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The Islamic Infused Alhambra {Photo Junket}

By on Sep 7, 2011 in Spain | 0 comments

Dominating the skyline over the Spanish town of Granada in the Andalucía province of Spain, the Alhambra is simply breathtaking and nothing can prepare you for what some have described as the Gardens of Babylon. Intricate Islamic artwork fused with incredible architecture and landscaping has helped this World Heritage Listed site to become one of the must see attractions in Europe (yet so many people still don’t know about it!). Dating back to the 11th century, the site is dominated by the mighty Alcazaba (fortress), whilst the Palacio Nazaries (palace) and tranquil water loving Generalife (Palace Gardens) provides a heavenly hideaway from the Spanish heat. The queues are long and the crowds can be insane at times however it’s worth every bit to visit the Alhambra and it’s easy enough to escape to a corner of the garden for a little reflection of life wandering by. So if you’re considering a stopover on the way through to Seville, I highly recommend you visiting, you won’t be disappointed! I hope you enjoy this weeks photo junket.            ...

Magic Fountain of Montjuïc {Photo Junket}

By on Aug 24, 2011 in Spain | 0 comments

    Don’t panic, no one has spiked your coffee with LSD and no you haven’t entered the world of the pink elephants on parade – for this week’s travel photo junket I wanted to take you to Barcelona and to the colourful Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. Like its people and incredible architecture, the city of Barcelona is a vibrant and eclectic mix of colours and mesmerising experiences. Niki and I stumbled across the Magic Fountain, which was built in 1929 as part of world expo, whilst visiting the National Catalunya Art gallery. We couldn’t help but be drawn to the intense liquid colours of the fountain and it felt like you could almost reach out and scoop it up!          ...

Visiting Sleepy Alicante

By on May 10, 2011 in Spain | 0 comments

“Now I wouldn’t want your pants to fall down now would I?” suggested the Customs officer, as I stood in a queue of people standing in their socks. I was clutching onto the waist of my jeans with one hand and with my other hand chucking my bag, including my belt through the security scanners. It had been just under six months ago that I had left from this exact airport for my Greek holiday and I had forgotten how much I loved Gatwick airport – the long queues, the shoes off policy, the utter chaos, the photos on departure and of course how could I forget, the no belt policy. This inevitably meant my over-sized trousers would make themselves at home at the bottom of my ankles. My flight was scheduled to leave from Gatwick Airport to Alicante in eastern  Spain at about 5am, so when Niki and I were running towards our gate at 4.50am, I couldn’t help but smile!   We arrived into sunny Alicante early on Saturday morning, unfortunately though Niki’s baggage had other intentions. Delayed in London, our pleasant Spanish rep for Easy Jet explained that it would be delivered first thing the next day. Interestingly enough, the more this man spoke his smooth Spanish English,  the more Niki’s legs got weaker and weaker – she must of been tired from the flight, poor thing! After a small walk out of the airport and 1 euro later, we were dropped off by the local bus into the heart of Alicante. The city was quiet on arrival and as we made our way to the Goya hotel, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful Spanish balconies lined with potted colour, the aromatic coffee shops and Spanish life getting off too a sleepy start to the morning. Goya Hotel was a budget hotel; clean, conveniently located and oozing with character. After dumping our bags, we headed off towards the sea front via El Bario. El Bario is the quaint old quarter of Alicante with cobbled stone streets lined with affluent designer outlets, boutique tapas bars and secluded plazas. I knew straight away I was going to have problems holding onto Niki. After dodging the various shoe shops we made our way down to the waterfront to come face to face with an ancient tourism tradition – the restaurant gauntlet run! Niki and I looked each other in eye, with a nod of our heads and a look of fear in our eyes, we knew an awesome Herculean task lay before us – we had to pick a restaurant for Paella. So hurdling our way down the strip, our stomach saying yes and our brains saying way too expensive as we passed endless restaurants all offering versions of a paella combinations, we settled on a nice little cafe at the far end. Sitting down to order, we felt the relief wash over our backs; we could now relax into our gourmet adventure.   The meal was fantastic! I had a delicious mixed Paella and for anyone who is new to the world of Spanish food; Paella is a rice dish with has been boiled with stock and seafood, than served in a little iron pan. Beautifully accompanied by an ice cold beer with layered ice on the pint glass. I knew that just as I had tried so many local foods from around the world previously, Paella was rapidly becoming a favourite. With full stomachs and my wallet 20 euros lighter, we were wandering the yacht harbour with gelatos in hand. I got the slight impression, that if the multimillion dollar boats sitting there were any indication to go by, that perhaps the mega wealthy enjoyed stopping by to play here. Only a slight impression though!   “Nic, can you see that castle on the cliffs up there?” is a question I’m sure Niki will think about twice before she answers that ever again. The castle in question was the Castillo De Santa Barbara, a beautiful 9th century fort located upon Mount Benacantil. Over the various centuries it has been bombarded, occupied by various kings and princes, and is now a haunt for tourists alike. The views from the top are incredible across Alicante, with green cactus gardens and olive trees creating an oasis like feel to it. After convincing Niki that the climb wouldn’t be that hard (yes I lied), we started our ascent to the top. The walk was relatively easy and as kids started to pass us on the walk up, we knew that we had to work on our fitness levels. Make sure that you have a hat and plenty of water if visiting, it does get quite hot and there is limited shade.   After spending a few hours at the top relaxing in the sun, we began our climb back down through Plaza Carmen, one of the most idyllic streets. You know when you looking through travel magazine and you see those perfectly ornate streets, lined with pot plants, coloured doors, wrought iron gates, perfect windows, sleepy cats and old mammas screaming out the window to their sons to “tuck their shirts in”? Well this was one of them! Finally I had found a street that really did look like it came from the magazines.   Completing our long walk through the afternoon, late night paella and a sneaky sangria, it was time to retreat to quietness of our hotel...

