The Park of Sciences is a unique learning experience for young and old, with interactive permanent exhibition spaces such as the Biosphere Room, Perception Room, Eureka Room and Explore Room. This is not merely about reading boards on a wall, but using your senses to experience science at work all around you. There are also several temporary exhibition spaces, so every time you visit there is something new to discover and learn. Learn all about the wonders of space and the universe in the Planetarium and astronomical garden. Visitors can also learn about how the history of Spain was influenced by the Moors in a separate dedicated section. Appreciate the beauty of living butterflies in the butterfly pavilion.
The Sacromonte is amongst Granada’s most historic and vibrant neighbourhoods. Here you will find fascinating caves, where gypsies dance, sing and play instruments after the sun goes down. When the Christians took control of Granada, the gypsies followed them, bringing flamenco music to the city. They also introduced traditional dances such as the zambra and mosca, and songs such as the capucha. The Sacromonte’s biggest landmark is the Sacromonte Abbey, home to artefacts and relics from Granada’s first Christians. In the interpretative centre, you can learn all about the district’s history.
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Las Palmas is the capital city of Gran Canaria. It is found to the north east of the island; this is a particularly beautiful area, set amongst two scenic coves. In between these coves are the Playa de Las Alcaravaneras and Playa de Las Canteras beaches; two perfect spots for soaking up the rays and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. The city of Real de Las Palmas was first established in the late 15th century. Hence it also is a city of substance, with its own long established culture and local economies before it became popular with tourists. As the settlement grew, it split into two districts, Triana and Vegueta. These were located on the left and right banks respectively of the Barranco de Guiniguada. Nowadays, the Calle Juan de Quesada, a modern day main road, forms the border between both of these areas. Vegueta is the ‘Old Town’ of Las Palmas, and since 1990 has been officially recognised by UNESCO as a place of great cultural and historical importance.
For about four centuries, the population of Las Palmas mainly remained within the walls of Triana and Vegueta. During the 1500s, 1600s and 1700s, these two districts, as well as some humble immigrant and fishing districts and San José, together formed the city. However, in the 1800s, when Puerto de la Luz harbour was built, Las Palmas began to grow northwards, following the coast. It was at this time that Arenales, Alcaravaneras, La Isleta, Santa Catalina and Ciudad Jardín districts came into being.
The Canary Islands Music Festival is hosted around Tenerife and Gran Canaria each January and February. 2013 will be the 29th year of the festival. Ever since it began in 1985, it has been counted amongst Europe’s most impressive festivals of classical music. Although each year there is something different, audiences are guaranteed that the finest international orchestras and musicians will be in attendance.
The most important calendar dates in Tenerife (especially in Santa Cruz) are those on which a carnival falls. These usually occur in February and March, and consist of massive processions. Extravagant costumes are the order of the day, as well as street parties that can last for days at a time. February 2 is a bank holiday in Tenerife, as it is the feast day of Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria (Our Lady of Candelaria). Many celebrations in Tenerife do not fall on a fixed date, as they are based on religious or lunar calendars – such as Semana Santa and Pascua (Holy Week and Easter). Easter can fall in either March or April. Around Santa Cruz, La Orotava, La Laguna, Puerto de la Cruz and Garachico you cannot travel very far during this time without coming across a celebration.
Dotted around Madrid, you will find hidden gems which people either don’t know about, or don’t visit very often. This merely adds to the calm and tranquillity that these havens offer. Their unassuming entranceways are located on quiet roads; for example, in the districts of Lavapiés and Huertas. They are hidden behind old hospitals, monasteries and the former homes of royals. Let’s take the neighbourhood of La Latina, for instance. On Calle del Almendro - a reminder of this street’s tree-lined past – you will find the ruins of the old Christian Wall of Madrid, sheltered by buildings 15 and 17. Those in the know head to this area for tasty taps. Here are a few more of Madrid’s secret places that are waiting to be discovered.
Calle Sacramento is a narrow road occupied in the main by recently constructed buildings. Building 7, however, is different, as it is here that you will find Huerto de las Monjas. Until 1972 a convent stood here, sheltering this enchanting green space with its high walls. It is thought that it was previously a kitchen garden, where vegetables such as cabbages, carrots, chives and lettuce were grown. Hence, when strolling around here you will feel like you have gone back in time.
