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What If You’re Given a Day to See Madrid

What If You’re Given a Day to See Madrid

Tenerife, Marbella, and Playa Blanca  –  these are just three of the many Spanish isles that are touted as the most sought-after Iberian getaways, with millions of tourist from around the world visiting these island getaways.

But, if you’re a first time visitor to Spain, skip these prime destinations, and instead, go for its beautiful capital– Madrid. Not only does it offer loads of fun, but furthermore, it must be one of the cheapest European cities, if not the cheapest. That means, you get the most out of your hard-earned euro, whether it be food, visiting sights and attractions, or buying souvenirs.

What if you are given just a day to roam around and see Madrid. Honestly, it is such an amazing place that there is so much to see and do. It might take one more or less a month to experience and enjoy what Madrid has to offer.

Indeed, if you have only one day to see Madrid, here are the must-see sites and attractions to visit and relish:

  1. Palacio Real de Madrid

The Royal Palace of Spain is first on your list of must-see sites, if you have only one day to visit the city.  It is one of the grandest and most pompous in all of Europe, where every nook and corner is decorated with precious artwork and lavish furniture. And for only 11 euros, you have the chance to marvel at the Official Residence of the King of Spain.

  1. Catedral de la Almudena

Perhaps, the most visited church in Madrid, Catedral de la Almudena is also the most popular since it is recognized as the seat of Catholicism in all of Spain. Just in front of the Palacio Real Madrid, most of the city’s religious celebration is celebrated in this cathedral. It is open 7 days a week, up until 8:30PM, and the entrance is free, although a small donation of 1 euro is requested, the money will be used for the continuing maintenance of the cathedral.

  1. Retiro Park

Parque el Buen Retiro is the official park of Spain, grazing a vast land in the middle of the city. Here you will find the gargantuan man-made lake or estanque, where the monument to Alfonso XII stands. Likewise, popular landmarks found within are the famous Crystal Palace, which was used as the venue for the 1916 exposition, and the Palacio de Velasquez.

  1. Puerta del Sol

The Gate of the Sun in English, Puerta del Sol is a popular square of Spain, and situated within the heart of the touristy area of Madrid Centro. Be astonished by this plaza surrounded by boutiques of all kinds, restaurantes serving various Spanish comidas, and numerous souvenir shops offering trinkets, postcards,shirts, and various similar items that will help tourists remember Madrid by, In the middle of the square is the impressive fountain around which people gather and idle by, the equestrian statue of Rey Carlos III, and the statue of El Oso and El Madroño, one of the popular symbols of the city.

  1. Museo del Jamon

Speaking of comida Español, the one that is nearest to these attractions is the Museo del Jamon, a popular restaurant that offers a great variety of delectable Spanish fare. Tourists should not leave Madrid and not pass by Museo, if only to have a taste of its bocadillo de jamon or camarones (squid). Paella, a traditional rice dish, is also a favorite dish among locals and tourists. Order the seafood or marinera paella — I assure you that its taste is heavenly.

  1. Plaza Mayor

Another popular square, Plaza Mayor Madrid is gargantuan in size, a sprawling enclave with main gates and arches at strategic areas serving as access points. Tourists troop to the modern Tourism office of Madrid, the headquarters of which is the Casa de la Panaderia, one of the buildings enclosing the plaza. Did you know that the Plaza Mayor once served as a bullfight stadium? And that the defeated bulls were brought to a nearby carneceria. Now, the place is home to a great number of businesses and establishments, making it a highly busy tourist spot of Madrid. Come the Yuletide season, the square is brightly lit with a thousand or so colorful Christmas lights, and the center area becomes the spot where the Nativity scene display is put up for everyone to see.

 

Photos courtesy of: http://letstalkmadrid.com/

How To Get Around New South Wales

How To Get Around New South Wales

New South Wales

NSW is by far the country’s most populous state and travelling from Sydney to any other places in NSW is a common occurrence. In this post, we look at several transport options worth considering.

Flying

Flying is probably the best way to cover the large distances in Australia in as short a time as possible. The country has a number of domestic airlines that serve all the capital cities along with several regional cities, making it a quick and favoured way to travel between the country’s many iconic destinations. Since competition is rife between domestic airlines, you can get great value fares, especially when booking in advance.

There is also the option of hiring Sydney HeliTours helicopter charters. This is a fast and efficient way to travel around New South Wales and means that, via helicopter, you will arrive at your destination quicker, saving you a great deal of time. It also means you won’t have to rely on airline schedules – you get to fly off whenever you want to.

