"Real Spain" holidays on the famous Mother’s Garden working farm - you stay in a restored cottage for up to eight people, with private pool, breathtaking mountain scenery, wildlife, wine, food and culture of the Priorat in southern Catalonia.
Half an hour from Reus airport, an hour and a half from Barcelona airport, 40 minutes by train or car from the beaches and the Roman city of Tarragona, and under two hours from Barcelona itself.
Martin & Maggie went the extra mile to make our holiday as memorable and enjoyable as possible. Their local knowledge and contacts yield a fantastic range of things to do, places to go and people to meet.
If you want to get away with the kids and be close to the water parks & beaches but not "amongst it", this could be the place for you.
They are calling this area the next Tuscany and I can see why!
Churros con chocolate is a great Spanish traditional breakfast. There's a little churreria stand on the square between the Alcazar and the Caliphal baths.
Order your churros (sort of long doughnuts), watch them being fried, and eat them on the hoof. Much better than a slice of toast and coffee.
A much praised (in the guides) Galician restaurant with a Michelin star. Deperately snooty. Desperately contrived. We should have been suspicious because we walked in and got a table without a reservation. Both other tables were visitors like us. Neither the food nor the service lived up to the star rating (not our first visit to a starred place.) Tasteless Croquetas de Mariscos (we had better in a small bar in Padron the following day for a fraction of the cost.) Pointless sugar flourishes, adding nothing. Appalling unhelpful and begrudging service of courses in the wrong order. Freezing cold cheese platter - explained to us by the chef herself "the Spanish don't eat cheese so we have to keep it in the fridge..." What???? Chef (in civvies) and waiter (with blocked nose - hay fever or a cold?) pacing the floor impatiently throughout the meal - not helpfully, but as if desperate for us to be out of the way - and this was before we had indicated we were not entirely delighted. If you have money to spend on good food, go somewhere else.
Rosalía de Castro, 24 - 15706 Tel.no.: 981 594 100
A wonderful little neighbourhood with two churches and the same number of bars - of course.
Hidden away on the edge of Macarena, it is a delight and I defy you to find a better or friendlier bar in all of Seville.
There is nothing here but real Sevilla, peaceful at times, happy at all times, and clean!
Macarena, off Calle Castellar.
If you look for an excellent relation quality / price for an apartment in Barcelona, you should consider contact Apartments BCN, they have a wide range of apartments from a studio with 2 terraces until beautiful 3 bedrooms apartments up to 8 people. We had a very comfortable stay in one of the wonderful Sant Pau apartments.
Phone: + 34 93 456 16 19
Cell phone: + 34 652 599 480
I went with wife and teenage son by train to Barcelona.
We drove to Lille via Eurotunnel and stayed at a budget hotel, leaving the car there the next morning when we took the nearby metro to Lille Flandres station.
This was because Eurostar and the train from home in Gloucestershire would together have been the most expensive part of the trip, and we could also bring back a decent quantity of wine!
Lille to Paris by TGV then Paris to Perpignan by TGV and a night there in a hotel near the station.
Lovely, intriguing chat with fellow travellers and a chance to explore a French Catalan city that evening.
Train next morning to Barcelona, which I think had come from Switzerland.
After a week's stay we reversed the trip and didn't feel the slightest bit travel-weary when we got home. We had to juggle around with train times on the SNCF web site to get best fares, but being accompanied by our young son seemed to give us cheaper fares than if we had only been a couple.
Roll on St Pancras to Barcelona without a change!
A new, laid-back surf company that specialises in surf trips between the Basque country and Asturias, taking you to places unfrequented by other tourists.
For anybody who wants to start surfing or who already surfs.
Trips are done in VW camper vans and accomodation on luxury campsites in high season and hostels in low. I loved it!
The Garganta de Cares (Cares Gorge) cuts deep into the Picos de Europa, a beautiful range of mountains rising up to 2500m and close to the north coast of Spain.
Arenas de Cabrales is a delightful hill town and a good place to reach Poncebos for access into the gorge. The path is spectacular and threads its way through fantastic scenery to the small hamlet of Cain where refreshment is available before the walk back. The round trip can take about 6 hours and, although the path is entirely safe in good conditions, vertigo sufferers might not find it to their liking.
There are plenty of other more challenging walks in the area for the suitably experienced and equipped, with a number of refugios, Alpine style mountain huts, to allow round trips through the range.
Arenas de Cabrales Tourist Office, Carretera General, E-33554 Arenas de Cabrales, Spain. Tel: + 34 985 846 484
Banyulbufar (or Bañalbufar in Spanish) has a number of excellent restaurants, particularly Son Tomas.
The village has not been taken over by tourism, although day trips to places such as Valldemossa are a must.
Off the C710 en route from Andratx to Valldemossa.
A terrific little Catalan bar that is practically an institution in the art of frying lightly battered fresh sardines. They are fried to perfection every time, and you can eat the whole thing, spine, head and tail!
Sardines are in season now and at their most delicious, and whats more, a plate of hot fish washed down with a glass of cold white won't cost you any more than 3 euros!
