – Valencia is an amazing city to visit at daytime. It contains influences from Roman, Visigoth, Moorish and Medieval cultures that it had interacted with in its past 2000 years of history. This is evident in many of its iconic monuments and buildings, such as the Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site), La Almoina (Roman remains of the city), the Serranos and Quart Towers and the Cathedral. The city has seven kilometres of perfect beaches. Choose from the various city beaches, which you can get to by metro or tram, or the more unspoilt beaches, such as El Saler in the Albufera Natural Park.
The city converted the former bed of the River Turia, which used to run through the city, into an enormous nine kilometres long park. Today it is a green lung in which you can walk, cycle, play sports, go to cafes, etc. Valencia is a bike-friendly city that is perfect to pedal around thanks to its size. It also has one of the oldest Botanical Gardens in Europe and a unique and fascinating nature area—the Albufera Natural Park. The Huerta de Valencia extends over a surface of about 23,000 hectares that constitute a green agricultural landscape with a rich heritage of rural architecture.
Additionally, you have the city’s cutting-edge architecture with its great 21st-century buildings, such as the City of Arts and Sciences designed by Santiago Calatrava, The Conference Centre by Norman Foster and the Veles e Vents building by David Chipperfield. Valencia will fascinate you with its charming little spots that do not appear in guidebooks but that you will discover during your visit.
The mansion house and plazas of the Barrio del Carmen, the Plaza Redonda, the Santa Catalina Church—in whose square you will find the narrowest building in Europe—the frescoes in the San Nicolas Church, the clock of the Santos Juanes Church, San Vicente’s baptismal font in the San Esteban parish church and the alligator over the door of the El Patriarca Church are just some examples of the many hundreds of such surprises that Valencia—has in store for tourists.
The Costa del Sol is the ideal tourist destination to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea as well as villages in the hinterland and charming towns with a powerful history. Out where Andalusia meets the sea lies the city of Malaga and its Costa del Sol, a glimmering coastline warmed by the Andalusian sun and refreshed by Mediterranean breezes. A sea that witnessed the birth of Picasso extends a broad array of options to accompany its incomparable climate—326 days per year with more than eight hours of sunlight and pleasant temperatures.
Thanks to its 160 kilometres of coastline, the province of Malaga’s beaches come in an enormous variety—broad and sandy or wild and rocky, nudist beaches and small coves, far removed from the urban hustle and bustle, or highly developed beaches with every kind of tourist amenity such as showers, beach umbrellas, sunbeds, bars, etc. The attractions of the Costa del Sol go far beyond sun and sand; however its cultural heritage has Picasso as its primary point of reference, with the Picasso Museum representing the artist’s return to his native city.
This art gallery features more than two hundred original works including oil paintings, sketches, sculptures, engravings and ceramics that are of supreme international significance, and their greatest complement is only to be found in this city: the painter’s Birth House Museum. Malaga’s Historical District has also preserved the architectural evidence of more than 3,000 years of human settlement, from the Phoenicians down to the present age. The Roman Theatre, the Nazarite Alcazaba, the Gibralfaro Castle, the Malaga Cathedral and the surrounding streets themselves attest to this rich heritage.
Special note should also to be taken of two majestic cities that stand on the borderline between legend and reality: Ronda and Antequera. The former is the cradle of bullfighters and bandits and a symbol of Romanticism with artistic treasures of incalculable value. The latter is, in the words of Gerardo Diego, “the city of white and gongorian churches”, an ancient town filled with architectural landmarks. The picturesque White Villages that dot the province’s interior shouldn’t be ignored either.
Ibiza (Eivissa in Catalan) is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean 79 km east of the Iberian Peninsula, and 140 km southeast of the island of Mallorca. You can reach the island either by plane or ship. It has its own international airport and numerous international airlines offer direct flights from all main European airports. Idyllic beaches, endless nights, unlimited fun, an anything-goes atmosphere which is famous all over the world; Ibiza has everything you need to guarantee you have the best holiday ever. It has a mild climate the whole year around, enjoying more than 300 days of sunshine.