Semana Santa, Granada {Photo Junket}

By on Apr 10, 2011 in Spain | 0 comments

  Easter is upon us once again and I couldn’t help but let my mind wandered back to the two weeks that I spent travelling through Southern Spain and the humbling experience of witnessing the Semana Santa in Granada and Seville. I wandered back to when… We jumped off our bus into the centre of Granada and with our heavy packs on we ventured off into the hot humid evening, towards the sounds of the trumpets and drums. Our hostel was in this direction and as we dodged, ducked, weaved, tripped, pushed, be pushed, kicked, screamed, laughed, sweated, choked, sneezed, scratched, and clawed our way through the crowds, I couldn’t help but think this was the running of bulls instead of Semana Santa. I felt like sticking a sign on my back – “Wide Load”. I even got to the point of making beeping sounds when I was walking backwards. As we got closer to the centre, the sounds of trumpets and other brass instruments were getting louder, pulsating and wooing us as if some type of chant has taken control. People were starting to line the roads as we got closer, eating bird seeds and placing their children on top of their shoulders. We could feel the anticipation and eagerness in the air; I couldn’t help but think or perhaps plea silently, that we must be close by now. Then just as we thought we were nearly there, a man in a tall pointed hooded cloak with only slits to show his eyes glided passed us. The shock that came over Niki and I was mesmerising, slightly eerie and threatening yet I couldn’t pull my eyes away. This was a man of god, a member of a brotherhood who by wearing this symbol of anonymity was saying that only God will know his true identity and this is a showing of his faith. The cloak was a deep midnight black with a high pointed hood which made him look over 6ft high. He had no shoes as a sign of faith and carried a staff made of candle wax which burned a slow lingering flame upon the top of it. For those 30 seconds of mesmerisation I was surrounded by quietness in my mind. I hope you enjoy the photos from my  travels below.      ...