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Spain – Traveling to and within the European country

Mainland Spain is situated on the Iberian peninsula in the southwest of Europe. It also encompasses two groups of islands. The Islas Baleares (Balearic Islands), in the Mediterranean, Mallorca the largest island is just over one hundred miles off the eastern coast and the Islas Canarias (Canary Islands) which are situated approximately five hundred miles to the southwest and lie off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. Mellila and Cueta are two Spanish enclaves in Morocco on the African continent.

Whilst Spain is one of the world’s leading destinations for the package holiday there is more to this country than the beaches of the costas and islands. The independent traveler will want to move around see what more Spain has to offer.

Getting there – There are thirty one airports on the mainland serving the following cities and towns: A Coruna, Albacete, Alicante, Almería, Asturias, Badajoz, Barcelona, Bilbao, Burgos, Cordoba, Girona, Granada, Jerez de la Frontera, Leon, Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, Pamplona, Reus, Sabadell, Salamanca, San Sebastian, Santander, Santiago, Sevilla, Valencia, Valladolid, Vigo and Zaragoza. In the Canaries the islands of El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote and Tenerife and in the Balearics Ibiza, Menorca and Mallorca all have airports. Gibraltar, the British colony at the southern most tip of Spain, also has it’s own airport. British Airways and the Monarch fly daily to Gibraltar from several departure points in the United Kingdom and Monarch has some very good deals on seats. Major carriers provide scheduled flights to Spain but it is also a principal destination for budget airlines with return flights available for less than 100 Euros from other European cities. It is also possible to pick up bargain seats on the many charter flights serving the tourist industry. Air travel within Spain, with the exception of a couple of budget airlines, is expensive.

Major roads provide access from Portugal to the west and France which borders Spain to the northeast. Road travel within the country can vary. Many roads are not of a good standard but Spain has received billions of Euros in aid from the European Union and much of this has been spent on the infrastructure and so it is also possible to travel on some of the newest and finest roads on the continent. The country is well served by many bus companies linking the major towns and cities with express services. There are also a wealth of local bus services.

The train service is well developed enabling access to the country from both Portugal and France and fast travel between towns and cities within Spain. Fares are cheap compared to some other major European countries. Madrid and Barcelona are served by extensive Metro (underground railway) networks.

In addition to the many inter island services ferries run from the mainland to both the island groups and the two enclaves in Morocco. The Canary Islands are served by a boat running from Cadiz. The journey is long, some 48 hours and the sea conditions often make for a rough passage. It may be preferable to fly although as we have already pointed out this can be expensive. Ferries from Tariffa and Algeciras, in the Andalucian province of Cadiz, run to Tanger in Morroco. Ferries also link the enclave of Cueta with Tariffa, Algeciras and Malaga. Mellila, the other enclave is served by a boats out of Malaga and Almeria. The Balearic Islands have services to the mainland running to Barcelona, Valencia and Denia.

More information about traveling in Spain can be found in the Spanish Travel Guide
Find Spanish hotels, hostals and pensions, property for rent and sale in our Spanish Directory.

Travel experiences: Spain

When you travel around the world, every now and then you’ll visit places that leave you completely breathless, with no desire whatsoever to ever leave again. Strangely enough, to me this happened to a city just a one hour flight away from home: Barcelona.

Barcelona will always be linked to Gaudi, one of the great masters of architecture. While mostly known for his colorful draco at the entrance of Parc Guell and for his obvious masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, few people realize his immense impact on the whole city. From the tiles on Passeig de Gracia to the lanterns on Placa Real, the Finca Guell and Palau Guell, Casa Mila (better known as la Pedrera) and Casa Batllo, one says you can see some of his work from every single spot in Barcelona.

But there is more, so much more. Whether it is the nightlife you’re after, the shopping, the beach, the architecture, museums or a simple stroll, Catalunia’s capital has got it all. To top it all off, there is the sangria and an immense variety of tapas in the small cafes and bistros all over town.

It is impossible to list all the things there are to see and do in Barcelona, and that’s not what this site is for. Instead, I’ll give my personal highlights of the city, and hopefully that’ll be helpful for anybody who plans on going there.

