13 April 2014

Andalucia has 5 out of 10 of Spain's Best Tourist Destinations

Andalucia, my home, is also home to half of Spain's top 10 destinations, according to sixth annual TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards 2014.

With three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Seville was the top destination, coming in as a national third. Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and Marbella also made the top 10 list voted for by TripAdvisor during the last year.

This is the first time Marbella has made the list which was revealed in an awards ceremony in Madrid this week. Spain's top ten destinations making the list are:

Barcelona
Madrid
Seville
Granada
Corralejo
Malaga
Marbella
Calvia
Cordoba
Soller

Do you agree with this list?
If not why not and which destination would you add?



11 April 2014

Thrilling mini breaks


What with budget airlines, package holidays and low-cost tour operators, these days Europe is easier to explore and discover than ever before.

So whether you live in the centre of London or the wilds of Andalucia, there’s no excuse not to get out and experience some thrilling European mini breaks. Check out here for some great ideas on places to go and things to see.

Feria de Abril in Seville

Two weeks after the Holy Week or Easter Seville sheds off the winter blues with one of the biggest parties around, its April Fair.

From midnight on the Monday until the following Sunday, thousands of people descend on the city to drink, dance and be merry in the streets with specially-erected party tents that give the whole place a unique and magical atmosphere and provide the perfect setting for an unforgettable weekend away.

Sahara Desert, Morocco

If you prefer a less hedonistic approach to thrill seeking, why not head to the Sahara Desert in Morocco and experience some of the biggest extremes that Mother Nature has to offer.

Easily accessible from both southern Spain and the rest of Europe, visitors to the Sahara can see what it’s like to sleep under the desert stars, ride camels through the sand dunes and trek under the African sun.

Spain to Portugal bridge, Ayamonte

Silver Coast, Portugal

If your idea of a thrilling mini break involves rugged coves, adrenaline-inducing activities and fantastic food, then Portugal’s Silver Coast is the place for you.

Less crowded and less developed than the Algarve, the Silver Coast stretches from just north of Lisbon to just south of Porto and provides some of the country’s best surf spots and least spoilt beaches along the way.

Try your hand at surfing, kite surfing, paragliding and wind surfing or for those who like to keep their feet on dry land, horse riding, mountain biking and trekking are also available.

The Inner Hebrides, Scotland

Like the coast of Portugal, the Inner Hebrides, off of the west coast of Scotland, are ruggedly beautiful and provide lots of opportunities for adventure sports and activities.

Their clean, clear air, breath taking landscapes and otherworldly feel will also help you to feel fully revitalized and energized following your long weekend away.

With a little bit of imagination you’ll find a wealth of exciting mini-breaks across the European Continent. So why not book yourself a few days away and see how many thrills you can find.



This is a featured post.

23 February 2014

Monastery, Fire and Microlight Weekend

Unbelievably a year has flown by since my first birthday escape with hubby, there's been many a road trip in between, but birthday escapes are more special, don't involve work and aren't press trips. His birthday month isn't my favourite by a long way, but we did escape again, a week later on 1st February.



This time we headed east of Cordoba to Palma del Rio, not particularly for the town but for a hotel I'd had my eye on for quite a while - Hotel Monasterio de San Francisco.


Founded, in 1492, the same year as the Catholic Kings rode into The Alhambra taking possession of it from the Moors in Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, and from their gains funded the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.


Our bedroom was ample and very nice, a little austere but not cold in temperature or feel. The weekend was grey and chilly but at least it wasn't wet as it had been for weeks maybe even months, and the outside of the building as well as some parts inside showed signs of damp.



The monastery, once inhabited by over 500 monks, oozes history and touches of charm and being a sucker for antiquities, patios and wooden beams I loved it.




The hotel is only 3* an there isn't bar, but a welcome and very nice 'fino' sherry was a welcome treat before dinner after a wander through the town and sampling a beer or two. We went back to prepare for dinner and relaxed wine in hand under an amazing huge wooden beamed ceiling.


Dinner in the hotel was very good, included in our D,B&B (special offer) price, we had homemade pate then Salmorejo followed by pork loin with scalloped potatoes a nice bottle of red and waiter service. A previous 'Plato de Oro' winner, it was a rare and enjoyable treat having a silver-service three-course meal as tapas in bars have become the norm.

The monastery gardens complete with individual kitchen garden beds, rows of orange trees and a pool I could imagine a necessity in the heat of a Cordoba plains summer. The bell tower complete with storks overlooked all and I could visualize it ringing, calling the barefooted leather-shod gardeners in for mass.


The next day dawned bright and sunny, we didn't feel quite the same but wanted an early start to make the most of our escape, and having been told of a nearby air display we headed away from home and into Sevilla province, land of holm oaks, black pigs and orange groves.

First stop was the town of La Puebla de los Infantes which we had to stop in because bonfires lined the streets .............
next installment coming soon.

11 February 2014

Recycled Pallet Wood Furniture


Made to customers requirements reclaimed pallet wood table finished with linseed oil.


Above table under construction with drawers also semi-finished in the background.


Kitchen unit in process with plate stand cupboard, cutlery drawer and space for a microwave.



Finished unit hanging on satisified customer's wall.


Driftwood tea candle holder.

Ben, my eldest son, makes and designs pieces of furniture in his workshop in our Casa Rural, he can be contacted for comissions via the site.

02 February 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Seville Oranges

Snapped from the road yesterday; winter crop of Seville oranges next to Seville-Cordoba AVE track.



31 January 2014

Catch a last minute holiday before the summer rush



Annual holidays are what life is all about for many people. You work hard all year and then get to spend a week or two in the sun, forgetting about your troubles.

