Archive for 08/24/2012

Sights of Valencia

valencia

The city of Valencia is packed with history and growing all the time. With a contrasting and complementary mix of modern and historical architecture, Valencia – once the cultural capital of the Mediterranean in the fifteenth century – has earned its popularity with modern tourists.

On my regular journeys to and from Valencia airport my head is often turned by the architecture in the city. The classical edifices and the eye catching avant garde buildings are what make the city of Valencia so special. But it’s mostly the older buildings that I want to talk about this time.

The Basilica of the Virgin

Having dropped a passenger at their hotel around Barrio del Carmen, I found myself once again near the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados. I’ve mentioned this before, but it is an important tourist attraction that deserves more attention.

With the Cathedral next to it, the flagstones of the plaza in front have been polished smooth by centuries of visitors. They come to see the ornate and impressive golden statue of the Virgin, but it is the painted ceiling that seems to capture their imagination. It depicts a route through the clouds that angels take into heaven, and is so cleverly done that it exaggerates the depth of the dome. It’s a trick of perspective that my Valencia shuttle passengers continue to mention on their journey from the city back to Valencia airport.

Puerto de Valencia

From the old town to the new. The port area has been a focus of redevelopment and has become more famous since the construction of the Formula One Street Circuit here. When I drive down here I have to suppress the urge to go a little faster, imagining that my shuttle is in the European Grand Prix. I drop passengers at the Port of Valencia for the nightlife and sometimes for the cruise ships. This is where the giant white liners set off on tours of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Some cruise to several ports in Italy, Portugal and France taking several weeks, while others shuttle from Valencia to Barcelona or the nearby islands of Menorca and Ibiza before returning to Valencia city just a few nights later. It must be a wonderful way to see the Spanish islands.

The Palace of Music

And to finish, a newer building that looks like it could be old. The Palace of Music was built in the 1980s in the Jardines de Turia area, just ten minutes from Valencia Airport.

It consists of a curved glass arcade encased within tall stone columns. Used as a concert hall, an art gallery and a giant greenhouse, it has grace and grandeur, but it is a building of special character, too. At night time, it looks almost like a different place with its colourful lighting. And when a concert is playing the rhythms of the water fountains outside are designed somehow to match those of the music emanating from the concert hall. The Palace is a welcome addition to the Valencia city architecture, and has already become a favourite in this great city.

The Museums of Madeira

The-Museums-of-Madeira

Mário Barbeito de Vasconcelos Library Museum

The story: Long before tourists started taking holidays in Madeira, the island was home to a famous traveller, Christopher Columbus, who would go on to discover one of the largest countries in the world. Columbus came to the island in 1478 to buy some sugar, but a holiday in Madeira soon turned into a permanent stay when he fell in love with the governor’s daughter and moved to the small island of Porto Santo. After a few years Columbus moved back to Madeira’s main island to study navigation, which prepared him for the most famous discovery of all times.
What can I expect to see: The library museum houses a range of Columbus collectables, including rare books and coins. It also focuses on the history of the island from 1419 to the present time of wine production and Madeira package holidays.

Whale Museum

The story: In the 1970’s whaling was a very important industry in Madeira. Whale meat provided one of the island’s main exports up until the time that the practice was banned in 1982. In an interesting turn of events it is the fisherman that built their lives around the whaling industry a mere few decades earlier that are now working hard to preserve these gentle giants of the ocean. Many fishermen have even donated their harpooning instruments to this educational venture.
What can I expect to see: The Whale Museum is definitely worth visiting on your Madeira holidays and the life size model of a blue whale often proves a highlight for both adults and children alike. You can expect to see a range of brutal tools that have been used to harpoon whales, as well as pictures and videos of the cruel sport in action. However, this museum isn’t just blood and gore and there are plenty of interesting facts and arguments on just why preserving the whale is so important.