Gaudi.

As mentioned earlier, it is virtually impossible to overlook Gaudi’s influence on the city. A trip to Barcelona would not be complete without visiting at least the Parc Guell with the draco and the famous curbed mosaic benches, and his undisputed (yet still unfinished) masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia. His tragic death (the people of Barcelona left him on the streets after he was hit by a tram, not knowing it was Gaudi. He later refused to be transferred to a better hospital as he felt his place was amongst the poor) quite possibly made him even more legendary.

Tibida.

The highest point of Barcelona with amazing views over the cities. You can hike up the hill or take the pleasant little train-ride. On top, you’ll find the unique church and a rather outdated amusement park.

Montjuic.

This hill on the other side of Barcelona is famous for its telecommunications tower, built especially for the Olympics in 1992. It also houses the majestic Olympic stadium, where now Espanyol Barcelona plays its home games.

Camp Nou.

Stadium of FC Barcelona, still one of the world’s most renowned football teams (that would be soccer for the American readers).

Las Ramblas.

Collection of 5 separate streets (6 if you count the Rambla del Mar) that are more commonly known as Las Ramblas. They stretch from the Plaza Catalunya all the way to the statue of Columbus. On the broad pedestrian part in the middle, you’ll find flower stalls, bars, and some of the most talented street artists in the world.

This list is by no means complete, but should give you some idea of what this amazing city has to offer.

Top 10 Tourist Attractions of Barcelona

When visiting Barcelona just for a few days tourist have to face the problem of deciding what to visit. The already mentioned problem gets even more complicated with the huge amounts of available information as well as with the advise and opinion of friends, relatives and acquaintances. The following top ten has the intention of giving tourists an idea of the places that should be visited, they just have to adjust it to their time availability.

Starting with the countdown is the Olympic Harbour, situated on la Barceloneta quarter, its capacity enables it to berth a considerable number of sports boats. It is the perfect place to go an eat sea food. The most important indoors attraction to visit is Museu de Historia de Catalunya.

Number nine is the Olympic Ring which is the group of sports installations where the 1992 Olympics took place. It is composed by the Olympic Stadium, the Bernat Picornell swimming pools, the Calatrava tower, the Palau Sant Jordi and the National Institute of Physical Education of Catalonia.

Number eight is Parc de la Ciutadella, the perfect combination between nature, architecture and entertainment.

Number seven is the Spanish Village. It represents the architecture of various regions of Spain. It is a conjunction of Castilian, Aragonese and Andalucian buildings, Basque streets, Galician and Catalan quarters and a Dominican monastery. Within the village, restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, nightclubs, among others can be found.

Number six is the Gothic Quarter that as described by the Lonely Planet is a classic medieval warren of narrow, winding streets, quaint little plazas and wonderful structures from the golden age of the city.

Number five are the Montjuic Fountains. From Plaza Espanya up to Palau Nacional a path of fountains and cascades can be found, being the Magic Fountain the principal one due to the combination of music, lights and water shapes. There is a different timetable for the Magic Fountain show depending on the season.

Number four is La Rambla which is a pedestrian boulevard divided into sections with different names; from the upper end, which runs into the Plaza Catalunya, to the lower end below the Columbus monument; Rambla de Canaletes, Rambla dels Estudis, Rambla de les Flors, Rambla dels Caputxins and Rambla de Santa Monica or Rambla del Mar. It is packed with cafes, restaurants and kiosks. Also it is full of pavement artists, mimes, and living statues.

The first three positions are work pieces from Antoni Gaudi being number three La Pedrera. On the exterior it has a spectacular wave effect accentuated by its iron balconies that make it an extremely original piece of work, but the originality of La Pedrera is not only exposed on the sculptural forms of its facade, it also extends to the interior of the building. On the roof it has big chimney pots looking like medieval knights.

Number two is Parc Guell, a garden city that as the lonely planet states is where Gaudi turned his hand to landscape gardening. It is a strange, enchanting place where the passion of the architect for natural forms really took flight.
Number one is no other than the magnificent Sagrada Familia. It is an enormous symbolic building with three facades that represent the nativity, the passion and death of Jesus Christ and the Glorification. The whole structure, with its details, is full of meaning.

