Archive for the ‘Madrid Tours’ Category

The most popular travel destinations in the world

Every country is beautiful in its own manner and is really worth visiting, but there are some countries that attract much more tourists than others.
There is the list of the 5 of the most visited countries of the last several years
1) France (76.7 million visitors a year)
2) Spain (51.7 million visitors)
3) U.S. (41.9 million visitors)
4) Italy (39.8 million visitors)
5) China (36.8 million visitors)

This is the data of 1998
1) France (70 million visitors)
2) Spain (47,7 million visitors)
3) United States (47 million visitors)
4) Italy (34,8 million visitors)
5) United Kingdom (25,4 million visitors)

The top 4 has remained the same since the end of the last century, but fast developing and becoming more and more popular China replaced the United Kingdom on the fifth place. You can also see that china is going to overcome Italy in amount of tourists. You can also see that the total amount of tourists has increased – people became to travel more.
So, the most popular country with a big odds given is France. Without any doubt the most famous and popular city in France is Paris. It receives a huge amount of visitors any season. In summer the whole Cote d’Azur with Nice and Cannes becomes the most fashionable and prestigious beach resort.
Spain, mostly visited in summer is also very popular beach destination with its resorts of Costa Brave, Costa Dorada, Costa del Sol. Spanish islands – Canaries and Balearics also attract millions. Barcelona and Madrid are on the top of the list of the most visited Spanish cities.
United States have the third place with the significant number of tourists, but mostly they are Americans. New York is the most visited by tourists city and Florida and California are known for their beach resorts.
Italy, full of ancient attractions and sea resorts is also among the leaders. Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence – everybody knows these symbols of Italian bloom and the tourist stream never exhausts.
Among other popular travel destinations we can name Thailand, although after tsunami it suffered a lot of problems. Now it begins to rise again. According to some questionings it is named the best place for swimming and beach rest.
These are the destinations popular worldwide. However every country has its own favorites. For example, it’s known that Americans prefer to spend their holidays in Mexico, many French like to visit Martinique and so on.
In conclusion I can say that nothing threatens France’s leadership in the list of the most popular countries but people open new, exotic destinations which popularity is growing up.

Travel experiences: Exploring our need for out of the ordinary places

When I was planning my trip to Spain I had tantalising visions of sultry flamenco dancers, eating tapas late at night in a taverna and drooling over a matador in his embroidered leotard at the bullfights. However, I was also intrigued by the underbelly of Spain and especially by the people in the rural regions. My husband and I drove north from Madrid heading to Euskadi Pais Vasco which is a secret little corner south of San Sebastian. Driving into the countryside we observed the stark difference in language and signage, it was a though we had had left Spain and entered a different country. In the heart of this region we stumbled upon an unknown jewel called Zumarraga, a backwater village planted on both sides of a winding river. Arriving at dusk we had no accommodation booked and therefore our pressing need was to find a place to bed down for the night. So with this in mind we strolled through the village to ask the locals where the nearest cheap accommodation was located. In the main square of the village was a curious little shop brimming with eclectic garments and artifacts from Tibet. The proprietor immediately pounced on my husband because he was wearing an acubra hat and became incredibly excited when she confirmed that we were indeed tourists from Australia. ‘What are you doing in this f….. place’, she asked with incredulity. Her name was Itzi and we quickly learned from our new friend that tourists didn’t venture into that part of Spain. Itzi directed us to the nearest accommodation but insisted we meet her at the tavern next to her shop in an hour. After booking our accommodation we wondered along the river back to the village centre and the tavern where we were greeted by a hundred of Itzi’s friends and relatives, including babies and dogs. Our presence had generated a swell of curiosity in the village and we were kissed and hugged by all. Liberal amounts of black wine were shouted at the bar as we squatted on the cobble stone street holding babies for photographs. A stage had been erected in the centre of the square and it’s backdrop was a canvas painted by Picasso. There was a large hollow drum in the centre of the stage that two men were beating in time. Itzi explained that the this type of drum was once used as a means of communication throughout the hillside villages. When we asked what the purpose of the gathering was for Itzi became a little secretive but hinted that we would soon find out. To our total amazement a stream of people led by several men carrying an enormous banner began marching toward the village square. They chanted and waved flags as they marched with resolve and determination in the honour of their league. They were the union of the Basque Separatist movement. My husband dived for our camera and jumped in front of the rally to take photos of this incredible event. In fear I cautioned him in case they disapproved. Itzi waved my misgivings away and encouraged him to document the march. Her words were, ‘we want the world to know that we are the Basque’. When the march was over, the leaders of the movement presented stirring speeches and later gathered in the square to drink and talk. My inquisitive husband needed to know more so he took his wine and stood with the men to discuss their objectives and the leading question was,did they believe they would gain independence. The answer was a resounding YES! My visit to Zumarrager will forever be firmly implanted in my mind with memories of the generous Basque who embraced us.