Madeira Story Museum

The Story: There isn’t just the one story for you in this extensive museum and the entire history of the island features in this chronological journey back in time. You can view interactive displays from the volcanic birth of the island some 14 million years ago, to the times of Napoleon, Churchill and the first hydroplane landing. The Madeira Story Museum doesn’t leave any era untouched and therefore it provides the perfect start to your Madeira holiday.
What can I expect to see: The question should be what can’t you expect to see? And the answer to that would be nothing! Everything is covered from Madeira’s first luxury hotel to the centenary of the pasty.

Madeira Wine Instrument Museum

The Story: Wine has been produced on Madeira since the 15th Century, when Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal was quick to see the advantages of developing Madeira as an island vineyard. The rough sailing boats that were used to transport the wine during this time also helped invent the estufa method of wine production, as wine that was shipped as far away as India often came home in better shape then they had on their first departure during to being churned around in the stifling heat of the sailing boats.
What can I expect to see: If the sweet Madeiran wines were one of the prime reasons for you when booking your Madeira holidays then this museum is perfect for you. You can expect to read all about the history of wine production in Madeira, as well as nostalgic memorabilia and the animal skin casts that were used for the original bottles. There is also a live cooperage as a permanent feature of the museum.

A Fair Tax on Flying

Fair Tax on Flying is an alliance of over 30 airlines, airports, tour operators, destinations and travel trade associations calling on the Government to make UK aviation tax fairer. Currently, we pay the highest levels in Europe.
Mission

If you agree with our campaign, please show your support by visiting their Facebook page here and liking the page itself, not just the individual comments. Thanks!

Description
Family of four travelling from the UK to Australia pays £340 in flight tax, compared to just £15 if they left from France, or £11 from Ireland. Even on flights within Europe, UK passengers pay twelve times as much in aviation tax as their French counterparts.Fair Tax on Flying alliance members: ABTA, AOA, ANTOR, British Airways, BAA, BAR UK, BATA, BMI, Bristol Airport, ETOA, Gatwick Airport, Jet2, Lastminute.com, London City Aiport, Luton Airport, Manchester Airport Group, Manston Airport, Monarch, Newcastle Airport, The Caribbean Council, The co-operative travel, Thomas Cook, Tourism Alliance, TUI Travel PLC, ukinbound, Virgin Atlantic.

A Fair Tax On Flying
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History of Tavira – Portugal

olas de agua

Tavira is one of the most elegant and beautiful towns in the Algarve with it s origin dating back to the late Bronze Age 1,000 800 BC. If you are interested in history you will enjoy a walking tour of the town as there is lots to explore.

In the 7th century BC the inhabitants of this area were the fabled Tartessus possibly of Celtic origin.

In the 8th century BC it became one of the first Phoenician settlements in the Iberian West.The Phoenicians created a colonial urban centre here with massive walls at least 2 temples and 2 harbours.At the end of the 6th Century BC it was destroyed by conflict.

During the time of Caesar the Romans created a new port some 7km from the town of Tavira named Balsa. As Balsa grew in size Tavira became a secondary passing place on the road between Balsa and Baesuris(present day Castro Marim)

Moorish occupation of Tavira between the 8th and 13th centuries left it s mark on the agriculture, architecture and culture of the area. That influence can still be seen in Tavira today with it s whitewashed buildings, Moorish style doors and rooftops. The Moors built a castle, 2 mosques and a palace. After a recent archaeological study it appears that the impressive 7 arched Roman bridge originates from a 12th Century Moorish bridge.During this time Tavira established itself as an important port for fishermen and sailors.

In 1242 Dom Peres Correia took Tavira back from the Moors in a bloody conflict during which the population of the town was decimated. Christians were now in control of the town and though most Muslims left the town some remained in a Moorish quarter known as Mouraria.

By the 17th Century the port was of considerable importance, shipping produce such as salt,dried fish and wine. The earthquake of 1755 which reached a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale caused extensive damage in Tavira and throughout the Algarve with it s shockwaves and tsunamis. The earthquake is referred to as the Lisbon Earthquake due to the terrible effect it had on the city, although the epicentre was some 200kms west southwest of Cape St.Vincent in the Algarve.