Finally it is important to make clear that the top ten is meant to help visitors have in mind the places of Barcelona that can not be missed but obviously they are free to decide what they really want to see according to their needs and wants.

Discount Travel To Spain

With the tremendous growth of tourism in recent years, there are quite a few options for cheap flights to Spain. There has been an increase in discount airlines to some of its local airports, with more discount airlines now flying into Spain. When taking advantage of these cheaper flights, though, you will have to sacrifice some of the conveniences that you may be accustomed to receiving with the larger, higher priced airlines.

Discount airlines offer lower priced fares to many locations throughout Spain. There is a greater choice of lower priced fares from airports in Europe from rather than from the United States, but you may be able to find lower fares nonetheless. Some of the airports with the best rates include Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Murcia, Valencia, Menorca, Malaga, Seville, Mallorca and Palma. If you are flying from the United States, direct flights are available through larger carriers but are more expensive. Direct flights may be available from New York, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston, Atlanta and Newark. Though you my find a lower priced ticket, the price will not be as low as fares with discount airlines.

The internet is a good place research flights and compare prices to find the best deal, but some discount airlines are not posted on the major travel websites. To include their fares in your comparison of flight costs, you will need to contact the airline directly. It may be less convenient than performing a simple online search, but taking the time to call the carrier may save you money.

One way to find lower priced fares is to consider flying on different days. For example, flights on the weekend are often more expensive than flights during the middle part of the week. Also consider the time you are flying, as early morning or late-night flights are often less expensive. It may be an inconvenience but, again, you could save money.

One reason discount airlines are able to offer cheaper flight is because of the lack of conveniences and extra services found on the larger carriers. Discount carriers do not offer meals to its travelers and most do not even offer snacks. You may want to bring your own snack and, with regulations limiting liquids allowed on planes, it may be better for you to pay for a beverage once you have boarded the plane. Additionally, discount carriers often have more restrictions regarding baggage with most carrying a limit of two pieces of luggage. You may be able to bring more baggage, but you will probably be required to pay a fairly large amount. Be sure to ask about the baggage policy so you can plan your trip accordingly and, hopefully, avoid any unexpected and additional charges. Finally, you are likely to have a significant layover with discount carriers. You may wait several hours before your connecting flight, but this inconvenience could also save you money. This time between flights could be a good opportunity to read a book, shop or eat meal since food is not served on the plane.

Why Buy a Fractional in London?

The World’s most expensive cities are those where rich international buyers congregate, and no other city is as international as London. With its time-zone and language convenient for businessmen from the US to the Middle East to Asia – all conspire to make London the leading financial centre. Coupled with its unrivalled rich heritage, culture, arts and entertainment facilities, London is continually accoladed as the greatest city in the World.

There are many benefits of fractional ownership but why should you consider a fractional in London? We have compiled a list of just some of them:

12 MONTH SEASON: Traditionally fractional ownership has been popular at Beach and Ski resorts, however, due to the shortness of the season, these units may only be used for a limited period of the year, meaning the owners do not get use out of it in key times. London provides 52 weeks of entertainment with events, exhibitions, festivals and shows throughout the year. A city where 8 million people live doesn’t really have a low season! Although many holiday makers visit London in the summer there is a whole wealth of things to do and see in the other 3 quarters of the year too! This means that whether you are in London for Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter, you will be always be visiting London at a time when the Capital is bustling.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! London’s residential housing market is diverse indeed. Where your property is situated will have a dramatic effect on your experience here in the Capital. Fractional ownership enables buyers to part own a residence in a far more affluent and desirable location than they would perhaps be able to if they were buying a unit outright. London Fractions only promotes fractionals in the very best areas of London including Knightsbridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster, Belgravia and Chelsea.

SAFER INVESTMENT: Due to the fact that London Fractions properties are in the best and most sought after locations means that your property has the greatest chance of consistent price growth going forward. Demand for luxury properties in key London neighbourhoods will continue and these properties are far more resilient in periods of global economic downturns.

