Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Menorca






The third and the smallest Balearic island is Minorca (in Spanish/Catalan: Menorca). If what you need is nature and silence, away from the crowd then Menorca is the right place to be in.  Although Mallorca and Ibiza are extremely touristic, Menorca stayed as a local island. There are some tourist groups though, it cannot be compared with the other two islands in that sense. Just the charming coastline (216km) is enough to amaze you. The color of the sea could relax all of your muscles :) You will not forget the bluish/greenish transparent sea, amazing coves, sandy beaches and the strong wind ofcourse. The island is famous with its strong winds, it is sometimes called the wind island. The speed of the wind may reach up to 100km/h.


The airport is in Mahon at the capital city. There are bus network connections and shuttles to the rest of the island. The distance between Mahon and Ciutadella is around 50km.






















What to visit:
There are several cities that could be visited in Menorca such as, Mahon, Ferreries, Mercadals, Fornells, but do not miss Ciutadella.












Ciutadella: Ciutadella was the capital city at the Muslim era till the 18th century. It is also known as vella i bella “old and beautiful”. The city still presents that aristocratic characteristics with the plazas, palaces and other historic structures. The city has it is unique identity and it is totally different than Mahon, the current capital city. Just walking in the streets of Ciutadella could be a trip in the old historic days... Don’t miss to visit La Plaza de Born, the cathedral, the museum, beautiful historic palaces, and houses.

Having 216 km costlines (more than Ibiza and mallorca) Menorca has wonderful amazing natural beauties and coves. Here are some of unmissable sandy beaches that I can suggest: Cala Galdana, Cala Turqueta ,Cala Mitjana, Cala en Porter. The Bay of Fornells is famous with its shallow water and it is ideal for sail and windsurf learners.













My favorite suggestion is Cala Galdana known as "Queen of the coves”. The charming effects of Cala Galdana could stop you to discover the rest of the island. The sandy beach, the sea, the cliffs, the colors... Enjoy the nature!




You will not forget Menorca!




Monday, April 13, 2015

Santander

Being the capital city of Cantabria, part of Spain, Santander has a mosaic structure, tourism, commercial center, just by the Atlantic Ocean at the north of Spain. 




 Although it is easy to travel around the city by city buses, an economic way could be taking a public bike which doesn't cost anything for an hour. The train and bus stations could be other alternatives, as well, since they are very well located in the city.



















The Cathedral is pretty close to the train and bus stations. Following the sea side (the Paseo de Pereda) leads you to see the coastal parts and you will end up at the Magdalena Park. This route gives you the opportunity to see some typical houses with "miradors" and gardens. This boulevard separates the coastal strip from the historic quarter of Santander.














On the other side  of the road, there are so many cute streets go to the Town Hall (Plaza del Generalísimo) which stands next to the popular market of la Esperanza.





Historic buildings; the Santander Bank and El Embarcadero are next to the Pereda gardens (Jardines de Pereda). The fishing port and the Puerto Chico are also next to the garden.



Santander has the beautiful beaches of Playa de la Concha, Playa del Sardinero (the most popular one), Playa El Camellolos Peligros, la Magdalena and Biquinis, El Sardinero. Gran Casino is near to El Sardinero beaches. Then the "Magdalena Park" and the royal palace are sited on top of a hill.



 Santander cuisine has the advantage of  the city being situated halfway between the sea and the mountains. The gastronomy of Cantabria is famous, particularly with sausage (spanish ham), pudding, "torreznos", stews and roasted, the stuffed red peppers, sardinero.






Altamira Caves, World Heritage, are a few kilometers from this city. Beside there are several museums in Santander such as Bellas Artes, Maritimo.

It is also possible to see artistic studies around the city, as in all around Spain.




Thursday, April 2, 2015

Valencia

Valencia, is Spain's one of the biggest cities, although it is a cute relatively small city :)
The population ranges from 1.7 to 2.5 million. It is the capital of Valencian autonomous community, 350 km away from Barcelona and Madrid.


The word Valencia reminds oranges, beaches, festivals, and of course Paella ! 
Even though there are many festivals in Valencia, among them the Falles (Las Fallas) is the most famous one. It is an authentic fest. It is held from March 15 to March 19, there are many other events around these days, as well. If you are into noisy, crowded fests, this is just for you. 

 

Must be Seen 



-The Old Quarter of Valencia
- El Miguelet and the Cathedral - see the Holy Grail and enjoy the cafes and bars of this bohemian area.
- Barrio del Carmen in the north of the Old Quarter as it's one of the most trendy and popular areas to go at night.
- Valencia City of Arts and Sciences : The City of Arts and Sciences is a definetely must be seen place. It is  is located in the lovely Turia Gardens which are an essential and very beautiful part of Valencia. The center includes the largest aquarium in Europe, and an IMAX laser cinema, Palau de la Musica and Palau de les Arts.
- Valencia Beaches are also famous with miles and miles of white sand.


















