Surrounded by lush countryside, hidden within the rolling hills of Dorset lies the Corfe Castle Camping and Caravanning Club Site in Bucknowle. The campsite itself is superbly maintained by Mark, Lisa and their team, and the toilet, shower and washing facilities are spotless. The impressive castle ruins dominate the historic village of Corfe which is only a short walk from the campsite. Within three miles the Jurassic coastline beckons campers to explore and enjoy the stunning scenery. Whatever the weather there is plenty to do. We visited the sea-side towns of Swanage, Poole, Bournemouth and Weymouth which are only a short drive away or, for those more adventurous there are beautiful hillside walks and cycle paths. It is truly a close to nature experience, as you awaken to the sound of the dawn chorus, chat idly to fellow campers, sizzle bacon on your camp-stove, or visit the local pubs for fresh fish and chips. Later sleeping under the stars beneath a tent canopy. Idyllic.
Bucknowle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5PQ
Google map: bit.ly/13BjoTW
Carrer d'Enric Granados is a beautiful, semi- pedestrianised street in the heart of Eixample, just a hop and a skip from Passeig de Gracia and Rambla Catalunya. The street is named after the Catalan pianist and composer Enric Granados who was born in Lleida in 1867. This cultural reference laid the groundwork for what was to come as the street now has an abundance of art galleries, restaurants, cafes and boutiques.
Most tourists are largely unaware of the marvels that this street has to offer however it’s one of the most wonderful spots in Barcelona. The leafy avenue has a much needed laid back vibe, offering an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Besides the little park based at the south end of the street there are also benches scattered throughout Enric Granados and outdoor seating in most cafés and restaurants, which offer the perfect antidote to unwind without disturbance.
Among Carrer d'Enric Granados’ offerings is the café/ gallery Cosmo, which is based at number 3 in the lower part of the street. Cosmo is the epitome of its bohemian surroundings and is a fantastic place to go and relax with a coffee whilst enjoying the art on display. In addition this contemporary café has a great selection of snacks and beverages available.
A little bit up the street at number 5 is Norman Vilalta, the Argentinian shoemaker, who creates beautiful, tailored leather shoes from his artisanal workshop. Vilalta uses high quality materials that are reflected in the prices.
At number 9 is the Ego Gallery, a modern art and photography space, which displays an array of reputable work. Many of the artists are international photographers and painters.
Further up the Enric Granados at number 24 is the butchers Deli Argentino. This popular and well-thought-of butchers sells good quality Argentinian meat, empanadas, deserts and wine.
For the film boffins out there be sure to check out Video Club, the first vintage video shop to open in Barcelona. Located at number 30, the shop has a library of over 50,000 films mostly available on DVD. The majority of the films are old flicks although recent releases are also obtainable.
Another Argentinian spot on the street that’s definitely worth checking out is Hábaluc. Based at number 41 this popular restaurant serves a mean burger and other tasty Argentinian dishes and a selection of fresh fish.
Nearby at number 44 is L'appartement, which is perfect for those looking for well-sourced, unique interiors. The boutique’s beautiful furnishings range from furniture to wall decorations and other bits and bobs for the house.
For the art lovers head just a couple of doors up to Galería AND, an outstanding art gallery, based at number 49. The gallery exhibits up-and-coming, modern art from local artists.
For the carnivores El Filete Ruso based at number 95, is a must. This gourmet restaurant serves delicious hamburgers, with the specialty on the menu being the filete ruso, which is a homemade, thin burger, packed full of aromatic scrumptiousness.
Alternatively for pizza Enric Granados has one of the best pizzerias in town: Solo Pizza, the family run restaurant, located at number 108. This Italian eatery, which has a fantastic reputation, only serves pizza. The same family also own the next-door joint aptly named No Solo Pizza as it serves everything apart from pizza.
For those with a sweet tooth head further up the road to number 145 where Cup & Cake is based. This bakery is a newer addition to Enric Granados and the sight of the mouth-watering delicacies on display will lure you in quickly. The multi-coloured, liberally iced cupcakes are the specialty and there is also fresh fruitcakes and bread to choose from.