YOUR EUROPEAN HEADQUATERS! London is ideally situated to access the rest of Europe. With 5 International airports within 45 minutes of Central London, the UK is an ideal base for anyone wanting the ability to see Europe. With the numerous low-cost flight carriers, you can (usually) fly to Barcelona for lunch for example and the flight may very well cost you less than the food!

CONCIERGE SERVICE: With priority booking for London’s top shows, events and restaurants plus affiliations to a range of private membership clubs, you can live here and enjoy all the benefits and inside knowledge of a full time London resident.

YOU CAN’T LIVE IN A HOTEL! With a fractional apartment in London – you can feel as if you have a home away from home. With beautiful kitchens, outdoor areas, lounges, multiple bathrooms and bedrooms, your environment can be enjoyed to the full. A fractional apartment also gives you the ability to entertain other people rather than having to go out every night!

FUTURES BRIGHT FOR LONDON: With the hosting of the 2012 Olympics and some £10bn of investment into facilities and infrastructure, the future of London looks as strong as ever. Approximately 65% of London’s luxury properties (£4m+) were purchased by foreign investors in 2007 and International demand is set to continue as London continues to be the economic and social Capital of the World.

TIME & EXPENSE OF WHOLE OWNERSHIP: Quite simply if London is not your primary residence and you only spend a limited time here, why pay for outright ownership? With London Fractions the entry price to the luxury housing market is slashed and the maintenance and taxes associated with the property are shared between owners. You also do not need concern yourself with the property when you are not using it as it is looked after by London Fractions’ Management.

Barcelona Lead The Way In Champions League Betting

Barcelona are 4/1 favourites to win the Champions League after the final round of fixtures in the group stage was completed, while Rangers became the first Scottish side to make it out of the group stage. However, the biggest talking point was 1999 winners Manchester United’s shock exit from the tournament following a miserable 2-1 defeat against Benfica.

Group A
Juventus 15, Bayern Munich 13, Club Brugge 7, Rapid Vienna 0

Both Juventus and Bayern Munich had already qualified for the knockout stage, although the final round of matches decided who finished top of the group. Juventus, the 13/2 third favourites recorded a comfortable 3-1 win over rock bottom Rapid Vienna while Bayern Munich could only muster a 1-1 draw at Club Brugge despite taking a first half lead through Claudio Pizarro.

Bayern, now available at 12/1, face a tough draw in the next round.

Group B
Arsenal 16, Ajax 11, FC Thun 4, Sparta Prague 2

Arsenal are flying in Europe this season and had already secured top spot before a ball had been kicked against Ajax. An experimental Gunners side drew 0-0 with their Dutch opponents, even allowing for Thierry Henry to miss a penalty. Arsene Wenger’s side are available at 14/1 while Ajax are a more speculative investment at 66.1.

Group C
Barcelona 16, Werder Bremen 7, Udinese 7, Panathinaikos 4

Udinese suffered Champions League heartbreak when they eventually finished third in the group. They needed a draw to finish second and were four minutes away from holding visitors Barcelona to a goalless draw but late strikes from Santiago Ezquerro and Andres Iniesta handed the Spaniards victory.

Runners up spot went to Werder Bremen who hammered Panathinaikos 5-1 to leave their Greek opponents propping up the rest of the group.

Group D
Villareal 10, Benfica 8, Lille 6, Manchester United 6

Unthinkable when the groups were initially drawn, but Manchester United are out of Europe entirely after finishing bottom of Group D. The Reds were odds on to win in Portugal and even took a five minute lead through Paul Scholes. Two goals before half-time tipped the balance in favour of Benfica and United couldn’t produce the equaliser necessary to replace them as group runners up.

In what was the most opening group of the tournament, Villarreal secure top spot with a 1-0 victory over Lille. Long shot fanciers can now back Villarreal at 28/1 and Benfica at 66/1.

Group E
AC Milan 11, PSV Eindoven 10, Schalke 04 8, Fenerbahce 4

A 3-2 victory over Schalke 04 ensured AC Milan finished the group in first place and condemned the Germans to UEFA Cup football, while PSV Eindoven put in a professional performance to beat already-eliminated Fenerbahce to secure a place in the next round.

