An alternative to the big city art establishments is La Tabacalera. A community-run gallery/workshop space/music venue/café/bar in the multicultural barrio of Lavapies, this old tobacco factory is the laid back, graffiti-walled hangout for the cool kids, mums and dads of Madrid. If you want to mix with locals and brush up on your Spanish the vibe is friendly, the art is edgy and the drinks are cheap. Any given night of the week there is bound to be a salsa-class, skateboarding practice, art exhibition or workshop in session, open to anyone and all for free.
Calle Embajadores 53, Madrid
Metro stop: Embajadores
The hammam in Malaga is the antithesis of the Costa del Sol. Calm, dimly lit, it is as authentic as I have found outside of Turkey. You can have a steam - no time limit - or book a massage as part of a package. The massage takes place either in the hammam itself on a marble slab, or (for more privacy) in a separate room. Afterward you can rest on the outside terrace with herbal tea. One of the most memorable moments in Malaga for me, apart from the Picasso Museum which is close by.
The beautiful spa town of Alhama, just 50kms from Granada, has hot springs which the Arabs and Romans both used. You can visit and use the Arabic baths, at a price, in the hotel built around them. But locals and others in the know, simply scramble down the banks of the river just outside, where the hot springs gush out of a hole in the walls of the hotel grounds. Here you can bathe in the pools created naturally by rocks, and feel the cool water of the river by your side. The pools are at different levels but are always warm and a delight that is absolutely free!
Alhama de Granada is in the mountains around 50 kms from Granada. To get to the springs you have to walk out of the town at its lower end,
near the market and follow the signposted road for about 2-3 kms.
Google map: bit.ly/gBwEsU
Finca al-manzil is a wonderful place to stay in the Sierra de Montanchez of Extremadura, the most undiscovered region of Spain. It's near three world heritage towns, Trujillo, Merida and Caceres. The finca is in beautiful scenery with great walking, bird watching and site seeing possibilities. Very comfortable and great atmosphere, I stayed in the barn which is self catering, a lovely space with views over the olive groves, no neighbours, just peace and beauty. Spring was spectacular.
Escape the heat of the day (and the hoards) and head to the Hammam de Al Andalus Banos Arabes.
Relax while enjoying traditional Hammam massage or refresh in the clear blue pools while glimpsing the sky through the star shaped roof lights.
Top it all off with Arabic pastries and tea. The ultimate afternoon of relaxation.
Cordoba is a fantastic place to visit. Its Great Mosque and Christian Cathedral, emotive synagogue, evidence of Roman occupation and the narrow streets and courtyards of the old town all provide the visitor with sights and smells in abundance. An afternoon in the Banos Arabes compliments the sensual charm of the city. The baths are an indulgent, relaxing and stimulating experience; for 41 Euro you can luxuriate in the warm, hot and cold baths, experience a traditional hammam massage and drink glasses of sweet peppermint tea and emerge ready for more sight seeing.
This is THE treat. Try some churros con chocolate (or coffee or orange juice for a lighter version) and enjoy the way locals have been treating themselves for centuries. I particularly recommend the coffee house Alhambra in Plaza Bib-rambla, right in town, near the cathedral. Awsome. I was a local myself.
Pl. Bib-Rambla, 27 , 18001
A Christmas Fair in Barcelona. Lovely atmosphere and very pretty figurines and decorations. Don't miss the little crouching man "giving back to the earth" what he has taken from it. An essential figure in any Catalan Nativity scene.
Right in front of the Cathedral and on this blog I found:
Lovingly restored small hotel with a charming feel. Remote enough to relax in luxury and close enough to the coast for some action.
Beautiful part of Spain
I have now completed a three-month internship at the "Escuela Montalbán” language school in Granada and I loved it.
All the qualified teachers and the staff are very friendly and helpful. I have learned a lot of Spanish and other useful things during my internship time. In this school you have the possibility to learn Spanish very fast and well in a fantastic atmosphere. The school is in the typical Andalusian style and has a lovely courtyard. Every week, they also offer to all students a great cultural program, which contains a lot of different and interesting activities and courses for the participants.
On the various streets monuments, buildings etc. you can still see the former Muslim history of Andalusia and also the artistic churches and cathedrals, which are very impressive.
