Spain is a one-hour ferry ride away from Africa. We were a little worried about our safety, but we thought that maybe we could take the ferry across, walk briefly on African soil, and take the next ferry back to Spain. We talked it over and decided to go for it.
We drove the rental car from Malaga to Algeciras and parked it in an all-day lot (for 19 euros). There are two ferries. One takes an hour to cross, and the other takes two and a half hours. We boarded the faster ferry (two adults for 102.30 euros) and waited for the departure. The ferry sat for an hour before finally leaving. As it turned out, that was the best thing that could have happened to us. While we were waiting to leave, we started talking to a man named Habibi and his wife and eight-year-old daughter, they were on vacation from their home in Birmingham, England, to visit his family, who still live in Tangier, Morocco. We asked Habibi for a private guide, two hours later, when we arrived in Tangier, we helped carry their luggage to the parking area where they were met by Habibi’s brother.
To our surprise, Habibi sent his wife and daughter with his brother and told us he wanted to join us to see Tangier. Using his cell phone, he reached one of his old friends Benny, a licensed guide who picked us up with his air conditioned car.
They drove us all around the city highlights and up into the hills to see the mayor’s home and the king’s palace. He talked a man with camels into letting us ride on them. Then we returned to the city where he led us through the oldest part, the Kasbah, Medina and Berber Souks. We visited a famous hotel where American and English actors stayed while filming in the area. He spent the entire day and most of the evening showing us the city he grew up in and obviously is still in love with.
We had such a great time that our new friend had to remind us that the last ferry back to Spain leaves at 11pm. He and his Guide/drove us back to the ferry building, made sure we got our passports stamped, walked us to the boat and made sure we were safely aboard before they left to join their families.
The last ferry back was a slow one and took two and a half hours to make the crossing. We drove the rental car back to our resort. Thanks to Habibi, we had a wonderful time visit.
The Alcazaba which is undoubtedly, the most important military fortification remaining from the Hispanic-Arabic period. This malaguenian fortress of Bobastro was built on the hillside of the Gibralfaro mountain (Yabal-Faruk, meaning mountain of the lighthouse) from where it is possible to watch the African coast. The Arabic historian Maqqari, assured that Badis el Ziri, king of Grenada, ordered its construction between the years 1057 and 1063, being the inside palaces remade by the following Nazaries kings copying the style of the Grenada Alhambra.
I lived in Madrid for two years. The best place has to be the birthplace of La Movida. In this barrio you can find excellent alternative bars from cafe Isadora to bar el 2 de. To get a feel for the area sit on the western side of the square in Bar Arco (the other side is full of tourists.) Enjoy.
Malasaña district. Metro station: Tribunal (Lines 1 & 10)
This cable car - the Transbordador Aeri - takes you from Montjuic Park to the beach at Barceloneta. It travels over the harbour, suspended across two 400m-high towers. Not advisable if you are in any way scared of heights, but the views across the city are amazing, particularly around sunset.
Leaves from Montjuic, Barcelona's World Trade Centre and the Torre de San Sebastián. Usually open 10.30am-5.30pm and later in summer. Single journey €7.50 or €9 return.
The Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol in the Gothic Quarter is a beautiful part of Barcelona to stay in. There's a nice fourteenth century Gothic Church (Eglésia de Santa Maria del Pi) in the square and an interesting Artist's market where they sell paintings (just about every morning, as I recall). There are lots of very good cafés around there serving excellent food and wine too. It's also within easy walking distance of La Rambla, and the port.
Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, Barcelona
While living in Barcelona I went here nearly every weekend because of its stunning views and unlimited picnic possibilities. There are several beautiful gardens for wandering, including a cactus garden, the gardens of Jacint Verdegeur (my favourite), and a children's garden.
There are also a couple great museums, the Miro Museum and the Museum of Art of Catalonia (the impressive building you see as you approach from Plaza Espana).
The funicular is a great way to climb the mountain if you don't want to walk. Best of all, it never gets the crowds of tourists that Parc Guell does...if urban Barcelona is wearing you out, Montjuic will provide the antidote!
Really nice sandy beach stretching 17 kilometres from Santa Pola to Torrevieja. There's some great outdoor restaurants by the beach serving all sorts of seafood dishes. The Paella's great!
Approximately 20 minutes from Alicante Airport.
We were looking for a nice and affordable place in Barcelona to stay there for one week. We wanted something special, relaxing to enjoy our stay. We finally found our place via the website of Nicestay. As we were really pleased with everthing we promised those excellent guys to leave some recommendations here and there. And that's what it's all about.
This is a small restaurant, with good food and friendly service. There is a three course set menu at lunch time for 9.50 Euros, and they also do sandwiches and light meals. In the evening we ate well and it was not too expensive. And we loved the T-shirt.
Pt Santa Caterina 1,Tel 93 319 11 21.
It is behind the Santa Caterina market, not far from the Cathedral. Nearest Underground Jaime
I recently stayed at the Oasis Hostel in Seville.
While I was there, my boyfriend was woken up at 3am by someone who said the bed he was in (and paid for) was hers. Obviously, there had been a double booking (in fact there were double bookings every night we were
there). However, during this mix up, the manager had gone into his 'safe' (which is allocated to the bed) and taken out a number of his personal items (which we did not notice until the following day). My boyfriend went to ask for them back and the manager said he had
lost them - but hoped they would turn up. Unfortunately, they did not and to be honest the staff did not really take the matter very seriously; they did not seem to understand why we might be offended that the manager had gone into our ‘safe’. Also, instead of replacing or refunding the cost of his UK electric shaver for example, they suggested they buy him a significantly cheaper Spanish (i.e. incompatible) version. Finally, the manager said he
would return the cost of the items once we could
'prove' how much they cost - after we had left to go home, which left me slightly nervous. This happened over a month ago, and we have just received payment for the items ‘lost’. Not entirely satisfactory to be honest. Thought it was worth sharing…
These are my favourite Barcelona restaurants (in no particular order) if I want to celebrate. None of them are cheap, but in comparison with for instance London it’s laughable!