Carrer Enric Granados, 83, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Google map: bit.ly/1bv9w0Z
Nearest station: Diagonal or Universitat
* Hatty is our Been there local for Prague. You can read her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/barcelona-local-hatty-copeman.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/barcahiddencorners.jsp
Port Ban is a seaside camping and caravanning park in a remote setting on the west coast of Kintyre. The site offers stunning views of the Paps of Jura, a great beach with rock pools for kids old and young to explore, and the chance of seeing otters. The site has a small shop, cafe and launderette, while foodies will love the nearby Kilberry Inn. Kilberry also has some carved Celtic stones. It's a long way from anywhere so many visitors will just want to relax, but if you go off site you can visit the historic and prehistoric Kilmartin Glen, the Crinan canal and Knapdale, where beavers have been introduced. In the evening beach camp fires are a regular occurrence. For shops I visited Tarbert (about 15 miles away) with its beautiful harbour). A wonderful safe place for the kids.
A little over hour outside Barcelona lies the picturesque Pantá de Sau, a reservoir created on the River Ter. When Franco built the dam in 1962, the village that stood nearby, Sant Roma de Sau was lost, the inhabitants given two weeks to move out. Most left the area, but some stayed behind. Among these were the grandparents of our tour guide, Marc, who own Hotel La Riba which overlooks the dam and part of the reservoir.
Meeting Marc could be a tip in itself - a 28 year-old farmer (the family farm supports the family run hotel), who spent three months in Inverness recently learning how to fell large trees in order to heat and power the hotel in a sustainable manner. When he's not busy doing these things, he'll either be kayaking on the reservoir, running the mountain paths or riding his horse-drawn carriage for a wedding. For over three hours Marc entertained us with his knowledge of and enthusiasm.
The reservoir itself is overlooked by cliffs on all sides. From memory, only three buildings were visible: the local kayaking club, the hotel and another hotel on the other side of the reservoir. After a brief explanation on how to use the kayak safely, we set off for the church of Sant Roma, which can still be seen in the middle of the water (adorned with a Catalan independence flag). After stopping for pictures, Marc explained that this was the church his grandparents married in (and while the water level was low enough a few years ago, he paddled through!)
After another 30 minutes paddling, we reached a secluded cove, where it was time to leave the kayaks and begin our hike to the top of the cliffs. The hike was approximately 30 minutes up, including a pause to take pictures. It's challenging, but most active people would be fine with the path, and it's through trees and woodland so there's no danger of taking a short-cut back to your kayak. When you emerge from the trees you're at one of the high points of the area, and the views are stunning and well worth the calories expended.
On the way back down, we reached a pool near the kayaks. Marc encouraged us to get in. Don't. There's a reason he doesn't get in himself, it's freezing. Unfortunately although I am capable of thinking and acting it's rarely in that order (it's worth noting that the lake itself was of a perfect temperature for swimming, but this pool was in the shade).
Once we reached the kayaks we headed back towards the hotel, where Marc enthusiastically showed us the pigs, cows, dogs, horses and just about everything else he had there. I'm pretty sure it wasn't part of the tour but it was interesting none-the-less. After that, we stopped for a bite to eat in the restaurant, which I highly recommend (especially the burger and the milk with rice for desert).
I've lived in Barcelona for a little more than a year and this is probably the best thing I've done since being here.
Take a trip to the small town of Vinci, birth place of Leonardo, 35 kilometers west of Florence. The small Museo Leonardiano, sited within the 12th century Castello dei Conti Guidi, is jammed full of the artist’s drawings, designs and a mind boggling array of large and small military, textile and travel inventions.
Bussana Vecchia is a sun-drenched hilltop village that was devastated by an earthquake in the 1800s and brought back to life by a colony of artists who settled here in 1960s.
It has a unique hippie charm, stunning architecture and artist ateliers. The slow pace of Bussana Vecchia is a dream come true for any traveller who wants to experience something unique while visiting the Italian Riviera, without breaking the bank.
Go there now, and you may be able to check out - for free, however offers are appreciated - one of the largest railroad models in Italy, with hundreds of metres of tracks winding through tiny stations, fly-overs and mountains. Truly spectacular. To find it ask locals for the "plastico ferroviario", or follow the signs if you are lucky enough to find them.
There are also a couple of B&Bs in town, with rooms starting from €70. Drive down the hill and you will find some of the best beaches in the area, some of them with free access.