Don't miss the opportunity to visit the gorgeous palace Alhambra, Sierra Nevada which is the highest mountain of Spain and where you can ride horses and the incredible view of Sacromonte with its caves. Granada has many faces!
In Granada, there is something for everyone: culture, history, art, music, food, nightlife etc.
I had a great time here and this was an unforgettable experience for me. I can just recommend you to visit Granada and discover it for yourself.
A blog on the curious world of the croqueta. Where to enjoy a cuttlefish croqueta sitting by Pep Guardiola. Homemade classic in working man's bar. Some people take them really seriously.
This 'gastronomic space' is in fact on the tiny side - only 12 people can squeezed in to sit on high chairs round the narrow and high table. The sense of exclusivity is quickly confirmed when food and wine arrives. The tasting menu has so many small courses that I lost count, the wines are from small producers and excellent matches for the food. Courses are 'announced' on the discreet flat screens at either end of the table. The price is around €40 per person all included, which must count as one of the great bargains in this city.
It is tucked behind the main market of the old city on a back street. The market itself is closed at night.
Mercado de Santiago de Compostela
Rua de Ameas
+33 981 576 145
Google map: bit.ly/bOOjp8
A cosy tapas bar locally known as Peregil by Sevillanos, named after the owner, local showman and singer. It is tiny although you can have a sit down meal in the restaurant next door. It is known for its orange wine (vino de naranja) and has a wide range of tapas and manzanillas. It is a quirky little place with a tiny W.C. which has a sign saying, "No running in the toilet corridors". On the wall there is a bird cage with a stuffed canary, and another sign reading "Está mu cayoa" (He's very quiet!) and ironically another which prohibits singing in the bar, (Prohibido el cante).
Their montadito de pringá (small roll with meaty mixture) is also considered to be rather tasty.
To find out more about Seville in general, visit my blog:
Mateos Gago, 20 (just outside Barrio
de Santa Cruz)
+34954 218 966
Google map: bit.ly/ehXyLx
A beautiful restaurant/tapas bar. This place invites you in, with its windows wide open and you hear the chitter-chatter as you approach. Peering in you can see the jamón hanging above the bar and an extensive collection of wines in the racks. This bar, dating back to 1670, has a traditional decor with promotional alcoholic beverage tiles, kegs and little trinkets (my faves were bottles shaped like the torre de oro -gold tower). We had started to get quite hungry here and picked a handful of options from the menu: a typical Seville dish espinacas con garbanzos (chickpeas and spinach), bacalao a la riojana (cod with Rioja-style sauce), carriallada en salsa (pig cheek) and solomillo ibérico (Iberian pork fillet).
Most books on sale here have been either written by women or talk about women. It promotes feminist literature and was founded in 1978, when over 200 women, including famous women from the political and cultural Spanish arena, joined forces to create a cooperative to finance it.
Another classic spot for booksellers, located by the Retiro Park. Since 1925, around 30 wooden stalls buy and sell second-hand books here, along with new publications. In the old times, several fairs were located in this area, which became a meeting point for traders and clients. Eventually, intellectuals and bookshops asked the Town Hall to allow for a space for this daily literary fair, which still trades today. It even stayed open during the Civil War!
Cuesta de Moyano (Calle de Claudio Moyano). Madrid, Spain
Like many other old town streets in Madrid (curtidores - tanners, cuchilleros - knifemakers, etc) , it's named after the tradesmen and craftsmen that worked in the city centre from the early 20th century. Calle Libreros is a tiny street off the central Gran Via, previously called Ceres Street. It is not so well-known these days, but not so long ago, university students still went there to sell their previous academic course's textbooks and sell the next ones. At the end of the 19th Century, Doña Pepita made this fashionable as the old main University was located in the nearby San Bernardo Street. The few bookshops that remain here are specialised in various technical and humanistic subjects, and many keep out of stock volumes. They've been hit hard by the recession and few survive now, so walking into one of them does feel like stepping back in time...
Calle Libreros, off Gran Via, Madrid, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/dp1oBy
It is the first regular fetish event in Madrid, with a strict dresscode policy. A third of the people speak fluent English, as many of them travel often to London, Berlin, etc to attend fetish events.
It can be a perfect weekend getaway for kinky travelers. Obviously it is a recommendation only for those into the fetish lifestyle.
It is a LGBT, queer, CD/TV, poly friendly event.
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