A Phoenician-Punic settlement during ancient times, Ibiza contains within its Renaissance walls an interesting legacy from all the different cultures that populated it. This artistic wealth is found in the monumental area of Dalt Vila, in the necropolis of Es Puig des Molins and in the archaeological site of Sa Caleta. The beauty of the island capital is enhanced by the sands and coves at Figueretes, Es Viver and Talamanca, as well as by its the diverse marine ecosystem. The two most noteworthy aspects of Ibiza, its biodiversity and its culture, have made it worthy of being declared a UNESCO World Heritage City.
IBIZA BY DAY – Ibiza offers daytime venues in the form of its Beach clubs which have become quite the vogue. Located along select stretches of coastline, they offer great food, brilliant music and cater to a select clientele. The beaches and coves of Ibiza, such as Figueretes, Es Viver or Talamanca have golden sand and seabeds that will delight scuba-diving fans, as they house a large number of native Mediterranean species and also a wealth of sea life.
In Ibiza, you will find various tourist areas surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. You can visit the Archaeological Museum, a witness to the city’s rich past, thanks to a valuable collection of objects that cover 2000 years of history. The best way to enjoy the popular architecture of Ibiza is to wander around the narrow streets of the historic quarter until you reach the port, having crossed the central Vara de Rey walkway, and walk around the port area to the splendid lighthouse known as Botafoc.
In addition to the fishing neighbourhood in the lower part of town, another worthwhile visit is the necropolis of Es Puig des Molins, also declared World Heritage, along with the Phoenician settlement of Sa Caleta. Over 3500 Punic and Phoenician graves have been found here. The statues of the goddess Tanit and the god Bes are two of its main pieces.
The island of Ibiza can be visited starting out from the capital. Several kilometres to the northeast is the municipality of Santa Eularia des Riu, with the church located on the Puig de Missa. Further on is the Portinatx, a tourist centre with beautiful coves and a seaside feel. There are numerous terraces and restaurants on the seashore where the visitor can discover the best of Ibiza cuisine.
Bilbao awakens and during these first hours of daylight, the Ria invites us to stroll along its banks and enjoy the architecture, the art, the parks. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has become an authentic catalogue of architecture and open-air art. Going for a walk allows us to admire sculptures by contemporary authors such as Dali, Chillida, Koons, and Bourgeois. And works by internationally renowned architects such as Pelli, Isozaki, Ferrater, Siza, Moneo, Calatrava and Ghery.
BILBAO BY DAY – The morning draws on and there are a number of options. Discovering the city’s old quarter, visiting the Transporter Bridge or Puente Colgante, a World Heritage site, or going for a dip and enjoying the beaches and fishing towns on the coast, just 20-30 minutes away by metro. If we continue through the city now’s the time to go into the Old Quarter or Casco Viejo, the heart of Bilbao. We’re now in the historical centre, and its architecture and monuments tell us the story of the city.
Food purchases require a stop off at the Ribera Market and if we’re looking for something with an atmosphere that’s more hip, with pavement terraces and varied bars, the best thing to do is go to the Bilbao la Vieja neighbourhood. The afternoon envelopes the city and the bourgeois mansions of the Ensanche district await us, overlooking Gran Via, the city’s commercial artery. Walking around the streets allows us to discover cafes with history, magnificent patisseries where you can try local delicacies, and modern bars.
BILBAO BY NIGHT – When night falls, Bilbao offers us the chance to enjoy its cuisine and cocktails. To dine on Basque cooking in any of its forms, from the most traditional to the cutting edge, is a treat. Evening plans take us to the opera and classical music at the Euskalduna Conference Centre, performances at the Arriaga Theatre, the Casino, or simply relaxing stroll to enjoy the charm of the city lights.
Designated the European Capital of Culture 2016 and featured by over 100 travel guides and media outlets across the world, the city also boasts of the most Michelin Stars per square metre: 16 Michelin Stars and three restaurants with three Stars each. Any excuse to visit San Sebastian is good. Besides the unequalled beauty of La Concha Bay, the city is the place to come to for innovative cuisine that has made it famous across the world, and a wide range of festivals that have made it a genuine cultural phenomenon worth experiencing.