Mercé 28, 08002, Barcelona.
Tel: 933 151 009
Metro: Jaume 1/Barceloneta
A small funky hotel with Moorish influences in the old town. Price includes breakfast - get the toast with tomatoes and olive oil with your cafe con leche!
Close to lots of bars and restaurants - a great atmosphere in the evening, but not at all noisy when you want to get to bed (eventually!).
These are cave houses in the old town (Barrio Sacromonte) - a great place to stay practically overlooking the Alhambra.
Friendly staff. Basic but clean, with good showers!
We stayed in a double but I think there are bigger ones available. They also include small kitchen/dining areas for those who want to self-cater.
The old town is great (lots of bars, restaurants, nice squares) but if you want to go into the main town, it's only a short leisurely walk.
Son Borguny is a charming small hotel full of character in the village of Banyalbufar.
The two suites have spectacular views of the sea, but all the rooms have been decorated with love and attention to detail.
Penny, the owner, is a warm and helpful hostess.
Banyulbufar, Mallorca. Excellent directions on their website: www.sonborguny.com
This is a really well-equipped and comfortable little house to rent on the top of this lovely little mountain village, 18 km from the sea and perched between two peaks.
Although it´s only an hour from Alicante airport, there are no tourist hordes, no souvenirs, no Tetley´s bars, just the friendly locals, good rural food in uncompromising Spanish bars and miles of high level (3-4000 ft) paths, tracks, biking, walking etc.
The views can be breathtaking. Go up behind the village on a three-hour walk along the Sella ridge and look across the mountains as far as the Mar menor and inland to Alcoi.
If CasaRoc is full, try Villapico over the road. Both places also do B&B. Owners, Steve and Liz, will do airport pick up and have other places in the village.
Villajoiosa is 18 km away with train link to Alicante.
Renewed apartment in central area of Barcelona with deluxe equipment (TV, DVD, Broadband Internet) and the apartment was very tastefully decorated.
The rooms were clean, the beds comfortable, the kitchen was stocked with pretty much everything we needed to set up housekeeping for our two-week visit, and all of the apartment gadgets worked perfectly.
The staff were friendly, helpful. When I needed directions, they were very patient and provided a local map.
Back to nature deep in the unspoilt Grazalema mountains with a choice of Afghan, Mongolian, Jaipur or safari yurts with private gardens and mountain views. Compost toilets but hot showers. Three-course meals provided four nights a week and occasional alfresco film nights.
00952 117 055, yurthotel.com.
The stunning Las Islas Cies in Galicia is an uninhabited and pristine national park with loads of wildlife and a perfect crescent of soft pale sand, backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of crystal-clear (but freezing) sea.
The water is turquoise and the sand fine and white.
The only place to stay on the island is an idyllic campsite shaded by pine trees. It has a decent shop, bar and cafe and, this being Spain, even a proper restaurant that serves great seafood.
The park is open to the public only in summer.
00 34 986 43 83 58, campingislascies.com, open Easter week and June to September.
Galicia is quite simply one of most picturesque areas of Spain I have visited
After residing for so many years in the dryer, hotter south, one really notices the change in climate, vegetation, atmosphere and old-worldy charm so similar to the villages of Ireland or a small hamlet in Britain.
Galicia has really everything to offer: it is clean and green; it offers a pleasant climate throughout spring and summer; the coastline is dotted with picturesque villages and small quaint harbours; most of Spain's best beaches are to be found in this area; and lush meadows and orchards are abound.
Driving around the countryside and coastline is a real pleasure, with fantastic views from almost every corner of the province, and of course a word on Galicia would not be complete without mentioning the incredible selection of super fresh seafood and fine wines on offer in almost every cafeteria, restaurant
and tapas bar in Galicia.
One of the prettiest towns in Galicia would have to be O Grove.
O Grove is one of Galicia's many charming fishing villages, and due to its situation on the eastern side of the headland which faces the mainland it is protected from the tidal force of the Atlantic Ocean.
It has a gentle personal charm endearing to all visitors, there are a good smattering of restaurants to suit all prices, and most of them with one thing in common: seafood. It's everywhere, and so fresh it basically walks onto the plate by itself.
As you walk along the beaches in the area as the tide recedes, you will come across cockles, clams, shrimps and small crabs laying in clean golden sands of the Rios.
Be careful though not to get the urge to fill up a bag to take away, as that is not allowed. This true treasure of the sea is jealously guarded by the ladies who work in the local cooperatives making their living cultivating this local delicacy.
One strange occurrence was that the locals understood my Spanish, Andalucian twang included, which is not always the case in other parts of Spain.
I would highly recommend a trip out into the Rios on one of the many comfortable glass-bottom boats that take sightseers out to the mussel and oyster platforms. Included in the trip is a plate of freshly harvested and cooked mussels washed down with a cold glass of Ribero (local young white wine) ... Delicious.
Situated in the middle of the Rias Baixas region, some 25km west of Galicia's capital Pontevedra.
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