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Facts, tips and advice on Barcelona – Part 1

The people; known for being hard working and polite but a fierce rivalry exists between Barcelona and Madrid.

The Language; For over 1000 years, Catalan, a combination of Spanish, Latin and medievil French, has been spoken in Catalunya.

The Religion; Roman catholicism is the most dominant faith in Spain.

The Food; influnced from all over the world, particuarly mediterainian and french cuisine.

Etiquette; Topless sunbathing is accepted on the beaches but more modesty is appropriate inland.

What to pack; If you plan to take advantage of Barcelona’s nightlife, high fashion is essential! Otherwise dressing casual is fine in the day with smart wear for the evenings.

Emergency numbers;

Polocia Nacional (national police) – 091

Policia Municipail – 092

Emergency medical service – 061

How to incorporate exercise on your next vacation

Vacation does not need to be a time of guilty pleasures. The key to truly enjoying your next vacation lies in activity. Follow these simple rules and you won’t come home hiding your summer tan:

1) Walk

Walking is by far the no-brainer. Whether you’re relaxing in Hawaii, or sightseeing in Paris, you can and must walk. As any New Yorker will tell you, city living demands some leg work. Paris, Rome, Bavaria, Barcelona, they’ve all seen the soles of my shoes. The advantage on vacation? You don’t know the city. You might walk up and down those metro stairs five times before you’ve figured out which train to catch. If a tropical island is more your vacation cup-of-tea, look around you! No excuses. A beautiful blue beach is calling you to disappear into the sunset. Stairs or sand, your butt will love you.

2) Dive In

Taken literally or figuratively, this second rule is the most rewarding for the active vacationer. There is the obvious physical benefits of spending the day in the pool, or taking a surfing class on Hamoa beach, yet these are mere avenues to an exciting world of holiday exercise. The truly active vacationer never lets the moment pass. Never say, tomorrow’, or I’m too tired.’ Immerse yourself in this new culture. Take the detours. Live like the locals. Venture through exotic market places, climb all the Spanish steps don’t snap a shot from the caf, join in the tomato fight in Bunol don’t watch it from the hotel couch.

3) Have Fun

Who ever said the volleyball nets, or the bicycles, are for kids? Vacation is about letting go, relaxing. Having fun is a far greater stress reliever than lying by the pool as you flit away thoughts of: “will that kid stop screaming,” “sunglasses tan – no!”, or “boy I hope that man with the free martini’s doesn’t come my way”. Sweat the stress away. Simply ask yourself, “would I find this fun as a kid?” If not, you’re probably not getting the exercise you need. Next time your boyfriend says let’s go for a swim, race him there!

4) Sweat the Little Things

As much as you really like the thought of not having to make your own bed, the truth is; you’re storing energy you not need. Don’t give the maid your chance to burn some extra calories. She’s not the one eating chocolate souffl for dessert! If this is a luxury you can not bear to relinquish, then compromise. Enjoy your first two days of breakfast in bed; spend the rest taking the walk over to the buffet, or out to the local market. Don’t mistake relaxing for laziness.

Family Camping Holiday Barcelona Spain

Are you planning a vacation holiday some time in the near future? If so, you might want to consider one of a number of hidden resorts which until recently few international travelers have ever heard about. These are cost-conscious mobile home communities which feature a lengthy list of amenities that are highly competitive with major hotel chains. While cost is a major consideration for most travelers, this is one of the attractive features associated with these new holiday resorts. But, price is not the only selling point that makes them attractive. The family oriented laid back style of these communities, increased safety and 24 hour security are also primary reasons why families traveling with children prefer them. One such resort where I have recently stayed is situated in Vilanova I la Geltru a mere 50km from Barcelona Spain. Not only is there a number of organized activities offered to guests, there is also plenty of freedom to do whatever you desire while there. I highly recommend anyone traveling to the Costa Dorada to consider staying with Paramount Places. I was amazed at the superior personal service, trans-portation, amenities and beautiful beach that was within a short walking distance. In short, if you are considering spending your holidays in Spain this year, then ‘Camping Holiday Spain’ from Paramount Places is well worth a look. Intense fun is waiting to be had for the whole family; both parents and children alike. All of this in a very safe and secure family environment.

Spain Draws 15 Million Tourists For First Half Of 2008

In a recent study by Frontur, an international tourism institution in Spain, the country has seen a 3.3 percent growth in tourism during the first six months of 2008. Of the 15 million tourists, most were French, English, Scandinavian or Italian. Poor economic conditions worldwide do not seem to be taking a toll on Spanish tourism. Millions of people are simply planning their vacations to better accommodate a strained economy.

