Weekend Trip, Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca


You have been doing the extended stay, spending almost a month in your Barcelona apartments, it's time for something a little different, you're  looking for another adventure, where do you look?

How about traveling offshore?, Just to the south of the mainland of Spain lies the Balearic Islands, a chain of islands lying in the beautiful Mediterranean. Mallorca, the largest island of the chain makes for an excellent destination. A little far for a day trip, but a great escape for a weekend trip.  

Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands, SpainPalma de Mallorca is the main city on Mallorca where half of the population of the island lives. A top tourist destination off the Spanish east coast, Mallorca has a lot to offer besides sun and sand.

It is easy to reach Mallorca by ferry from Barcelona with three ferry services, Balearia, Trasmediterranea and Iscomar Ferries. Ferries run every day and the trip takes about seven hours and 45 minutes. The price of tickets depends on several factors such as if you are taking your vehicle, if you have special luggage and which accommodation you select. Reservations should be made in advance. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or at the office.

La Seu Cathedral, Palma de Mallorca, SpainSome of the main sites to visit are:

• The Castell de Bellver was built in the 14th century on the ruins of a Muslim site. Today, it is a museum for archaeological finds and classical sculptures. High on a hill, it has beautiful views of the Bay of Palma. It is one of the most important castles in Spain and worth a walk around the moat and a visit to the top of the castle to see the marvellous architecture.

• There is also an architectural museum in Palma de Mallorca that is like a small village with models of the major classical architecture of Spain.

• The Cathedral de Mallorca is a spectacular site and beautifully lit at night. It exhibits religious paintings and other things. It is a majestic background to the Paseo Maritimo along the port where the boats and yachts are chartered. The majority of discos, bars, pubs and restaurants are there and they stay open until 6:00 AM.

• The Banys Arabs or Arab baths is the only structure from the Arab settlement that is still in Palma. It was built in the 10th century to function like a sauna with a heated floor that was splashed with water for steam.

• The Contemporary art museum has paintings by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and Juan Gris. The collection is worth seeing and the admission is free.

Palma de Mallorca is a historically interesting city with beautiful beaches, year around sun and a vibrant nightlife. It is a great place to visit when staying in one of the many apartments in Barcelona and a good base from which to visit the charming villages, hidden coves and rugged mountains on the rest of the island. The ferry cost is inexpensive with convenient departure times.



A Day Trip to Burgos, Spain

 Although initially inhabited over 800,000 years ago, the city of Burgos was officially founded in 884 to serve as an outpost on the Christian-Moorish frontier. Burgos then rose to prominence as the capital of Castile. The city is the venue where the laws governing Spain’s treatment of Native Americans, the Leyes de Burgos, where first publicized in 1512. Burgos played a significant role in the conquest of Seville, the Peninsula War with Napoleon and as an operational base for Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Because of its many medieval landmarks, numerous parks and unique museums, this historic Spanish city makes a wonderful day trip from Madrid.

Cathedral Burgos,SpainVisitors who travel the 250-kilometers from Madrid to Burgos will be greeted by the medieval entrance to the city, the Arco de Santa Maria. The town center has medieval architecture and a statue honoring El Cid. You’ll be amazed by the ornate façade, balustrade turrets and statuary of the Gothic Burgos Cathedral. The church, built in 1221, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Guests can visit the monasteries of the Royal Retreats and the Miraflores Charterhouse. You will awestruck by the detail and design of the Retreats, the intricate woodwork and marble mausoleum of King John II and the alabaster angles of the Charterhouse. Tourists can stroll along the beautiful tree-lined Paseo del Espolón which is located on the banks of the Arlanzón River. Here you’ll find an endearing mix of shops, restaurants and cafes. If you are looking for an inner city retreat, you can visit Fuentes Blancas. This large city park offers numerous walking and biking trails, camping and many other outdoor recreational activities. You can explore one of the city’s ten museums, including the Museum of the Book, The Museum of Human Evolution and the Museum of Burgos that preserves and displays the history of the city.

You must sample the wonderful local cuisine made famous because of its Queso de Burgos white cheese, Jamon Serrano cured ham and the Morcilla de Burgos pig blood’s sausage. Guests can also enjoy one of the many festivals that are held throughout the year. The city’s inland location and elevation create a continental Mediterranean climate of warm summers and cool snowy winters.

If you are spending time in Madrid, the three hour trip to experience the historical, architectural and cultural opportunities of Burgos is well worth the journey.



