Top 5 Must-See Sights in Malaga

Fri, May 17, 2013


If you’re looking to go on a culture-filled break to Spain, I heartily recommend you visit Malaga. Admittedly, the city is not as large as the likes of Madrid or Barcelona, but that’s no reason not to take a holiday here. If you do, you’ll discover some world-class attractions!

With the Andalusian city over 2,000 years old and having been ruled by numerous civilisations (including the Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians), it has a rich history that is just waiting to be explored. By booking a cheap flight from Birmingham to Malaga Airport, you will have the chance to uncover its amazing cultural heritage yourself. Here are just a few of the places that I think are must-sees.

Malaga Cathedral

As the Baroque-style Malaga Cathedral dominates the city’s skyline, it really is one landmark you cannot afford to miss. Despite work on the structure starting in the 16th century, it remains incomplete – with the main facade and south tower yet to be finished. Indeed, as it only has one tower the cathedral is commonly referred to as La Manquita, which translates as ‘one-armed lady’ in English.

While construction on the building stalled some time ago, it is still a fascinating place to explore. The 17th century choir stalls in the central nave are considered particularly beautiful, while the church’s interior consists of both Baroque and Renaissance designs.

Roman theatre

As mentioned before, Malaga was once ruled by the Romans and you can observe the influence the civilisation left on the city by checking out the theatre. Situated in the western region of Malaga near the Alcazaba, this venue was built in the first century though remained hidden underground for several centuries until it was rediscovered in 1951.

With a radius spanning just over 30 m and containing a number of wonderfully-persevered stands, coming here enables you to get a glimpse into what life in the region was like some 2000 years ago.


Once you’ve finished exploring the theatre, I recommend you head to the nearby Alcazaba. This hill-top fortress was constructed in the 11th century while Malaga was under Arab rule, with parts of its archways taken directly from the Roman amphitheatre.

Today, it is considered to be one of the key symbols of Malaga and by coming here you can take in magnificent views of the city and the surrounding Andalusian countryside.

Not only is this attraction a fantastic place to gain an understanding of how the Arabs defended the city from attacks, but is also home to the local archaeological museum, where you can take in artefacts that date back to the Phoenician and Roman eras.

Picasso Museum

Malaga has an astounding artistic heritage (in fact, it’s been nominated as a candidate to be the 2016 European Capital of Culture), so I definitely advise you take the time to uncover it. Heading to the Picasso Museum enables you to find out more about one of the city’s most well-known sons – Pablo Picasso.

As you have probably guessed from its name, this museum exhibits a wide collection of the artist’s works – more than 200 in fact – spanning paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Among the pieces in the institution’s permanent collection is 1971 painting Bather and Fruit Bowl, which Picasso produced in 1919 while he lived in Paris. Other artists are also showcased at the museum, so there should be lots for you to take in.

Carmen Thyssen Museum

If you’ve got a passion for modern art, I also recommend a trip to the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Situated in the stunning 16th century Villalon Palace, this terrific institution focuses heavily on Spanish art, with the collection having a particularly emphasis on the works of  Andalusian painters.

Among the artists who you can see here are Genaro Perez Villaamil, Julio Romero de Torres and Ignacio Zuloaga, while an area of the exhibit is dedicated to the costumbrismo movement – a style of art that offers a realistic pictorial interpretation of everyday life in Spain.

I’ve only looked at five of Malaga’s most astounding attractions, but if there are any places that you’d particularly like to see share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

CC JuanDiegoJR

A Quick Guide for a Memorable Vacation in Florida

Mon, May 13, 2013


Orlando, Florida is and has always been one of the most popular US destinations for foreign as well as local tourists. It is home to some of the most unique and entertaining attractions anywhere in the world, which is why it is frequented by millions of tourists yearly. Holidays to Orlando, Florida must be planned carefully in order get the most fun out of the vacation without necessarily spending too much money.

