Category: Mainland (Page 2 of 4)

Barcelona For Honeymooners

You and your future spouse are planning your honeymoon and have always wanted to visit Spain. Now is the perfect time to vacation in Barcelona, as there are plenty of romantic attractions and quality hotels that will make your stay unforgettable. Here are some of the sites you definitely won’t want to pass up during your stay in Barcelona. You and your spouse may decide to make a trip to Spain your standing vacation to keep the romance alive.

Barcelona is the ideal location for you and your spouse to enjoy your first vacation as a married couple.

Barcelona is the ideal location for you and your spouse to enjoy your first vacation as a married couple.

 

Hotels

There are a number of hotels that cater to honeymooning couples in Barcelona. The beautiful architecture and ideal location of these lodging locations make it easy to get to restaurants and attractions while you and your sweetheart take in the breathtaking design of the hotel.

Majestic Hotel and Spa

This hotel is in central Barcelona, and very close to Gothic Quarter, so you and your spouse can enjoy a day of shopping and fine dining. According to a USA Today article, the Dalai Lama has even lodged there!

If you’re visiting the Majestic Hotel and Spa for your honeymoon, there are several suites for you to choose from, including the Sagrada Familia and the Penthouse Passeo de Gracia. The suites include flat-screen TVs and a bathroom with marble accents and a hydromassage bathtub. When you purchase the honeymoon package, you’ll receive a couple’s massage, along with a romantic dinner, complimentary open bar, and a delicious breakfast served in your suite. The honeymoon package even includes two tickets for you and your spouse to visit one of Barcelona’s beautiful, history-rich museums.

Hotel Murmuri

This hotel is on Barcelonia’s most opulent promenades, Rambia de Catalunya. All of the rooms have soundproof windows and room service. There’s an additional fee if you and your new bride or groom want to enjoy drinks from the mini bar, watch cable TV or access a Wi-Fi connection.

The honeymoon package includes a romantic dinner with drinks, breakfast for two in the hotel room, and a romantic bath complete with candles, fragrant bath oils, incense and rose petals. Couples can also take advantage of a late 3pm checkout, and the hotel provides a special gift for honeymooning couples as well.

Restaurants

While there are several hotels in Barcelona that offer gourmet dinners and breakfasts for couples, there are a number of fine eateries in the city that prepare delicious meals to make your stay in Barcelona even more pleasant.

La Cúpula

This fancy restaurant is near Sagrada Familia and impeccable Mediterranean fare. The restaurant is the perfect place for a romantic date, as there is live piano music every night. You can choose from succulent meals like grilled turbot with vegetables and fried garlic and chocolate coulant for dessert. The dim lighting and round tables make this restaurant especially quaint and delightful.

Asador Donosti

Asador Donosti is moderately priced and has a warm and cozy feel. The restaurant is a genuine Basque rotisserie, so if you’re looking for hearty Spanish fare in a relaxed environment, this is definitely the place. The menu includes meals like oxtail stew, T-bone steak and sauteed mushrooms with garlic and asparagus.

Attractions

Spending the day lounging in your comfortable hotel room and enjoying some of the tastiest meals in Barcelona will indeed make your honeymoon enjoyable. However, there are also a number of activities and attractions that you won’t want to pass up. Here are a few suggestions.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

You and your sweetheart can see the entire city of Barcelona from the sky. Many of the packages include a picnic in the hot air balloon as well, which makes the experience even more romantic. If you’ve booked a hotel in the center of Barcelona, you can be picked up from there to enjoy your hot air balloon excursion.

Magic Fountains of Montjüic

If you enjoy being outdoors, you’ll love these light and water shows in front of Barcelona Palace. The shows are free on the weekends and in the evenings. The shows are also presented with music, and the colourful water acrobatics you’ll see are truly picturesque and worth the evening stroll to Barcelona Palace from your hotel.

Montjüic's lighted fountains are truly a breathtaking sight.

Montjüic’s lighted fountains are truly a breathtaking sight.

 

Aqueduct of Segovia: A Roman Monument In Spain

Since Roman times, Segovia has been a city of commerce and one monument from that historic era is the Aqueduct, a Roman construction designed and built to supply the city with fresh water from the mountains.

