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Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category

Madrid,Spain

November 16, 2010

ARANJUEZ

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ARANJUEZ

At the meeting point of the Tagus and Jarama rivers, this low-lying meadow was a cherished spring escape for Spanish kings and queens for many centuries. The stunning gardens of this UNESCO World Heritage Site blend architecture and nature.  Have lunch at the star-studded Casa Jose restaurant (casajose. es), where sophisticated renderings of traditional Spanish dishes include grilled hake with almond and saffron and roast pork with orange and parsley.


Madrid,Spain

November 9, 2010

ALCALADE HENARES

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ALCALADE HENARES

This World Heritage Site is less than 20 miles from Madrid. One of the most important cities in Spanish history, Cervantes, Tirso de Molina, and Lope de Vega are just a short list of the renowned writers who have called this “city of words” home. Visit the Universidad Complutense, which dates back to 1499, and is an important stopping point on the “Path of the Spanish Language” route celebrating the Spanish language’s history.


Madrid,Spain

November 2, 2010

MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

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MONASTERY OF EL ESCORIAL

This mountain town is nestled in the Sierra de Guadarrama at the foot of Mount Abantos about 30 miles from Madrid.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the Monastery and Real Sitio de San Lorenzo are prime examples of Spain’s imperial glory.  Walk through this scenic outpost which was once the powerful stronghold of Philip II King of Spain, ruler of one of the world’s largest empires.


Madrid,Spain

October 23, 2010

CHINCHON

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CHINCHON

This picturesque medieval city brims with warm character and wonderful restaurants less than 30 miles away. It is far enough away that it feels like an adventure, but close enough to visit in a day. Settle into a cafe off the main square lined by its distinctive changing balconies and order up orange juice for the kids and an aperitif the city’s signature anise liquor for mom and dad.


Spain

Free Guidebook For Lanzarote Tourists

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The Canary Islands are the second most visited region in Spain after Catalonia.  And Lanzarote, the fourth largest of these islands, has long been a hot favourite with British tourists.  With over 820,000 visitors from the UK enjoying a holiday there during the course of 2009.  A figure that is expected to increase even further this year.

Free Guidebook For Every Visitor

 Now all tourists visiting Lanzarote can save money and make the most of their holidays by getting their hands on a comprehensive, 96 page Guidebook to the island – entirely free of charge.  By downloading a copy of the latest edition of Lanzarote Guidebook at www.lanzaroteguidebook.com.

 

Local Knowledge – The Inside Guide

Lanzarote Guidebook is written and published by local residents.  So readers can benefit from their in-depth local knowledge, rather than wasting precious holiday time and money visiting tourist traps and enduring low quality meals in dodgy restaurants.

 

Up To Date Information

It is published every quarter, so the information in Lanzarote Guidebook is always accurate and up to date.  Unlike conventional guidebooks which can often be obsolete in parts by the time they reach the bookshelves.

 

Discounts On Excursions & Restaurants

Lanzarote Guidebook readers can also enjoy discounts at local restaurants and on some of the islands best excursions.  With 10% off the price of a trip on Lanzarote´s popular Yellow Submarine available – along with a 10% discount on all meals at La Cabaña, one of the islands leading restaurants.

 

Why Buy A Guidebook?

Lanzarote Guidebook contains all of the information and high quality pictures that can be found in a conventional Guidebook – but at no cost.  Enabling readers to explore all of Lanzarote´s resorts and attractions, browse maps and plan their holiday before they even arrive on the island.

 

Delivered To The Door

As well as being available as a fast and free download Lanzarote Guidebook can also be delivered direct to any address in the UK at a cost of £3.59, which covers postage and packing.


Spain

November 29, 2009

Discover The Canary Island of Lanzarote

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Northern Europeans have long been flocking to the Canary Islands to enjoy their holidays.  Especially during the winter months.  As these seven specks of Spain guarantee great weather all year round.  Thanks to their location off the coast of Africa on the same line of latitude as the Bahamas and Florida.

The Canaries are also just a four hour flight from the UK – making them the closest winter sun destination for British tourists.  Who are the largest market for holidays here. 

Each island has its own character – with Lanzarote the most arid and barren of the chain.  A result of the impact of huge volcanic eruptions which wiped out rich farmland and many villages some 250 years ago.

Fortunately today all of these volcanoes are now dormant and this region is one of the most popular tourist spots on the island.  Home to the Timanfaya Volcano Park which is one of the best loved national parks in Spain and which is also known locally as the Fire Mountains.

Getting To Lanzarote
Flights to Lanzarote have never been cheaper.  Thanks to the advent of a number of new services from Ryanair this winter, which has helped to bring some ticket costs down to as low as just £9.99 return. 