Tavira Today

The town has since been rebuilt with many fine 18th century buildings along with 37 churches. It is a fascinating place to explore with it s winding narrow cobbled streets and pastel coloured houses with distinctive tiled roofs lining the river Gilao.The Castle walls border the medieval centre of the town encompassing a tranquil garden.If you are lucky enough to be there in spring you can see the jacaranda trees in bloom.Climb to the top of the walls and Tavira is spread out below you, a rich tapestry of tiled rooftops stretching away to the mosiac of saltpans before reaching the blue Atlantic ocean.

You can take your pick of historic churches to visit some are open to the public every day while others are by arrangement. Beside the Castle is the church of Santa Maria Do Castelo where you can view the tombs of Dom Paio Peres Correla and his 7 knights who were murdered by the Moors.You can climb up to the bell tower and there is a fine view of the town and river.

Tavira s economic reliance on the fishing industry has declined due to the change in the pattern of migration of the tuna fish. Tourism is developing with the creation of new golf courses attracting more visitors but it has escaped the high rise development of other parts of the Algarve and has retained it s traditional Portugese charm.

Book Tavira hotels now holidayhotelbuddy.co.uk

The 6 ‘Must Haves’ For a Walking Holiday in Greece

Greece

1. Sunglasses

As Louis de Bernières pointed out in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, the brightness of the light in Greece can be quite overwhelming for the first time visitor. Whether it’s the white washed walls of the tavernas and villages, the hazy greens and browns of the fields or the striking blue of the sea that causes it, you’ll need something between the sun’s rays and your adjusting eyes! That’s not to say that walking in Greece is an uncomfortable experience, but there’s a reason why such a relaxed atmosphere descends upon the country when the sun is high in the sky. A good pair of sunglasses will help you drink in the amazing beauty of your surroundings without overloading your senses.

2. Fine Footwear

As you’re hiking in Greece it’s a given that you’d take a strong pair of walking shoes. With some sturdy footwear you’ll be able to roam over hot sands, pebbled stone and winding paths without impediment. But here’s an interesting question… what will you do as the sun begins to set? With such beautifully warm Mediterranean evenings to enjoy, it’s a good idea to bring some soft, open sandals that will let your feet breathe in the cool, soothing air. Remember, if your feet feel hot, you’ll feel hot and if they feel relaxed and free, so, in turn, will you. There’s no better way to spend an evening.

3. Phrase Book

Anyone who wants to walk in Greece and see the real, local country should have at least a few greetings stitched into their mind. With a simple ‘Yiá sas’ (‘Hello’) and a ‘Hérome yia tin gnorimía’ (‘pleased to meet you’), you’ll give an open impression of yourself to the people you meet on your travels, and will soon experience some of the warmest hospitality in the world. It’s surprising just how far you can get with even a basic phrase book, and there are few things quite as fun as exchanging compliments with a curious stranger, particularly if neither of you speak the other’s language.

4. Swimming Costume

One of the great virtues of walking in Greece, particularly in the warmer months, is the many attractive coastal routes that you can follow. The heat of the day need never inconvenience you as the cool waters of the Mediterranean are often no more than a stone’s throw away. So warm are the sea breezes that a towel may not even be a necessity. Come to think of it, many of the routes are so secluded and peaceful that the swimming costume may not be a necessity either!

5. Compilation of Greek Myths

Hiking in Greece is not only a feast for the senses, but a chance to explore the birthplace of classical literature. So many evocative myths and tales have come from Greece and her islands that you’re spoiled for choice at every turn. Whether this is at the remains of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi or by hoping to stumble upon Jason’s Golden Fleece, Aphrodite’s Girdle, or Hermes’ Winged Boots is up to you. However, a ball of twine is a wise investment if you plan to search for the Minotaur’s Labyrinth on Crete, as finding your way into its lair is famously easier than finding your way out.

6. A Guide Book

The wise old Greek leaders said that when walking in Greece, all paths go from the back of one church to the back of another church. Given the ubiquity of churches and chapels this isn’t a bad maxim to follow. However, in reality hiking in Greece isn’t that simple and paths can be extremely difficult to find, unless they are motorways like the Samaria Gorge on Crete. For this reason investing in a good map or guide book is a wise choice and going with a company that has already worked out the routes in advance definitely pays dividends.