AC Milan, the winners of the tournament in 2003, are fourth favourites at 10/1 while PSV Eindoven are available at a more generous 50/1.

Group F
Lyon 16, Real Madrid 10, Rosenborg 4, Olympiacos 4

Lyon remained unbeaten and topped the group in style following a 2-1 victory over third placed Rosenborg and have dark-horse credentials at 11/1. The glamorous, but often underachieving Real Madrid now face a stern test against one of the group winners after finishing in the runners up position.

The Spanish giants lost their first game following the sacking of coach Wanderley Luxemburgo, falling 2-1 to Olympiakos, but will still have their supporters at odds of 16/1.

Group G
Liverpool 12, Chelsea 11, Real Betis 7, Anderlecht 3

Liverpool’s goalless draw with Chelsea was enough to secure top spot in the group, after beginning their European campaign way back in July against Welsh minnows Total Network Solutions. Despite being the reigning European champions and also having a favourable draw in the next round, the Reds are only 10th favourite out of the remaining 16 teams and can be backed at 16/1.

Chelsea remain second favourites at 11/2 but their runners-up position could see them drawn against Barcelona at this stage of the competition for a second year in a row.

Group H
Inter Milan 13, Rangers 7, Artmedia Bratislava 6, FC Porto 5

Rangers may be struggling domestically, but their battling 1-1 draw against group winners Inter Milan ensured they became the first Scottish club to progress beyond the group stages in Champions League history. However, this feat is reflected in the odds, with the Gers available at a whopping 150/1 to win the tournament outright, with Inter Milan seventh favourites at 14/1.

Artmedia Bratislava’s adventure in Europe continues with a place in the UEFA Cup after finishing in third place ahead of 2004′s winners FC Porto.

Barcelona Crime: Avoiding Pickpockets

In a city reknowned for petty theft, it’s worth while taking a few precautions.

Although Barcelona is one of the safest cities in Europe, there are a few things to keep in mind if you want to enjoy a crime-free holiday. The first is that the main thoroughfares are home to some skilled and professional pick pockets. These people will be invariably well dressed, and look like business people or tourists. They pick easy targets, people who have had a bit to drink or people who are distracted by what’s going on around them. Don’t carry your passport around with you. Keep your valuables secure; if you’re male then the front pocket of your pants is a whole lot harder to get into than an inside jacket pocket; if you’re female ALWAYS wear your handbag facing front, that is, keep it against your chest and never slung over your shoulder behind you.

Watch out for scams. Three card monty is the oldest con in the book, whether it’s played with 3 cards or with 3 cups and a pea. Nobody ever wins. Nobody. Ever. When you see someone winning you are looking at one of the conman’s friends. He’ll have several, and every now and again one will win a lot of money, this convinces the mark that the game is one that can be won. It can’t. The winner will walk off, but within 30 minutes he’ll be back to win again. Even stopping to watch the game makes you a mark, because you’ll find yourself in a small compressed bunch of people, and it’s easy to pick-pocket anyone when others are pressed against them. If you stop, make sure that you have empty space all around you and keep an eye out for people trying to move closer.

The main danger areas are Las Ramblas, the walkways leading to the beach and all along the beach, the beach itself, Plaza Espana, Plaza Reial, and Plaza Catalunya.

Beware of youths riding scooters! One of the most common methods of theft is the use of the scooter, and you should be especially wary where you see a passenger on the back. They fly past and whip bags from shoulders, which can often lead to the victim being injured if they are dragged to the ground. However, this can only happen if you’re not looking at them, so if you hear a bike behind you, always turn to see what’s up.

Finally, use your common sense. There are areas of the city that are obviously dodgy late at night, if you’re walking alone stick to the main thoroughfares and avoid the many poorly lit, narrow back streets. If you’ve had too much to drink, take a cab – they’re quite cheap. Always keep a sheet of paper with the address of your apartment on it, and just hand this to the driver when you get in. But beware, don’t loiter outside the cab, and be careful of your bag as you climb in as you are particularly vulnerable at that moment.

