Manzanares el Real is a village located 50km to the north of Madrid by the Pedriza protected park, amid a stunning landscape. The village has lots to see including the Mendoza Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Spain. You will also enjoy the old castle ruins (Castillo Viejo), the Cañada Real Bridge, the church of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves, founded in the early 14th century and the first paper factory in Spain.
Manzanares el Real offers a wide variety of local cuisine and leisure activities such as Medieval Weekends, a Tapas Fair and all the annual local festivities.
Bus No.724 from Plaza de Castilla (50 minutes journey approx)
The castle is open from October to May (10am to 17pm) and from June to September (10am to 18pm). Mondays closed.
Google map: bit.ly/ZxKlUV
This town, 45km from Madrid, is recognizable in the distance by its houses clustered together on hilltops. Chinchón has much to offer for a day out and lots of sightseeing.
Chinchón has a beautiful medieval square formed by houses of two and three floors with running balconies, which has been the scene of a great many events, presentations and even movies. The square turns into a bullring during the town fiestas. It hosts nice mesones where you can taste typical tapas including “Chorizo al Infierno” (grilled chorizo).
As well as its characteristic Plaza Mayor, with its wooden balconies and flat galleries, you should also visit the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (1534-1626), which was sacked and burned by Napoleonic troops in 1808 and which hosts the magnificent painting of La Asunción de la Virgen, painted by Goya (Goya’s brother was a priest in this church). The old Convent of the Augustine nuns (from the 18th Century) has a beautiful cloister and has now been turned into a Parador where you can go for lunch or dinner or even stay the night.
Other buildings of interest are: the convent of the Nuns of the Order of St. Clare, from the 17th century; the clock tower, belonging to the old parish church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia and the remains of a 15th century castle, rebuilt between 1590 and 1598 by the third Count of Chinchón and also burned in 1808 by Napoleonic forces.
The Train de la Fresa (Strawberry Train) is a historical, cultural and gastronomic route between Madrid and Aranjuez which runs from the end of June until mid- July and from the 1st of September until the end of October. This journey, which started in 1851, transports you to an old age of train travel on an early 20th Century coal engine train trough scenic countryside. Ideal for families or for an interesting day out to Aranjuez.
It leaves from the Museo del Ferrocarril (Train Museum) at Atocha Station (Paseo de las Delicias 61) and takes about an hour to arrive into Aranjuez. During the trip, stewardesses dressed in period costume go round the train distributing boxes of strawberries for passengers to taste. The views from the train are of the beautiful countryside outside Madrid. Travellers are then taken by coach to Aranjuez for a guided visit to the Royal Palace, its beautiful gardens and the Museo de Faluas. Travellers can choose to remain in Aranjuez and return back to Madrid on a normal service train using the same ticket.
Aranjuez has many interesting sights, including the Royal Palace with its Royal gardens and the "Casita del Labrador" (Farmer’s House) a Royal pavilion built by King Charles IV.
Tren de la Fresa (return) tickets are around €29 for adults and €21 for children between 4 and 12 years old. Children under 4 years old travel free if they sit on their parents’ lap. The ticket includes the free guided tour of the palace and museum.
Ubud is a town in Bali located among rice paddies and steep ravines. It is one of Bali's major arts and culture centres and it has developed a large tourism industry.
If you visit Ubud don't miss the night dance and singing performances in temples such as the Batukaru Temple or Pura Dalem Temple. The atmosphere is magical, with very low light and candles and the Balinese dances are very beautiful. The most striking and unmissable performance is the Kecak dance, also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant or Kecak Fire and Trance Dance. It is performed primarily by men although a few women's kecak groups exist. The Kecak is performed by a circle of 150 or more performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting "cak" and throwing up their arms. It depicts a battle from the Ramayana where the monkey-like Vanara helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. However, Kecak has roots in a trance-inducing exorcism dance.
It is absolutely hypnotic and captivating and you feel the dancers are in a trance while performing. Totally unmissable and a unique experience.
Batukaru and Pura Dalem Temples in Ubud have Kecak and Balinese dances performances at night.
Google map: bit.ly/UwMKyG
Everybody takes a trip to Postdam from Berlin, so why not do something different and spend a day in Dresden?
The capital of Saxony is only two hours away by train and it is rich with cultural and artistic history. The city was known as the Jewel Box, because of its baroque and rococo city centre. It was heavily bombed during WWII but it has been rebuilt and it looks amazing again.
Since the German reunification in 1990, Dresden has regained importance as one of the cultural, educational, political and economic centres of Germany.
If you are a fan of Karl Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse No. 5" don't miss the Karl Vonnegut Tour which runs daily. So it goes.
Direct Trains leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof every two hours (connection travel is also available). Dresden station is only 10-15 minutes away from the city centre on foot.