The Romans left behind many examples of engineering and architecture across Europe, but the Aqueduct of Segovia holds a special place in the heart of Spain for its beauty and usefulness – the structure was maintained and operational until the mid-19th century. Today, this structure and the rest of the historic town is a top tourist destination, especially since all its wonders are a short, hour-long drive from Madrid.

One man's utility is another man's art.

One man’s utility is another man’s art.

 

A place in history
At first glance, the Aqueduct looks like a bridge, but it’s much more than that. The Romans had a complex system of engineering, and this structure was used to bring water from the Frio River in the mountains to Segovia during the Roman occupation in the 1st century A.D.

Even the caches where figures of Hercules were once rumoured to sit as they protected the waterway still exist, although now those spaces are occupied by Saint Stephen and the Patroness of Segovia.

Overall, it’s one of the very few Roman projects still relatively intact, and it holds a place of honour as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as many world historical site lists. The two-level structure is now a beloved icon of the city, and is even depicted on the city’s official coat of arms.

A history of conservation has kept the Aqueduct standing.

A history of conservation has kept the Aqueduct standing.

 

How it survived
Aside from bringing an essential service to the old city, the Aqueduct is a feat of superior planning and construction. Built from native granite, the structure spans approximately 18 kilometres and is approximately 29 meters high. No mortar joins the massive stones; it was all constructed with amazing precision by stonecutters, including the numerous arches on each level which assist in supporting the structure.

Even in ancient times, the city leaders knew its value and pursued a course of careful conservation through the centuries. The Aqueduct has undergone occasional restoration projects, most notably in the 15th century and the 20th century. Interestingly, it has been most threatened by the elements in our modern times, as the air and sound pollution from cars, trucks and parking lots abound. Out of seven aqueducts built by the Romans in Spain, only three survive and the one in Segovia is the best preserved.

Beyond the Aqueduct
The Aqueduct of Segovia leads directly into the historical district of the city. While the Aqueduct may be the oldest point of interest in this section, there are still many breathtaking historical sites, including the Alcazar, also known as the Castle, built in the 12th century, and the 16th century cathedral, a building contrary to the Gothic style and filled with light from massive windows.It was the last Gothic church built in the country.

Inside, the cathedral also has areas constructed in the Medieval and Renaissance styles, along with artworks by such noted artists as Van Eyck and Morales. In the historic district are several more must-see churches, including Iglasia de la Vera Cruz, a church founded in 1208 by the Knights Templar, and the Church of St. Millan, a Spanish Romanesque structure built in the 12th century and housing many items and artworks.

Lodging options near historic Segovia include the Parador Hotel, which offers some of the best views of the town, including the castle and the Aqueduct; the Hotel Condes de Castilla, a historic hotel conveniently in the middle of the district; and the Acueducto Hotel, which is located within a couple of minutes walk to the Aqueduct itself.

Running Of The Bulls: Are You In?

Pamplona startEvery year in July, tens of thousands of runners gather in Pamplona from all over the world to participate in a death-defying adventure: the Encierro, also known as the Running of the Bulls.

While most people have a general idea of what the event is all about, few are fully aware of its vibrant history.

Here’s a quick look at the past and present of the annual Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.

 

 

Dusting Off the History Books
The origins of Pamplona’s Encierro dates back to the 11th century when bullfighting first became a pastime in Spain. Cattle transporters were responsible for delivering the bulls from their countryside corrals into city rings for the evening’s entertainment. This activity gradually evolved from a necessity into a tradition, expanding outward into other cities and gaining popularity along the way. Pamplona’s Encierro is Spain’s most celebrated bull running event, and has been broadcast on Spanish public television for over 30 years.

Honoring a Patron Saint
The Encierro takes place every year in Spain’s scenic northern Navarra region during the Sanfermines, or fiesta of San Fermin, which honors Navarra’s patron saint, San Fermin. While the religious celebration dates back centuries, it has become best known today for one of its traditions, the Running of the Bulls.