Getting Around by Bus

Bus and coach travel in the country is efficient, comfortable and not badly priced. The country’s long-distance coaches usually have air conditioning, adjustable seats, reading lights and in some cases, free Wi-Fi. Australia’s national coach operator also offers hop on hop off passes for the more popular routes, flexible passes and short trip passes – all based on the distance you want to travel.

Using a Car to Get Around

In Australia, there is a vast network of well-maintained roads and, perhaps, some of the most stunning road trips on our globe. While the drives vary in length, you can choose from an array of routes to get to your destination. Some routes may take several days, but you can enjoy beautiful attractions along the way, along with plenty of accommodation choices and loads to do in the villages and towns you pass through. Once you get to NSW, you can go on so many scenic drives, such as the 300km Snowy Valleys Way where you travel through the Snowy Mountains; or the 200km Waterfall Way. If you’re a foodie, you should travel along the Poachers Way, a stunning food and wine trail.

Getting Around by Train

Train travel in Australia is convenient and another scenic way to see the country. Services run between Sydney and other areas in New South Wales, as well as along the country’s east coast to Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne.  There are even some sensational rail journeys such as the Indian Pacific and The Ghan that sweet right across the continent and offer a sense of romance and nostalgia.

Getting Around with a Disability

Ferries, buses, trains, airlines and helicopters in Australia are accessible to people using a mobility device or wheelchair. The airport alone provides services for those people with disabilities and there’s always someone on hand at helicopter charters to assist with getting on and off the aircraft.

Overall, if you’re looking for the fastest way to get around New South Wales, consider a helicopter charter. It’s affordable, scenic and incredibly quick!

A New View: Experience a Brand-New View with a Vacation Abroad

A New View: Experience a Brand-New View with a Vacation Abroad

The Middle East State of Qatar found oil and wealth in the 1960s. Up to then, its capital, Doha, had been a modest port on the Persian Gulf, and its top product was pearls. Doha is now home to 50 percent of the nation’s residents, a futuristic city with educational, cultural, and recreational wonders.

Doha

A hot desert ecosystem, residents and tourists can enjoy its short but mild weather months from October through April. As Doha grows more influential, it has also become an exciting travel destination for those looking for a brand-new view with a vacation abroad.

Education

The Washington Post reported that Carnegie Mellon, Cornell University, Northwestern, Texas A & M, and Virginia Commonwealth Universities have all accepted invitations and financial incentives to bring their stellar educational opportunities to Qatari citizens. Setting up quarters in Doha’s Education City, the universities offer degrees to residents who never have to leave the country.

Education City is a 2,500-acre campus at the edge of the city hosting the American schools, six French universities, and the University College London. The campus also houses students, faculty, support services, and more. Plans and development are underway on research centers, start-up laboratories, and housing and hotels. The strategy seeks to design functional public space, sports and recreation facilities, and community centers.

Doha

Culture

Tourists must respect Qatar’s Muslim roots and culture. You should seek advice on dressing, eating, and drinking in the State. But, Doha has made changes to meet expectations of its increasing expat population.

  • The Museum of Islamic Art perches off the Corniche that winds around Doha Bay. The I.M. Pie-designed, sand-colored juggernaut contains 1,400 years of Muslim art and documents.
  • Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, located at Education City, challenges bias against Arab contemporary thought. It has assembled a unique permanent collection of 20th and 21st century modern art from the Arab World, Middle East, and wider cultures historically tied to the Arab Peninsula.
  • The National Museum of Qatar should be complete for your 2018 visit. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the series of overlapping pavilions reminds locals of the petals of desert roses or fluttering tents of Bedouin ancestors.

Recreation

Make a reservation at the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha, and you have an oasis in the city within easy distance of most of Doha’s sites.

  • Dining: American sports fan find themselves at home at Champions with ice-cold drinks, pub grub, and sports of countless big screen TVs.

New York Steakhouse offers steaks from Australia, France, and the U.S. But, you may also check out the daily specials and brunch.

Ipanema serves Brazilian food and music. The multiple award-winning restaurant offers authentic Brazilian Churrascaria and all you drink between 6pm and 8pm.

You’ll also find international menus, poolside bars, and Italian cuisine at other Marriott restaurants.

