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The Advantage of the Costa Holidays

There’s no doubt that every holiday’s a good holiday but it’s also true that there are some which are certainly better than others.  Costa holidays are a great example of this.  Not only do they bring back childhood nostalgia of summers spent at the sea but they have enormous physical and mental benefits too.

 

Especially for those who spend their day to day lives inland, the very sight of the skyline meeting the sea line is enough to reverse the state of stressed out and overworked spirits in an instant.  Having exposure to such a great expanse of water such as that of the sea or the ocean is breathtaking and promotes a relaxed and tranquil state of mind, as do clutter free beaches and seaside strolls.  It is hard to sweat the small stuff (or indeed the big stuff) when looking out to infinity and thus it comes as no surprise that each year millions of holiday makers fill the Barcelona flights, the beaches of Mallorca and the Tenerife hotels, three resorts which boast immensely impressive coast lines with truly stunning views.

 

The relaxed mind-set achieved through the ambience of the seaside has great physical reflections too.  A tense and agitated mind can cause, amongst many other things, digestive problems, heightened blood pressure, headaches, insomnia and cold-like symptoms (caused by a weakened immune system).  Having these problems only makes the sufferer more stressed and so the vicious cycle, really quite unfortunately, is complete. A holiday at the coast breaks this cycle however and consequently mind-body harmony is restored.

 

There are plenty of island holidays and costa holidays available; be it through online holiday auctions (subasta viajes) or special offers (ofertas vacaciones), there are a multitude of rooms with a view awaiting you by the sea!

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.

Hotel Company Expands To Spain

Economy hotel group Travelodge has expanded to Spain with one location set in beautiful Madrid and another in Barcelona.

The UK budget hotel chain recently announced a one billion euro expansion plan for Spain and plans to open 100 more affordable hotels and create two thousand jobs in Spain by the year 2020.

This follows successful trials at Travelodge Madrid Las Rozas in Madrid and Travelodge Barcelona Hospitalet in Barcelona. Travelodge in Spain is ripe for growth and hotels in Valencia, Malaga, Zaragoza and Bilbao are set to join the two pilot sites in Madrid and Barcelona.

Ultimately there could be a series of hotels in Barcelona close to Barcelona El Prat Airport.

The budget hotel chain desires leadership in the emerging Spanish affordable hotel market. Travelodge hopes to double in size by 2011, taking advantage of growth in the sector.

Chief executive Grant Hearn said he believes there is a very strong growth pattern outlook for the next 10-15 years. The pilot program demonstrated that the Travelodge model works in Spain and the time is right to capitalize on this demand. The company learned some sixty percent of the UK’s 1.5 million online customers are planning holidays to Spain in the next three years.

‘Spain is the logical place for us to start our overseas expansion,’ says Hearn. ‘We are very excited about our plans for Spain, an important longer-term growth strategy.’

‘The Spanish people take 143 million trips a year and there were only 100 budget hotels in Spain,, says Mr. Hearn. According to Travelodge, the budget sector is the fastest growing part of the hotel business.

Travelodge said it was first drawn to Spain by the favourable conditions. It will target businesses first, followed by British tourists whom regularly visit Spain.

Only a quick flight away from the UK, Spain has consistently been a favoruite destination for British tourists since the 1950′s. Less than two hours by air, Spain offers holiday facilities that aren’t readily available in the UK. Diverse cultures and customs have more to offer than miles of beautiful white sandy beaches and clear waters with year-round spring temperatures.

Spain is also rich in monumental heritage, great food and entertainment – all of which bring many British tourists to Spain year after year.

British tourists who want to enjoy more than the beautiful beaches of Spain take in day trips to nearby areas that include some of the world’s best golf courses, many close to Marbella on the Costa del Sol and others on Spanish islands such as Lanzarote.

Convenient locations of Travelodge in Spain, enhanced with comforts of home and modern amenities, complete the Spanish holiday experience to offer exciting possibilities to British tourists.

Low cost flights have made trips to Spain a real possibility for British tourists as well. This has been instrumental to the growing number of British citizens taking holidays in Spain. Since the 1960′s air travel prices have steadily dropped and became available to a wider customer range. This makes Spain a very desirable vacation spot for many British tourists.

The budget hotel chain Travelodge was recently bought by Dubai International Capital in a 675m deal.

Tibidabo – Mountain Of Devil

It is believed that Devil seduced Christ on a mountain like Tibidabo. In fact, the sight of Barcelona from the summit of the 542-meter high mountain is seductive. Barcelona is laid in minuscule form – Montjüic and the sea frame all the familiar sights and roads of the city can be viewed from here.