Undercover Madrid Explored

Madrid as a capital city of a rapidly emerging and highly influential partner within the European Community deserves respect.

It is a wonderful city with highly fascinating people. The paradox with Madrid is that quite often it is viewed as being second to Barcelona in terms of appeal. Now I know Barcelona has the Cathedral, the Nou Camp Stadium and was the venue for the most recent Olympic Games to be held in Spain but to write Madrid off as Spain’s second city seems to miss the point completely.

Of course the Catalans may espouse Barcelona for its elegance and creativity but just because parts of Madrid might need the odd lick of paint here and there doesn’t mean that Madrid is any the less important or influential.

Madrid has very much the archetypal continental climate in that it has very cold winters and hot summers which means for those who don’t like extremes in temperatures the spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

Madrid has a great many attractions of which a royal palace, many grand public squares, three internationally renowned art galleries, and a great many museums filled with the treasures of the long and glorious history of Spain.

As a city the modern day Madrid that you see is very much the result of a very turbulent history. Madrid and Spain have been conquered and re conquered down throughout history a great many times and one of the great influences in Madrid is that of the North African influence of the Moors. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.

La Latina is an area of Madrid quite often overlooked by the majority of tourists and visitors but it is home to the Plaza la Paja which was Madrid’s main square during medieval times.

the decline of the Moorish influence in Spain meant that this part of Madrid became known as a moreria otherwise known as an enclosed ghetto where Muslims live. Memories of days gone by can still be found in some of the rich place names found here. As in most international cities with these types of areas, it is at night time that they truly come alive.

Don’t let the slightly grubby appearance from time to time and the general down at heel atmosphere confuse you this is an international capital city with all that that entails. Mention this to the madrilenos and all they will likely do is shrug, sigh and suggest that there are more important things in life worth bothering about?”

Who is to say they are wrong?

North of the city you will find Masalena, a wonderful cobble stoned area stretching from the city centre. This is a fabulous part of Madrid once described as being like the girlfriend or boyfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you “this is the place to be at the right time of day”.

The trouble is as far as perennial party goers will tell you, in this part of Madrid it is sometimes party time all of the day.

There is an awful lot more to Madrid that initial impressions would indicate. Dig slightly deeper, look underneath the stones and beyond the flaking paint and you will embark upon a love affair with a city that will last for many a year.

You will lose a lot if you miss Madrid.

Madrid City Breaks – Discovering the Undiscovered Madrid

Madrid, Spain’s capital, deserves respect having struggled hard to establish itself over the years throughout the troubled history of Spain.

Madrid is fascinating, highly intriguing with wonderfully interesting people. There are those who sarcastically referred to Madrid as Spain’s second city after Barcelona by and large those are the people that have never really got to know Madrid. Now I know Barcelona has the Cathedral, the Nou Camp Stadium and was the venue for the most recent Olympic Games to be held in Spain but to write Madrid off as Spain’s second city seems to miss the point completely.

Yes the Catalans may praise Barcelona for the creativity and elegance of the city but to regard to Madrid is any less important purely because parts of it might need the old lick of paint is extremely superficial.

Madrid has very much the archetypal continental climate in that it has very cold winters and hot summers which means for those who don’t like extremes in temperatures the spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

Madrid has a great many attractions of which a royal palace, many grand public squares, three internationally renowned art galleries, and a great many museums filled with the treasures of the long and glorious history of Spain.

Madrid like many international cities and probably more than most reflects in sections its historical past. Now we have to remember here that this was a major European city that for 400 years lay under the rule of North African influence, namely that of the Moors. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.

This is an area of Madrid often overlooked by visitors and tourists alike but is rich in historical heritage and indeed during medieval times the Plaza la Paja was Madrid’s main square.

When the influence of the Moors declined in Spain, this area of Madrid became know as a moreria which actually means an enclosed ghetto where the Muslims live. Memories of a former age can still be found when you consider some off the place names such as Plaza de la Puerta de Moros and/or the historic architecture.Nowadays as in most cases things have changed and this part of Madrid becomes a party centre for the madrilenos, the people of Madrid later on in the day, every day.

Perhaps one of the most overriding aspects of Madrid would lie with the juxtaposition off the modern international capital city and the apparent “down at heel” and slightly grubby appearance. Mention this to the madrilenos and all they will likely do is shrug, sigh and suggest that there are more important things in life worth bothering about?”