The Karl Vonnegut Tour runs daily at 11:00 am from Theaterplatz - King Johann, Dresden. www.kurtvonnegut-tour.com/
+49 (0) 172 78 15 007
Google map: bit.ly/QtAEql
History aficionados will love the “Third Reich” Walking Tour in Munich. This three-hour tour takes you on a truly interesting walk through the streets of Munich where the Nazi party rallied, the beer house where Hitler gave his speeches and where the famous putsch took place, the White Rose movement monument and many more interesting places. The tour will raise questions like, how could the greatest tragedy of the 20th Century happen and put history into context at the real locations. During the tour the guide will reveal traces of the past and footprints of Nazi rule still visible today. The most interesting history lesson you can get in Munich.
It runs every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 10:45 am from Marienplatz (by the column). You can also join the pick-up option at 10:00 am at Hauptbanhof (Starbucks in platform 11).
Official website: www.newmunichtours.com/daily-tours/third-reich.html
Film-lovers cannot miss ‘The Third Man’ Guided Walk in Vienna. This unique tour will trace the steps of Orson Welles (as Harry Lime) and Joseph Cotten (as Holly Martins) and will take you to most of the film locations in central Vienna, put the movie in a historical context and tell you curiosities about the filming, Orson Welles and the locations themselves. It will even take you to a special location where the film’s famous soundtrack is played by a scitar player, creating a truly special atmosphere. ‘The Third Man’ was shot on location all over the Austrian capital and this walk will give you a great insight of the locations of this classic film and what it was like to live in post-war Vienna. This guided walk was created by Dr. Brigitte Timmermann, the founder of Vienna Walks & Talks and it runs Mondays and Fridays at 4:00.
Mondays and Fridays at 4:00pm.
The tour starts at: U4 Station Stadtpark, Exit Johannesgasse.
Time: 2 to 2.5 hours
Magistrat der Stadt Wien, Wien Kanal
+43 1 4000 3033
Google map: bit.ly/GT8Jg8
Vienna’s Naschmarkt is more than an antique market. It is a mixture of Austrian traditions, antique dealers, fleamarket and food stalls. Located by two beautiful art deco houses built by Viennese Jugendstil architect Otto Wagner it runs every Saturday and it dates back to the 16th Century. Here you will find antique dealers selling everything from old postcards, books, militaria, porcelain, Austrian glassware, gramophones dating back to the 1900s and old dolls to stalls set up by Easter European sellers who come to Vienna for the weekend to sell vintage clothes, bric-a-brac, exotic goods and curios. The market has a very vibrant atmosphere where Austrians and tourists alike soak up the rich diversity of stalls looking for that special find. By the end of the day stallholders lower their prices considerably (sometimes as low as 50 cents of a Euro) and right before closing time sellers even offer some items for free.
Postojna Cave, near Ljubljana in Slovenia is one of the best showcaves in the world. The cave is a network of 20 kilometres of passages, galleries and chambers. Some of the stalagmites are at least fifty feet high and the views are amazing. An underground train takes you to the walking section of the cave, where you then follow the tour through the chambers which can be visited. The cave is full of amazing calcite formations, stalactites and stalagmites in a variety of shapes, colours and age. At the end of the tour you can see an aquarium tank which contains several Vivarij Proteus, cave salamanders known for their long lifespan. The guided visit lasts an hour and a half approximately.
Postojna is located in the south-west of Slovenia. There is a bus connecting the Postojna railway station with the Postojna Cave or you can get a bus from Ljubljana.
+386 5 7000 100
Google map: bit.ly/nWB7GR
Altamira Cave was discovered in 1879. It contains Palaeolithic cave art, and the cave is of one of the most spectacular sites. It houses prehistoric paintings of bison, horses, deer, hands and mysterious signs painted over 15,000 years ago, in the Upper Palaeolithic. Altamira Cave became a World Heritage site in 1985. Although you cannot visit the original cave, the replica feels authentic and worth a visit and the museum gives a lot of information about the finding of the cave and the prehistoric time when the paintings were made. There is also a dedicated space for children to have a go at prehistoric painting.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is only 80 km from Krakow and a great experience. The mine has been producing salt since the 1200s and was the source of one-third of Poland's total income under King Kazimierz the Great. In the 1800s the miners started creating sculptures and even carved the largest among underground chapels carved in rock salt and embellished with salty sculptures, salt chandeliers and bas-reliefs. There are over 200 miles of tunnels and chambers that are currently maintained by former miners. The tour inside the mine is informative and fun. Also, if you suffer from asthma or breathing problems (like me) you will love being down there as the air in the mine contains large quantities of sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium ions which help control and improve the respiratory system. This is also the reason why the salt mine has its own Underground Rehabilitation and Respiratory Treatment Camp.