SAN SEBASTIAN BY DAY – Make sure to explore the Old Town, eating wonderful pintxos (Basque tapas) where the bars are an irresistible temptation or buying local products in the traditional market. Do Drop by the ‘Wind Comb’, the emblematic sculpture of Eduardo Chillida and visit San Telmo Museum, the oldest in the Basque Country, to learn about Basque Society. For the sea lovers, take a dip in the sea at the delightful La Concha beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. Finally, Wave-spotting in the Paseo Nuevo, alongside the sculpture by Oteiza, where waves of over 10 metres in height crash against the walls and leap into the air will certainly keep you enthralled.
SAN SEBASTIAN BY NIGHT – At nighttime, there many excellent restaurants in a city to enjoy. One of the best sunsets can be experienced from the pier of the fishing harbour. Then proceed to visit the lighted up Kursaal Conference Centre, a spectacular architectural work by Rafael Moneo. Attend concerts at the International Jazz Festival, held at the beach in July and finally enjoy the view from Tabakalera’s fifth floor terrace, former tobacco factory turned into an International Centre for Contemporary Culture.
There are many reasons for you to visit the Basque Country. It is home to among the world’s finest food, beaches in natural settings and avant-garde architecture. This area in northern Spain is an ideal place for an all-round visit, with its privileged location in the south of Europe, in the green north of Spain, and with everything close at hand.
The three Basque regional capitals are good examples of how this identity is expressed. Donostia/San Sebastian is a cosmopolitan city to enjoy the delightful pace of living at the seaside. Bilbao is a culturally rich and stimulating city, which competes with leading European cities in terms of quality and modernity. Vitoria has a rich heritage and modern, well laid out user-friendly urban planning.
The Basque Mountains and Valleys and the quintessential villages dotted around, reflect the thousand year-old history and traditions kept alive. The Basque Coast with its 250 km of beaches, estuaries, marshlands, cliffs and fishing villages, reflects nature which is abrupt yet generous with a living and intensely blue sea.
Situated on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville has a rich Moorish heritage and used to be a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americas. The streets and squares in the historic quarter of the capital of Andalusia are lively and busy. They treasure many constructions that have the World Heritage designation, and many districts are full of traditional culture, like Triana and La Macarena.
Museums and art centers, theme parks, cinemas, theatres and clubs are some of the many leisure options that a great city like Seville holds. Without forgetting, of course, the numerous terraces, inns and bars where visitors can practice one of the most tasty traditions in the city—”Going out for tapas”.
GAME OF THRONES COMES TO SEVILLE – Season 5 of Game of Thrones featured the amazing Alcazar in Seville, Spain. It represented the famous water gardens of Reales Alcazares, the royal residences and gardens of the Alcazar which are world renown on their own.
SEVILLE BY DAY – If there were ever a city to get completely lost in, this is the one. Seville’s beguiling maze of streets epitomizes southern Spanish charm right down to the tiled-adorned buildings, abundance of tapas bars, and echo of flamenco. Seville is a place that you need to discover walking. Otherwise, you’ll miss the point. Seville is not only a bunch of magnificent buildings and palaces.
It’s also its people and their passion. The majority of the must-sees are clustered around the Cathedral complex with the so called “Sevilla’s most beautiful daughter, La Giralda”, as it is called the tower of the Cathedral, UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Archivo de las Indias and the Reales Alcazares Palace. Grab your comfortable shoes, an abanico and enjoy this wonderful city. Stay in the city’s old town to explore the cobbled streets of the Santa Cruz quarter.
For tourists, Barcelona is a secret known to everyone. Over the last decade, the capital of Catalonia has been the star of European urban tourism. The heritage bequeathed by Gaudi and the examples of Art-Nouveau (Modernist) architecture in the Eixample, the authenticity of the Gothic Quarter, the legacy of the city’s medieval past, the history and charm of its streets, the offer of its museums, with the National Museum of Art of Catalonia and the area devoted to Picasso, its offer of services and restaurants, its nightlife, its Mediterranean feel, its range of shops with a model unique to Barcelona that combines large international brands with distinctive boutiques lending character to the city; in short, a whole scope of possibilities that has won the hearts of visitors from all corners of the globe.
