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Spain’s Most Superior Holiday Destination?

Barcelona is arguably Spain’s most stunning holiday destination; it is a true Mediterranean gem and basks proud in the spotlight. It is one of the most eye-catching cities with its striking architecture, grand landmarks (like The Olympic Stadium), beautiful countryside and long, beach-strewn coastline – all set against brilliant sunshine and blazing blue skies.

Images of Antoni Gaudi’s architecture are what perhaps most readily spring to mind when we picture Barcelona and it is not many cities that can conjure up such a striking mental image. Gaudi studied architecture in Barcelona as a teenager in the late 1800’s and his creatively designed buildings are scattered throughout the city centre.

With their weird, wonderful and instantly recognisable design – incorporating an awe inspiring mix of spindling towers, coloured patterned mosaic tiles, gothic crosses, sinister looking chimeras and spider web window panes – his buildings have an austere and wacky beauty that play a huge part in setting Barcelona in a class of its own.

Perhaps his most famous design is The Sagrada Familia, on which Gaudi spent 43 years – the last 12 years of which were devoted entirely to the project. It is as fitting an example as any of the superiority of the Barcelona experience; a culture that takes a deep sense of pride and care in making Barcelona a delight for citizens and travellers alike. To truly appreciate the majestic scale and brilliance of Gaudi’s work, it is advisable to stay in centrally-located hotels in Barcelona and explore each and every architectural twist and turn that the city has to offer.

What’s more, there’s the huge Olympic Stadium with its 55,000 capacity, the world-renowned Picasso Museum with some 3,500 original artworks and the world-class football team with their many successes. Barcelona really is outstanding in every way – it does nothing by halves, but it carries all this beauty and brilliance with a modest grace, rather than arrogance.

There is also a quiet and more humble side to Barcelona. Visitors can retreat into the calming mountainous areas – like Conca de Barbera – should they crave a little more tranquillity. It is a botanical and hilly region where visitors can appreciate the city’s superior organic and natural beauty, with its medieval villages and monasteries. Then perhaps the best way to round off a perfect day is with a stroll along a section of the nearly 3 miles of golden sand coastline.

This stunning Spanish city presents itself as the ideal choice for anyone looking for a holiday destination that guarantees to exceed all expectations.

Spain Boasts More Than 15 Million Tourists in the First Half of 2008

According to 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.

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.

The first six months of 2008 have most definitely proven them wrong. Tourism to Spanish destinations has increased more than three percent over the same period in 2007 and appears on track to continue growing.

Andorra Ski Holidays Family Friendly For 2007/8 Season

Ski holiday country Andorra has transformed her holiday image over the last 20 years from a ‘poor man’s Switzerland’ to a fully functional ski country able to compete with other European countries during the December to April European ski season.

So successful has the transformation been that nearly ten million tourists visit the country each year, with a blip this year after later than normal snow fall.

And for next year’s ski season Andorra has opened a new family friendly ski park in Arinsal, moving away further still from her old image of a cheap and cheerful ski holiday for 18-30 year olds to one that caters well for all.

The snow park includes a conveyor belt and a game zone, designed to give children confidence before they ski and use the chair lifts.

Well known ski villages in Andorra include Soldeu and Ordino as well as Arinsal.

Other new developments in Andorra for the 2007 ski season include a 540 space underground car park in La Massana close to the cable car, and an extension of the beginners area in Arinsal.

Commenting on the new facilities, an Andorra travel guide claims that the investment in Andorra’s infrastructure is ongoing, and will allow Andorra to compete with other ski areas in Europe for years to come.

As well as being a top ski destination, Andorra is also a tax haven, with many people moving to the country to benefit from her income tax free status.

Buying a property in Andorra is often seen as a route to residency, which entitles people to live in Andorra and benefit from her tax haven status.

To obtain residency in Andorra, applications need to be submitted in Catalan. A notarised copy of the applicants passport, birth certificate and a certificate of good conduct from the home country are submitted at the same time. Residency normally takes between three and six months to be approved.

Once residency is granted, residents are supposed to spend six months a year in Andorra, but this isn’t policed.

One of the drawbacks for those looking to become a resident in a tax haven when considering Andorra has been that the country has no airport of its own, and is unlikely to have in the future given that it is located in the Pyrenees. The nearest airports are Barcelona and Toulouse.

Recent improvements in the road from Barcelona to Andorra though have cut the travelling time by some thirty minutes to two hours fifteen minutes.