1. Abac: Rec 79-89 (opposite La Estació de Francia; near Barceloneta and El Born). One Michelin star. (www.epicurious.com/restaurants/erg/barcelona/highend)
2. Drolma: (in Hotel Majestic, Passeig de Gràcia 68; corner of Valencia). One Michelin star (www.frommers.com/destinations/barcelona/D55400.html)
3. Gaig: Aragon 214 www.epicurious.com/restaurants/erg/barcelona/highend)
4. Hofmann: Argenteria 74-78 (between Vía Laietana and Princesa; near El Born) One Michelin star (www.hofmann-bcn.com/
5. Neichel: Beltran i Rózpide 8 (in the most elegant part of Barcelona, near Avenida Pedralbes) 2 Michelin stars (www.dininginfrance.com/Neichel_Bown_review.htm)
6. El Racó dén Freixa: Sant Elies, 22/ C. Balmes. www.epicurious.com/restaurants/erg/barcelona/highend
7. Els Pescadors: Placa Prim 1 (in Poble Nou, near Port Olimpic) (www.barcelona-metropolitan.com/Article.aspx?TabID=2&MenuID=7&ArticleID=162)
8. Alkimia: Indústria 79 (between Sicilia and Sardenya in Gracia) (www.frommers.com/destinations/barcelona/D55401.html)
9. Jean Luc Figueras: Santa Teresa 10 (www.toptable.co.uk/details.cfm/qs/rid%7C2433/spos%7C5)
10. Caelis/ Hotel Palace: Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 668 / Roger de Llúria
I could easily make another Top 20 list, so enormous is the number of restaurants on offer in the city!
If you venture outside Barcelona, the three obvious choices (now that El Bulli is no more) are: Sant Pau in Sant Pol de Mar (three Michelin stars), El Raco de Can Fabes in San Celoni (three Michelin stars), and El Celler de Can Roca in Girona (two Michelin stars).
If you feel hassled and in need of a drink, be careful of this part of town. We had been desperately searching for 'churros' to satisfy the youngster, and felt our prayers had been answered when we saw a sign. We of course sat down without checking prices, and were amazed to see huge glasses arrive - they must have held a litre. On noticing that others also had them I checked a price list - 24 euros! On asking the waiter why we had not been asked if we wanted large or small drinks, we were told that our drinks were actually small, and that 'small' is always offered. This is utter rubbish because inside their bar everybody had normal small glasses. The scam here is to give people these big glasses and demand the money for the large drink they have jst started drinking. They bank on most people not questioning out of fear, and just wanting to leave. Many people needed a credit card to pay off their bill. We felt like fools, but our questioning meant that we only (!) paid 10 euros per drink. It took the edge off what has been a fantastic stay. Watch those drinks!
This is a storming place to see in all its glory. When the sun beats down on you it is a wonderful and cool refuge. Once inside, you will be utterly amazed at the wonders that lie in store here.
The Golden Alter at the centre of the cathedral is something that you just cannot miss even if you tried.
Must be seen to be believed.
Well what can I say? The last of the Moorish strongholds. One of the things that Europe really does have going for it is even when conquerers conquered, they took over the magnificent building and did not destroy them. This really is magnificent as well.
No two ways about it if you are in Andalucia for any period of time Granada and this great red castle are a must.
Watching a football match here is an utterly brilliant thing to do on an evening in Barcelona. Best to get tickets in advance from the ticket office though be careful when you buy them, as ours were not seated next to each other.
We sat together anyway, like everyone else in the stand but there was a lot of confusion as to what to do. So make sure when you get your tickets that the seats are next to each other. Otherwise it was a top night.
Avinguda Aristides Maillol www.fcbarcelona.com
Nearest Metro: Collblanc - it is about a ten minute walk from the station.
This is one of the loveliest places in Barcelona to hang out and daydream. Strictly speaking, the Bar del Pi is just off Placa del Pi in Placa Sant Josep Oriol. Bar del Pi features art donated by locals over the years and has always been a bohemian hangout popular with an over-25 crowd.
On Sundays in the square, there are often art fairs and you can buy yourself a comic from the legendary Makoki comic shops - I recommend 'El Bueno de Cuttlass', a hilarious stick cowboy who has a girlfriend called Mabel and an obsession with Kraftwerk.
The old town to the left of the Ramblas. If you stand at the entrance to Liceu Metro station, facing the Colon statue, and turn left down the nearest side street, you'll find the Placa del Pi. Otherwise, it's reachable from the other end from the Cathedral.
The smart alternative to Tarifa! Isla Canela is at the far western end of the Costa de la Luz, and hasn't been hyped as much as Tarifa et al.
But it's on the Atlantic coast, so has good dependable winds and great beaches, making it the perfect spot for the expert and the novice alike. There are schools during the peak months, but the winter months attract the experienced who find this a good year-round venue. Lots of windsurfing and sailing opportunities as well, and superb golf courses if you fancy a change!
A picturesque fishing port on the border of Spain and Portugal, at the far western end of the Costa de la Luz. Great for seafood, golf, bowling, kitesurfing, sailing ... phew!
Nearby Isla Canela is where the Spaniards go for THEIR holidays, but the rest of Europe seems to have missed it!
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