Barcelona Tourism

Barcelona is leading the race as the favorite tourism spot in Spain for 2008. In the past four months, Barcelona has hosted more than 24 percent of the 15 million people who have visited Spain. Barcelona is a popular destination for historians and those who appreciate fine art and amazing architecture.

Canary Islands Tourism

The Canary Islands have been a major contender in the tourism battle since the mid-1950s. Millions of tourists book accommodations on one or more of the Canary Islands each year. The year-round tropical climate, volcanic landscapes, mountains and miles of beaches offer a unique experience for tourists. The 2008 season is booming and it is highly recommended that visitors book accommodations months in advance.

Andalusia Tourism

Andalusia is commonly called “the heart of Spain” and has been the destination of choice for 2.1 million tourists so far in 2008. The city of Seville is one of the primary historic attractions in Andalusia. The history of Andalusia dates back to pre-Roman times. Some of the most prominent architecture from throughout the ages still stands today.

Valencia Tourism

Valencia has played host to 1.6 million tourists in 2008. Valencia’s original name, Valentia, means strength and vigor. The city was named after Emperor Valens. Like most Spanish tourist destinations, Valencia is rich in history, architecture, art and culture. Valencia’s white beaches are very popular destinations during the summer.

Madrid Tourism

Madrid is the capital of Spain and boasts many world-famous museums. El Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza are only a few of the most famous museums in the city. The city itself is robust and offers lessons in history and culture from just a stroll along its streets. More than 3 million people call Madrid home and are very hospitable to tourists year-round.

Tourism in Spain Grows Despite Economic Conditions

No matter your destination in Spain, you’re sure to find the culture and history simply amazing. The largest theme park in Europe is Siam Park on the island of Tenerife, and the Tenerife weather is almost always good for holidays.

The park offers roller coasters, water attractions, a variety of shows and children’s play areas. The Canary Islands and various locations across Spain are easily accessible by way of low-cost airlines. The growing number of low-cost flights to and from many European destinations makes planning your vacation budget even easier. Tourists are very much aware of the economic decline in their own countries, as well as in their destination countries. To the well-seasoned traveler, this simply presents an exercise in planning and budgeting.

Poor economic conditions are on the minds of people worldwide. The struggling economy began to raise concerns in 2007. Tourism boards and nations that rely heavily on tourism were prepared for the possibility that poor economic conditions might hinder travel in 2008.

Holiday Self Catering Property Rentals in Spain

Spain boasts just about everything you could ever wish for in a holiday destination.

This popular European country has a fantastic climate, a wealth of culture and history, some amazing and diverse landscapes, numerous tourist attractions, lots of great food and drink and a huge range of self-catering holiday properties to rent during your stay in Spain.

As one of the world’s top tourist destinations, Spain truly has something to offer all tastes, whatever type of holiday you’re looking for, whether it’s an annual family vacation, a romantic break or a last-minute weekend getaway.

With so much to see and do in this amazing country, here’s a taster of what you can get up to during your stay.

There is no shortage of self-catering properties to rent in Spain, too. There’s an abundance of beautiful villas and apartments available here, so you can find your ideal holiday property rental in no time at all!

The regions of Spain include Andalucia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Basque Country, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, La Rioja and Valencia, and each one offers so much to its visitors.

Within those regions, there are, of course, also some fantastic cities, towns and villages to check out. In fact, there are so many places that you’ll want to return to Spain, time and time again.

Some of the popular areas of Spain include Madrid, Seville, Barcelona, Bilbao, Alicante, Granada, Malaga, Valencia and San Sebastian, among others, of course.

Whether you’re looking to tour a busy city or laze on a beautiful sandy beach, Spain has the answer.

Madrid, the country’s capital, is brimming with museums and art, so be sure to check it out if you’re an art lover. There’s the Golden Triangle of Art, which is three museums – the Prado Museum, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum and the Reina Sofia Museum. You can also see the Royal Palace of Madrid, tour Real Madrid’s famous football stadium or relax in one of the city’s parks or gardens.

Seville, Spain’s fourth largest city, is rich in history and a must see here is the amazing cathedral and its bell tower, the Giralda. Seville is also said to be the tapas capital of the world, so be sure to sample some delicious food and drink while you’re there.

The historic city of Barcelona is perfect for a short break. It has some lovely Gaudi architecture to gaze at and some interesting museums, too. It’s also an ideal location for a beach holiday, as it has 4.2km of sandy beaches situated just 10 minutes from the centre of the city!