All international flights land at Arrecife airport which is located just outside the capital of the same name.  With onward transfer to the main resorts possible by hire car or taxi only.  As there is no shuttle bus service in operation on the island.

Where To Stay
Lanzarote offers an abundance of accommodation options.  Hotels of all grades and to suit all budgets are available in the three main resorts of Costa Teguise, Puerto del Carmen and Playa Blanca. 

Playa Blanca is also home to a wide choice of Lanzarote holiday villas.  With prices starting from as little as £450 per week.

Getting Around
The best way to see the island is to hire a car and tour independently.  There are plenty of guided tours available but these tend to really limit the amount of time spent at key attractions and are relatively expensive.  Whilst car hire in Lanzarote starts from as little as €13 per day.

As well as the volcanic region visitors should be sure to check out the many creations of Cesar Manrique, a local artist.  And atmospheric towns and villages such as Haria and Teguise.


San Sebastian,Spain

November 15, 2009

San Sebastian, Exploring the Inland

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We travel to the territory’s interior, to the highest landscapes and villages in Gipuzkoa, separated from San Sebastian by thirty kilometres, The Oria Valley has traditionally been the main communication axis between the North and the South; that is the reason why the N-I road is our particular guide in this journey. We do not need tc drive a lot to get to Tolosa, a highly noble town that, in the 19th century, was the capital town of Gipuzkoa during ten years. Before that time, it had already shown enough signs of its importance the Baroque palaces (Idiaquez, At4do…), the Gothic church of Santa Maria, or the precious arcaded structure of El Tinglado Market, on the banks of the Oria River. It would be an excellent idea to visit Tolosa on a Saturday morning, when we can enjoy the busy and colourful public market.

If you want to experience the same feeling in Ordizia, you should visit this town on a Wednesday: the market has been held for almost five centuries in the heart of the historic quarter, a Historic-Artistic Site. The palaces of Barrena and Zabala or the streets through which Fray Andres de Urdaneta, a 16th century seafarer, will say goodbye to us before leaving to Beasain. Now we are on the epicentre of the Goerri region, under the influence of magic Aralar Mountain Range and with the reference of the sharp summit of Mount Txindoki. The Igartza Site is the biggest monumental treasure in this place and the perfect key to travel to medieval Gipuzkoa, whether crossing the 12th century bridge, observing the mill working, or enjoying the stone and wood structure of the Igartza Palace.

We will get to Idiazabal, famous for the cheese -an Interpretation Centre explains the making process-, and we will drive to Segura through the GI-2637 road. The roots of this town are in the 13th century, the birth of one of the most graceful and beautiful villages in the territory. The small palaces (Lardizabal, Guevara, Ardixarra…) and the narrow streets are unique in Gipuzkoa, as well as the nearby Zerain Cultural Park. This town has been always related to iron ore mining and other activities closely linked to Anna Lur, Mother Earth. Going through Mutlloa, we get to Ormaiztegi, where we can visit the Zumalakarregi Museum. Located in the building in which the Carlist general Tomas Zumalacarregui was born, the museum reviews the life of this famous personality, as well as the 19th century Basque Country.


Burgos,Spain

November 12, 2009

Burgos in Castile and Leon

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The province of Burgos is situa­ted in the north-east of the community of Castile and Leon and has occupied a privileged place in Spanish history.

Nature has been generous with Burgos, providing it with an extremely varied landscape where we can discover high hills, bleak uplands, fertile meadows and riverbanks and northern green valleys. Several of the most outstanding Burgalese landscapes are protected within the Network of Natural Spaces of Castile and Leon: in the north of the province the karstic complex of Ojo Guareria, the Obarenes Mounts and the Orduna Pass. The Natural Park of the Sierra of Demanda to the East, the canyon of the river Lobos to the south and the Natural space of Yecla near to Santo Domingo de Silos. This natural wealth means that many outdoor sports can be practiced such as skiing, canoeing, climbing, hiking, rafting, horse-riding, etc. Hunting and fishing are especially important in our province.

The Historical-Artistic Heritage is copious and extremely varied: from the site of Atapuerca where the oldest human remains in Europe were found, the different cultures and peoples have left their legacy in the capital and pro­vince. We can find prehistoric paintings, Celtiberian forts, the Roman city of Clunia and the town of Banos de Valdearados, the Visigothic hermitage of Quintanilla de las Was and Romanesque art of exceptional quality distributed throughout the province. Gothic art can be seen at its best in the Cathedral of Burgos, but there are also important examples in the capital and province. There are also some outstanding Renaissance and Baroque monuments.

Both legendary and live names in popular tradition are associated with the history of Burgos, such as El Cid Campeador, Count Fernan Gonzalez or the Seven Infantes of Lara. The traditio­nal festivities show the wealth of Burgalese folklore. We can highlight the festivities of “El Colacho” in Castrillo de Murcia; the day of the Penas (clubs) during the patron saint festivities of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Burgos and the festivity of San Juan del Monte in Miranda de Ebro, all of which have been declared of tourist interest.