Who is to say they are wrong?

Elsewhere in Madrid you will find Malasana, a quaint cobble stones area stretching north from the city centre.Wonderfully described as possibly being like “the boyfriend or girlfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother” all human life in Madrid can be found here. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you “this is the place to be at the right time of day”.

The trouble is as far as perennial party goers will tell you, in this part of Madrid it is sometimes party time all of the day.

There is an awful lot more to Madrid that initial impressions would indicate. Peel back the flaking paint and go beyond the many tourists spots and you will find a city that you will fall in love with for many a year.

Miss Madrid and it will be your loss.

Madrid A Guide To The Key Sites And Monuments

Spain s capital has enjoyed a serious boom as a city break destination on the last decade. The proliferation of cheap flights has made more and more European cities accessible to weekend travellers. Often overshadowed by the Catalan capital, Barcelona , Madrid is now showing what it has to offer and, more importantly, sharing it with foreign visitors.Next stop is the Palacio Real; Madrid s royal palace is a monument to the classical Italian baroque style. Charles III was the first king to take residence here in 1714. The grand building has a, seemingly absurd, count of 3,000 rooms. The most famous of these is the Throne Room with its sumptuous decorations. Visitors should also pay heed to the gardens, in particular the Jardine de Sabatini, which was added to the Palace complex in the 1930s and can provide a bit of peaceful seclusion away from the bustle of the city centre.For a bit of greenery and a shaded stroll then theres no better place than the magnificent Parque del Buen Retiro; Madrids most central park. This verdant expanse covers 350 acres and includes formal gardens, fountains, playgrounds and cafes. There is even a lake where locals and tourists can clash oars on the water. All in all, the perfect place for a picnic or for the kids to let off some steam bear in mind that the park closes at 10.30pm every evening.One final stop on our tour takes us a little way out of Madrid s centre to the home of one of the worlds most famous football teams. The Santiago Bernabeu stadium has been home to Real Madrid CF since 1947 and the 80,000 seater stadium is an impressive site whether youre a fan of football or not. The stadium houses and excellent museum and is open most days for tours where you get the chance to see the stadium from the main stand and entrance into the playing tunnel and even the changing rooms.

Visit the Spanish Capital Madrid

Spain’s capital, a city of over 3 million people, is situated close to the geographical centre of the country.

It is a highly intriguing city with wonderful people. The paradox with Madrid is that quite often it is viewed as being second to Barcelona in terms of appeal. Given all that Barcelona has to offer and despite all this to write off the Madrid completely misses the point and at the end of the day it is Madrid that is at the centre of both the road and rail networks in Spain.

Yes the Catalans may praise Barcelona for the creativity and elegance of the city but to regard to Madrid is any less important purely because parts of it might need the old lick of paint is extremely superficial.

The ideal time to visit Madrid is in spring and autumn because Madrid has cold winters and hot summers due to its long distance from the sea and the altitude.

Madrid has a great many attractions of which a royal palace, many grand public squares, three internationally renowned art galleries, and a great many museums filled with the treasures of the long and glorious history of Spain.

Madrid as you see is very much a combination and manifestation of its historical past. Madrid and Spain have been conquered and re conquered down throughout history a great many times and one of the great influences in Madrid is that of the North African influence of the Moors. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.

This is an area of Madrid often overlooked by visitors and tourists alike but is rich in historical heritage and indeed during medieval times the Plaza la Paja was Madrid’s main square.

The decline of the Moorish influence in Spain meant that this part of Madrid became known as a moreria otherwise known as an enclosed ghetto where Muslims live. Memories of a former age can still be found when you consider some off the place names such as Plaza de la Puerta de Moros and/or the historic architecture.Nowadays as in most cases things have changed and this part of Madrid becomes a party centre for the madrilenos, the people of Madrid later on in the day, every day.

Perhaps one of the most overriding aspects of Madrid would lie with the juxtaposition off the modern international capital city and the apparent “down at heel” and slightly grubby appearance. I think I possibly agree with them.

North of the city you will find Masalena, a wonderful cobble stoned area stretching from the city centre.Wonderfully described as possibly being like “the boyfriend or girlfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother” all human life in Madrid can be found here. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you “this is the place to be at the right time of day”.

The Spanish know how to Party and these can sometimes last all day.

As in most capital cities that have this sort of history there is a lot more to Madrid that initially meets the eye. Dig slightly deeper, look underneath the stones and beyond the flaking paint and you will embark upon a love affair with a city that will last for many a year.