  • Shopping: The City Center Mall has familiar brands, but given the wealth of Qatar’s citizens, some stores will open your eyes. But, the Souq Waqif offers more authentic Bedouin deserts, foods, garments, souvenirs, and spices. A bustling open market, it presents all the colors and fragrances of this part of the world.

A New View

Vacationing abroad now longer means sticking with the European Grand Tour. New options, new flavors, and new experiences await vacationers in Doha.

Destination Playa Blanca: Where Holidays are Fun and Relaxing

Destination Playa Blanca: Where Holidays are Fun and Relaxing

Playa Blanca

Let your holidays be warm and sunny this Christmas with a trip to Playa Blanca Spain. This quiet beach in Lanzarote Spain is one of the newest attractions in the island. Its secluded white beaches are known for their natural beauty and seemingly unique weather compared to the rest of the island. The naturally gorgeous beachscape and island attractions make the Playa Blanca villas a popular destination for those who want to have both fun and relaxation for their holidays. It definitely makes a good candidate for your holiday destination this season. Here are some more reasons to visit the island.

A perfect beach in more ways than one.

Flanking the Playa Blanca’s gorgeous white sand beaches are the Montana Roja and Femes mountains. Aside from adding beauty to the scenery, the Montana Roja also shields the beaches from the Atlantic winds. This makes the clear and shallow waters of the beach perfect for family swimming. Not to worry though, because there are also water activities for those who want some excitement. Playa Blanca is also known as the quietest beach in the area making it perfect for relaxation and sunbathing.

Underwater attractions.

One of the reasons why people go on an island tour or vacation is to get up close and personal with the marine life. Tourists can have their own underwater experience in three different ways. They can snorkel, dive, or go on a submarine tour. Whatever mode they choose, these underwater adventures are meant to be enjoyed.

Playa Blanca

Museo Atlantico or Atlantic Museum.

This is the first underwater museum in Europe. It houses more that 300 sculptures made by Jason deCaires Taylor whose work aims to raise awareness on oceanic issues and help people understand the threats that our waters are facing. This alone is reason enough to put this museum in your must see list.

Sight-seeing adventures.

Your Playa Blanca trip will not be complete without experiencing its arts and culture. The best way to do this is to visit historic sites and museums. Aside from the Atlantic Museum, the Castillo de las Coloradas and Faro de Pechiguera lighthouse are also worth seeing. If you want to get an overlooking view of the coves and beaches, then take a hike to the top of Montana Roja.

Playa Blanca

Unique tour experiences.

Tired of walking or riding the bus? Explore the island’s attraction using non-traditional modes like Segway, Quad Bike, and ATVs. This is definitely a refreshing and adventurous way to experience the island. First timers need not worry because there are instructors that can help you learn how to handle the vehicles. However, you should also consider your skills and physical condition before attempting these tours. Remember, always put safety first.

Shopping and Dining.

A visit at the Marina Rubicon gives you a feel of the life in Playa Blanca by observing the activities in the promenade. You can try the local cuisine at the restaurants or sample the street food from the stalls while people watching. Dine at the promenade restaurants to enjoy the view of spectacular yachts docked in the marina. As for shopping, there are designer shops that you can explore but don’t forget to visit the handicrafts stalls for your souvenirs.

 

 Playa Blanca - Calle Limones 15 ies.jpg
By Frank Vincentz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Christmas on the Slopes: Best Destinations for a Family Holiday

Christmas on the Slopes: Best Destinations for a Family Holiday

ski holiday

Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy an authentic winter with your family. It’s a fantastic time of the year to have some snow fun and the festive season is a great time to spend with family in this beautiful setting. There are many destinations to try when taking a family ski holiday at Christmas and as long as you are prepared even if you are new to this kind of holiday, you are sure to have a great time. Anywhere with a white covering of snow will feel more Christmassy but where are the best places to try to suit both families and those who love skiing? Here are a few places that offer an excellent ski holiday at Christmas time.

Courchevel, France

This large and popular Ski resort has everything you could ask for in a ski holiday destination. There are four villages Courchevel Le Praz, Courchevel Village, Courchevel Moriond and Courchevel 1850, ehich are all linked by ski lifts and pistes as well as a free bus service too.

The varied slopes and terrain make this a great choice for family skiing holidays and the snow is usually very good as the slopes here are north facing. There are kids’ clubs perfect for little beginners, where they can take ski lessons and enjoy some Christmas fun here too.  Depending on where you stay, there are different activities and options to choose from during your stay. Some chalets and hotels put on some great entertainment and activities for their guests during the Christmas period.