Places to Go and Things to Do

Disney World Resort

If you are after family-oriented fun, the Disney World Resort should definitely be on top of your list of places to visit. This enormous resort has anything and everything that kids would ever want when on vacations, not the least of which are large pool slides, water rides, wave pools, pool-side magic shows, and many others. Parents who take their children to Disney World Resort will definitely score points with their youngsters since it is just about the most fun place in Orlando and perhaps in the country.

Kennedy Space Center

This tourist spot, which also happens to be one of the most important government installations, is very popular among children as well as teenagers, especially those with keen interest in Space Exploration and Cosmology. Some of the most impressive advancements and discoveries in Astronomy has been made here by dedicated men and women of science. Children as well as adults will certainly have a great time touring this place, not to mention discovering little known trivia regarding the origins and progression of astronomical studies in the United States.

While this is technically not located in Orlando, it is just a short trip away. In fact, there are shuttles that pick up tourists from Orlando straight to Cape Canaveral (Merritt Island, Florida) where the Kennedy Space Station is located.

Orlando Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

For those who harbored dreams of being able to fly and see the world from up high, a hot air balloon ride is just the thing to do when visiting Orlando. This particular tourist activity is quite popular because it can be enjoyed not only by children, but adults as well. The view from the top is simply breathtaking and the memories would certainly last a lifetime.

Where to Stay

The choice of accommodations vary depending on your budget and the size of your group. While hotels remain very popular among tourists, some people (families mostly) are becoming more partial to short term apartment rentals since they tend to be much cheaper. Holidays to Florida can be very economical if you can find cheap but comfortable accommodations. Comparing prevailing rates from various hotels and other types of accommodations would allow you to save money while on vacation.


Shuttle service is available to all tourists who prefer to experience Orlando the right way. In addition, this will allow you to save money on car rental, which can be expensive especially for extended vacations. It is always ideal to book a vacation package that includes transportation arrangements to and from your chosen destinations.

CC Nasa Marshall

Cycling in France

Mon, May 13, 2013


Cycling is a French national pasttime. The country may not have as many cycleways as the Netherlands, but cycle touring has been part of French life since the bicycle was invented. Just watch the fervour that springs up each year for the biggest sporting event in the country, the Tour de France. Combined with the impeccable cuisine and hospitality across the country, and it’s hard to imagine a better country for cycling holidays.

France is quite accommodating to cyclists. Drivers on French country roads all know to watch for cyclists on the weekend, from packs of speed cyclists riding ultra-lightweight bikes to individuals and families out for a ride. It’s not uncommon for French drivers to find themselves sharing the road with groups either preparing for or participating in local bike races and championships… and this is all year round.

During the summertime, the local cyclists share the roadways with long distance touring cyclists, either tourists riding hotel to hotel or traveling across the country loaded down with camping equipment.

Taking Bikes on French Trains

French trains are generally bike-friendly. Most regional express trains (TERs) allow people to take their bikes onto the train and do it free of charge. In theory, bike space on the train must be ordered when you buy your ticket, but this service is not available if you buy online. For rural train routes, most people just buy their tickets at the station from which they’re departing, buying a ticket for the next train out and indicating at the time of purchase that they have a bike with them. Fortunately, TERs are rarely full — except for commuter trains.

Intercity express trains and TGV high speed trains are somewhat more confusing for the cyclist. Some of these trains take bikes, and some don’t. Of the trains that do, some charge extra. Almost all of the long distance trains that take bikes have relatively little bike space. Some travel guides therefore suggest you buy a bike bag, so that you can carry your bike like hand luggage and make it count as ordinary luggage. That way, you can always buy your tickets on the Internet before you travel.

Where to Ride

Cycling holidays in France generally make use of the incredible network of country lanes and secondary roads. Almost all of France’s 880,000 km road network (excluding motorways) is open to bicycle riders. Most of that network consists of minor byways that have very light traffic and lorries quite few and far between. Cycling these roads ranges from safe to quite safe, making them a great way to plan cycling holidays all over France.