If you work up an appetite after exploring medieval alleys and church ruins, head for the Relax Cafè - when my friends and I sat down during a recent visit and ordered a glass of local white wine, we were brought an entire bottle. Afraid we were getting ripped off, we mentioned that it was only one glass we were after, and the woman serving us said: "Didn't you read outside? This is an experiment we are running. You pay with a free offer. If you want a glass you drink a glass, if you want a bottle you drink a bottle. You can give whatever you want, even just one euro!" I thought about the cost of living in London, and had to restrain myself from crying of happiness in front of everyone. My friends too were barely able to mask their surprise.
Have I mentioned you also get delicious pizza straight from the wood oven? (Which you can also make yourself, if you like). How about the stunning views over the Ligurian hills? Sounds too good to be true? Well go to Bussana Vecchia and see for yourself.
Driving or walking are your only two options. From Sanremo (or San Remo - not even locals are sure), head east towards Arma di Taggia and make a left, following signs to Bussana. Once past the "modern" village, keep driving up the hill towards Bussana Vecchia. Park your car wherever you can (the road is a dead end, and make sure you are good at driving on narrow roads), and walk into the village. At the entrance of the village, you'll find the Osteria degli Artisti. Turn right and walk up the hill for a couple of minutes until you reach a little square with a tiny church that has no roof anymore. Entrance to the Relax Cafe is there.
Google map: bit.ly/13YfO8E
For the design conscious traveler on a budget Campeggio Fusina, designed in 1959 by the modernist Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa, offers stylish, inexpensive camping with a stunning view across the lagoon to Venice (prices range from €8,50 for a tent to €92 for a four-berth static caravan).
The deep water channel just offshore treats you to a close-up of passing ships en route to Porto Maghera, Venice’s industrial secret. There’s a regular Vaparetto service from Fusina to Zattere that takes just 20 minutes, and there’s no better way to arrive in this city than to watch its majestic decaying architecture gradually loom out from the surrounding turquoise lagoon.
Once you’re there, be sure to visit the 55th International Art Biennale, on till 24 November at the Giardini and Arsenale. The Arsenale buildings housed the rope works and are worth seeing for the architecture alone. But be warned, the centre of Venice is not a cheap place, so to save money take lunch with you and enjoy it, and the visual feast that Venice offers, all’aperta!
Fivizzano, a walled Medieval town in the region of Lunigiana is surrounded by stunning mountains and inhabited by the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet.
Head to the main Piazza for a cheap appertivo at Gelateria Ricci: prosecco and free nibbles go down well.
For an affordable, traditional Italian meal, cross the Piazza to Caffé Elvetica - run by the glamourous and ever welcoming Ivana, you can get a three course meal for 15 Euros - with lots of free foccacia and fantastically cheap wine.
Speaking of which, you can head to the Enoteca in Soliere where you can buy a bottle of superb vino for €3, which they bottle and cork in front of you. If that wasn't enough, they also give you olives, capers and crisps whenever you buy a drink.
La dolce vita, eh?
Via Vittorio Emanuele II, 14, 54013 Fivizzano Massa-carrara, Italy
+39 0585 926657
Google map: bit.ly/15f1hEJ
A small harbour directly south from Heraklion, about two hours drive, about 30km east of Matala.
Quiet and peaceful, plenty of good quality accomodation, fantastic restaurants.
Lentas sits in its own micro climate at the foot of a mountain, there is only one road in and out, a long beach to the west, and several beautiful bays to the east with a fishing port newly built, accessed by a precipitous road from Lenas.
All in, its a place of peace and tranquility, hardly known but easy to reach.
Almosy directly south from Heraklion, head for Matala, but stay east across the plain. Its not easy to find the road over the mountain, but local people will guide you.
Google map: bit.ly/10moNjk
Just 6km north of the beautiful, sleepy fishing harbour of Gytheio on the Mani peninsular is a stunning shipwreck standing defiantly on a perfect beach. It was an incredible sunrise. With the help of a rental car, out of peak-season camping is so easy on beaches of the Peloponnese - remote and tranquil.
Hotels, tavernas and cafes are also available in Gytheio, and to the south are more unspoilt beaches, extending down the rugged but accessible 'Mani'.
Valtaki, Lakonia, Peloponnese
Google map: bit.ly/18718Yj
After enjoyining a magical walk around the city of Granada, what could be better than treating yourselves with delicious food and a cold beer? Granada is one of the best places for tapas in the whole country. With every drink that you buy, you get a free tapa! One of my favourite places in Granada where you can find delicious food is "Bodegas Castañeda". Where, apart from enjoying your free tapa, you can choose from the various and exquisite boards (sharing wooden plates), as well as, taste their home-made mixed wines.