Spend a Magnificent Day in Valladolid, Spain

Located at the confluence of two rivers and within three distinct wine growing regions is Valladolid, Spain. This delightful city is a wonderful day trip from Madrid. Valladolid and the surrounding countryside grew in population and importance after the Christians re-conquered the area from the Moors in the 10th century. Valladolid was the residence for the Castilian kings and until 1561 it was the capital city for the kingdom of Spain. It was in this city that King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were married and Christopher Columbus passed away.

Visitors who travel the 200-kilometers from Madrid might want to leave their hotel or Madrid apartments early for the 3 hour drive to Valladoild. Travelers will find the early get up well worth the trip, for they will find a delicious local cuisine that includes fish, cheese, bread, pastries and the area’s famous lechazo or baby lamb. Here you will find Spain’s best lamb’s cheese and pastry shops that produce the popular and well known St. Mary’s rings and St. Claire sponge cakes. Guests can sample the Cigales, Rueda and Ribera del Duero wines.

Square of Zorrilla, Valladolid, SpainIf you prefer to sightsee, you can visit the parks along the river or the Plaza Mayor that was used as a template for the main plaza in Madrid. You will also find many fine examples of 15th and 16th century Gothic churches. You can visit the unfinished Cathedral that was commissioned by King Phillip II, the Benedictine Church of San Benito and the Dominican Church of San Pablo. These religious sites display intricate Baroque facades, Romanesque reredos and Gothic statuary.

You can see the home where the novelist Cervantes finished writing Don Quixote and the final home of Columbus, which is now a museum featuring the discovery of the New World. You can experience the artworks on display at the National Sculpture Museum or explore the exhibits of the Science Museum. Guests can visit the Royal Palace that was the birth place of King Phillip II and home to Napoleon during the Peninsula War. Valladolid also has archeological remnants of a Roman camp and palisade walls.

The continental Mediterranean climate generates cold winters and dry hot summers. In general, the average temperatures in the city enable tourists to comfortably visit year round. Whether your interest is history or architecture, culture or cuisine, Valladolid is a magnificent adventure located just three hours from Madrid. If staying in one of the many hotels or apartments in Madrid for any length of time, one might make this a 2 day or weekend getaway from the city.


A Day Trip to Lloret de Mar From Barcelona

Lloret de Mar is a popular Catalonian resort city located on the Costa Brava. The first documented evidence of the city was in 966AD. It was described as Loredo from the Latin for laurel bay. It was attacked frequently in the Middle Ages by the Saracens. Folklore states that the traditional “Dance in the Town Square” dates from this period. The town center was originally located one kilometer further inland as a defense against pirate attacks. The port was commercially active throughout the 18th century.

Today, Lloret de Mar attracts hundreds of thousands of holiday seekers each year. Approximately seventy five kilometers away and easily accessible, Lloret would make for a wonderful day trip for anyone visiting Barcelona on business or pleasure.

Tourists enjoy the Blue Flag award winning, white sandy beaches that are washed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. They can enjoy numerous secluded coves and inlets off the main beach.

Lloret de Mar, Costa Bravo, Spain Visitors looking to explore the culture and history of the area will be amazed by the ancient churches, monuments and museums. They can tour the Church of Santa Roma that was built in 1522 and spectacularly demonstrates Moorish, Byzantine and Renaissance architectural influences. The Castle of Sant Joan was built in the 11th century and was used to repel attacks from Genoa, England and France. All that remains today is the castle tower that was restored in 1992. Today, visitors can enjoy marvelous views of the surrounding area from its summit.

Tour the city and see the Monument to the Fisherman’s Wife and the Santa Clotilde botanical gardens. The monument is a bronze sculpture erected in 1966 that is an emblematic symbol of the city. The garden was designed by Nicolau Tuduri in the style of the Italian Renaissance and offer wonderful views of the sea from its cliff top location. Visitors will also enjoy the time spent touring the maritime museum.

The young will be thrilled to spend the day at Gnomo Park. This gnome themed indoor/outdoor family friendly attraction has a playground, ball pool, and a craft workshop. There are also screenings of children’s films. The young at heart will be enthralled by Lloret’s wide variety of exciting night life.

Whatever your pleasure, cultural immersion, a view into the past or day of sunbathing and water sports, Lloret de Mar is well worth the hour or so trip from Barcelona.


A Drive Up The Coast From Barcelona To Roses Spain

Roses, Spain, is one of the cities that can be visited on a day trip from Barcelona. It is on the coast of the Gulf of Roses in the province of Girona in northeastern Catalonia. The city is about 99 miles north of Barcelona. Driving from Barcelona to Roses takes approximately two hours. Visitors can also reach Roses by taking a bus or train from Barcelona. Buses from Barcelona go directly to Roses. This trip takes two hours and 15 minutes. A train trip from Barcelona to Figueres takes about two hours. Figueres is about 14 miles from Roses. A bus ride from Figueres to Roses takes about 30 minutes.