While many people think of the Running of the Bulls as an occasion to gather and party, remnants remain of its rich religious tradition. Every year runners gather in advance of the run at a statue of of San Fermin to chant together a benediction requesting the patron saint’s guidance, blessing and protection. They conclude with the heartfelt exclamation, “Viva San Fermin!, Gora San Fermin!” (“Long live Saint Fermin!”)

This chant is repeated in the exciting minutes leading up to the opening of the bulls’ corral and the start of the race. Additionally, runners typically don traditional clothing, including a white shirt, and white trousers with red accents at the waist and neck.

The Encierro’s Evolution
Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls–which occurs every year during the week-long Sanfermines (July 7-July 14)–now sees more than 20,000 runners make the dash every year, followed by 12 or so bulls. This 825-meter dash through the streets of old town Pamplona starts at the strike of the San Cernin clock, followed by a series of rocket launches which inform runners of critical information, such as when the run has started and ended. Typically, the Encierro lasts no more than four minutes, although it has taken up to 10, depending on the path of the bulls.

Safety in Numbers?
While it can be easy to get carried away by the thrill of this ages old event, it is a dangerous pursuit, and one best left to the fit and the fierce. Security measures are enforced to safeguard participants: entrants are required to be least 18 and must run in the same direction as the bulls, while refraining from inciting them; additionally, alcohol is forbidden.

The running route is blocked off by a double fence to keep runners and bulls in and spectators out. Pastores, or “shepherds,” offer another safety measure, remaining behind the bulls and using long sticks to keep both bulls and people on course.

Despite these precautions, hundreds of injuries occur every year–primarily due to falls. While goring is less common, it does happen, and severe injuries can result. Since record-keeping began in Pamplona in 1910, 15 deaths have occurred during the Running of the Bulls, mostly due to goring.

While bull runs and fights have become increasingly controversial topics in recent years, because of questions regarding animal rights, these events live on as a reminder of Spain’s rich history. The continued popularity of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls suggests that as long as there are bull runs, there will be people lining up to accept the challenge.

Photo Credits: MadMack66, Oddsock

El Escorial: Multi-Functional And Royal

If you’re interested in learning more about the rich history of Spain through beautiful art and informative accounts of the country’s past, El Escorial is the place for you. El Escorial is a large complex of buildings in San Lorenzo de el Escorial, which is near Madrid. The building has been deemed the most important work of construction of the Spanish Renaissance; the building complex was constructed from 1563 until 1584. El Escorial includes a church, a college, royal palace and monastery, along with a library that was added in 1592.

To get an accurate feel of what you will experience when you arrive at El Escorial, here are some descriptions of the main features of the historic site that will make you even more excited about planning your visit.

el escorial

FreeDigitalPhotos.net artur84

Spain is home to many picturesque sites that creatively teach about the country’s culture. El Escorial definitely fits this description.

Courtyard of the Kings

When you arrive at El Escorial, the first area you’ll encounter is the Courtyard of the Kings. You’ll see three doors: the center one actually leads to more of the courtyard, while the doors on the side lead to the school and monastery.

The Royal Pantheon is part of the Courtyard of the Kings and serves as the burial place for the kings of Spain and has been since King Charles I. Juan de Borbon’s remains, who was the father of king Juan Carlos I, are also at the Royal Pantheon.

The Place of the Austrians, or House of the King, is also in the courtyard, along with the Courtyard of the Fountainheads, which is built in Italian style.

A stroll through the courtyard will definitely give you insight into the cultural diversity that is included in Spanish history. The intricate architecture, along with information on the history of the royalty buried there makes the Courtyard of the Kings especially fascinating.

The Basilica

The church is another beautiful aspect of El Escorial. The basilica was originally designed to look like the Gothic churches of Western Europe and is inspired by the shape of a Latin cross. The altar is perhaps the most beautiful part of the church. The altar sits high, and a reredos made of three tiers sits behind it. The reredos is made from jasper and granite; the positioning of these precious stones shows the care and precision that was put into constructing the basilica.