So. The trick to a crime free holiday is using common sense. Enjoy your stay!!

Fly on budget

Looking at the oil prices lately you may decide to skip this year’s vacation because the flight tickets will cost you a fortune. But what about flying for free from London to Barcelona or for just 130$ from US to Germany? This will be perfect deal if you know how to find it.

It took almost a decade after the European Open-Sky Treaty of 1992 enabled airlines to fly anywhere they wished in the EU without government approval to see the business booming. But this phenomenon is observed not only in Europe – low-cost airlines are available all over the world and you can find a comprehensive list and traveler’s tools on TravelWeaver.net.

The low-cost airlines are also known as budget, low-price, discount or no-frills airlines. In order to keep the prices low they provide ticket-less travel, online ticket sales and have no offices internationally; most of them don’t provide free food or beverages as well as in-flight magazines; also they don’t participate in frequent flyer programs and don’t have club lounges. One of the main characteristics of the low-cost airlines is that they have limited coverage and use secondary airports, which are less convenient for commuting.

Although the price looks really attractive there are also some catches and you need to be careful with the low-cost airlines. For example there is no possibility to reschedule the ticket and you will lose all the money if you try to cancel it; the baggage limit can also be lower than on the traditional carriers. In all the cases you need to calculate the price for transportation to the secondary airport and plan for the additional time you will need to get there.

One of the oversea carriers that offer cheap flights is Condor. They offer discount flights from Frankfurt to many destinations around the world. You can fly with them to Las Vegas, Orlando or LA for around 130$ (99 €). There is one more ThomasCook company that offers cheap flights oversee while most of the low-cost airlines like Rynair and Air Berlin offer only intra-continental flights.

The key for cheap travel is to plan you trip early and monitor the prices for some time before you buy. If you go to Rynair’s web site for example you can even find tickets for free depending on when you want to fly. If you have planned your vacation early you may find really good deals with traditional carriers too. Look for flights at least couple of months before your schedule your vacation. Also subscribe for the airlines or travel sites newsletters because then you will receive timely information for deals and offers.

Also keep in mind that the travel search engines do not comprehensively search the Web and retrieve the lowest prices. Some airlines do not permit third parties to book their seats and others are launching a lobbying effort intent on overturning the regulations to advertise the actual price they would charge the customer.

Buying the trip from two different carriers may make sense sometimes if the overall price is lower that the combined price for both of them. Very often for example you can fly very cheap in one direction and need to pay expensive ticket on the way back. Look for prices from other carrier in this case and just combine the whole trip. I personally combined trips from Condor and Continental to fly from Frankfurt/Main to Seattle and the overall fair was less than 300 $ while the traditional carriers like BA, Air France or KLM would have charged me 4 times more.

Also one good source for checking air prices is Farecast which compares the airline tickets and makes projections of the prices. They base their algorithm on a comprehensive analysis of prices from the past. They are pretty new start-up and their coverage is not very comprehensive at the moment but you may consider using them in the future.

Don’t take the conservative approach and rely only on one source of information, Internet allows you to do the research you need to find the best offer and take the most of your vacation.

City Breaks in Europe – This Summer’s Hot Ticket

Typically when you think of summer holidays you begin to conjure up images of sitting on the beach all day sipping an umbrella drink, but more and more holidaymakers are moving to the city for their holidays, European cities specifically.

Obviously European cities are popular for a multitude of reasons: The history, the cuisine, the shopping.  There is something for everyone and it’s clearly a trend that many people looking to take holidays this year with many british tourists leaving the beaches of Spain and Greece in favour of city breaks all over the continent.

The main favourites for British tourists are Rome, Paris and Barcelona as they are well known.  Paris has many famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, L’Arc De Triomphe and the Louvre for the art lovers out there.  Rome also has a lot of historic remains from the days when Rome ruled most of Europe, amazing structure such as the Coliseum and the Circo Massimo have stood the test of time and can still be visited to this day.

There are plenty of other cities worthy of visiting though other than the big three of Western Europe, many of these can be reached by train from the previously mentioned big cities.  One such attraction is Venice which is famous for being the city built on waterways rather than roads.  Venice has been seen in many movies such as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the new Italian Job and the recent James Bond movie Casino Royale.  Not far from Venice is Milan which is famed for being one of the fashion capitals of the world. 