Apart from the great natural and cultural heritage, Burgos has, over the years, always welcomed and fed the traveler. The accommodation offer is extensive: from modern and comforta­ble hotels to guest-houses, camping sites and rural accommodations, in order to satisfy the demands of our visitors. Gastronomy is worth a separate men­tion, two products have the name “Burgos”, black pudding and cheese, but the exquisite lamb, game, meat and vegetable stew (olla podrida), mediaeval lentils, pork products, etc. must also be included. In the many bars and restau­rants, the visitor will have the chance to taste these dishes. The excellent wine of Ribera del Duero is the compulsory accompaniment.

 THE CAPITAL

Situated between the old Castle and the Arlazon River, Burgos is a city which has known how to preserve its personality.

The marvelous Cathedral, decla­red Heritage of Humanity, dominates the town with its open-work spires.

The Royal Monastery of Las Huelgas, a Cystercian monastery and pantheon of the kings and queens of Castile, the Cartuja (monastery) of Miraflores with masterpieces by Gil de Siloe and the mediaeval churches of San Lesmes, San Gil, San Nicolas and Santa Agueda, among others, preserve mas­terpieces of sculpture and Gothic and Renaissance painting.

There are also palaces such as the House of Cordon and the House of Miranda and old pilgrim hospitals, such as “del Rey” or San Juan, which are testi­monies of the city’s historical importan­ce on the Road to Santiago.

The Museum of Burgos must be visited in order to discover the heritage of Burgos and its province.

The riverbanks of the Arlazon and the large city parks add the counterpoint to the extensive cultural heritage.


San Sebastian,Spain

October 31, 2009

San Sebasitan, Festivals & Fiestas

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 The Feria-Theatre Fair San Sebastian is an unavoidable event for the Performing Arts sector. July is the month of instrumental rhythm. Every year the Jazzaldia – International Jazz Festival, presents a brilliant and complete programme.

The good turnout at the Kursaal tickets offices around the time of the Quincena Musical (musical fortnight) demonstrate the love that the Donostiarran people feel for symphonic music. Concerts involving major musical artists and renowned orchestras bring together both old and young; the “no more tickets available” sign is inevitably displayed.

But the great cultural date which the city looks forward to with enormous anticipation every September is the International Film Festival. On those days the theatres overflow with spectators during morning, afternoon and night, and the city fills up with stars.

Another festival that is growing year by year is the Horror and Fantasy Film Festival that, with other activities, completes a year full of cultural events for all tastes. 

The festive calendar is inaugurated by the popular tamborrada, which takes place on January 20th, the Day of San Sebastian, the patron saint of the city. The fiesta starts on the previous night with dinners out in restaurants or gastronomi societies. At midnight the city’s flag is hoisted in the Constitucion Square to the rhythm of the San Sebastian march. In the morning an army of 5.000 children dressed as drummers take part in the children’s parade.

February marks the celebration of Carnival, the most important fiesta of the winter period. Carnival is announced by the riotous tinkers who, as the popular song goes, “come from Hungary”. The band of inudes and artzaias cavorting alongside (nannies and shepherds) recalls their entourage. And finally the Carnival fills the streets with colour, ushered in by the appearance of the God Momo.

The arrival of summer is marked by the festivities of June 23rd, the eve of the solstice, with the blessing of the Tree of St John in the Constitucion Square. This is followed by a performance of the traditional Basque dance aurresku and at midnight bonfires are lit throughout the city. Later on in the summer comes the principal fiesta of Donostia, the Semana Grande, which celebrates the festival of the Virgen de la Asuncion (Virgin of the Assumption) and takes place throughout the whole of the week of August 15th. A packed programme of street parties, performances and cultural and sporting events fill the day. But the most incomparable event takes place at night: The International Fireworks Competition.

In September, the feast comes with the Euskal Jaiak and their complete festive programme including sports and dances. It immerses the city into a big popular celebration. On the two first Sundays of the month, the celebration will be completed with La Concha Flag, the main rowing boats competition of the Cantabrian Coast.

Bringing the year to an end, the Santo Tomas fair, held on December 215t, is one of the most keenly anticipated of Donostia events. The fiesta commemorates the old market which used to be held in San Sebastian, when the farmers and ranchers of the province used to come down to the capital to pay their taxes and display the best of their produce.


Cantabria,Spain

October 25, 2009

Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, Spain

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Santillana del Mar is a unique medieval Spain town of stone-paved streets. It is a designated heritage site, and has been one of Cantabria’s best-known cultural and tourist centres for decades.