A visit to Dos Palillos is a must if you want to see what happens when traditional Spanish tapas meets exquisite Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese flavours. Chef Albert Raurich was behind the gourmet cuisine at El Bulli for ten years, and was head chef for the last six. Hence it is safe to presume he knows what’s what when it comes to inspiring and innovating. Highlights of the menu include delicacies such as fresh seaweed sunomono with molluscs, Japanese burger, meat gyoza and Cantonese style Iberian pork, to name just a few.
It is not difficult to see at a glance why Moments restaurant, located in the recently built and very attractive Mandarin Oriental Hotel, is worthy of a Michelin award. The menu features classic Spanish offerings such as rice with broth, as well as veal and fish stews. However, shrimp tartar, seabass with fig chutney and hibiscus salt and veal cheeks with turnip vegetable ravioli and red fruits also feature. Intriguingly, an anti-aging menu is also available, offering mini pizza pies with artichokes and Joselito ham, and buckwheat macaroni with scallops and vegetables.
The Gran Hotel La Florida has to be one of the most luxurious hotels in Barcelona. It is not the most central of hotels, however, being approximately a 20 minute drive from the centre of the city. However, this distance gives it a very tranquil feel. Some hotels trade location for quality of service and facilities, but you will certainly not find any compromise here. Guests are treated to exceptionally spacious bedrooms that have been designed by a range of esteemed artists, as well as very large indoor and outdoor swimming pools. It has been refurbished in the past year and provides gorgeous views of Barcelona. A room with a view will greatly add to your experience here.
The Hotel Omm is very popular with foreign as well as home grown clientele. This is due to the vibrant atmosphere, renowned on site restaurant, Le Moo, its regularly frequented night club, Ommsession, and the 50s themed cocktail bar. It location on the corner of Passeig the Gracia also helps; it is near La Pedrera de Gaudi, which can be viewed from its roof terrace. It is on this terrace that one will find the swimming pool. A sumptuous spa and revamped hairdressers are also available.
Unlike so many other resorts around the Costa Blanca, Alicante has tried to market itself for what it has to offer culturally, in addition to its famous beaches and glorious weather. Sandwiched between the coast and mountain ranges, it is a city of beauty as well as culture. Located on Mount Benacantil, the Castillo de Santa Bárbara is a reminder of Alicante’s Moorish past. Even though it has developed into a modern tourist city from a small town in need of rejuvenation, Alicante has not forgotten its history and traditions. Local festivals are held throughout the year, and the traditional paella, available in almost every restaurant, is the dish to try if you want to sample a taste of the Costa Blanca.
Alicante lies on the Mediterranean coast between Elche and Benidorm. To the west and north are mountain ranges, while the southern areas consist of valleys, through which the Segura River flows. The Alicante province is split into the Upper Marina, which takes in Teulada, Javea and Calpe, and Lower Marina, centred around Benidorm but also including Villajoyosa and Altea. The most visited beach in Alicante, which is considered to be amongst the best Spanish beaches, is the San Juan. Inland are Aspe and Movelda, while Guardamar and Torreveija are further along the coast.
Alicante Spain offers both a cultural experience and a fun loving night life. The discos will keep you dancing all night and the festivals last for days at a time. The costa blanca, or white sandy beaches, are beautiful to behold.
You must take a walk along the Explanada de Espana which is a promenade made of marble tiles each cut to specifics. Palm trees line the walkway with shops and cafes. The locals gather here to walk down the promenade and enjoy mild sea breezes and outdoor concerts. It is one of the most beautiful promenades in all of Spain.
The Mediterranean climate is mainly comfortable and mild with an average temperature range in the 60s and 70s degrees Fahrenheit. September and October are considered the rainy months, while the remainder of the year has few rain storms. This leaves many of sunny days for beach goers. The hottest day recorded was 107 degrees Fahrenheit and the most frigid day recorded was 27 degrees Fahrenheit. In the peak of the summer in August, the average temperature recorded was 87 degrees Fahrenheit. All around the climate is usually comfortable and nice. Continue reading