Casa Batllo, Casa Amatller and Casa Mila—better known as La Pedrera [the stone quarry]—are just some of the buildings which bring together a host of almost unprecedented, exuberant colours and forms. Modernisme can be appreciated throughout the city. Spectacular buildings like the church of the Sagrada Familia—an unfinished work by Gaudi—the Palau de la Musica Catalana and the Park Guell make up, along with other buildings, a legacy of modernisme that can only be seen here.
The Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batllo, the Casa Vicens, the Crypt of Colonia Guell, La Pedrera, have been designated World Heritage Sites, together with the Palau Guell, the Sant Pau, modern exhibition centres, the Park Guell and the Palau de la Musica Catalana. Barcelona is the largest outdoor museum for Art Nouveau architecture, celebrating visual splendour.
BARCELONA BY DAY – Barcelona’s markets are places where you can enjoy a lively, vibrant atmosphere in surroundings where the cries of the market’s stallholders and the daily bustle intermingle. Few cities in the world can boast a network such as that of Barcelona—39 food markets and four markets selling other goods form a unique heritage that should be maintained and preserved. The Boqueria Market, on La Rambla, is one of Barcelona’s best-known markets, and has become a major landmark.
Magerit, ‘land rich in water’. This is what the Arabs called this area, located on the central plain of the Iberian Peninsula, close to Sierra de Guadarrama, where King Phillip II of Spain later established the royal court. Afterwards, it grew into the big city we know today. The first historical record of Madrid dates back to the year 865, when Emir Muhammad I commissioned the construction of a fortress in the village of Mayrit, on the banks of the river Manzanares. ‘Mayrit’ means ‘plenty of waterways’ which is why the city’s first recorded coat of arms read, ‘I was built on water / My walls are made of fire / This is my flag and my coat of arms’. Madrid belonged to the Islamic world until 1083, when Alfonso VI of Castile took over the city.
Few vestiges have remained from this era. On Calle Mayor, next to the Institute of Italian Culture, there used to stand the Grand Mosque and, most probably, as in every Muslim city, the souk. On the site of the former mosque rose the Church of Santa Maria, of which some remains can still be seen. Close by, on Cuesta de la Vega, there are parts of the old town walls that enclosed the medina or citadel. It was inside these walls that the Christians found a statuette of Virgin Mary with a candle that had been burning for over 400 years at the time they seized the area. Almudena, derived from the Arabic al-mudayna that translates as ‘the little city’ or ‘citadel’, has since then been the name mostly used by Madrilenos to refer to the Virgin.
In the Medieval district of Madrid you can go to the National Archaeological Museum and experience a really interesting collection of decorative objects from the Visigoth Kingdom of Toledo to the Late Middle Ages. The rooms dedicated to Medieval and Renaissance art in the Lazaro Galdiano Museum and the Prado Museum are well worth a visit too.
MADRID BY DAY – The Royal Palace, whose architect drew inspiration from the sketches by Bernini for Paris’s Louvre, is a must-visit in a tour of traditional Madrid. You can’t miss taking pictures in Plaza Mayor or the Kilometre zero marker in Puerta del Sol, from which the national roads starting in Madrid fan out. The plaque is located facing the former Royal Post Office building, currently home to the Regional Government of the Region of Madrid.
The square is the epicentre of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Madrid. On 31st December every year, people gather to watch the huge clock that dominates the square ticking down to midnight. El Oso y el Madrono, a statue depicting a bear eating from a strawberry tree that also appears in the city’s coat of arms, is also in Puerta del Sol.
On your walk towards El Retiro Park, you’ll see the Cibeles Fountain, one of the symbols of Madrid, and Puerta de Alcala gate, a triumphal arch that is one of Madrid’s most photographed landmarks. If you’re an art lover visiting the capital of Spain, the Prado Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum (MNCARS) are places you can’t miss. The stars of the collection in the Prado are Goya’s The Nude Maja and Velazquez’s Las Meninas, while the collection at the Reina Sofia includes Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece Guernica, an artwork that can be described as a synthesis of the Avant Garde Movement. In this moving painting, the artist conveys the suffering caused by the bombing of Guernica in 1937.