Since the Middle Ages, Santillana del Mar has been one of the region’s most important towns. It was the capital of the old ‘Asturias de Santillana’, a merindad – medieval jurisdiction – comprising the territory of present-day Cantabria. The human imprint here is far earlier, however, and goes back thousands of years: the world-famous Altamira caves are just two kilometres from the centre of the village.

The town dusters around various well-defined cores. The Plaza de las Arenas square, presided over by the Palacio de Velarde; the Plaza de la Colegiata; the Plaza de Ramon Pelayo, formerly the market square and watched over by the Merino and Don Borja towers and the town hall; and the environs of the Regina Coeli and San Ildefonso convents. Santillana is endowed with an outstanding architectural heritage. Of the religious buildings, the centre-piece is the Colegiata de Santa Juliana, around which the medieval town grew. The first monastery was founded here in the eighth to ninth century and housed the relics of St Juliana -the root of the name ‘Santillana’.  Around the twelfth century, the monastery became a collegiate church (colegiata), and from then on the town’s most powerful families vied to enlarge and develop it. Most of the church is fully fledged Romanesque, with Renaissance and Baroque additions.

Among the lay architecture, the standouts are the torres (towers) of Don Borja and Merino or Velarde, both being fifteenth-century; and then the Peredo-Barreda palace, the Villa palace and the Bustamante palace, all built in the eighteenth century. Some of these old manor houses are now home to arts institutions like the Diocesan Museum, the museum dedicated to the sculptor Jesus Otero, the Fundacion Santillana, an arts centre sponsored by Caja Cantabria, and the Casas del Aguilay la Parra, which are nosv exhibition centres. The town’s powerful attraction isn’t just its landmark buildings, though. It’s the place as a whole, with all its more modest buildings-all of them are period architecture. Santillana’s wonderful townscape takes you back to times gone by.

Besides the architecture, there is a wealth of things to see and do at the town’s many temporary exhibitions and arts-centre activities, all the year round. There is also a wide range of available accommodation and hotels for all tastes; establishments tend to be small or medium, and are very often housed in old buildings that contain centuries of history within their walls.

Guided walk

If you leave your car in one of the parking lots signposted on the way into the town, a good place to start your tour of Santillana is the road­crossing opposite the Regina Coeli convent of cloistered Poor Clare nuns: the building is sixteenth-century and houses a very interesting Diocesan Museum.

Enter the town by the Calle Santo Domingo. On your left you will immediately see the Peredo-Barreda palace (now home to the Caja Cantabria arts centre), and the Casa de los Villa manor house to your right. A little further on, the street forks. To the left, Calle Juan Infante, flanked by small houses bedecked with flowers, opens out into the Plaza Mayor, one of the town’s most characteristic corners. Here are the Casa del Aguila and Casa de la Parra manor houses, in front of which stands a statue of the Altamira bison. Opposite, the Parador Gil Bias hotel occupies an old house that used to belong to the Barreda family. A short distance away is the town hall, with its wide balcony of wrought iron and its decorated arcade. Nearby, as if presiding over the square, is the Torre de Don Borja, now the seat of the Fundacion Santillana, and the Torre del Merino, a ‘house fort’ where the merino mayor of Asturias de Santillana – the highest local authority in medieval times – had his residence. Leaving the square at its left end we carry on along a narrow alley that runs perpendicularly into the junction of Carrera and Canton streets. In the Calle Carrera, to the right, there rises the fifteenth­century Torre de Velarde. To the right, heading towards the Colegiata church along the Calle Canton, you’ll pass the eighteenth-century Valdivieso palace, now a hotel. On both sides of this street, which is one of the busiest in town, there are a great many typical dwellings, including the house of Leonor de la Vega, a late fifteenth-century noblewoman whose son became the famous Marquis of Santillana. Next to Leonor’s house stands the Casa de los Hombrones (‘the big men’), named after the heavy stone coat of arms of the Villa family. The street from here on takes the name Calle de! Rio, and goes down to a picturesque water trough, to the right of which are the late seventeenth-century manor houses of the Cossio and Quevedo families, with the Casa de los Abades opposite; the space is closed off by the beautiful Romanesque Colegiata de Santa Juliana (collegiate church). A visit to the church and its cloister is a highpoint of this walk. Finally, after the Colegiata you will find the Plaza de las Arenas, the most notable building being Velarde palace.

A visit to Santillana del Mar should start or finish with the Altamira Museum, next to the original Altamira cave. Just two kilometres away from the town centre, Altamira is one of the finest European examples of Upper Palaeolithic art.

Finally, Santillana boasts a small but prestigious zoo with a very wide range of wildlife. Its standout section is its ‘quaternary park’ of species that were widespread in Cantabria in the times of the Altamira settlers: bears, horses, bison, reindeer, wolves, capercaillie, lynx, and more.