Overlooking Roses, SpainPlaces to see in Roses include the beach, nature reserves and historic sites. Visitors can enjoy Spanish cuisine in the city’s restaurants.

There are several things to do on the beaches of Roses. Visitors can dive, snorkel, swim and sunbathe. Some of the beaches can only be reached by boat or on foot.

A trip on the Roses Express train will take visitors past the beaches and the Parc Natural Cap de Creus. This nature reserve can be reached by car from Roses. The reserve has places for walking, scuba diving and bird watching.

The Parc Natural dels Aiguamolls de l’Emporda is next to the Gulf of Roses. This nature reserve has cane fields, marshes, lakes and dunes. There are places to walk and bike in the reserve. Visitors can see storks and otters.

Visitors to Roses can see dolmens that are 5,000 years old. The Llit de la Generala dolmen was erected in 3,200 B.C.

The Citadel in Roses was built in the 16th century. This military fortification encloses ruins from the ancient town of Rhode. Rhode was built in the eighth century B.C. Displays in the Citadel Museum focus on the history of the Roses area. There are exhibits from Roman times and the Middle Ages.

The ruins of Trinity Castle are about two miles southeast of Roses. The castle was built in 1544. It stands on Poncella Point above the Roses lighthouse. The lighthouse dates back to 1864.

Visitors who have worked up an appetite sightseeing can dine on grilled clams or spicy mussels at Loramar. Customers at Sodemar can look at the bay while they eat duck salad, octopus ceviche or Iberian ham. The Restaurant Els Brancs at the Hotel Vistabella serves calf sweetbreads and pigeon.


Don’t Forget to Visit Tossa de Mar while in Barcelona

Now that you have finally made the time to take that much needed vacation to Barcelona, Spain, don’t forget to take a day trip to Tossa de Mar, Spain. Situated on the Coasta Brava about 55 miles North of Barcelona and 55 miles South of the French Border, missing the magnificent views from this beautiful town is not an option.

Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava, SpainTo plan a day trip from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar, it may be a good idea to get an early start from your Barcelona apartments or hotel. Since the distance between the two cities is only about 55 miles, it means that it may just take an hour to two depending on how you choose to get there. Renting a car is always an option, just make sure you map your route so that you don’t get lost. For those who prefer not to drive, there is a bus service that will take you from Barcelona to Tossa de Mar.

This undiscovered gem allows explorers of the Coast to relax and enjoy the sights and general culture without being among too many other tourists. There are three main beaches in Tossa de Mar which are The Tossa Beach (Platja Gran), La Mar Menuda, and El Codolar. Tossa Beach is located in front of downtown so it is easy to shop downtown and then relax on the beach before making your way back to Barcelona. La Mar Menuda, just on the other side of the Bay, offers facilities that includes sports equipment for those who would like to be active while on the beach. El Codolar is just behind the walls and makes for a nice, calm place to relax.

For lunch or dinner, there is a wide variety of restaurants to choose from. The cuisine ranges from BBQ to Italian to Seafood. There are restaurants that have indoor and/or outdoor seating. In Tossa de Mar, you will find restaurants that need reservations and those who take walk ins. If you fall in love with Tossa de Mar and not quite ready to head back to your apartments in Barcelona, you might just want to plan on spending a night in Tossa de Mar, there are restaurants which double into great after hours spots to have a drink or just relax.

On your trip, don’t forget to spend a day in Tossa de Mar which is just an hour away from Barcelona. This undiscovered gem will give you the opportunity to visit the beach and relax on the sand without having to deal with the crowds of tourists.


A Side Trip From Madird To Toledo, Spain

If you are planning a trip to Spain you will definitely want to take a side trip to Toledo. Toledo is about 40 miles away from the capital of Spain. If you take the high speed train from Madrid, you can get there in 30 minutes. At one time, Toledo was the capital of Spain and it still has many of the qualities that characterize many European capitals. This charming city, surrounded by the Tagus River, offers much in the way of historical landmarks and cultural experiences making it a popular site for tourism.

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Toledo was a mix of many cultures, including Christians, Jews and Moors and there are remnants still today which show the toleration of the different religions during that period. Many ancient churches, synagogues and mosques that date back to that time are still standing. The Puerta Bisagra is the main entrance to the old city of Toledo and is a magnificent gate built by the Moors during the 6th and 7th centuries.