This is just one place, there are hundred of bars around Granada where you can enjoy a nice tapa with your drink, sharing laughts with friends, getting lost in its little and magical streets, contemplating its astonishing arquitecture. Or simply buy a beer and a durum kebab in "Calle Elvira" and walk up to the "Mirador de San Nicolás" and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL view, while you listen the music of the flamenco musicians who are play in the squares. It's just bewitching.
BEAUTIFUL NATURAL SPACES AND BEACHES:
-Cabo de Gata-Níjar, a must!
MY HOMETOWN, ANTEQUERA: In the centre of Andalusia, you will find Antequera. Antequera is a beautiful, cultural and historical town. A fascinating place where you can travel from the bronze age visiting the pre-historical dolmens to the wonderful Al-Andalus era, walking around the beautiful Moorish fortress. Without forgeting the classical world -Roman heritage- and the beautiful 33 churches that Antequera has, traces of the Reconquista.
Also, a wonderful place to enjoy its beautiful food! Visiting the "Bar Carrera" or "Las Hazuelas" you will think you are in heaven :)
It's very important that you don't forget visiting "El Torcal", an amazing walk in our unique mountains! As well as enjoying a cheap delicious home-made rustic lunch in one of the "ventas" (inns).
Riverside walk in Santa Eulalia up to the 16th century church on Puig de Missa.
Gentle meandering walk along the riverbank through fields of wildflowers and orange trees. Discover on the way a free irrigation museum with examples of horizontal water wheels and ancient irrigation methods. The climax of the walk takes you up a steep incline to the 16th century church at the top of Puig de Missa with breathtaking views across the Ibiza landscape and out to sea.
Iglesia del Puig de Missa
Plaza de Lepanto, s/n, 07840 Santa Eulària des Riu, Islas Baleares, Spain
+34 971 33 00 72
Google map: bit.ly/12GaS7c
If you're looking to escape the touristy centre of Valencia (and the prices that come with it) or want to experience the 'pueblo' feel without having to leave the city, a day trip to Benimaclet would be worth your time. Benimaclet was originally its own village, separated by the river, but became merged into Valencia with the city's expansion. Despite this it has managed to maintain much of the original 'pueblo' feel, something you'd normally have to get out of the city for. The Plaza de Benimaclet is a five minute walk from the tram stop and on the way you'll probably notice many bars displaying 'tercio y tapas 1.50', prices that aren't found in the centre. Many of these bars have live music at night. Once you enter the pueblo part of Benimaclet, it's easy to forget you're in a city owing to many car-less streets lined by idyllic little houses, especially if you stumble across the Plaza de Benimaclet complete with its own church. Once you've worked up an appetite by meandering around the streets, why not pick up a paella or other traditional Valencian cuisine from an asador - the cheapest way (around three euros for a portion big enough for two) to enjoy a home cooked paella. You could enjoy your paella sitting in the Jardines del Real, the main park in Valencia only a couple of hundred metres away.
From here there are three options (not including returning to the city centre). Firstly you could follow the Turia (the old river now converted into a park) down to the City of Arts and Sciences, one of Valencia's landmark features. On the way you'll pass the Palau de la Música and walk under many bridges each with its own feature.
Secondly you could carry on out of the city to Alboraya - the Spanish hometown of horachata, a sweet, milkly, nutty drink. I'd recommend the Horchateria Toni for the best tasting and value horchata in Alboraya.
My final option is take the tram down to the Malvarrosa beach (10 minutes away) and walk along the sea front or relax on the sand in the sun.
After doing all this you'll probably be ready to return to your hostel late in the evening, although Benimaclet is worth the visit, I'd recommend staying in a hostel in the centre for travel convenience.
A tip when travelling around Valencia - beware the road sign names. In the city the road sign names are in Valencian but on many maps they are written in Castillan, they are pretty similar but don't go looking for an exact name if you have the Castillan version.
To reach Benimaclet - from the centre of Valencia take the metro (line 3, 9 minutes) or about 30 minutes on foot from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, crossing the river at Puente del Real and following Carrer de Cavanilles.