Most people aim to take their holidays in the summer time. However, if you’re looking for a bargain and you prefer your holidays to be more on the quiet side, a last minute deal could be the answer.

Prepare to be flexible


If you want to make the most of a last minute holiday bargain, you need to be flexible with your schedule if you want to take advantage of a late deal.

Most will be jetting off within a week or two so that doesn’t leave much time for packing and getting organised. It would help if you had a few non-essential items packed already before you head to Direct Holidays to book your break. That way you only need to pack a few last minute items.


Always look for package holidays

One thing many people don’t realise is that travel agencies buy package holidays in bulk. They then get their money back, along with a little profit, as they sell the holidays.

If they still haven’t managed to sell all of the package deals as the time approaches, they knock off quite a lot of money. So when you see late holidays advertised, they are usually package deals that the company hasn’t been able to sell on.

A more relaxing, romantic break

Last minute holidays provide the perfect opportunity for couples to enjoy a quiet holiday together. When you go away in summer, no matter where you go there’s usually a lot of families and children around. This doesn’t always provide a romantic backdrop! So, if you’re looking to spend a bit of couple time together, avoiding the peak summer months is essential.


Spontaneity makes life more exciting

Of course, the major pull of a last minute break is the excitement that comes with it. You don’t know where you’ll be going or how much money you’re going to save.

Booking the holiday is a spur of the moment, exciting thing to do. You could even use it to surprise your partner. Providing you’ve organised everything you’ll need for a last minute trip, you can look forward to an unexpected holiday any time of the year.


Sources:
http://www.moneymagpie.com/article/grab-yourself-a-last-minute-holiday-bargain

This is a sponsored post.

13 January 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Roman Bridge on the Via Verde de Aceite

On the Via Verde de Aceite between Martos and Alcaudete there's a bird's eye view of a Roman Bridge crossing over it part of the many criss-crossing Roman Roads in the area.

07 January 2014

World Around Me (WAM) - Easy Place Find App for Travellers

The World Around Me - WAM - is the new location based Augmented Reality App that helps you search for local places worldwide. If you're looking for a restaurant, bank, bar or pub, cafe, petrol station, hotel, museum,a specialist shop or a pizza with just one tap you can 'WAM' it.

With visuals and local information you can just point your phone and discover the places of interest there. Travel information at your fingertips, whenever you want and wherever you are.

Could be handy if you're leaving The Alhambra and want a nearby bar or need a Cash Machine or just arrived in Malaga and want to find a hotel this is the App that can help you find your way around the world.



WAM uses an Augmented Reality(AR) view with billboards it rates the place of interest and distance from the user. Just tap for more detail information, reviews and directions.



For more information or to check out the WAM App yourself visit Apple App Store or Google Play Store


This is a sponsored post.


06 January 2014

Monday Morning Photo - Martos Hill and Sea of Olives

This time of year, blue, crisp skies make fabulous walking weather. A photo of Martos with the sea of olive groves all around taken today.

martos and olive groves



20 December 2013

Museo de Agricola, Posada de Ubeda & Renaissance Ubeda - UNESCO City

When Ubeda and Baeza celebrated 10 years since becoming UNESCO sites they did it in style with many hotels offering rooms for 10 Euros a night during a period of 10 days. An offer to good to miss and seeing as we'd been to Baeza and Hotel La Laguna for hubby's birthday in January and that one place I really wanted to stay was participating in the offer we headed to Ubeda and the Museo de Agricola/Posada de Ubeda for a night.

Posada de Ubeda Museo Agricola
Frontage full of old relics, me too.

The Museo de Agricola also known as the Posada de Ubeda is an amazing place adorned with old implements both inside and out. Not quite in the historical part of the city but only five minutes walk away.


Dull lighting and every nook, cranny and inch of wall space not forgetting the ceiling was crammed with lethal weapons, rusting implements, cart wheels and what must be every tool ever used in the good old days.

Ubeda's huge plaza has non of this quaint, friendly feel, but is stunning. Enormous buildings surround, yet are dwarfed by, the huge square.


07 November 2013

The Magic of Seville by Susan Nadathur

I am a native New Englander, born and raised in Wethersfield, Connecticut. I love my town, its historic homes, ancient burial grounds, rich celebrations of the passing seasons. But there is something special, almost magical, about living in Seville. Here are the top six reasons why I love to live in the capital of Andalusia:

1)Because I feel more like myself in Seville than in almost any other city in the world . . .

2)Because my Spanish friends are still my friends even after thirty years . .

3)Because the Gypsy families that continue to invite me into their hearts and homes are humble, loving, gracious and kind . . .

4)Because I can eat several tapas and a glass of wine instead of a formal dinner . . .

5)Because I can walk to most places and don’t need to own a car . . .

6)Because even though I love the scent of apple cider, of pumpkin pie and fall in New England, I adore the aroma of the azahar, the orange blossom—that iconic scent of Seville. I love the sweet, seductive, tropical smell of it. I love the way it floats on the air on a warm spring night. The way it announces the intoxicating olfactory arrival of Easter and Semana Santa.

To me, the orange blossom takes me back to a special time in my life when I was young and in love. It reminds me of romantic evenings strolling cobblestone streets lit by iron lanterns. Of a time when there was nowhere else I would have wanted to live but in Seville.



This post is by Susan Nadathur the author of the emotional page-turner City of Sorrows that I so enjoyed and couldn't help racing through. It's a moving tale of sorrow and guilt built around three men whose lives become intertwined and the honour and hierarchy of the close-knit gypsy community in Seville to which one of them belongs.

Read here more on the Spanish Gypsies or visit Susan's website to see more about her and her work.