Holiday in Spain: so Much to See so Little Time

Europe is a popular vacation destination for many people. The culture and heritage of most European cities and countries are rich, historic and artistic. All these reasons and many more, attract millions of tourists to this continent each year. But Europe is pretty big, so narrowing it down to specific destinations within Europe is essential.

Spain is one of the top countries you should definitely visit in Europe. Your holiday in Spain will be filled with wonder and awe as you tour the beautiful country and experience its culture. You will soon discover that there is a LOT to see.

Start Planning Your Holiday in Spain

There are several popular cities in Spain which are ideal for experiencing the best of holidays. Barcelona and Madrid are at the top of the list. Here is what you can expect.

Enjoying Magnificent Barcelona

Your holiday in Spain will be unforgettable if you start it in Barcelona. Barcelona is a magnificent city packed with things to see, fun things to do and exciting places to visit. One of the “must see” attractions of this beautiful city is Las Ramblas. It is a street wide tourist hot-spot which many locals and visitors alike patronize. This street is filled with cafes, stores, galleries and other attractions like actors and artists, You can plan a full day of activities around visiting Las Ramblas.

Another exciting feature is La Sagrada Familia. It is an epic work of art and is still under construction up to this day. Antoni Gaudi started this construction in 1882 and is the primary architect of this incredible tourist attraction.

Madrid: The Heart Of It All

Madrid is the capital city of Spain and is the largest city in the country. This city is for anyone looking for an active nightlife. If you plan to be in Madrid, do not miss the bullfights. Madrid boasts the biggest bullring in the world, the renowned Las Ventas. It can seat up to 25,000 spectators.

Another sport that you can witness during your holiday in Spain is football. So if you are a football lover, you will feel right at home. The city is also home to numerous museums and galleries. So if you would like to experience art and culture on your holiday in Spain, then Madrid is the place to be.

Whether your preference is for Barcelona or for Madrid, you will be a “winner” if you choose to holiday in Spain.

Are guided or solo tours better when traveling?

Pity the poor hordes of group travelers trying to appear inconspicuous as they trudge en masse, badges firmly affixed, guide leading, as they are marched or bused from site to site with nary a chance of blending into the local scene. And are they free to do as they choose or as their preplanned itinerary demands? We all know the answer. If the tenth cathedral looks much like the first, and the latest monument to an unknown war hero bores, consider the merits of solo travel. I speak for experience!

Several years ago my husband and I took a one day group tour from Hong Kong to Mainland China. It was a travesty and a total waste of a day. It was also a pity since there was much to see and all we saw was a money gouging array of tourist traps. We were escorted to a purported museum which was in fact a huge gift shop. Every single item in the “museum” was for sale. We were stranded there for two hours. We spent over two hours at a touristy lunch with the only Chinese seen being the waitstaff. And so the day went with the utter frustration of knowing we could have done infinitely better by ourselves.

We had a similar experience in Croatia where we were taken on a boat trip which turned out to be a beer drinking frenzy of tour guides acting out as if they were in a drunken stupor and us being held captive at a picnic site for most of a precious day. I don’t need to travel to Croatia to picnic with drunks.

Contrast that to our lifetime of independent where we have had magical experiences, dined with locals and been able to discover the real lifestyles of our host countries. We have been to many places abroad and in North America where we live. There is just no question that a well planned solo trip is lots more fun than an escorted tour. But, yes, it’s not for the lazy or timid. You must be willing to research your destination including hotels, restaurants and the kinds of places you will enjoy visiting. For us it means lots and lots of walking. But how else would you find the toilet paper sculpture in Madrid and the tango dancers in the streets of Buenos Aires? We walk until the feet can no longer do their job and then we relax in a crowded (always look for crowded!) eating spot or cafe and people watch. People watching is the most fascinating part of travel and so unobtainable on a group tour.

We also enjoy shopping so that we can have permanent momentos of our journeys. We have a houseful of treasures from flea market finds (flea markets are just fabulous ways to mix into the local scene) to objets de arte. These items are reminders of our travels and we cherish them all. An escorted shopping trip is so totally without merit. Everyone knows that the tour guides will take you to the places where they get commission, places patronized only by other tourists. Is this really how you want to shop?

Then there’s the timing. Filling up a tour bus can take some time, especially if there’s someone who’s constantly lagging. And do you really want to get up when you’re told and rest on the schedule demanded by the tour? Why not do your own thing? Early riser? Fine. Later? Fine as well.

Compatability is also an issue on a tour. Perhaps you just won’t be in sync with your fellow tourists. That can be a joykiller!

Go as you please but know that a sophisticated traveler does not go on a group tour!