Some tour operators may offer deals where you can have multiple stops on your trip to add a bit of variety.  One such instance could be getting flights to Rome or Venice, staying a few nights and then catching a train to Rome or Milan.  Near to Venice is also Lake Garda which can provide a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Other popular cities include Amsterdam and Prague, tow recent favourites for stag and hen weekends but also have amazing sights to see.  Prague is a brilliant example of Eastern European culture with buildings and architecture than is amazing to see especially when the snow has fallen.

flights to these cities can normally be found fairly cheap due to many holidays being booked in parts, one place for your hotel, and one place for your car hire and another for the cheap flights that get you there.

A lot of companies allow you to compose your own holiday and so you get to take on the role of a travel agent and make the perfect holiday for yourself.  These multi-stop city breaks ensure you can see all the places you want to in a short space of time, depending on how much you want to see you could spend only a day or two in one location or you could spend a week, with this kind of holiday you’re the boss and you can march to the beat of your own drum.

Tossa De Mar – the Costa Brava Resort Without the Rowdy Reputation

Tossa de Mar is a charming coastal resort on Catalonia’s rugged coast – the Costa Brava – just under an hours drive from Girona and an hour and a half north of Barcelona. It is steeped in history, and overlooked by the turrets of a 12th century walled town, the Vila Vella (old town), which blends seamlessly into the Vila Nova (new town) – a maze of narrow winding streets dotted with boutique style shops and cosy bars.

Tossa escaped over-commercialisation during the tourist boom and retained its ‘fishing village’ charm. Nevertheless, it offers much to the visitor, including plenty of hotels, hostels and campsites; a profusion of bars and restaurants; a programme of fiestas and cultural events packed to the brim; and three main beaches with ample services and special facilities for the disabled courtesy of the Creu Roja (Red Cross).

Natural Beauty

If you like a scenic walk you will not be disappointed: Tossa has a strict ‘no high-rise’ policy, meaning the many viewpoints along your route will be uninterrupted. The Tourist Office runs organised walks every Saturday and Sunday morning, mostly along the coastal paths either north or south of Tossa, exploring the pretty secluded coves and bays that this coastline is renowned for. There is also a programme of planned but unguided walks, as well as excellent guided tours within the village.

Who holidays here?

Unlike the surrounding more boisterous resorts, those that have contributed to the unfortunate ‘Brits abroad’ labelling of the Costa Brava, Tossa de Mar is more suited to couples and older travellers. Due to the friendly nature of its people, and the safety of the area, Tossa is also ideal for those who prefer to travel alone.

How to get there

Tossa de Mar is served by the regional airport in Girona and several airlines offer flights here. Barcelona El Prat Airport is a little further away, but offers a wider range of flight options. There is also the opportunity to travel by coach, rail or ferry depending on your preference.

For travel details, together with lots of information about Tossa: things to do, where to eat, where to stay, virtual video tours, musical photo movies, an events diary updated monthly, a discussion forum, a section dedicated to services for the disabled, and lots more, visit www.tossacostabrava.com.

Fact File

Region of Spain: Catalonia

Tourist Season: May to October

Climate: 21°C (May) to 28°C (August)

Airports: Girona (GRO) and Barcelona (BCN)

Transfer time: 50 minutes (GRO), 90 minutes (BCN)

Taxi cost aprx: €55 (GRO), €110 (BCN)

Buses run to: Lloret, Barcelona, Blanes, Girona (via Lloret)

Boats run to:  All resorts en route to Blanes and Platja D’Aro

Taxis from: Avenida del Pelegrí (next to Tourist Office)

Market: Thursday 9am-1pm

Don’t go home without visiting:

The Mediterranean Lighthouse Interpretation Centre, opened in September 2005 by the Mayoress amidst a proud and distinguished ceremony. The centre is located at the summit of the Vila Vella. The observation platforms offer spectacular views along the amazingly wild stretch of coastline and the centre itself provides an excellent guided tour and virtual demonstration on the history of the lighthouse. For those who can’t manage the journey on foot to the top of the Vila Vella, a mini bus runs every half hour.