There are so many trendy shops and popular stores in the downtown area, like Mango, Zara and El Corte Ingles as in all parts of Spain, and all of them offer great fashion at affordable prices. Beside this, there is a Valencian effect in terms of fashion, that can be realized in the streets.






 Specialties of the city


The Special Drink : Horchata
Special Desserts: Arnadi & Tarta Cristina
The Special Meal: Paella (The birth place of Paella is Valencia)
Hot Chocolate with orange; special @ Valor at Placa Reina
and famous wines.


More Tips


- Nightlife in Valencia, as in so many Spanish cities, begins late and is one of the best in Europe.
- There are a fantastic selection of clubs, bars, discos, and restaurants that you can enjoy.
- The Most Famous Festivals are Las Fallas, La Tomatina, Easter and the Christmas.
- It is possible to reach to three lovely Balearic Islands (Ibiza,Mallorca, Menorca) or take the ferry to Barcelona, Tenerife or Morroco.
- When yo eat Paella, try to go local, stay away from touristic zones.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Venice




       Venice, Venezia, Venecia, Vedenik...

       The city has a unique geographical structure, if you have the chance; try to see the city from a plane, then you will see the island with its charming characteristics including so many narrow canals and several islands from top. As one may expect main transportation vehicles in the city are water buses, boats, iconic gondolas and the canal taxis.


      Beside the unique geographical structure, you can easily see that the city had an important role in Middle Ages, Renaissance. Therefore, it has tones of artistic, and historic areas. This artistic city is also the birth place of Antonio Vivaldi.

      
    The city is not so big however, one of the most crowded touristic city. On the other hand, if you are tired of the crowd there are so many other options around the city which offers you pure nature experience, such as islands, or rural areas.

    











    
       Must be seen/done:

1)      Piazza San Marco

         a.       St Mark’s basilica (Basilica di San Marco) from 11th century

         b.      Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale di Venezia) from 14th century

         c.       The clock tower; Torre dell Orologio form the 15th 16th century.

         d.      Take the Elevator to the Top of the Campanile

2)      The grand canal tour by water bus or gondolas (The main canal is called the Gran canal)

3)      Rialto Bridge

4)     Ca d’Oro (a beautiful palace on Gran Canal) from 15th century



  
     






    
       Other suggestions:

  •     Islands (Murano the glass island, Burano, Torcello, Lido)
  •     Some of the old churchs such as  Scuola Grande di San Rocco, San Zaccaria, San Giorgio Maggiore,
  •     Museums (Ca' Pesaro, Ca' Rezzonico, Casa Goldoni, I musei di P. San Marco, Museo Correr, Museo del Merletto, Museo del Vetro, Museo di storia naturale, Palazzo Fortuny, Palazzo Ducale,       Palazzo Mocenigo, Torre dell'orologio, Museo Ca' Del Duca, Museo Col. Guggenheim, Museo ebraico, Museo degli armeni, Museo dei modelli ) 
  • So many historic buildings, specially on the Gran Canal,
  • The city is also famous with the glass art, masks of Carnavale and its wine (if you like sweet wine, specially ask for it).  Beside the wine, Pizza, Gelato and Sea food strongly suggestible.
  • Being lost in the small  labirinty city and while finding your way discovering small hidden beauties of the city is a favorable activity. If you prefer to do it with a guide, there are some walking tours too.
  • Talking about the city without mentioning the traditional 11-day Carnival will be an incomplete  description. It is held in February/March. Check before planning your trips depending on the year it changes.
            

      More tips:


  •  Another important clue  is although at the first glance it seems like you cannot walk the whole city since it is divided by more than 150 canals,  there are 400 bridges over the canals so it is possible to walk the city except reaching to the other small islands :)
  • Staying in the city center can be attractive to some people, but if you are so much into silence and nature then staying a bit outside of the city has a meditative effect with the Italy's beautiful rural towns.
  • Prepare yourself to a mosquito fight.
  • For the city transportation there are combined tickets beside the single and return tickets. You can buy these tickets at the airport or in the city centers. In order to avoid the long queues at the airport, carry some changes, so that you have the chance to buy from the vendor machines.
  • From the airport to the city there are boats and sea-taxi options, beside the city shuttle buses.
  • Don't make strict plans, and keep in mind that the time schedule of buses and trains can be flexible. If you are in a hurry don't get into a restaurant or make it very clear in advance :) Since Italy by culture is the country of relaxation, being in a hurry/ being quick concepts are pretty relative in this country.
  • For bus and train time tables, the days are divided into two groups as working days and holidays. It is not written anywhere but Saturdays are counted as working days. 
  • Also keep in mind that in the area it is not so easy to find a wireless internet connection area, in some small cities around Venice finding a free/paid wireless connection is almost impossible.