France also has a constantly developing cycleway network that’s even safer than the minor road network. The cycleway network consists of a few thousand kilometers worth of dedicated cycle tracks, most offering no hazards besides wildlife and pedestrians.

There are six substantially complete long distance routes that make for superb cycling holidays in France, and a few that connect with them:

- the Euro veloroute EV1 running north south from La Baule to Biarritz
- the Euro veloroute EV6 running east west from La Baule to Orleans
- the Atlantic-Mediterranean route from Arachon to Sète
- the Northwest France route from Cherbourg to La Baule
- the North-South Cherbourg to la Rochelle route
- the Normandy / Channel coast route

These should by no means be considered the only routes to take, but they are some of the most popular.

CC Velocia

5 Tips to Consider Before Going On a Cheap Trip to Europe

Wed, Apr 24, 2013


Europe is usually considered to be the Godzilla of expensive holiday destinations. Backpackers tell horror stories of being broke and stranded in Oslo, one of the most expensive cities to live in, let alone travel. While guides with titles like ‘Europe on $30 a Day’ are likely to give some hope to travelers looking for a cheap holiday in Europe, it still becomes important to manage your finances well and research ways to save. Here are some tips on traveling in Europe and the attendant money matters.

1. Know what they call the cash machine. In France they call it the distributeur, in the UK, a cashpoint. Nearly everywhere else in Europe, ask for a Bankomat and you should be shown the nearest ATM machine. In most places in the world today, and especially in Europe, you’ll find ATM machines the easiest and cheapest access to local currency. They all work like your home cash machines with English instructions. No one uses travelers’ checks anymore. Why should they, with banks making it so easy with universal ATM machines at most major destinations?

2. Don’t be stranded in a country where your card doesn’t work. Before you leave for your vacation, make sure that you find out from your bank or credit-card company whether your cards will work in the European country you’re going to. This is to make sure you don’t have your foreign transactions declined. Also, inform your bank that you’ll be spending in Europe, or else they may freeze your card if they detect unusual spending patterns. One thing I always do is set up a bank account in countries I frequent, allowing for a seamless transfer of funds between countries. With a reliable company, you can take advantage of 0% balance transfer on from your old credit card – incredibly useful when trying to avoid extra fees.

3. Don’t be surprised by fees. Make sure that you find out what fees your bank or credit card company charges for transactions abroad. These will include fees for debit card withdrawals and fees for credit card purchases. Find out if the fees are a flat fee or a percentage of the transaction amount or a combination of both. If there’s a flat fee, visit the ATM less often on your holiday and withdraw large sums each time. Also find out if there are any other currency conversion fees or other foreign transaction fees added to the purchase. You don’t want to return home after your holiday having exhausted your holiday funds, to find more expenses waiting for you.

4. Avoid dynamic currency conversions. Some merchants in Europe, knowing that you may be intimidated by foreign currencies, blissfully tack on a fee for converting their prices to dollars (often based on poor exchange rates) before your credit card is charged. This means you can very well get back home to find you’ve paid more than you thought you had. You have the right to decline the convenience of being charged in dollars, and avoid this sneaky fee. Pay in the local currency. If you’re given a receipt with a total in dollars and a total in the local currency, circle the latter and then sign.

5. Don’t forget to claim your tax refunds. It’s a fact that people leave millions of dollars of unclaimed refundable sales taxes each year when they leave Europe after their holiday. Most people can’t be bothered with the hassle, but the fact is, there is none. All you have to do is take your passport along for your shopping spree, get the refund document or ‘cheque’ from the merchant, and when you leave the country, locate the right people at the airport or border while you wait for your transport out.

Happy travels!

CC Tamaki

Europe’s Top 5 Secret Beaches

Tue, Apr 9, 2013


summer holiday

If you’re looking for a great beach holiday this year, but want to escape from crowds of other tourists, you should check out some of Europe’s hidden seaside gems. There are plenty of stretches of sand where you don’t have to worry about hoards of other holidaymakers – and I’ve put together a list of five of the best.



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