A Historical Spanish Holiday

One of the locations very few would want to miss while visiting Madrid, Spain is the Puerta del Sol, or ‘Gate of the Sun’. This is a roadwork system that looks much like the sun. It starts with a slab outside the Casa de Correos, and going out from that slab are the set of six roads that make up the highways of Spain. As you begin your holiday of exploring Madrid, this is the place to begin.

At one time, the gates were the entryway into Madrid. Back in the 15th century it was important to be fortified and the city was encompassed by a protective wall.

Now your holiday to this area will find less in the arena of military fortifications and more in the arena of interesting attractions. Among them, a massive bear sculpture. He is eating fruit from a madrone tree. The tree is where the city gets it’s name, and the Bear is a symbol of strength for the people of the city.

As you continue your travel into the city down Alcala Street, stop at the Regina Hotel. From this location you can see the unique statues on top of the banks before your continue your trip.

One of Madrid’s most important sites is not far away. It is the House of the Post Office. You will spot this building as the one with the large clock face on the side of the tower. It was built in 1768, and if you happen to be in the area around the New Year Holiday, this will be the location of the major celebrations. The holiday celebration is the traditional festival eating of Twelve Grapes. When the clock chimes, all will cheer in celebration of the New Year.

In addition to being a location for celebration and merriment during holiday times, the Puerta del Sol is also a location that has more serious moments as well. It is commonly a location where political demonstrations and protests are held. It is very possible you will see one during your travels.

Also in this area are all the other things you will be looking for on your vacation. There are a large number of shops that offer anything from department store shopping to specialty shops, antique shops and other venues. There are also a number of attractions to view, as well as a great supply of restaurants so you can try out a lot of the local fare.

You will not be at a loss for night life when you visit Madrid. Often some areas just start kicking into high gear after midnight. There are street musicians, and a festive attitude as well as a number of bars and dance establishments to keep you busy until the wee hours of the morning. And when morning comes and you are ready to take up touring again, you are just a short distance from the Royal Palace or Palacio Real, parliament, Plaza Mayor, and many more shops and restaurants waiting for you along the way

Madrid, Capital of Spain Explored

Spain’s capital, a city of over 3 million people, is situated close to the geographical centre of the country.

Madrid is fascinating, highly intriguing with wonderfully interesting people. There are those who sarcastically referred to Madrid as Spain’s second city after Barcelona by and large those are the people that have never really got to know Madrid. Now I know Barcelona has the Cathedral, the Nou Camp Stadium and was the venue for the most recent Olympic Games to be held in Spain but to write Madrid off as Spain’s second city seems to miss the point completely.

Of course the Catalans may espouse Barcelona for its elegance and creativity but just because parts of Madrid might need the odd lick of paint here and there doesn’t mean that Madrid is any the less important or influential.

Madrid has very much the archetypal continental climate in that it has very cold winters and hot summers which means for those who don’t like extremes in temperatures the spring and autumn are the best times to visit.

There is a great deal to do in Madrid, places to go people to see and amongst the attractions, a royal palace, three internationally renowned art galleries and a great many museums filled with the treasures of the history of Spain.

Madrid like many international cities and probably more than most reflects in sections its historical past. The thing to remember with Madrid in Spain in general is that it has long been a coveted prize for foreign conquerors down throughout history. This is reflected in the area of La Latina.

La Latina is an area of Madrid quite often overlooked by the majority of tourists and visitors but it is home to the Plaza la Paja which was Madrid’s main square during medieval times.

The decline of the Moorish influence in Spain meant that this part of Madrid became known as a moreria otherwise known as an enclosed ghetto where Muslims live. Memories of a former age can still be found when you consider some off the place names such as Plaza de la Puerta de Moros and/or the historic architecture. As in most international cities with these types of areas, it is at night time that they truly come alive.

Don’t let the slightly grubby appearance from time to time and the general down at heel atmosphere confuse you this is an international capital city with all that that entails. This is an attitude that has some merit.

North of the city you will find Masalena, a wonderful cobble stoned area stretching from the city centre.Wonderfully described as possibly being like “the boyfriend or girlfriend you couldn’t bring home to your mother” all human life in Madrid can be found here. With graffiti, posters and street art on virtually every conceivable surface Malasana has an anarchic feel and atmosphere that tells you “this is the place to be at the right time of day”.

The trouble is as far as perennial party goers will tell you, in this part of Madrid it is sometimes party time all of the day.

Madrid has an old-fashioned appeal to it that goes beyond the chaotic and anarchic initial impressions. Peel back the flaking paint and go beyond the many tourists spots and you will find a city that you will fall in love with for many a year.

Madrid is not to be missed.