Another popular visitor attraction is the Guggenheim Museum in the city of Bilbao, which is located in the Basque Country. It’s a must for art lovers. While you’re in Bilbao, take the opportunity to try some pintxos, which are like tapas.

Alicante, along the Costa Blanca, is a well known destination which has miles of sandy beaches to offer its visitors. Its mild climate is one reason why so many people come to visit. But if you want to do more than just lie on a beach all day, then the city of Alicante has no shortage of things to see and do. There’s the castle to visit, various parks to enjoy, museums to see and a wealth of restaurants in which to dine.

The city of Granada, meanwhile, boasts the stunning Alhambra Palace, that was once the home of the Arabic Sultans and is today a major tourist attraction. You can take a tour of the Alhambra and view the amazing architecture for yourself.

Malaga is another popular area with tourists. The city has a cathedral, a market, the Picasso Museum, numerous other museums, and the harbour and castle, too.

Malaga is just one of the many popular tourist destinations situated on the Costa del Sol. There’s also Marbella, Puerto Banús, Torremolinos, Benalmádena, Fuengirola, Mijas and more. The Costa del Sol is perfect if you’re after a beach holiday, as it has many excellent beaches to discover. The kids will love them, too.

Valencia is an ideal destination to relax and unwind. It has a lovely old town which has gardens, squares, museums and historic buildings to explore. Apparently, Valencia is where paella was invented, so, it’s not surprising that there’s no shortage of restaurants, cafes and tapas bars in this great city. Why not try some paella while you are there!

San Sebastian is another great beach holiday destination. The best beach here is said to be Playa de Concha, which is not only popular for sunbathing, but also for swimming and water sports.

Spain also has much more to offer those wanting a sports holiday. There’s plenty of golf available, as well as fishing, horse riding, scuba diving and other activities. Many people don’t realise that Spain has good skiing facilities, too. The ski resort Sierra Nevada, for example, is worth checking out.

The Canary Islands, which are part of Spain, are also popular holiday destinations. There are seven islands to discover – Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and Fuerteventura. They are all worth a visit and if you’re looking for a Spanish holiday property rental, there’s no shortage of accommodation there.

Spain can offer so many different types of holiday to suit all ages and tastes. Whether you’re looking for art and culture, a sandy beach or a ski slope. Or if you’d rather get close to nature, visit a winery or sample some excellent cuisine, Spain has it all. What’s more, it boasts a lovely warm climate that makes it an attractive all-year-round destination – perfect for a self-catering holiday at Christmas or mid summer.

Go and discover Spain today!

Planning a vacation: Top ten cities you should visit – Part 2

Not all the best cities are in Europe but if you want a mixture of the ancient and modern, great food and shopping, beautiful scenery and friendly people it’s hard to beat. It is full of gems, from a large metropolis like London to the small village like city of Amsterdam. Each have their own charm and their own distinctive culture. Choosing just ten cities to recommend is almost impossible. My top ten are mainly located in Europe but it would be impossible for such a list not to include the jewel in America’s crown, New York.

1. London

This vast metropolis has to be the first city of Europe. You could spend a year here and not see everything nor get bored. It’s been said that when you tire of London, you tire of life. Never has this been more true, with the regenerated South Bank including Shakespeare’s original theatre, the Globe, the transformed power station which is now a wonderful (free) modern art gallery, the festival hall and so much more. There are South Kensington’s museums, unrivalled in all the world. The royal parks are magnificent, as are the palaces and royal homes. On top of this is a thriving street life, markets and extensive shopping. The Nightlife with its myriad of clubs, bars, restaurants and theatre ensures there is something for everyone. Probably the only truly cosmopolitan city in the world.

2. New York

A great spralling city on the North Eastern coast of America. It has many facets brought together by the cohesive force of millions of New Yorkers, who dispite their reputation are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. Landmark buildings such as the magnificent Empire State Building. Great restaurants and nightlife. It would be difficult to find a city that offered a greater range of live shows, from the huge successes on Broadway to the small creative offerings tucked away in little known streets. One of the best parks in the world separates uptown and downtown Manhatten. All this set in a vibrant busy city with one of the greatest Art galleries (MOMA) and most prolific shopping streets (5th Avenue) in the world.

3. Barcelona

The Catalan capital. Barcelona is fiercely Catalan (spanish is the second language) and is rightly proud of its heritage. A beautiful coastal town provides all the facilities of a city with a beach holiday. Great Tapas, as you might expect, and a range of spanish and Catalan restaurants to choose from. The colourful ramblas runs through the heart of the city and is lined with stalls

Spain Confident For 2008 Tourism Numbers

Spanish tourism officials anticipate a rise in British tourists in spite of the pound doing poorly against the euro.