Holidays and City Breaks for the Brits in 2008

Spain is the most popular choice of holiday destinations for British citizens. While other destinations are growing in popularity at this time, Spain still remains at the forefront. In fact, among the top-ranked city break locations, Barcelona is topping the heap.

Statistics show that the British population begins booking their holiday travel plans approximately one month before they are ready to take their break.

Barcelona proves to be not only a cheaper destination, but also provides visitors with enough activities and entertainment to keep them coming back year after year. Some new destinations are starting to pop up that are attracting more and more Brits, including Dublin, Greece, Tenerife, and others. They are getting on the bandwagon that Barcelona has been riding for years.

Brits are starting to take notice of Prague, which is quickly becoming a popular place to book holidays.

Because of her rich historical attractions and cultural sites, Prague is gaining holiday travelers. Krakow is another hot destination that is getting busier with British travelers. This city offers enough to do not only for a short break, but an extended holiday as well. In simple terms, Brits are branching out to see more Easter European cities for new and fresh things to do.

So, whether you are interested in a city break (a short vacation) or looking for an extended holiday adventure, you are sure to find something great in places that are waiting to be explored by you and your family. For a city break, you might consider traveling to Barcelona, Rome, Dublin or Venice, which are a short distance for Brits to take a small break. For an extended holiday, you might consider Lanzarote, Sharm el-Sheikh, Cyprus, or Malta. These are the places most Brits are visiting this year.

Of course, if you want to stay home for the holidays, you might want to catch the British Travel Trade Fair in Birmingham. Here you can learn about all of the attractions located in the U.K. and Ireland. The event takes place annually and is geared to tourism in the U.K. and Ireland. Visit approximately 350 booths that showcase hotels, attractions, theaters, gardens and more, as possible holiday or city break locations.

In summary, Brits are still flocking to Spain for their holiday travels and city breaks. Barcelona tops the list as the most popular location for a city break with Rome trailing in second place. New places are starting to do their best to attract Brits, and their plans are working. Brits are starting to branch out to Eastern Europe destinations, such as Prague and Krakow. But, if you want to stay home and still have a great holiday, there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you in the U.K. and Ireland.

Top 10 Barcelona – Part 1

This article is going to come in 2 parts, because I think it’s impossible to do the 10 sights justice without commenting a little, and all 10 would be too long, so I’ll split the article into 2. I have the official visitor information with figures of the most visited attractions in Barcelona. I have to say that I was surprised by the list, and I thought that maybe if people paid attention to this list and tried to squeeze in all these things on a visit, then they’d be leaving out what I consider to be some of the great sights. So I am also writing an article which is going to be my own personal top 10. This is not to discredit the official list, but just my own opinions, too. Here are the official ones:

1. Sagrada Familia. This is no surprise. The “holy family” cathedral is the unfinished masterpiece of Barcelona’s famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, and receives 2,056,448 visits per year. It’s the landmark of Barcelona, visible from the plane on the way in or out of the city. It was Gaudi’s only work towards the end of his life, and he is also buried in the same cathedral. Even if you think you will have no interest or that architecture does not interest you, go and see it. You cannot fail to be impressed and it’s well worth visiting the museum below where you can see models of what the finished article will be like – your jaw will drop, believe me. The people of Barcelona also hold it close to their heart and Gaudi wanted it to be the people’s cathedral. Apparently various corporations have offered to finish the work in a shorter time than the current progress (in itself a hot debate with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 years!) but Gaudi’s wishes have prevailed, and almost all funding is from the public and the profits from the other attractions bearing his name.

2. Number 2 is L’ Aquarium de Barcelona with 1,375,271 visits per year. This was a surprise for me, but maybe is so high on the list as Barcelona is a great place to bring kids, and the Aquarium is also a great place to go with kids. It has a moving walkway with a glass tunnel which I suppose is the best attraction – the sting-rays and sharks swim above you.

3. Poble Espanyol de Montjuic with 1,346,938 visits per year. This was a purpose built “Spanish Village” with different streets representing the different architecture of the various cities in Spain, so you have little white sevillian houses next to the typical eaves and roofs seen in Valencia, etc. During the day there are many arty-crafty things going on, such as glass blowing and pottery and at night there are various restaurants and clubs, including one of Barcelona’s top night spots, Club D.

4. La Pedrera – Casa Mila. This is another great attraction with 1,133,220 visits per year. This strange building, also designed by Gaudi, is nicknamed “The Stone quarry” for the façade of shaped and cut large white stones which are unmistakeably Gaudi. The inside of the building has a period apartment with pieces of furniture also designed by Gaudi. The Attic of the building is a small museum paying homage to the other works of Gaudi with models, photos, slide shows and movies, but the best part is the rooftop. The rooftop looks down onto Paseo de Gracia, one of the most exclusive streets in the city, and also has the strangest chimneys you will ever see – very storm troopers from Star Wars.