Tibidabo is on one side of the city, while the Collserola hills rise sharply and verdantly up behind Barcelona to the north. At the northeastern side of Avinguda Diagonal is the new Diagonal Mar commercial, office, and residential development.

At 542m, Tibidabo forms the backdrop to Barcelona and at the same time is the highest hill in the wooded range. On a clear fine morning, it’s a great place for views over the city. The people of Barcelona come up here for some thrills at the amusement park Parc d’Atraccions, which has rides and a house of horrors. However the main attraction at the Parc, however, is the glass lift that goes 115m up to a visitors’ observation area at Torre de Collserola telecommunications tower. The not so adventurous type can find solace in Temple del Sagrat Cor, Barcelona’s Sacré Coeur. Towering above Tibidabo’s funicular station, there are actually two churches, one on top of the other. The top one is surmounted by a giant Christ and has a lift to the roof.

The Tibidabo Mountain can be called city’s landmarks for a number of reasons. Firstly, the illustrative church by the same name is located on the peak of the mountain. Secondly, the amusement park is the oldest of its kind in Spain and the second oldest in Europe (it was constructed in 1899). As it is so old it has not only retained some classic attractions, which are well-known and popular amongst locals, but also at the same time incorporated the latest in amusement park fare. One of the most exceptional items is an exact reproduction of the airplane that was used for the first flight between Barcelona and Madrid in 1928. The airplane gives visitors the chance to see the city from above for a few moments without ever having to leave the park.

The park also consists of the Tibidabo Museum of Automatons, located in an old theatre that dates back to 1909. It houses a collection of old mechanical toys that worked by inserting a coin a common feature at European fairs in the past. The museum is amongst the most complete in its kind, especially because the pieces are in such excellent condition, and the collection includes many peculiar mechanical toys pertaining to that era.

The Best way to visit Mount Tibidabo is to arrive at it via the Avinguda del Tibidabo. There are some very interesting villas by several different architects. The so-called “Tramvia Blau” (blue tram) goes up this avenue and is the only one of its kind left in Spain. At the end of the first stage of the ascent is La Font del Racó Park, and, on the right-hand side inside a Modernist building, there is the Science Museum and planetarium which attract many visitors. The avenue ends in the Plaça del Peu del Funicular where there are restaurants for eating outside and night clubs.

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.

Flights to Cork, Ireland

Cork International Airport is the gateway to the beautiful Southwest of Ireland. Last year over 3.2 million visitors passed through its terminals – it has certainly come a long way since its first landing back in 1961. Cork Airport is now the 3rd largest airport in the Republic of Ireland. Located just 8 kilometres south from Cork City centre and ideally positioned on the N22, N20, N8 and N25, there’s easy access from all areas.

SkyLink and Bus Éireann operate a regular service between the airport and the city centre. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes. Bus Éireann also run a service to Kinsale, taking in Cork Airport. You’ll find a taxi rank outside the arrivals hall. You can also hire a car at one of the car rental desks. Our advice though is to book your car hire before you travel to Cork to avoid disappointment.

Just two years ago on the 15th August 2006, Cork Airport officially opened a new state of the art terminal. Designed by Jacobs Engineering Group and HOK, this new terminal is the first 21st century airport terminal of it?s kind in Ireland.

Located right in the centre of Cork Airport Complex you’ll find the Radisson SAS Hotel. This is a popular hotel ideal for those wishing to catch an early morning flight or who have a late arrival time. Offering first class facilities all rooms are en-suite and include satellite television, direct dial telephone, trouser press, hairdryer, tea and coffee making facilities, mini bar on request and all rooms are air conditioned. There’s also a 24 hour shuttle bus service to and from Cork Airport available. Two other excellent choices are the 3 star Travelodge Cork Airport and the 4 star Cork International Airport Hotel.

Which airlines fly to/from Cork?

A very large number of Irish, British and European destinations are serviced by Cork Airport, the complete list of scheduled flight destinations is as follows:

