I’ve always wanted to visit Cadiz, so when the Spanish Tourist Office asked us to visit this enchanting destination, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to discover its charms first-hand.
Cadiz forms a stunning part of Costa de la Luz, a section of the Andalusian coast line in south-west Spain known as the ‘Coast of Light’ given its year-round sunshine (more than 300 days), which provides the perfect opportunity for visitors to relax on the region’s 8km of beautiful beaches.
Founded by the Phoenicians more than 3,000 years ago, this ancient port city with a population of just over 120,000, is one of the oldest cities in western Europe. Many of the historic buildings are made from oyster rock formed in the sea, a popular building material that can withstand Cadiz’s high humidity. The skyline is characterised by 129 watchtowers, built so merchants could see their ships arriving in the harbour. One of the most famous towers, Torre Tavira, with its Camera Obscura, is the ideal place to take in the city views.
The old town of Cadiz with its stunning cathedrals and beautiful squares is the perfect size to wander aimlessly around, taking in the rich history of the buildings. Key highlights include Mina and Saint Antonio squares, The Botanical gardens and Ancha, renowned as the most beautiful street in Cadiz.
Sherry, sherry and more sherry
The Cadiz region is famous for its sherry, thanks to its soil (which contains a lot of calcium) and its climate (300 days of sunshine and plenty of rain), which combined provide the perfect growing conditions for the three grapes that are used to make sherry – Palomino, for dry sherry, and Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel for sweeter sherries.
Where to enjoy sherry and traditional Spanish cuisine in Cadiz
No visit to Cadiz is complete without a wine tasting at a traditional sherry bodega. We loved Bodegas Lustau (located just north of Jerez), one of the oldest wineries in Europe, and an ideal place to learn about everything you could ever want to know about sherry, including top tips such as serving it chilled paired with spicy food or mature cheese to bring out the best flavours.
To continue our sherry appreciation, we enjoyed lunch at sherry bodega La Carbona, a traditional family-run restaurant offering regional dishes made with high quality ingredients, and of course, lots of sherry! With its high ceilings, wooden beams and terracotta tiles, it provides an air of cool sophistication in the heat of Jerez. Here diners can experience the culinary delicacies of the region from one of three menus (a tasting menu, a la carte or sherry pairing).
We indulged in a five-course tasting menu, starting with a sherry-infused veal pate (a real taste bud tantaliser), followed by a light and delicious calamari and salmon risotto, which was bursting with flavour. Our favourite dish, however, was the divine duck with sherry and pears.
But first, flamenco
Andalusia is home to the birth of flamenco and with plenty of places in the region hosting flamenco shows, it’s a ‘must see’ experience. Typically, flamenco has four elements to it - hand-clapping, foot stomping, shouts of encouragement and what translates in English as ‘hell raising’.
I had my first taste of flamenco at Puro Arte in Jerez. The show typically lasts 60 minutes and demands your FULL attention. The intensity was unlike anything I had seen before; I was immediately mesmerised by the energy, the passion, and the connection between the performers.
If you’re seeking a traditional experience unlike any other, head to Sanlúcar de Barrameda to take in horse racing on the beach with a beautiful sunset serving as the backdrop for this spectacular race.
This racing tradition, which has been going for 175 years, was started by fisherman who used horses to help them be the first to get to the market. Today, thanks to big sponsors and a lucrative prize offering, this 1800-metre race attracts top quality horses and trainers from around the world.
Hundreds of locals and visitors line the beach to watch the action, tucking into sunset picnics while the horses whizz past. Local children also get involved, betting sweets on their favourite horses to win! At the finish line, viewing platforms and VIP areas provide places to bet, see the horses and have a drink.
The races generally start at 6pm – depending on the tide – and on average, there are four races per evening over three days twice a year in August. Horse fans should also ensure they visit the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, which hosts a programme of performances throughout the year by world renowned horses and riders.
Whatever your pleasure, Cadiz provides a wealth of experiences for all to enjoy. From spectacular beaches to historical treasures, it’s a unique destination that should be on everyone’s Spanish travel bucket list.
*During my visit I was hosted by The Spanish Tourist Office, The Soho Boutique Hotel in Jerez, and La Carbona. All opinions and images are my own.
If a bar wins the 2016 Restaurant and Bar Design Awards in the categories of 'Best Bar of Europe' and 'Best Bar Overall', it merits a special visit.
El Equipo Creative, the design team responsible for Blue Wave,wanted to create a place that reflects the proximity of the water, the colour and the light play of the waves with a hint of the vegetation and rural ambience of the Barcelona hinterland. Centrepiece is the elegant bar shaped in the form of a wave. Ceramic tiles in various shades of blue formed like sea shells dominate the walls and ceiling. Comfy bar stools invite guests to sample the ample offer of drinks or enjoy generous servings of tapas.
Along the left side of the bar, you'll find a passage with small chairs and tables directly over the water sheltered by a perforated white wall meant to represent the foam of braking waves. At night, this wall becomes magical with blue illuminated lights.
The best design in the world is useless, however, if the ambience isn’t right. In charge of creating the atmosphere that makes people want to return again and again are manager Carlos, lively cocteleros and DJ Jose, the soul of the party, both whom help to ensure that events such as art exhibitions or fashion shows and music by up-and-coming singers help to draw people in.
There is a wide variety of cocktails on offer at reasonable prices. As I don’t drink alcohol, I was keen to see what they offer by way of alcohol-free concoctions and I was pleased with their inspired creations! My mock-tail consisted of grapefruit juice with mint syrup and fresh mint leaves, a hint of ginger and another secret ingredient. My friend who was imbibing enjoyed a gin and tonic with orange and lemon slices, a dash of angostura and a mint leaf.
The bar features tapas, ranging from €4 to €12. While listening to the music and sipping my delicious drink, I also had a small plate of fresh strawberries and a tuna fish and crab salad tapas, which was more than enough to fill my stomach.
As night fell punters were still sitting on the terrace, warmed by blankets and heaters and enjoying the sight of the Barcelona skyline and the impressive yachts moored only a stone's throw away.
Becoming a member of One Ocean Club
For security reasons and because of the proximity of the private marina, you have to become a member of One Ocean Club before you can visit Blue Wave. It’s free and easy to do online: http://www.oneoceanclub.es/wp/es/socios/hazte-socio/. Once you get your code, you can visit as often as you like and can bring up to 10 guests.
See you there!
Andalusia: azure skies all the year round, dazzling sunshine and sweetly fragranced gardens … colour, romance, emotion and the iconic figure of the flamenco dancer and the torero in the arena, sword and cape in hand beneath the scorching sun – there is simply no place like it on earth.
Here are my top five destinations for your trip, full of the spirited, passionate feel of this beautiful Spanish region.
1. The Alhambra in Granada
Andalusia was ruled by the Moors for seven centuries, and everywhere you go you find evidence of this Moorish influence. But nowhere else did the Moors create such decorative art and such exuberant splendour as in the complex of palaces known as The Alhambra: centuries of craft, design and technique delicately carved in stone, marble, plaster and wood, with gushing fountains and canals, a glorification of a long-distant past. American writer Washington Irving wrote of the Alhambra: ‘Everything here appears calculated to inspire kind and happy feelings, for everything is delicate and beautiful. The very light falls tenderly from above, through the lantern of a dome tinted and wrought as if by fairy hands.’ It really is straight out of Arabian Nights.
2. Grazalema, a pueblo blanco
Andalusia is well known for its pueblos blancos, which translates as white villages, so-called because their white-washed buildings stand out in the landscape, serene and luminous. The residents take great pride in keeping their houses whitewashed; they repaint them each year in the spring, a wonderful cleansing to celebrate the end of winter.
Of all the pueblos blancos, my favourite is Grazalema, which lies in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountains. You can happily while away a summer’s afternoon wandering the cobbled streets, admiring the beautiful old buildings, taking in the stunning views, browsing locally made handicrafts, taking a drink in the village square and sampling the local ham.
3. The Picasso Museum, Malaga
With such an impassioned culture, rich historical heritage and stunning landscapes and seascapes, it is no wonder that Andalusia has a strong artistic legacy. The painters Velázquez and Murillo were from Andalusia, but the most famous son of this region is undoubtedly Pablo Picasso, who was born in Malaga.
Museo Picasso Malaga pays homage to this hugely influential artist, and its 233-work strong collection largely comprises donations from Christine and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, the artist’s daughter-in-law and grandson. Here, then, you can see works that are not on display anywhere else in the world, encompassing all the stages of his career. It’s a deeply inspiring, peaceful place where hours slip by unnoticed and all the exists is you and the art.
4. The Cadiz Carnival (the weekend before Ash Wednesday)
The Moors compared the city of Cadiz to a ‘dish of silver in a bowl of blue’, so vivid are the colours there; the 19th-century French writer Théophile Gautier described it as ‘lively and luminous’. It is a lovely city; the most beautiful in Spain, I think, with mellow-stone churches and whitewashed houses shining under a bright-blue sky like a spray of water lilies on the dancing, glittering waters of the Atlantic.
Dating back to the 16th century, the ten-day Cadiz Carnival is the carnival to visit in Spain. As you would expect at a major carnival, Cadiz has music and dance and costumes and feasting and revelry aplenty. But what really sets it apart is the satirical song contest at its heart, which is so high profile that it is televised nationally. If you love music on the streets and spectacle all around, you’ll love the Cadiz Carnival.
5. Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera is the capital of horsemanship, sherry and flamenco, and its fair, the Feria de Caballo, has been drawing huge crowds for more than 500 years. The horses on display are some of the most beautiful and expensive in the world; after all, this is the city of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.
There is nothing quite like standing at the side of the Paseo de Caballistas y Enganches (Carriage and Riders’ Avenue) and watching the processions of horses and carriages go by. Some are bedecked in the most amazing colourful attire. Meanwhile, in the Parque González Hontoria, a small village springs up full of casetas: little house tents. Here, you eat tapas and drink Jerez’s golden fino sherry (or perhaps the rebujito cocktail; sherry mixed with lemonade and ice – very refreshing). Then, to the stirring thrum of the guitar rhythms, you watch flamboyant, dramatic flamenco dancing. Olé!
Legacy by Hannah Fielding is out 29th September (£7.99) hannahfielding.net
Arriving at Toledo in Spain’s Castilla La Mancha region, you may be forgiven for thinking you have dropped into a Hollywood movie set. On top of a steep hill, the majestic Alcazar on the left and the massive cathedral on the right are silhouetted against the sky.
Below, the historic city walls encircle the old town and at ground level, the languid waters of the Tajo River flow under several bridges. It’s no wonder then, that Toledo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain.
If, like me, you arrive by AVE on the 30-minute train ride from Madrid, the magic starts already at the train station. The building is a little jewel of Mudejar architecture, a style combining Moorish and medieval elements in a colourful harmony. Many more fine examples are found in Toledo and several other cities in the southern part of Spain.
In 2014 the focus was on Toledo because it marked the 400th anniversary of the death of the great painter El Greco. He spent many years in Toledo where he created his best known masterpieces, many of them exhibited in the El Greco museum. This year, however, Toledo is in the spotlight again thanks to its food and drink. Spanish food is renowned for being rich and varied and every year, another city is designated as the Culinary Capital of the country with many events celebrating local dishes and creations.
If you have a sweet tooth, Toledo is the place for you because it’s famous for marzipan. Toledo’s main square is called Plaza de Zocodover and was a market place for cattle in the Middle Ages. Today it’s the meeting place where all activities start and the location of San Tome, the oldest confectionary and marzipan producer of the city.
In celebration of this year’s event, their trade mark is a marzipan cake decorated with a colourful eel. Eels used to live in abundance in the Tajo, but, sadly, not any more, but they live on in marzipan. The assistants in the shop are generous with samples, and you can try toledanas or a piece of marzipan fruit. If you don’t like sweets, Toledo spoils you with other specialties such as cheeses, ham, stews , quail in a variety of preparations, as well as tender lamb, all of which are to be found on the menu of countless restaurants.
During your visit, ensure you make your way to the Mercado San Agustin, not far from Plaza de Zocodovar. Here you'll find a modern market, with four floors with fruit and vegetable stalls as well as tapas bars where you can sample the very best of this typically Spanish snack. Hanging gardens with little waterfalls in between make it a market like no other.
Thankfully, you can eat without fear of putting on weight, as Toledo is a city best explored on foot. Uphill or downhill, you spend hours walking from one breathtaking sight to the next. Along Calle Ancha, you can see silversmiths making elaborate pieces of the world famous Toledo steel, once the standard weaponry of the Romans, which today lives on in decorative artefacts and jewellery.
No visit to Toledo is complete without a visit to the cathedral. Afterwards, meander through the narrow streets of the Jewish quarter and finish your tour at the medieval bridge, Puente San Martin where you'll find the starting point of La Tirolina - the longest zip line in Europe. Once kitted out in safety gear, you fly over the river, where you can enjoy the magnificent view below.
After the zip line experience, I stopped by my favourite bar for a coffee, where the owner recommended that I 'talk to the people with the yellow umbrellas’ in Zodocover Square. The people he was referring to were tour guides from Cuentametoledo, a company that specialises in nightly underground tours of Toledo. I went on a tour from 10pm to midnight, visiting five magic sites including: Arab baths, Roman baths, and a well located deep under the Jewish quarter - all illuminated by magical fairy lights.
Whether you're above ground or below ground, Toledo is a feast for the senses, and a destination that's not to be missed on any visit to Spain.
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The Catalan capital sets itself apart from other cities by its numerous unique cultural features. Proud and coastal, and always in competition with Madrid, it has developed its own linguistic differences, with some French influences. Between its fresh sea air and its hinterland, its unique combination of land and sea is evident in its culinary creations. Infused with art, design and history, its mild climate is, indeed, the ideal destination for those who want to escape the mid-season dreariness.
SATAN's Restaurant and coffee shop
Carrer de l'Arc de Sant Ramon del Call, 11, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
Open Google Maps and let yourself be guided through the streets of the Gothic Quarter. After a few intersections you will arrive at your destination: a highly unusual restaurant which is part of any sightseeing tour. Here, since the kitchen is open-plan, the young, tattooed chefs follow their instincts and break all the rules, not caring what anyone thinks. We associate it with great coffee, roasted house blends and Japanese dishes... and why not?
BOO Concept store
C/ BONAVISTA, 2, 08012 BarcelonaAn iconic boutique for those interested in up-and-coming labels, Boo has been supporting independent European designers for nine years now, by offering them exposure in Barcelona. Between the many deer, which have mostly come from the owner's own childhood collection and which give the shop that unique touch, you will find, among other things, limited series of Blue de Paname, Portugese Flannel and Norse Projects.
QUIMET & QUIMET Restaurant
Carrer del Poeta Cabanyes, 25, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
If Barcelona is so well-known for its tapas, then one of its variants, 'Montados', bite-sized portions of stacked ingredients, is much lesser known among the general public. Head to Poble Sec, to the timeless Quimet & Quimet, to discover them. Prepared within minutes right before your eyes, they are skillfully made by alternating condiments, fresh produce, and items from the family pantry. Savour them in two or three mouthfuls, in a décor unaffected by the passage of time, and where there is a stack of wine bottles to the ceiling, which the boss will dip into on demand.
Carrer del Rec, 34, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
If you suddenly feel the need to ride the waves then you should take a tour of Twothirds before taking the metro to Barceloneta Beach. This small Catalan brand offers a selection of hard-wearing clothing and accessories designed for surfing, or simply walks on the beach, made entirely out of recyclable and biodegradeable materials. Because when you feel the beauty and force of the natural elements so closely, you naturally want to protect them, too.
NØMAD Coffee shop
Passatge Sert, 12, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
There are coffees which you drink out of habit, and those which, at first sip, transport you to the unknown. Nømad, without doubt, is in the second category. In this backyard of the El Born quarter, they have made coffee-making a science. Marco, together with his sidekick, both of them energetic and high on caffeine, measure the degree of extraction with a pipette as it comes out of the machine, comparing and analysing the different variations of their excellent coffees, which are roasted in house, of course.
IT REMINDS ME OF SOMETHING
Carrer Sagristans, 9, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
On certain streets in the Plaça Nova, a popular tourist destination, you can find a little boutique of wonders. It Reminds Me of Something sells only original hand-made creations by the region's up-and-coming designers. Rubén is the creator of this project, which he runs alongside his digital agency. It was into this shop where he wanted to put all of his passion for beautiful objects with exceptional designs and functions. He will share with you the story behind each and every object with warmth and passion.
C/ Fusina, 3, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
The Plaça Commercial, recently restored and now completely pedestrianised, offers a rare view which you don't often find in the narrow streets of Born. It's at the corner of this place where you can find a restaurant full of originality: the Saboc. From 11 o'clock, the sun reveals itself and lights up the terrace and restaurant's large bay windows. This is when you know it's lunchtime. Dishes on the menu are split into categories according to your desired cooking tempurature; ranging from cold and raw dishes, to dishes straight from the fire and grill. Tapas have been reinvented with talent and creativity. They keep coming one after another, leading you to surprising new discoveries.
Article courtesy of Grey Hours.
Spain’s Delicious Secret
Here at Destination Delicious, gastronomy is undoubtedly at the top of our agenda when discovering new travel treats. While the beach barbecues of Antigua and the fine dining of Venice are clearly highlights of our recent travels, a quiet, dusty little corner of Spain left taste buds well and truly tickled with melt-in-the-mouth jamón, crisp wine and fantastic tapas. Love España but bored of Barcelona and not sold on the Costa del Sol? Head west from Madrid, on the road to Portgual and a few hours later you’ll find yourself amongst the stork-filled blue skies of Extremadura. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
The tiny medieval town of Trujillo is a picture perfect Spanish bolthole. Perched atop a hill overlooking the dusty plains, this medieval enclave of cobbled streets, secretive labyrinthine stone villas and a population of less than 10,000 is almost soporific in its lazy, hazy charm. We defy you not to fall instantly in love with the place.
One of the area’s most important and historic towns, Trujillo was the birthplace of Francisco Pizzaro, the famous Conquistador who travelled to the New World, conquered the Inca Empire and founded Lima in Peru; quite the achievement considering it was the 15th century. Much of the town’s magnificently preserved architecture is the result of his - and other Conquistadors’- return with new-found wealth, and to this day he still dominates the main square on horseback in the form of a bronze statue.
With this kind of location lending itself to a holiday based around food, wine, sunshine and relaxation, the accommodation on offer from Trujillo Villas España is the exactly what the doctor ordered. Run by a family with historical roots in the town, each of its seven distinctive properties comes with a slice of authenticity that’s totally unrivalled. From the paintings on the living room walls, to the original tiled floors, every square inch of them is seeped in history, just waiting to unveil their stories.
If, however, you’re travelling with a larger group, you’ll have the pick of the bunch. Situated right at the top of the town, the elegant private estate of Villa Martires and its accompanying Garden Cottage (which can be rented separately or together), presides over Trujillo’s skyline, with a tennis court overlooked by the castle battlements.
With 180 degree views across the countryside towards Portugal and the Gredos mountains from its terraces, it comes with some of the most utterly breathtaking sunsets I’ve ever seen. An elegant gardenia-lined outdoor dining room offers the perfect setting in which to sample some local produce; Trujillo Villas España can arrange for the delivery of a delicious, freshly-cooked lunch to the villa featuring local specialities such as gazpacho, roasted red pepper salad with sweet paprika, local sausages in onion and sherry sauce and - of course - the Iberico jamon de Bellota. Trust us, you won’t want to miss it. With a Roman-style pool, open air Moroccan-style sitting room and beds of lavender, it’s a world away from the Spain we’ve known before - in the best possible way. This is the real deal; prepare to fall head over heels.
Trujillo itself offers visitors plentiful opportunities for soaking up the history of this fascinating region with beautiful architecture galore, but it’s the food that’s the real star attraction here. Make your way downhill to the town once the sun starts to set and you’ll be greeted with a main square - the Plaza Mayor - that comes alive after dark, full of family-run establishments serving traditionally rustic, local cuisine.
For terrific tapas try Cervezeria Plaza Mayor on the square; don’t miss the croquetas with jamon iberico (croquettes), prueba (pork stew) and migas (traditional savoury breadcrumbs). Nestled in the corner of the square, the Corral del Rey restaurant offers a sterling three course set menu, including a glass of wine, for €25. With dishes on offer including garlic-drenched prawns, local Iberian pork seasoned with paprika and chocolate covered figs, it’s a must-visit.
Dinner isn’t Trujillo’s only foodie attraction; April 29th-May 2nd will see the Plaza Mayor take a more pungent turn as La Feria del Queso - the Trujillo cheese festival - arrives. Now in it’s 29th year, the event is - somewhat incredibly - the largest cheese fair in the world and turns the square into a cheese village. With hundreds of stands and over 400 variations of cheese, it attracts thousands of visitors every year - if your nose can cope, Trujillo Villas España’s Villa Piedras Albas, a labyrinthine 16th century palacio, next to the Corral del Rey, features a magnificent arched terrace overlooking the Plaza Mayor.
While we can absolutely appreciate that one’s visit to Trujillo may not extend too far past the villa walls (NB: Trujillo Villa España can also have your food shop ready for when you arrive, but if not there are shops down in the main square for groceries and essentials) it would be a shame not to embrace the surrounding gastronomic opportunities.
For those baptised in the ways of the grape, you simply must visit local vineyard Bodega Habla. Only established in 2000, Habla produces strictly limited edition runs of its wines, each of which comes with a fascinating story of how it was lovingly created after a number of years trialling which grapes would work in the difficultly acidic, slate-filled, Extremaduran soil.
The stunningly chic minimalist branding is akin to an haute couture fashion house and what’s inside the bottles doesn’t disappoint. While a number of past wines are now sold out, we went home with a bottle of the refreshingly crisp Habla de Ti, a dry white sauvignon blanc. Ever the hostess with the mostest, Trujillo Villas España can arrange a guided tour of the vineyard for guests of their villas.
The other not-to-be-missed foodie opportunity has to be a bespoke guided tour of Casa Bautista in Montanchez, a curing house for the region’s famous jamón Iberica de bellota, which can also be arranged by your villa hosts. These lucky swines live a life of riley, nibbling acorns across Extremadura’s oak-scattered pastures, before being retired to the slaughterhouse after they’ve reached maturity. After slaughter, the 18-month curing journey begins, with each and every leg closely monitored to ensure it’s matured to the perfect sweet, nutty, floral, earthy flavour that makes this jamón the most mouth-wateringly delicious in the world.
It may be be slightly further afield - 45km, or a 30 minute drive from Trujillo - but if you take one day trip excursion make it a visit to nearby Caçeres. Voted Spain’s Capital of Gastronomy last year, it’s easy to see why. The two Michelin starred restaurant Atrio, in the Plaza San Mateo not only boasts incredible cuisine, but their wine cellar is unrivalled.
We were granted an audience with the sommelier (previously of The Ritz in Paris) who showed off the nothing short of incredible collection of over 34,000 bottles, housed beneath stairs in the temperature and humidity controlled cellar. Suffice to say it is probably the only time one shall witness wines dating from as far back as Napoleonic times - astonishingly, the oldest bottle in situ dated from 1806. With only three bottles left in the world, the last known sale was at Christie’s in 2001 where it went for a cool €300,000. Best be careful with that one…
While we can’t claim to have eaten at Atrio, nearby La Cacharrería (bookings - firstname.lastname@example.org) must certainly give it a run for its money. Part tapas bar, part restaurant, part cabinet of curiosities, this fascinating little world lies through a wrought-iron gated courtyard on a sun-drenched side street; if you can tear your eyes away from the cases of butterflies, statues of the Virgin Mary and cupboards full of knick knacks (all of which are available to buy - I nearly left with a pair of horn candlesticks until remembering we had hand-luggage only…) the food is an absolute dream.
Tastebuds were wowed with gems from their kitchen including a grilled sardine with gazpacho and wild garlic, local black pudding gyoza, artichoke hearts filled with béchamel sauce, local ham, mushrooms and saffron, a first-season fig with basil, goat’s cheese foam and melon and a succulent piece of co accompanied with bitter orange marmalade, scrambled egg and spinach, wrapped in a filo parcel. The piece de resistance was a display of fruit sushi - or frushi, if you will; sushi rice ensconcing chunks of melon, with watermelon nigiri and wasabi chocolate truffles. Genius.
We could sit here for hours telling you of the glory of this sun-drenched corner of Spain, with its church-heavy towns, its rich culinary landscape and its breathtaking beauty, relatively untouched by modern tourism, but the best way for you to discover it is to book a visit for yourself.
With the sun in full shine from now it’s the perfect time for a getaway. Whether you’re in the market for a self-catering break with the family, a base to explore the region or one of Trujillo Villas España’s organised art, cookery or yoga breaks (full details on the website), we promise you this is one place you’ll want to come back to time and time again. If you don’t fall in love with it, you’re lying to yourself.
Trujillo Villas España rentals from £595 per week. For full details, information on Trujillo and bookings visit www.trujillovillasespana.com.
El Nacional and La Boquera - Two 'must-visit' places for foodies
Barcelona has so many fabulous sights to offer that you can easily spend several days making your way from one sight to the other. The city is best explored on foot, ambling along the winding alleys of the emblematic Gothic Quarters, marvelling at the imagination of Gaudi’s fairytale buildings, or taking in a breath of fresh air in its many parks.
Museums beckon, as do art galleries, and trendy shops. One of my favourites is Las Arenas, a disused bull ring that was converted into a landmark shopping mall. There are also a wealth of designer boutiques to be found along Rambla de Cataluña or Paseo de Gracia.
After all that walking and sightseeing, you'll definitely be peckish, which is why you should do as the locals do and head for El Nacional, one of the most sought-out eateries in the city. With its central location, great food and extraordinary décor, you'll be in for a treat!
El Nacional - A stunning restaurant that never fails to impress...
El Nacional is difficult to find if you don't know what you're looking for. Set back from the bustling Passeig de Gràcia, you'll find this gem of a restaurant at the end of a small alley.
The first thing that will take you by surprise is its size. The restaurant is spread over a massive area, which helps lend a sense of grandeur. Dating from 1870, El Nacional has had many guises. Starting out as a café theatre, it subsequently served as a dye factory, a multi-brand car dealership, a textile factory , a centre for food distribution (during the Civil War) and finally, a car park.
Since 2014 El Nacional has become one of Barcelona’s most coveted restaurants, with a decoration that reflects the past as well as the Catalan style with vaulted ceilings, fine wood and glass from Galicia and ceramics and tiles from Valencia.
Wrought iron sculptures and lamps hang from the ceiling, posters and mirrors decorate the walls and green plants are everywhere.
The food at El Nacional
El Nacional’s ambition is to offer the best of Spanish food in a relaxing, yet entertaining environment. The vast space is divided into sections or islands, each offering a different speciality. Within the space, you’ll find four restaurants and four tapas bars, yet no table seats more than four guests to help ensure an intimate atmosphere.
Whatever you do, arrive with an empty stomach, because you will be tempted to taste each and every one of the delicious foods on offer! Within El Nacional, you'll find dedicated food and drink stations offering a variety of specialities, including La Taperia, La Paradeta (designed to look like an old kitchen and self-service), La Llotja (sea food), La Braseria (meat) and an oyster bar. I recommend that you start with the cocktail bar, then proceed to the fish and seafood counter, where you can enjoy five types of fresh oysters, if you so desire.
Next, head over to the meat bar, where meat is grilled in full sight and sliced to your specifications and accompanied with vegetables, rice or potatoes. Other options include hot and cold soups, hams, sausages and cheeses, mouth watering deserts and of course, a vast selection of the finest wines and beers.
After you've indulged in your meal, take time to view the artwork and the decorations within the restaurant. One of the things that makes El Nacional special is that it is meant to be enjoyed at a leisurely pace, so you can fully enjoy the experience.
La Boqueria - Barcelona's oldest food market
If you want to know where all the delicacies offered in El Nacional herald from, you only have to walk a bit further down the road to La Boqueria, Barcelona’s oldest and most famous covered food market. Apart from the freshest produce brought here every day from all over the country, you'll also find exotic and tropical fruits and some Chinese, Indian and Turkish specialities. You'll also find a great variety of healthy and colourful smoothies, which are conveniently lined up at the entrance to get customers in the mood for some serious food shopping!
As if the fantastic foodie offering wasn't enough in itself, all this is grouped under and Art Deco wrought iron structure, in a similar style to El Nacional.
After enjoying a foodie feast at El Nacional and La Boqueria, your strength will be restored, ensuring you'll be in the mood to enjoy all of the attractions Barcelona has to offer.
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If you enjoyed this feature, you might enjoy reading my other travel features:
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Spotlight On: Salzburg, Austria
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Experience the joys of Formentera by boat all year year round
Located in the Mediterranean Sea, Formentera is the smallest of Spain’s Balearic islands. While many people visit Formentera during the summer months, it's a great destination at any time of the year for a boat tour of the island. If you're not sure of where to go, our friends at SPN, the 'go to place for Spain', have compiled their top picks of beaches to explore by boat.
Top places to visit in Formentera by boat
Source: Information obtained from an article written by Alicia Arranaz as published on SPN.
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Feeling inspired and ready to book your holiday to Formentera? Check out the recommendations below..
Recommended accommodation in Formentera:
Hotel es Mares
Paraiso do los Pinos
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Many people feel that Gran Canaria isn't synonymous with luxury. For those that think that it lacks charm and sophistication, then think again because there are some seriously sophisticated hotels here that are getting people to stand up and take notice - for all the right reasons.
One such luxury hotel is the Sheraton La Salobre Golf Resort & Spa. Situated in the southern region of Gran Canaria, this impressive resort boasts two 18-hole golf courses and sensational views of the sea and the surrounding mountains.
Although the hotel is vast, with 313 impeccably designed rooms, the clever design of the building helps to break up the space to create visual interest, whilst helping the hotel to blend harmoniously into its natural surroundings.
Seriously delicious cuisine
With a selection of sensational bars and restaurants on site to choose from, even the most discerning of diners will find something to suit their tastes. A wealth of sinfully delicious options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon snacks make it difficult not to over-indulge at every meal!
For those who like nothing better than kicking back and relaxing in the sun with a good book and an oversized umbrella drink, unwind at one of 7 swimming pools - great for those in search of variety each day during their stay.
To unwind in the evenings, you can't beat sipping a refreshing Aperol Spritz whilst watching the sunset at the stunning Sunset bar, which provides classy poolside cocktails for you to enjoy while watching the sun go down as you feel your cares drifting away...
For prices and availability visit http://www.sheratonsalobre.com/GranCanaria.
Urb. Salobre Golf
35100 Gran Canaria
La Gomera, a beautiful island in the heart of the Atlantic, is home to an array of well-being activities, along with scenic sights which allow the mind and body to feel calm and at ease.
Escape into the enchanting Garajonay National Park and feel at one with nature, named after two lovers, this magical park is truly enchanting. Venture under a sea of clouds through the rural paths, bearded trees and 2,000 species of plants. The park is ideal for those who want to take in a breath of fresh air and feel truly rejuvenated.
The island is home to a variety of stylish and luxurious accommodation options designed with a focus on wellness. Picturesque ‘Playa de Santiago’ offers guests access to tranquil retreats, each home to holistic, authentic treatments. Choose from a ‘Mistriosa Turquia’ massage, using antioxidant, sensual spices, to sooth and heal tension within the body, a ‘Lomi Lomi Hawaiano’ which focuses on the upper body, using a mixture of essential oils and vitamin E, or, a ‘Shirochampi’ for a full body experience, massaging, stimulating and strengthening specific areas which hold and retain tension within the body.
If a little exercise helps you feel refreshed and energised, ‘Playa de Santiago’ offers an extensive range of fitness classes, superb courts and an award-winning golf course, which is a ‘must-visit’. Venture toward the western part of the island and fall in love with the breath-taking landscape of ‘Valle Gran Rey’. Behind the harbour, guests will find luscious gardens and a pretty hideaway, offering daily programmes including; meditation and Yoga, along with therapy sessions and healing techniques. Experience this magical setting and indulge in meditation on the beach at sunrise, tension-easing massages in the afternoon and moonlit dances with friendly locals.
Throughout the rest of the rural island, you will find many quaint spas, incredible landscapes, unique beaches and endless well-being activities such as Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates. The essence of serenity runs throughout La Gomera, it is known by many as the island ‘where time stops’ and its naturalistic wonders bring a sense of calm to all visitors and locals alike.
Flights run regularly from the UK to Tenerife where visitors can then enjoy a short ferry ride to the island within 50 minutes. Alternatively, guests can fly to Tenerife North from the UK and board a 30 minute connecting flight to La Gomera.
We've rounded our favourite places to inspire your visit to Spain.