The Museu Municipal is nestled in the centre of the Vila Vella and was opened on 1 September 1935.  It is considered Spain’s first Modern Art Museum and its renowned collection includes 19th and 20th Century Catalan pieces, as well as works of national and international artists who patronised Tossa during the 1930s. Don’t miss Marc Chagall’s famous and baffling ‘The Celestial Violinist’, a painting that mystifies every onlooker – are the windows opening outwards – or are they opening inwards? The museum also houses the archaeological collection of Dr Ignacio Melé, the town’s GP, who was initially responsible for the discovery of Tossa’s Roman settlement around the early part of the 20th century.

La Torre dels Moros (The Moorish Tower), once an important part of the town’s defence system, provides undoubtedly one of the most astounding viewpoints of Tossa. It’s quite an uphill walk, but well worth it – the views literally take your breath away – they have to be seen to be believed. From this tower, the most spectacular panoramic vistas are set out before you: the Vila Vella; the bay of Tossa and it’s beaches; the glimmering Mediterranean dotted with fishing boats; the warren-like streets winding into each other; the pine topped mountainous backdrop. Your camera will not leave your hands!

Don’t go home without:

Sampling the renowned cuisine

Try one of the many quality restaurants for dishes like the locally celebrated Cim-i-Tomba (a stew of monkfish and potatoes garnished with lashings of garlic mayonnaise), Parillada de Pescados y Mariscos (mixed grill of fish and seafood), Lubina or Dorada al Sal (sea bream or sea bass baked in salt), the renowned Girona Veal (try it in goats cheese sauce – delicious!) and the Catalan sausage delight, Butifarra (with white beans in garlic and parsley – not chips!).

Taking the Pandora’s Box Guided Tour of Tossa

A guided walk around the village. Organised by the Tourist Office, it’s described as ‘A walk through the history and magic of Tossa’. It starts at the ruins of the Roman village of Turissa, which is over 2,000 years old. You are then taken on an historical tour of Tossa, seeing the major sights and learning about their history as you go. The guide also covers Tossa’s myths and legends, its past industries and artistic heritage and includes a visit to the Museu Municipal.

At the beginning of the walk you are given a box – Pandora’s Box – but you’ll have to go on the tour to find out more about its significance!

Experiencing a Power Boat Thrill!

One thing you must do in Tossa is take a boat trip along the rugged coastline. There are a few different trips to choose from, one of the most exciting being ‘Splash!’.

The speedboat, like the ones used by the lifeguards, whisks you away from the main beach.  Experience the pleasure of the coastline with the wind in your hair, holding tight as the boat skims the waves. You’ll make some stops on the journey: time to admire pretty Cala Bona with its crystal clear waters dotted with snorklers, observe the shimmering walls inside the caves, and get a close-up of those craggy, pine-topped cliffs…it’s an experience that combines thrill and tranquillity!

Witnessing Corpus Christi

In May or June you can watch the townspeople dedicated to ‘carpeting’ the streets of the Vila Nova in beautiful floral mosaics made of petals, leaves, soil and sand. The work is in preparation for a holy procession from the Parochial Church, after a mass celebrating the First Holy Communion of a number of young boys and girls.

The procession marches slowly to the rhythm of a solemn band: watch the girls in their immaculate white dresses and the boys in their waistcoats and bow-ties, their young faces etched with honour and dignity. The party makes its way through the streets of the Vila Nova and tramples through the flower mats that had been so carefully laid a few hours before.

A wonderful opportunity to see all the people of the town come together to celebrate their faith.

Taking a walk along The Paseo del Mar

The Paseo Del Mar (Passeig de Mar) is a promenade that stretches along the length of the main beach. It is lined with bars and restaurants and in parts shaded by leafy canopies, and is the ideal place to watch the world go by, with the Vila Vella and main beach offering a scenic backdrop. Most of the bars along the Paseo offer menus of amazing ice creams, so well ‘sculpted’ they could win an award! Order your ice cream, sit back, and people watch to your hearts content!