Top highlights in Madrid

Plaza Mayor de Madrid 02 The gorgeous cosmopolitan city of Madrid is located in the center of Spain. Visitors there will be able to enjoy the (capital) city’s cultural landmarks, plus its selection of fresh traditional food and trips to nearby historical towns.

Art museums and cultural landmarks.

The city is known for its variety of ancient buildings, churches and museums. The three main museums are the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofia Museum and the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum. Together, they form the Golden Triangle of Museums, which is located in the city center steps away from the centric Atocha train station and the Retiro Park.

Visitors can enjoy a coffee with a view at the Circulo de Bellas Artes, the Circle of Fine Arts. This cultural center is located in the center of Madrid and its cafeteria has views towards the main streets. Another place to take in the city’s main streets from above is the Palacio de las Comunicaciones, a white Gothic building that is now part of the town hall.

The city’s parks.

After touring the city, visitors should spend an afternoon walking around one of the city’s parks. The main park, located next to the Golden Triangle of Museums, is the Retiro Park. It has many garden paths lined with ancient statues and stone fountains. There is a pond in the center where visitors will be able to rent rowing boats. Next to the pond is the Crystal Palace, a large building made from glass and steel where many exhibitions are organized. The park has several terraces where you can grab a drink, and there are stalls selling candy and salty treats.

Another main park is the Casa de Campo, an ancient hunting estate located west of the city center. This large park has several areas designed for team sports, jogging paths and a lake. The city’s Parque de Atracciones theme park and the aquarium and zoo are located on the park grounds.

The historical city center.

When planning a trip visitors should keep in mind that there are many ways of exploring this city. Madrid can be explored on a double decker bus that has two routes, one that takes visitors around the city center and another that takes them around the main streets, including the Castellana boulevard that is located north of the city center. The city’s public transport network is affordable and simple to use.

Madrid is manageable by foot. The centric Puerta de Sol is a popular meeting spot. The square has many historical landmarks, ranging from the Town Hall and the fountains to the bear and madroño tree statue that is considered to be the city’s symbol. From here, visitors can walk to the Plaza Mayor, another main square where the buildings have many balconies. A short walk away visitors will find the Plaza de Oriente square and the Royal Palace located on the square.

The food.

The city’s gastronomical scene is known for its variety. Visitors will be able to enjoy a selection of traditional tapas, appetizers that are served with each drink ordered. Some of the most famous tapas bars are located in the La Latina neighbourhood, which is a just short walk from the city center. Some of the most typical tapas are montaditos, pieces of bread that can be filled with a variety of chesses, hams, peppers and tortilla potato omelet. There are many varieties of tapas, ranging from green asparagus served with thick salt to chorizo ham served with olive oil and garlic.

What To Do in Barcelona

Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, Seville, Spain - Sep 2009 I am so excited to be sharing more of Spain with you. The country holds a special place in my heart, as it’s where I first spent an extended time abroad, during my junior year of college. Located in the northeastern region of Catalonia, the city of Barcelona has many attractions-I have visited 11 times last time I counted! Guadí’s Sagrada Familia is the city’s main symbol, and Gaudí’s architecture is present in the rest of the city.

Explore the city center.

Visitors can explore Barcelona on foot. The city’s main set of boulevards, Las Ramblas, stretches between the Catalonia square, a popular meeting spot, and the Columbus statues located on the coast of the Mediterranean sea. Each boulevard has flower stalls, newspaper kiosks and many street performers. There are several themed hotels in this area of the city, and there are many hostels located in ancient historical buildings in the El Born and Raval districts.

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Main landmarks in Seville

Plaza Virgen de los Reyes, Seville, Spain - Sep 2009The city of Seville is located in Andalusia, a region in the south of Spain. This historical city has many attractions, ranging from cathedrals and ancient minaret towers to bridges and fortresses.

The Cathedral and the Giralda Tower.

The city’s main symbol is its cathedral, which was built on the ruins of an ancient mosque. This large cathedral has several naves with vaulted ceilings and gilded decorations. The main altarpiece is the Retablo Mayor, a large structure decorated with golden statues. Some of the halls have been transformed into galleries filled with antique goblets that were used during mass. Continue Reading »»

Low-Cost Family Escapes to Lanzarote

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Neighboring Gran Canaria island.

Family holidays take many different forms, but when planning aim for the big three: diversity, well-equipped resorts and plenty of fun.

Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, certainly ticks all of those boxes. For starters, kids will love exploring Lanzarote’s volcanic landscape – take them to visit the fascinating Timanfaya National park as part of a day trip, and watch them marvel as small geysers erupt on demand. Or treat your family to a tasty lunch cooked over a geothermal barbeque, powered by searing volcanic heat. The scenery is this part of the world is nothing if not dramatic, and your kids can learn oodles about volcanoes, eruptions and geology by discovering Lanzarote’s lunar-like landscape and lava fields.

Of course there’s no work without play, and once your kids have filled their brains with facts and figures about Lanzarote’s fiery volcanic past, they can hit the beach with Mum and Dad. There are around 30 kilometres’ worth of beaches around the island, along with plenty of other sandy patches and rocky coves dotted around the coastline. Some beaches are made up of black and grey volcanic sands, which create a striking spectacle against the turquoise seas, livid green palms and bright blue sky.

As for resorts, Lanzarote is home to a wide range of child-friendly resorts. Families are best steering clear of Puerto del Carmen which, although it boasts one of the best beaches, is pretty lively and tends to attract party animals to its pub-packed town centre. However, Costa Teguise is a great choice for families. Its breezy coast means there are plenty of watersports on offer, and it’s within a stone’s throw of the island’s only water park – perfect for energetic kids. It also has a lovely white-sanded beach which is a great spot for a day paddling and building sandcastles with the kids.

Lanzarote is home to a wide range of family-friendly resorts, from quiet family retreats to full-on holidays that are all about family fun in the sun. Find out more by searching online at one of UK’s most popular family holiday agents, Thomas Cook’s Lanzarote holidays.

Meet Liz, of Travelogged

When I moved back to the U.S. from Costa Rica, I was so worried that I wouldn’t have a place in the online travel community anymore. I’d found a job (or, it’d actually found me!), and I couldn’t take time off for six long months, the downside to returning to corporate life. One of the online travel pioneers who was a true inspiration to me was an old friend of mine, Liz, of @travelogged. Little known fact: Liz and I met no less than 12 years ago, when we were completing our masters in journalism at Columbia University. The recession eventually led to the loss of both of our jobs but, no surprise to me, Liz retaliated much more swiftly than I did, as you’ll learn from her interview below. After I returned from a month-long trip to Borneo, she asked me to write about it on her blog. Unemployed, slightly depressed, and stuck in the “old journalism” mentality, I had no idea what she was talking about. Fast forward two years, and look at me now!

As I just learned at the TBU travel bloggers conference, Liz and I are both “joggers,” journos who blog. Love us!

I hope you find her as inspiring as I do.


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