Although the highest village of Courcheval 1850 is an expensive place to stay. The lower villages are more affordable and also amenable for families too. The lower resorts still have access to all the same slopes and lifts, but it just might take you a little longer to get to the top.

Wengen, Switzerland

This village is especially designed for families and even more so at Christmas time. The streets are decorated for Christmas, and there’s a festive woodland walk to join on Christmas day. Swiss families usually go to church to attend Midnight Mass on Christmas eve and traditionally will gather to share hot chocolate and ringli or homemade doughnuts afterwards. You will really feel like you are joining in the Christmas spirit here.

Wengen is an excellent and pretty location to visit, whether it is the festive season or not. When it comes to Skiing the slopes are located under the north face of the Eiger and are covered by the Jungfrau lift pass. It’s a great place for beginners so children are very welcome. There are also a few exciting toboggan-runs, the main one being the run from Wengernalp which is 4.5 km.

Within the village, you’ll also find a snow playground curling and an outdoor ice skating rink too. So you know there will be plenty to do for the kids during your stay. Your hotels will put on some Christmas entertainment including excellent meals and activities for kids.

Beitostølen, Norway

This place is an excellent choice for those with young families, as although it is a smaller resort than those found in the Alps, there are a wide range of activities to keep the family entertained. The snow here usually falls early and due to the high altitude, it usually stays. Skiing here is excellent for beginners; the Ski school is English speaking and there are plenty of gentle slopes.

Children and adults will love to try the snowmobiling on a purpose-built track, a place where you can slide down the slopes in a big inflatable boat, husky dog sledding, and a massive 300km plus of cross-country skiing trails.

Christmas celebrations offer festive activities for the whole family including a visit from Santa himself. Local hotels put on their own entertainment too, you might find Christmas tree decorating, making gingerbread men and carols on the agenda depending on where you are staying. Wherever you stay in Beitostølen, you are sure to have a magical time.

Val Thorens, France

If you are travelling as a mixed party then Val Thorens is a great choice. This purpose-built resort has terrain to suit everyone from beginner to expert. As the highest Ski resort in the ‘Trois Vallees’ and in Europe, it means you are almost guaranteed snow from November and beyond. If you love to stay in a Ski-in Ski-out chalet then this is a dream.

As well as the great skiing you’ll find here, at any time of the year you can enjoy Val Thorens wealth of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, health and beauty centres and shops. But at Christmas time there are special events mostly put on by the resorts and hotels for their guests. This includes visits from Santa for the kids, extravagant dinners and lots of parties.

Not only can you enjoy Christmas here but stay to bring in the New year, the Val Tho Crazy Night. If you’re up for a party then this is definitely a way to see the New Year in style.

Zermatt, Switzerland

No list of Christmas Ski destinations would be complete without a mention of the famous picture-perfect Zermatt. The views of the Matterhorn, being surrounded by snow covered traditional chalets and the jingle of horse-drawn sleighs are right out of a Christmas fairy-tale.

The skiing here is top-notch too, offering a variety of slopes but mostly catering for intermediate to the more advanced skiers. You can also get off-piste with a variety of trails that are avalanche controlled.

Zermatt is not a cheap destination to visit, and this is even more apparent when visiting at Christmas time. One bonus however, is although the list passes are pricey under nines ski free, under 16s pay only half the price and there’s a 15% discount for under 20s.

As a car free resort, the atmosphere at Christmas is one of old time charm. For a truly festive time, visit the English church for a Christmas service, kids can enjoy sledging and snowy playgrounds and of course Santa is around, his sled being pulled by his trusty reindeer. It might be the best Ski destination for that exceptional Christmas feel.

Christmas at home versus away

Although it is lovely to spend Christmas at home it can be very stressful too. So much is expected as a family nowadays and sometimes you just want to get away from it all. A Ski break means you can still enjoy a festive family Christmas but without all the stress of organising things yourself.

Let someone else cook the Christmas dinner and do the cleaning and other housework. You can concentrate on enjoying the holidays with your family. Building snowmen, throwing snowballs, skiing tobogganing and taking a sleigh ride in the snow. Do all those things you hear about in the Christmas songs, bet you wouldn’t be doing that at home!

A family ski holiday at Christmas doesn’t come cheap so get ready to part with some cash when you book. But remember, the experience and the fun you get to have as a family is worth it and an experience you’ll treasure for years to come.