Alicante – Aer Lingus
Amsterdam – Aer Lingus
Barcelona – Aer Lingus
Belfast – Aer Arann
Berlin – Aer Lingus
Birmingham – Aer Lingus & bmi baby
Bratislava (Vienna) – SkyEurope
Brest – Aer Arann
Bristol – Aer Arann
Carcassonne – Ryanair
Cardiff – Aer Arann
Dublin – Aer Arann & Ryanair
East Midlands – Ryanair (until October 2008)
Edinburgh – Aer Arran
Faro – Aer Lingus
Galway – Aer Arann
Gdansk – Wizz Air
Geneva – Aer Lingus
Glasgow – Ryanair (until October 2008)
Jersey – Aer Lingus
Katowice – Wizz Air
Lanzarote – Aer Lingus
La Rochelle – Aer Arann
Leeds Bradford – Aer Arann
Liverpool – Ryanair
London Gatwick – Ryanair
London Heathrow – Aer Lingus
London Stansted – Ryanair
Lorient – Aer Arann
Malaga – Aer Lingus
Manchester – bmi baby & Aer Lingus
Munich – Aer Lingus
Nantes – Aer Arann
Newcastle – Jet2.com
Newquay – Air Southwest
Nice – Aer Lingus
Paris – Aer Lingus
Plymouth – Air Southwest
Prague – Aer Lingus
Rome – Aer Lingus
Southampton – Aer Arann
Tenerife – Aer Lingus
Warsaw – Wizz Air

For holiday destinations operating from Cork here is a listing of Charter Flights to/from Cork Airport:

Almeria – Falcon
Bodrum – Sunworld
Bulgaria – Sunway, Budget Travel, Falcon, Concorde.
Dubrovnik – Condorde, Sunworld.
Faro – Budget Travel, Sunworld, Topflight, Stein Travel, Panorama, Falcon.
Gran Canaria – Budget Travel, Sunway, Stein Travel.
Heraklion – Budget Travel.
Izmir – Budget Travel, Sunway, Sunworld.
Lanzarote – Budget Travel, Sunway, Sunworld, Stein Travel, Falcon, Topflight, Panorama Travel.
Majorca – Sunway, Stein Travel, Budget Travel, Falcon, Sunworld, Panorama.
Malaga – Stein Travel, Budget Travel, Falcon.
Reus – Budget Travel, Falcon.
Santorini – XL Airways.
Tunisia – Panorama.
Verona – Topflight.

Mairead Foley writes for the Ireland travel and accommodation website http://www.GoIreland.com

Visit GoIreland for all you need to know before visiting Cork, like what to see and where to go. You can also book B&Bs, hostels, guesthouses, self catering and Cork hotels.

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.

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.

Heading to the Barcelona Grand Prix

There have been changes made on the Circuit de Catalunya’s track layout. In place of the final two corners at the end of the lap is a chicane that flicks left and then right. The changes were made to boost safety and to encourage more overtaking especially at the event when drivers are following the car ahead more closely as they try to pass the other for the win. The new layout of the Circuit de Catalunya is created for better slipstreaming and to provide drivers with better room for overtaking.

The difference between racing in Europe from fly-away destinations is in terms of proximity of races. Add to that the fact that in Europe there is the McLaren technology Center that produces the high performance parts like Mercedes fuel pumps and more that are used by team during races. There is also the Mercedes-Benz high performance engines which allow the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team to depart for the Grand Prix to take part on flyaway races.

At the European races the team also operates from its modified trackside facilities. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team takes its racing equipment to each Grand Prix transported by 15 Mercedes-Benz Actros of which seven are for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Communications Center with three of the vehicles remaining on the paddock as office space and support facilities.

The equipment weighs 30 tons of which include three race cars. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team travels to the European Grand Prix with 135 team members which is 40 people more than at flyaway races.

Here are the quotes from the drivers:

Fernando Alonso: “As my home race, the Spanish Grand Prix is massively important to me. The support I receive from the crowd all weekend is immense and it really does give me extra motivation to have a great race for them. However, there is no more pressure on me or more focus from me, when I am in the car it is the same as any track, but it is my home and it is only natural to want to win. The race in Bahrain was not great for me, but I have arrived in Spain leading the World Championship and that is a good position to be in going into the European season. We had a strong test at this track earlier this week and we got to understand more about how the car performs at the Circuit de Catalunya and the changes to the layout. Although I have always really enjoyed the final two corners and their speed, the new chicane at the end of the track will hopefully lead to more overtaking during the race, which is great for the spectators.”

Lewis Hamilton: “It seems to have been a very long time since we last raced, and I cannot wait to get back in my car and back to the action. There has not been any relaxing on our part though, when I returned to the UK I had a couple of days before returning to the McLaren Technology Centre to work with the team on the development programme. This break has also given us the opportunity to get some serious physical training in. During the races, it is more about maintaining fitness levels, when we have a couple of weeks we can really focus on improvements in performance. The Barcelona track is great to race on, it will be interesting to see how the new chicane affects this. I enjoyed the GP2 weekend last year, where I achieved a second and fourth place, and am looking forward to fighting for more points for myself and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team.”

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!