King Philip, who was reigning at the time of the reredos construction, wanted Titian or Michelangelo to design the altar screens. However, both of these notable artists were in their 80s at the time, so at the suggestion of the king’s advisors, a host of lesser-known artists were commissioned to win the king’s favor and design the reredos. Life-size bronze statues on either end of the sanctuary depicting the praying families of Kings Philip and Charles are also fascinating components of the El Escorial church.

el escorial1

FreeDigitalPhotos.net franky242

Spanish churches often include intricately designed alters, walls and reredos to depict Bible stories or concepts of Christianity.

Library, Gallery and Museum

Of course, you don’t want to leave El Escorial without spending some time in the library, taking in all the intricately designed art in the gallery and strolling through the museum. The library contains documents that were donated by King Philip II; the building was designed by Juan de Herrera, who also came up with the concept for the library shelves. There are 40,000 volumes of books in the library’s collection.

The art gallery featured at El Escorial displays art from Spanish and Italian artists from the 15th and 16th century, as well as works from artists of Flemish and German descent. The art depicts aspects of nature, notable figures, and events of the time.

The museum showcases the architectural tools that were used to build El Escorial. It consists of 11 rooms and features copies of building documents and blueprints to provide you with insight into the El Escorial planning process.

These are just some of the intriguing sights that El Escorial has to offer. Keep these points in mind upon your arrival to help you make the most of your Spanish vacation.

Traditions and Symbols of the World’s Most Famous Spanish Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage SymbolsEl Camino de Santiago is a very special and ambitious journey that many, many people embark on each year. Every individual traveler comes with their own specific reasons for setting out on the famous Spanish pilgrimage.

What you get out of this adventure will be completely up to you, but if you adopt the attitude of a true pilgrim and try to find the positive in all situations for the duration of your chosen route, you’re sure to accomplish your goals and maybe even find something within that you didn’t realize you were looking for.

However, no matter what continent, country or city you come from, there are a few traditions and symbols that you will notice and have the opportunity to take part in along the way that are universal to everyone who makes the trek.

Passport
Obtaining your pilgrim’s passport should be one of the first things you take care of when you decide you’re making the El Camino voyage.

There are several places that offer a way for people to pick up a passport in their own countries before heading over to Spain. Of course, if you forget to get it right away it won’t be as detrimental as forgetting your real passport, but it’s definitely something you want to make sure you have as it is part of the whole experience of walking the world-renowned trail.

A pilgrim’s passport is also made available at numerous places along the different routes, but you’ll want to have it for the beginning of your trip since the stamps you will receive are proof that you’re an authentic traveling pilgrim and give you the advantage of finding a bed in the albergues at night.

Furthermore, this will be your official credential for receiving the compostela at the end of your journey and serve as one of your most significant souvenirs since it documents each place you stopped en route to Santiago de Compostela.

Scallop Shells
The scallop shell has been a historic symbol of El Camino for a long time, with its original meaning deriving from legendary tales concerning the death of St. James.

The shell has adopted a metaphorical meaning as well and is said to illustrate the various routes of the Spanish pilgrimage through its grooves, which eventually come together at a single point, as do all the routes that lead to Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela and St. James’s final resting place.

The scallop shell was also often used in a practical manner to serve as a tool for eating and drinking since it is a common find on the way to Santiago once pilgrims reach the shores of Galicia on their journey. On today’s pilgrimages, many use the shells that are painted on trees, sidewalks, buildings, etc. as guides along their path.

Cruz de Ferro
Over time, pilgrims have adopted the tradition of bringing a stone from home with them on their travels to leave at the Cruz de Ferro, which is an iron cross that has been erected on the way to Santiago. For some, it is symbolic of leaving behind a piece of their homeland, and for others, it represents leaving behind their sins at the foot of the cross.

Compostela
The compostela is the final token you will receive on your journey. All those who have walked the last 100km or cycled the last 200km of the trail into Santiago with the required stamps on their passport will be given a certificate of accomplishment.

Upon completion of the pilgrimage, you will be asked your reason for taking on the El Camino challenge and if your answer is anything other than for religious purposes, be prepared to receive a slightly different certificate of achievement.

This Spanish pilgrimage isn’t like any other journey, no two experiences will be the same, and even if you’re traveling alone, embracing all the traditions will make you feel like you’re a part of one big beautiful and spiritual picture.

Page 2 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén