Wednesday, July 28, 2010

 

Things to see in Barcelona

Leaving Galicia aside for a moment and reverting back to Barcelona (as mentioned in a previous post), there is more to see than just Gaudi and his buildings. You will be able to get plenty of visitor ideas at http://www.barcelonaweekendbreak.net/sightseeing.html where there is a list of places to visit both inside and outside of the city.

Barcelona really is a great place and the only things that you need to be weary of are pick-pockets of which there are many. This is a city that is culturally rich, but which many overseas holiday makers miss out on because they spend all of their time on or close to the beach.

If you go there, don’t just spend time sunbathing or walking up and down las Ramblas. Go into the old town, check out the marina and the shops and centres around it and take a trip to one of the small and relatively untouched towns in the vicinity. Even if you do not have a car there are buses that are quick, clean and efficient and they make getting around easy.

Check out Barcelona’s parks, you can get a skyway to one of them and take advantage of the fact that this is a fishing port with lots of fresh fish and seafood. Dining in Barcelona is invariably very good as long as you avoid the highly priced and equally overrated restaurants in the main tourist districts.

Next time something about one of Galicia’s many towns and, if you did not know (and you are in the UK), the TV series “Coach Trip” has been filming in la Coruna and Santiago de Compostela. They were in the former on Saturday and the latter on Monday. I do not know when this series will be shown, but it appears to be very popular with some.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

 

Pontevedra

As I continue to give some snapshots of places in Galicia I will move to Pontevedra, a beautiful city in the south of the region with a large old town. It is also the name of the province of which this city is the capital.

There is plenty of information available about Pontevedra and you can start at pages like http://colindavies.net, which is a very personal guide to this town by an Englishman who now lives there, and http://www.galiciaguide.com/Pontevedra-index.html which is the portal page to an extensive guide to the city and everything in it.

Pontevedra is on the coast and it has a history connected with the sea. This leads to the original town being built around an estuary river and, although the city is now much bigger, it is this original district that tourists spend much of their time in.

The old town has museums and a number of interesting buildings and churches, but for me its most appealing feature is a number of very attractive plazas that are interlinked by various streets and alleys. These plazas range in size from the very small to the very large.

Some of these squares have a focal point in their centre, but many were once the areas where loading and unloading of goods and supplies took place for the local businesses. Today however they have developed into beautiful municipal areas and most have at least one bar or café facing them. This has led to many becoming nothing short of open air dinning facilities and they are invariably populated by tables, chairs and those enjoying a drink or some tapas.

When I mention streets and alleys I should also point out that the old town is now pretty much pedestrian only, so the paved and cobbled streets are generally devoid of cars (baring those making deliveries).

Pontevedra is a good place to eat, not surprisingly with all of the tapas bars, and you can enjoy a range of different dishes including the ever popular calamares and pulpo. It is also a very different and atmospheric place at night where all of the aforementioned squares and bars become very busy and noisy – but in a good way.

Finally, here are a couple of more radical links that I spotted as having directed previous visitors to me. This one, http://www.sophieconran.com, is from a site about cookery, the home and how to make the most of it, and this one, http://www.thebikerguide.co.uk, is a biker community site that covers everything about bikes, ideas for days out etc. I wish that I still had my bike.

Monday, July 12, 2010

 

Vigo

Continuing, as I said I would, to give some tips on places to visit in Galicia, here is a little bit about Vigo.

Vigo is actually a frequently left out place on the itinerary of Galicia’s visitors and that is quite unfair. I think it is mainly because it has a big reputation as the commercial centre of the region and it has a massive port. This port is not always the most attractive of places, but it is not intended to be.

That said Vigo has an ever improving old town. I say “ever improving” because the medieval district has been under significant renovation over the last few years and it is starting to become another jewel in Galicia’s crown. Just a couple of months ago my mother was there for the day and, having previously visited la Coruna and Santiago de Compostela, found it far from disappointing.

The old town runs upwards from what was once the original fishing port. It is interesting to walk around and it has bars and cafes around it. With the marina just below, it keeps two of the areas most appealing sights close together. On our visits to Vigo there has always been plenty of bilingual tourist support on hand too. You can even get a sightseeing bus from the marina front.

Vigo has a couple more things going for it. One is some very good beaches with plenty of parking and the other is its location.

Even if you don’t intend to spend forever in Vigo you have Pontevedra and pretty towns like Cambados and Sanxenxo within easy travelling distance. Additionally, because Vigo is on the main toll motorway route it will only take just over an hour to reach Santiago. You can even head south and be in Portugal in a fraction of that time.

Vigo also has the best weather in Galicia if you like the sun. It enjoys a micro climate that sees its summer temperatures considerably elevated from those of places like Pontevedra and la Coruna which gives it extra appeal for fans of the beach.

To find out more take a look at http://www.galiciaguide.com/Vigo-index.html and the other dozen or so pages that cover this city.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

 

Barcelona - some highlights

I know that I stated that I would be concentrating on writing about somewhere in Galicia for the next few posts (and I fully intend to). However, I am deviating from that at the first hurdle to briefly promote the city of Barcelona.

The reason is simply that it is a great city and, although often visited by the British as a beach destination, it has a wealth of culture and history that is manifested in its buildings, monuments and some fantastic parks.

At the top of the list are the amazing buildings designed by Antonio Gaudi and I am not talking about the odd looking Sagrada Familia (the Gaudi cathedral), but rather the beautiful and flowing buildings like Casa Mila and Casa Batllo. These buildings have to be seen to be believed and they are the highlight of this great city. What kind of mind could conceive structures like these?

The other great attraction of Barcelona is its plentiful and diverse supply of tapas bars that even rival those of the Basque region. There are so many and their menus are so extensive that you can eat several different dishes each day over the course of two weeks without fear of duplication. Ultimately there must be thousands of different dishes across the city.

So, if you are interested, here is a link to a site about Barcelona in general - http://www.barcelonaweekendbreak.net.
And this second url will take you to a main menu page that offers descriptions and photos of some of Gaudi’s many great works - http://www.barcelonaweekendbreak.net/Barcelona-Gaudi.html. Naturally there is much more to see including the busy las Ramblas (a good place to if you like lots of activity) and there is a cable car that takes you up to a park with scenic views.

Other things to see - The large market will open your eyes and the beach side complexes and huge aquarium will keep shoppers and families happy.

The nightlife is good for all ages and covers every kind of dance club through to flamenco dance shows.

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