Places worth seeing in Barcelona – Part 6

It is claimed that Barcelona is the second most visited city in Europe after Paris. Probably, it is so because the city is so colorful, beautiful, interesting and with many attractive landmarks.

During my stay in Barcelona I visited Museu d`Historia de Catalunya. The huge brick building which was used as the main harbor warehouse nowadays hosts the Historical Museum of Catalunya. Here I had the opportunity to take a journey through the history of Catalonia, from its ancient past to the present day.

Another history attraction is the Poble Espanyol (the Spanish village). It is full of charm and invites the tourists to take a walk through the streets and squares of an authentic Spanish “village” where the entire wealth of its traditional architecture is well presented. You can drink a cup of coffee after shopping and seeing the workshops where you have seen live demonstrations of glass, wood and clay that are turned into exquisite handcrafted pieces.

Uptown, far from the bustle and noise, I found a magnificent Gothic extraordinary beautiful Pedralbes Monastery. It is one of the best and finest examples of Catalan Gothic Art. Although nuns from the Order of St Clare still use one wing of the monastery, most of the building is nowadays a museum opened for visitors.

If you like meetings with animals and nature, you can visit the Parc dela Ciutadella Zoo that was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1888. So, is stands on the site of a military fortress. It is a lovely place for taking a walk. Inside the park lies the Barcelona Zoo which represents more than 7 000 animals of 400 different species from all over the world. When you are walking in the park you can enjoy the spectacular waterfall and navigable lake. You can have a lovely boat trip here. The Ciutadella is not only a green area but also the Museum of Geology and Zoology.

If you love heights and panoramic views, the Montjuic cable car provides a magnificent opportunity to enjoy the spectacular views of Barcelona. Among Montjuic Park`s are the Jardins Costa i Llobera named after the Majorkan poet. There is an extensive collection of palm trees, cacti and other species from subtropical climates. The Miramar area is a romantic spot which offers breathtaking views to the city below. Do not miss it!

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

Travel to the Spanish Capital Madrid

Spain’s capital, a city of over 3 million people, is situated close to the geographical centre of the country.

It is a wonderful city with highly fascinating people. The paradox with Madrid is that quite often it is viewed as being second to Barcelona in terms of appeal. Given all that Barcelona has to offer and despite all this to write off the Madrid completely misses the point and at the end of the day it is Madrid that is at the centre of both the road and rail networks in Spain.

Yes the Catalans may praise Barcelona for the creativity and elegance of the city but to regard to Madrid is any less important purely because parts of it might need the old lick of paint is extremely superficial.

Because of its distance from the sea and its altitude, the city in deal is cold winters and hot summers, making spring and autumn the best times to visit.

Madrid’s attractions include three internationally famous art galleries, a royal palace, grand public squares and many museums filled with the treasures of Spain’s history.

Madrid as you see is very much a combination and manifestation of its historical past. Now we have to remember here that this was a major European city that for 400 years lay under the rule of North African influence, namely that of the Moors. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.

La Latina is an area of Madrid quite often overlooked by the majority of tourists and visitors but it is home to the Plaza la Paja which was Madrid’s main square during medieval times.

The decline of the Moorish influence in Spain meant that this part of Madrid became known as a moreria otherwise known as an enclosed ghetto where Muslims live. Memories of days gone by can still be found in some of the rich place names found here.Nowadays as in most cases things have changed and this part of Madrid becomes a party centre for the madrilenos, the people of Madrid later on in the day, every day.

Don’t let the slightly grubby appearance from time to time and the general down at heel atmosphere confuse you this is an international capital city with all that that entails. Mention this to the madrilenos and all they will likely do is shrug, sigh and suggest that there are more important things in life worth bothering about?”

“Who is to say they are wrong?

North of the city you will find Masalena, a wonderful cobble stoned area stretching from the city centre. This is a fabulous part of Madrid once described as being like the girlfriend or boyfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you “this is the place to be at the right time of day”.

The trouble is as far as perennial party goers will tell you, in this part of Madrid it is sometimes party time all of the day.

As in most capital cities that have this sort of history there is a lot more to Madrid that initially meets the eye. Dig slightly deeper, look underneath the stones and beyond the flaking paint and you will embark upon a love affair with a city that will last for many a year.

Miss Madrid and it will be your loss.

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