The Pueblo part is off to the right of Calle Emilio Baro (facing the direction of Alboraya)
To reach Alboraya - take the metro (Line 3, Rafelbunyol - Aeroport) to Alboraya or walk from Benimaclet (about 1km from the metro stop vía 'Calle Emilio Baro' which becomes 'Avenida de la Horchata')
This website has details of events in Benimaclet:
Google map: bit.ly/1145Enn
You can either walk or cycle the 300 miles from the French border to Santiago de Compostela by staying in the hostels every 10-15 miles which are mostly free of charge. The trip will mostly only cost you for food and drink. I have spent nearly three months in Spain on the Camino sight seeing, learning more of the language and making life long friends all for around £200 plus travel there to and back either cycling or walking.
All you need do is start your holiday in Pamplona at the Tourist Office and ask for directions and further information from there. It's easy, I've done it six times and I'm in my mid seventies!
If you get bored of history that's preserved in cabinets or guarded by hawk-eye museum staff, you can get a more hands-on experience at Belchite. Lying about an hour outside Zaragoza, this village came under heavy attack in the Spanish Civil War. It was so greatly damaged villagers decided to abandon it and rebuild about a kilometre away. What's left today is a time capsule of crumbling houses, churches, a clock tower and much more, with loads of little gems to uncover amid the rubble. And best of all there's not a single museum worker around.
The Bunker (or el Turó de la Rovira) is the best kept secret of Barcelona. With it's fantastic views across the city, this old war bunker is not to be missed. There are many places to get great views in Barcelona, but this one is definitely my favourite. It is in the best location which allows you to see everything so clearly, from the mountain of Tibidabo to the right, to the ocean and Montjuic, with all of the city inbetween.
Metro Alfons X, line 4. A slight climb up from the metro is required but totally worth it.
Google map: bit.ly/16Dngtk
This UNESCO heritage city is bursting with history, very important specially since the 16th century.
Alcala de Henares is an university city and there is also many good places for tapas, in most places for less than 3€ you get a drink with a big tapa of your choice.
You can get there in 40min from Atocha Station in Madrid.
Moraira originally a small fishing village within the municipality of Teulada on the Costa Blanca, has grown into a holiday and retirement resort within the last 30 years. The village centre, with its small and colourful Main Street, still retains much of the original character and atmosphere.
The surrounding Bernia and Montgo mountain range and hills provide both shelter from the harsh winter weather from the north and a natural vortex for cooling summer sea breezes.
Staying in a wonderful villa with views towards the Bernia mountains and the wonderful sunsets is one thing, but to take a walk up the mountain and go through the eye (cave) of the mountain to the southern side is a major boost to body and soul.
A 30 minute drive from Moraira to the start of the walk is one of the most enjoyable and picturesque B road drives you can take along this part of the coast. A relatively easy 2 hour walk will take you from the parking area of the Bernia, to the cave entrance, whereupon the low ceilinged cave means you need to crab crawl through 30 minutes to the other side.
Going up at around 11am in winter ensures you are in the shade of the mountain when ascending, so no breaking into a sweat, but then with the sun on you as you exit the cave on the south side...just perfect.
Take a small picnic or go to the mountain restaurant on the return leg by car.
Travelling south as you exit Benissa on the N332 turn right for Alcalali and then at 100 mts at the junction crossover to follow the sign for Bernia. Follow this winding road up the mountain with stunning views at every bend with the Montgo mountain behind you. At the top there is a T junction, so turn left and park under the trees in the little hamlet of fincas.
This splendid 16th-century building is one of the points on Seville’s UNESCO World Heritage triangle (the other two being the cathedral and the Alcazar) – and the only one with free entry. It was built to house Seville’s main commercial operations during the Golden Age, as more and more merchandise was brought back from the Americas. Since 1785 it has been used to store documents tracing all Spain’s dealings with the New World – some 80 millions of pages of them, on 8km of shelving. While most of the exhibits (maps, posters and documents) are labelled in Spanish, there is a very interesting 15-minute video on show, with English subtitles.
Avenida de la Constitución s/n (no number), 41004 Seville
+34 954 50 05 28
Google map: bit.ly/143kXe2
* Eloise is our Been there local for Seville. You can read her bio here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/seville-local-eloise-horsfield.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/EloiseHorsfield You can also catch her on Twitter at @EloiseHorsfield
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