Daniłowicza Street 10, 32-020 Kraków, Poland
+48 12 278 73 75
Google map: bit.ly/qSBb3k
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is only 80 km from Krakow. There are organised tours which take you there or you can catch a local bus www.krakow-info.com/wielicz.htm
The Respiratory Rehabilitation Camp has its own website: www.kopalnia.pl
The Bavaria Filmstadt gives guided tours around the Film Studios where movies such as Metropolis and Das Boot were filmed. It is a fun tour where you visit film sets (including the Das Boot submarine), and you will even be able to re-enact short film sequences. A fun day out away from the usual sightseeing and tourist trail.
The Bavaria Film Studios are located in Grünwald, south side of Munich. Take Tram 25 in the direction of Grünwald to station Bavariafilmplatz. From there, it’s about a 10-minute walk.
Bavariafilmplatz 7, 82031 Geiselgasteig bei München
+49 89 6499-2000
For the best views of Munich climb the Peterskirche Tower.
The climb is a little bit steep, but for a few euros you will get the most amazing views of Munich including Marienplatz, Frauenkirche, the old Rathaus and far away into the city. Highly recommended.
Rindermarkt 1, 80331 Munich (opposite the new Rathaus in Marienplatz)
Google map: bit.ly/f9rAyV
When in Munich don’t miss the river surfing at the English Garden (entrance by the Haus der Kunst).
Despite being many hundreds of kilometres from the nearest ocean, Munich has a reputation as a surfing hotspot. It is highly entertaining to watch the local surfers and take great photos of them riding the artificial waves. When you have had enough take a stroll in the English Garden and stop at the Chinese Tower beer garden for a bite to eat and a lovely local beer. Bliss.
Eisbach (artificial river) at the Haus der Kunst, on the edge of the English Garden, this is the main wave.
Google map: bit.ly/gBuaU6
If you visit Berlin or Munich don’t miss the free walking tours by Sandemans New Europe. The guides are amazing, friendly and knowledgeable and they take you on a very interesting tour of the city. They cover the city’s history, sightseeing sites, anecdotes and funny stories all for a tip at the end of the tour. They also like giving you useful tips of stuff to see, what to eat and where, pubs and bars to go to and any other information you may need for your stay. Their “non-free” tours are also well worth it. Highly recommended.
West Berlin Pick-Up Point 10:30 AM & 12:30 PM- Zoologischer Garten, in front of Dunkn’ Donuts. (S/U-Bahn Zoologischer Garten)
East Berlin Start Point 11:00 AM & 1:00 PM- Brandenburg Gate, in front of Starbucks. (S/U-Bahn Brandenburger Tor)
Hauptbahnhof Pick-Up Point 10:00 AM & 12:30 PM- Meet at the Starbucks inside Hauptbahnhof beside Platform 11
Marienplatz Start Point 10:45 AM & 1:00 PM- Meet in front of the column on Marienplatz
In the film The Third Man, shot on location in Vienna in 1949, we see Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, hiding in the doorway to Anna Schmidt's apartment. This doorway is located at: Schreyvogelgasse, by the Vienna University and the Liebenberg monument.
Schreyvogelgasse, by the University and the Liebenberg monument below the Molker-Bastei.
In the film The Third Man, shot in Vienna in 1919, Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, is run over by a street carriage outside his apartment. This location is 5 Josefsplatz, next to the Hofburg Palace and the Lipizzaner Museum. The square displays a statue of Emperor Josef II on a horse, and this statue is referred to by the porter elsewhere in the film. The front of Harry Lime's apartment is right opposite the statue.
5 Josefplatz, Vienna. Next to the Hofburg Palace, the Austrian National Library and the Lipizzaner Horse Museum.
In the film Before Sunrise, shot entirely in Vienna, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpi go to a record store where they flick through records and listen to some in a small booth at the end of the store. The store still exists and is called Teuchtler. It sells rare and old records and still has the listening booth at the end of the store. The store is tiny inside and has a very antique feel about it.
Teuchtler Schallplaten handlung Record store is located at: 10 Windmuhlgasse, off Mariahilfer Strasse, the most commercial street in Vienna.
In the film Before Sunrise, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpi visit the Friedhof der Namenlosen (The Cemetery of the Nameless). This is a very beautiful, tiny cemetery in the outskirts of Vienna where the bodies of people drowned in the Danube and those who were unable to be identified are buried. Every year, the local fishing club on the first Sunday off after All Souls' Day, hold a memorial service and build a raft with wreaths and flowers to give it to the Danube. This is to recall the water floating corpses.
The cemetery is located on the outskirts of Vienna, on the way to the airport. In order to get there follow these directions: 1.Get the Subway (u-bahn): U3 direction Simmering. Depart from Stephansplatz and get off at Enkplatz
2.Catch bus 76 A at Enkplatz (Krausegasse) Direction: Zinnergasse/Kaiserebersdorfer Straße. Get off at Alberner Hafen.
3.Walk from here. Follow the directions to the Friedhof der Namenlosen (it is about 45 min. walk on a straight line). The cemetery is behind an industrial estate with very high grey tower blocks.
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