Parts of Spain, including the Balearic Islands have been popular tourist destinations for decades. This isn’t expected to falter any time soon.

The ‘Majorca Daily Bulletin’ recently interviewed Ignacia Vasallo of the Turespana Spanish Tourist Board.

Mr. Vasallo is confident in Spain’s allure and believes it will remain a popular tourist destination throughout 2008.

He told reporters ‘Spain is still one of the cheapest eurozone destinations, so the slight increase in a bottle of beer, for example, is not going to turn people away.’ In fact, he predicts a 2 percent rise in tourism for the 2008 season.

According to the Majorca Daily Bulletin he said, ‘While the credit crunch may persuade British consumers to put off selling the house or buying a new car, it will not deter them from going on holiday this year.’

First-quarter figures help solidify Mr. Vasallo’s predictions. Spain attracted nearly 10.7 million tourists during the first quarter.

The dollar and pound are indeed lower in value against the euro than they have been in a very long time. This doesn’t mean people are foregoing their beloved island holidays.

It simply means more people have to budget more carefully to enjoy their usual yearly island escape. The Post Office has also reassured tourists that Spain is the cheapest country in the eurozone, despite the pound being at a record low against the euro.

Spain’s capital city of Madrid is located on the Manzanares River. It is the largest city in all of Spain.

Madrid is a popular tourist destination for several reasons: one being the rich historic culture evident throughout Spain. No matter the time of year the tourist visits Madrid, they can partake in a variety of Spanish celebrations.

Many history buffs enjoy touring Madrid’s many museums, galleries and historic landmarks. In addition to the historic appeal, Madrid promotes a wide variety of financial and economic venues. Three of the world’s 100 largest companies maintain headquarters in Madrid as well as the main headquarters for the majority of Spanish companies.

Due to Madrid’s standard of living and economic stability, it is considered the financial center of the Iberian Peninsula.

Barcelona is another major hub of tourist activity in Spain. It is the second largest city in Spain and boasts a population of nearly 1.7 million. It is located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain and is home to one of Europe’s primary Mediterranean ports.

The Barcelona International Airport is the second largest airport in Spain. Barcelona has hosted many world sporting events, including the 1982 Football World Cup and the 1992 Summer Olympics.

Millions of tourists per year are fascinated by Barcelona’s many architectural highlights. The Barcelona Cathedral attracts many tourists and is a popular photo opportunity.

The hotels in Barcelona enjoy good occupancy levels.

The Balearic Islands remain one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

The islands acted as key strategic points in several battles throughout history. After such a dramatic past, remnants remain and continue to draw lovers of history and architecture year after year. Mallorca and Menorca are the two largest and most visited of the Balearic Islands.

Many resorts and hotels, as well as privately owned apartments and villas, are available to accommodate the island-loving tourist. The largest city of the Balearic Islands is Palma de Mallorca, located on Mallorca. Although many on the islands are multi-lingual, the two primary languages spoken on the Balearic Islands are Spanish and Catalan.

Each year millions of people visit various parts of Spain because of the lower-cost activities available to them.

Current monetary exchange rates are not expected to have a negative impact on tourism in Spain. Fewer tourists may be visiting Spanish destinations with intentions of buying property, but tourism itself is not expected to decrease in numbers.

Tourists will continue to make holiday plans despite the pound doing poorly against the euro simply because they are accustomed to a yearly break from the rigours of everyday life. Low-cost airlines, as well as highly sought-after vacation packages, will aid in holiday planning during the 2008 vacation season.

Great ideas for weekend vacations

The popularity of weekend vacations is growing. Everyone needs from time to time a break; relaxing is “a must for everyone”. The key for an enjoyable weekend vacation is to get rid of all your sorrows. There is plenty of choice in getaways and for every budget. Here are a few ideas which may help you to choose a suitable weekend vacation for you:

CITY TRIPS

If you want planning a weekend vacation abroad; maybe is a city a good suggestion for you. There are plenty of suitable destinations for a weekend vacation but it is preferable to search one which is located not too far from your hometown because you have only a few days. Paris, London, Venice, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona, Rome are popular destinations in Europe. These destinations are excellent for a weekend vacation because you can walk through these cities and enjoying of the beauty of the architecture of the buildings.