     Day trip cities (the hidden gems):
    
   Beside the islands (Murano, Burano, Torcello, Lido), 
  • Padua (Padova); from Venice to Padova take about half an hour by train.
  • Treviso; from Venice to Treviso take about half an hour by train.
  • Vicenza; from Venice to Vicenza take about forty-five minutes by train
  • Verona; Venice to Verona take just over one hour to 1 1/2 hours by train.
    
     For basic Italian: http://www.ielanguages.com/italian1.html

                                                                                                                 Ciao!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bilbao & Getxo


Bilbao 





The city is located at the north part of Spain at the Basque country. Bilbao is famous as being an industrial and rainy city of Spain, as well as its unique Guggenheim museum. Bilbao is surrounded by the green hills and it includes so many green parks. Although it is close to the ocean, it is not by the ocean. However,reaching the coasts of ocean takes almost half an hour by train. Moreover, the river gives a cosy effect in the city.






The zone of Guggenheim museum is impressive in many aspects (e.g. the arquitecture of the building, the big flower puppy, the exhibitions), as well as the parks and the old city. 

Beside Bilbao is famous with the cuisine in addition to the well-known pintxos which is the name of tapas given for this part of the region.












Bilbao is a small city, but it is a great place to see due to its cusine, the old city (Casco Viejo) and the museum.Casco Viejo, the old city, is a perfect place to visit, in order to walk through the old streets among historical buildings, in order  to eat and to shop. The tram allows you to go to that part of the city.

The airport is pretty small though the transportation is very well organized with the metros, trains, and buses.




There are so many close small towns that can be visited by metro, such as Getxo (sounds as Getcho) which is a town by the ocean. Getxo includes the first transportation iron bridge,Vizkaya Bridge protected by UNESCO, and also villas decorated by the famous architects for the reach people of Spain in the old days. In Getxo the elevator helps you to reach to the beach and the bikes for rent allows you to travel by the coast easily.













Some of the suggestible close touristic cities are Santander, San Sebastian, Vitoria Gasteiz, La Rioja and Logroño.



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Rome/Italy

Rome & Vatican City 



Rome is a fascinating city in terms of historical places, ruins, art and museums. If you are interested in any of these, Rome is the right place to be in. During your visit you will witness the history. The city includes so many places that shouldn't be missed. Here are the major ones:
  

Colleseoum
Palatino
Foro Romano
Piazza Venezia
Piazza Cavour
Quirinale Palace
Piazza Barberini
Spanish Steps
Villa Borghese
Fontana de Trevi
Pantheon
Palazzo Farnese
Piazza Navona
Piazza repubblica
Stazione Termini
Piazza Dell'esquilino (santamaria maggiore)
Via Nazionale
Piazza Agusto Imperatore
Via del Corso
Via Condotti (the most famous shopping street)
Piazza del Popolo
Castel S Angelo
Palazzo di Guistizia
Piazza Cavour and the garden
Circo Massiomo
Parlemento
Piazza di Pietra
Piaza S Giovannini
Piramide.





Vatican City (the Pope's speech is every Wednesday at 10:00am. Keep in mind that the speech is free and open for everyone. On the other hand, you will see many ticket sellers on your way to the Vatican Basilica.)

Also in Vatican city :

San Pietro, Piazza San Pietro, Vatican Museum, Vatican Garden are must be seen places.










Tips:
- The central historical  part of Rome can be walked but if you want to go to different parts of Rome that might be tiring. Keep in mind that in Rome transportation is a bit problematic, using tram can ease this difficulty. The available 2 metro lines are not sufficient enough and not well managed. The buses doesn't have AC and they can be unbelievably crowded :) Hop on hop off buses are another alternative for tourists, as well.
- Get ready to taste hundred different types of pizzas and and pastas. Don't forget the ice cream ("Gelato").
- For the airport transportation, take the train called Leonardo express, it takes 30 minutes to reach the airport.
-  For the Vatican Museum and the garden you have to take an appointment in advance at least 3 days ago.














I give the list of all the museums since they are too many to list, however you can obtain the list from any tourism information office with their pre-appointment requirements.

Keep in mind that Rome itself is an open air museum.




Ciao!