You will not be able to resist the charm and beauty of Greece and once you fall under her spell – you will be smitten forever.

Book a fantastic holiday hotel in Greece at holidayhotelbuddy.co.uk

Features and Facts About Tenerife

Tenerife-or-Gran-Canaria

The Island of Tenerife, the largest in the group of the Canary Islands, has made its own fortune based on it main assets of climate, culture, history and geography. The island, which is part of Spain but is located much closer to the west coast of north Africa, is a mix of volcanic mountain terrain and spectacular coastlines blessed with year round mild weather and sunshine.

The trade winds of the Atlantic, minimal rainfall and warm waters make Tenerife almost the perfect year round destination for tourists from all over Europe and perhaps beyond.

Residents of the island are very reliant on tourism but there are other industries that contribute to the island’s economy including agriculture which extends to various crops and also wine making. The tourism that generates more than half of the islands economy is fairly diverse, although the beaches along Tenerife’s coast and long days of warm sunshine make relaxing by the sea the primary type of vacation offered. However activity holidays are also very popular, especially during the winter months when other locations make outdoor pursuits unpleasant due to cold wet weather. These pursuits include walking, hiking, climbing, cycling, windsurfing and sailing.

The island also has a wealth of history drawing on African origins through to Spanish rule which started in the fifteenth century. The strength of the Spanish combined with the island’s remote location and the relative weakness of any invading force from Africa has kept the island under Spanish control ever since. Tenerife, along with the other islands in the group, was formed from volcanic activity around 40 million years ago and has similar origins to other islands around the world on the similar latitudes like the Azores. The fertile volcanic soil allows farmers on the island to grow a wide variety of crops including bananas, tomatoes, coffee, oranges and dates. Potatoes and cereal crops also do well at higher altitudes where there is more cloud and conditions damper.

While tourism is the major contributor to the islands economy all is not rosy under the surface. Unemployment across the Canary Islands is high at more than fifteen per cent and the receipt of additional funding every year from the EU makes its financial future quite unstable. The current financial stresses across the world are bound to have a significant impact on Tenerife if visitor numbers continue to struggle as they have in the first part of 2009. Favourable taxation in the form of lower levels of IVA (a VAT equivalent) keeps prices lower but that may not be enough to keep tourists level from the UK at usual levels while Sterling is now very weak against the Euro.

Putting financial concerns aside, Tenerife has features that make it a fantastic tourist destination. Areas in the south of the island regularly experience over 2500 hours of sunshine annually, which equates to almost 7 hours every day. Very few locations in the world can match that level of sunshine and certainly in Europe, Tenerife stands almost alone as a year round holiday resort.

The capital of the Island is Santa Cruz de Tenerife buts it shares overall governance of the Canary Islands with Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria. Being located in the north of the island, away from the primary holiday resorts in the south, Santa Cruz escapes the poorer aspects of purpose built holiday areas and retains its own interesting architecture with plenty of attractive squares or Plazas to investigate.

Beaches on Tenerife take all forms and there is a tendency for many now to have their sand shipped in artificially. The almost black volcanic sand is not well liked by tourists and many prefer the typical golden soft sand found in other countries and shipped across to the island from the Sahara Desert.

Mount Teide, in the centre of the island, is a dormant volcano rising to a height of over 3700 metres and is the highest mountain in the whole of Spain. Other peaks nearby have reported volcanic activity with the most recent being exactly 100 years ago on Mount Chinero. Visitors to Mount Teide can either walk up the mountain, which can take a full day or use the Cable Car to travel all but the final 200 metres.

Getting to Tenerife can only really be done by flying, with different airlines offering flights direct or via Madrid for long haul start points. The main airport on the island is Reina Sofia Airport located in the south. The island can be reached by boat, although the only ferry from Europe sails from Cadiz in Spain just once a week and does get fully booked in the summer. There are inter island ferries four times a day to take passengers to Gran Canaria.

Book a hotel in Tenerife now from ONLY £22 per night CLICK HERE

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