These cities offer you many possibilities to relax and create romance. A boat trip on the Seine of Paris, walking across the bridge of Sighs in Venice, sitting next the Trevi Fontain in Rome where you can enjoy the beautiful sights and afterwards you can go walking from there to the Spanish Steps, a gondola boat trip in Venice, enjoying of the beautiful music in Vienna and maybe walking through the beautiful gardens of Schonbrunn are some activities you can do in these wonderful cities and give you time to relax.

A GASTRONOMIC WEEKEND

Most people enjoy dinner outside and a gastronomic weekend can be a good idea for a weekend break. You can start the day with a large breakfast, possible a morning buffet with croissants and all kinds of food you can imagine. During the day you have possibilities for walking, cycling or other entertainment activities for burning the extra calories.

Maybe they offer you at noon a buffet with soup, different kinds of meat, fish and some local products. After your meal you can spend your afternoon with activities you like. You can go walking in the woods or in a park but maybe they offer also possibilities for hiking, fishing, taking a boat trip or some other activities. It depends also of the season you choose for your gastronomic weekend. In the evening they offer you mostly a 4-5 or even more course gastronomic dinner with different wines, champagne or other drinks.

A WEEKEND BREAK AT THE BEACH

You don’t need to be going abroad for a weekend vacation; you have many possibilities in your hometown. A weekend vacation at the beach is an

Holidays: Sightseeing in Spain

Spain has long been praised for its exhilarating and active night life, with visitors enjoying the bars and night clubs in such cities as Barcelona, Valencia, Seville and especially Madrid.

As well as the above “hotspots”, Spain is also home to Benicassim. The four day festival has soared in popularity over the years because of the guaranteed sun, and all night acts. To top it off the festival ends with a huge beach party.

Spain has much more to offer than an excellent night life though. It presents a strong sense of its own identity ornamented with an astonishing religious history which has resulted in a country rich with breathtaking cathedrals and palaces, gorgeous rolling landscapes and a vibrant culture of art, dance, and outstanding architecture.

Firstly there is “La Sagrada Familia”, a colossal Roman Catholic temple and museum, which has been in construction for over a century.

Over the years La Sagrada Familia has been the architectural project of many influential figures, each adding their own ideas and mythologies to the temple.

Like many other architectural masterpieces throughout Barcelona, it’s a must-see for any visitor.

Situated next to the “La Catedral” in Seville is a royal palace “El Alcazar”. The palace dates back to 1364, when it was built for “Pedro the cruel” and his mistress, María de Padilla.

The gothic elements added by Charles V, contrast beautifully with the distinctly Islamic elements that Pedro incorporated. This has resulted in a palace that it considered one of the best remaining examples of mudéjar architecture.

There is an abundance of breathtaking sites throughout Spain for you to enjoy when on your holidays, some other notable examples include:

  • The “Garden of Conception”
  • Catedral de Toledo
  • The Sanctuary of Santa María Magdalena
  • The Guggenheim Museum

Essential foreign language phrases you need to know before traveling to another country

I have traveled to over ten different countries in my lifetime. I learned from experience how to communicate certain important phrases to people who don’t speak the same language.

The first thing I would do when visiting a non English speaking country is purchase one of those inexpensive phrase books. I found them to be extremely helpful in assisting me in asking store clerks,waiters and taxi drivers for things that I wanted to purchase. These phrase books however helpful they may be have their drawbacks. I remember when I visited Barcelona,Spain and wanted to ask for a specific type of coffee. I opened my book and read the phrase to the waiter and he answered by reeling off numerous words to me at a fast and furious pace. I stood there dumbfounded and did not have a clue as to what he was talking about.

If you have enough self discipline you may acquire a self-paced language learning course to learn simple phrases that may help you during your visit. Some off the most helpful phrases to learn are:

1.Where is the toilet?

2.I would like…coffee,a room, a ticket etc

3.How much does this cost?

4.Can you call me a taxi?

5.Do you speak English?

6.I do not speak…German,French,Italian etc

7.What does that mean in English?

8.Where is…?

9.Can you drive me to the…train station,airport,hotel?

10.What time does the train,plane,bus leave?

If you forget your phrasebook in your hotel room while visiting a foreign country pointing does work for somethings and if asking for the price of something indicate by using gestures that you would like the person to write down the price. It’s just like playing charades and can be a little fun.

I have found that generally speaking people are usually understanding when they become aware that you do not speak their language. Politeness is important whether or not you speak the language.

No one can possibly learn a language overnight so learn at least the ten that I have written above. You may think some of them are silly but after traveling to over ten different countries I have found that those were the most helpful to me and didn’t require a long time to memorize.