A Panoramic view of Toledo SpainIt is easy to find enough things to see in Toledo to spend a few days there, but if you only have one day, there are a few things to choose from that are must-see attractions. The Alcazar of Toledo is a stone castle once used as a Roman palace. Later, during the Spanish Civil War it became a symbol for Spanish Nationalists because of events that transpired there. This castle is now a war museum like none you’ve ever seen, with fascinating exhibits such as Cortez’s flag and letters written by Napoleon. Three significant religious sites are the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo, which is considered to be the epitome of the Gothic style in Spain; the Synagogue of El Transito, the oldest and most ornate synagogue in Toledo, now a museum of Jewish history; and the Mosque of Christ of the Light–in Moorish days known as Bab-al-Mardum, the only mosque that is still standing but has been converted to a Catholic church. Located in Toledo’s Jewish quarter is the Museum El Greco, which contains many works by the exceptional painter of the same name, as well as other 17th century Spanish paintings. Furniture and ceramics from this time period are also on display.

If you plan to do some shopping, Toledo has a variety of souvenir shops. The most popular items are conquistador swords, glazed hand-painted ceramics and damascene, gold and black enamel work used to make small decorative plates and beautiful jewelry.

If you are planning a trip to Madrid, be sure to set aside a day or two to see the beautiful city of Toledo. Whether admiring the fascinating architecture, enjoying the religious history and culture, or shopping for souvenirs, it will be an experience you won’t soon forget!


Day Trip from Madrid to Walled City of Avila, Spain

Almost 70 miles outside of Madrid, just over an hour drive, is the ancient and historic city of Avila. The city is unique because of its remarkable collections of churches, medieval city walls, and its rich history.

The City Wall of Old Avila (11th Century)
Centuries ago Avila was a flourishing medieval town that was protected and fortified by a massive stone wall surrounding the town. The well preserved wall includes 80 circular towers and nine gates with a perimeter of 2,516 meters (2,751 yards). When the sun goes down, this medieval marvel of architecture is spectacularly illuminated and becomes the centerpiece of Avila. The City Wall of Old Avila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Wall and Defensive Towers of Avila, SpainThe Cathedral of Avila (10th – 14th Century)
This remarkable structure that is part Cathedral and part fortress has a deep history. The Cathedral of Avila is the oldest known Gothic Cathedral in Spain and is a popular tourist attraction. The apse (circular section that contains the altar) of the Cathedral is built into the wall of Avila that acts as the fortress to the city. The magnificent stained glass windows date back to the 16th century and illuminate the alabaster tomb of El tostado, the Vasco de la Zarza altarpiece, and original paintings by artists Berruguete and Juan de Dorgona.

The city of Avila is home to several convents including the Convent of Santo Thomas, the Convent of Las Madres and the Convent of Santa Teresa. Teresa was born into nobility but driven by a religious calling that led her into a life as a religious reformer and founder of a collection of Convents. The most important convent in Avila is the 17th century Convent of St. Teresa, the patron saint of Spain, is home to the Order of Carmelitas Descalzos (Barefoot Carmelites) and was built between 1629 and 1636 and is said to cast a shadow over the birthplace of Saint Teresa. The architecture of the convent is Baroque and the façade is adorned with a large statue of Saint Teresa. Because the Convent of Santa Teresa is an active convent, much of it is not open to the public.

The Four Posts
Just a 15 minutes walk from the Wall of Avila is the shrine of the Four Posts and is said to be the spot where Saint Teresa was stopped by a member of her family from running away from home to seek martyrdom in battle with the Moors. The shrine sits atop a hill overlooking the Walled City of Old Avila. Inside the shrine is a cross surrounded by a four poster canopy. The Four Posts shrine is one of the best locations to enjoy a panoramic view of Avila and the wall.


Travel from Madrid for a Day of Sightseeing in Segovia, Spain

Visitors lucky to have an extended stay in Spain’s capital city of Madrid will eventually ask “what is worth seeing outside of the city limits?” If you are one of the fortunate ones to have rented one of the many Madrid apartments available throughout the city you are offered many choices on day trips from Madrid. One such choice might be Segovia, Spain.

Alcazar Castle, Segovia, SpainSegovia is a well-known historical city just north of Madrid, Spain. There are three main ways to travel to Segovia from Madrid to enjoy a day of sightseeing in Segovia, Spain. The quickest way is using the AVE high speed train which takes about a half an hour. Another way is taking a train from the Chamartin train station. It takes approximately two hours by train. The last way is by bus. On average, it takes between an hour and an hour and a half to make the journey by bus.

Segovia has many extraordinary historical sites to explore.
The Aqueduct of Segovia is the most popular monument in the city. It is over 2,000 years old, and is still in excellent condition. The aqueduct is located in the Plaza del Azoguejo. While in the plaza, enjoy a taste of roasted suckling pig.

The Calle Real is a pathway between the Plaza of Azoguejo and the Plaza Mayor. There are many fascinating historical monuments to visit along the path. Some of the monuments include: the Palace of del Rio, the Palace of Torreagero, the home of the Picos, the Palace of Conde de Alpuente, and the Juan Bravo Plaza. Once in the Plaza Mayor, visitors can see the stunning masterpiece known as the “Lady of Cathedrals”, the Segovia Cathedral. It is a Basque-Castilean Gothic, and the last one built in Spain.

The Alcazar Castle is located near the Segovia Cathedral. It is an exquisite, royal palace built on top of the rock between the Eresma and the Clamores Rivers. The Alcazar Castle has two towers and two lovely courtyards.

The medieval palace of Henry IV is the home of the Museo de Arte Contempraneo Esteban Vicente. The museum has a large collection of masterpieces on display. In addition, visitors can see the carved Hispano- Moorish wooden ceiling of the Renaissance chapel, and the beautiful garden located along the palace.

After a day of exploring Segovia, you most likely will want to grab something to eat before you head back to your apartments in Madrid. Visitors will find many fine choices when it comes to meal time.

The Meson de Candido is located in the Plaza del Azoguejo. The restaurant offers both Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. A couple of its famous dishes include roasted baby lamb and roasted suckling pig.

The Casa Duque is located along Calle Cervantes 12. The restaurant has a large variety of foods to offer. Some of the delicious dishes it offers include roasted lamb, roasted suckling pig, cream of crabmeat soup, and grilled lamb, chicken, pork and beef plates.

The Jose Maria is an elegant restaurant offering a wide variety of foods including roasted lamb and suckling pig as well as some delicious desserts. It is located in the Plaza Mayor.

The Limon y Menta can be found near the Plaza Mayor. It offers mouth-watering desserts.

By train or bus, Segovia makes for a great and easy day trip from Madrid.


Trains, Trams and Railways in Barcelona, Spain

Many first time visitors with extended stays planned in Barcelona wonder if it is necessary to rent a car when visiting the city, they often ask, “I’m going to be staying in one of many hotels or apartments in Barcelona, what are the options for getting around”.

The city of Barcelona is the second largest in all of Spain, and has an enviable infrastructure that includes trains, trams and railways. The public transportation system is simple and inexpensive to use, and frequented by locals and visitors alike. The busiest and largest train station within the city is the Barcelona Sants railway station, known in the city as the Sants Estació. It is easily the most important transport center not only in the city of Barcelona, but in the entire Catalonia region. The following guide offers a history of the station, routes and amenities for travelers.

 Estacio Sants, Barcelona SpainUnlike some of the older train stations found throughout Europe, the Sants Estació is actually rather new. It was built in the 1970s as a way to serve the east-west regional line in the area of Barcelona. It often is compared to an airport design thanks to its very modern design, and it houses most of the train’s platforms underneath the ground. As might be expected with a rapidly growing transport hub, changes and renovations are frequently being made, with plans to undergo some serious renovation and rebuilding in the coming years.

Spanish High Speed AVE train, Barcelona, Spain The primary uses for the Sants Estació is the high speed and long distance trains that arrive and depart in the area frequently. Five major lines head through the railway station heading to various destinations around Spain, as well as nearby European countries like France. The most popular destination for long distance travel is the 2 and a half hour journey to Madrid on the AVE Madrid-Barcelona High-Speed Rail Line. The TGV rail line also operates for those journeys leading into France.

For internal travel around the city, the Barcelona Sants Railway Station also plays a role. It is home to two metro stations, operating on the local line 3 and 5. Metro line 3 brings travelers from the Sants Estació to the Zona Universitària, and the metro line 5 heads in the direction of Collblanc and Diagonal.

Trains in Estacio de Francia, Barcelona SpainFacilities at the Barcelona Sants Railway Station are plentiful and high quality. The entire facility is equipped to deal with handicapped access for travelers. You’ll find all the standard amenities for travelers, including ATMs, a tourism office, a pharmacy, telephone, luggage storage and a police station. There is a local cafe, a traditional restaurant and an international fast food restaurant for hungry passengers. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there is even a traditional art fair held in the station as a fun way to pass time or pick up some traditional souvenirs.

Travelers to and from the city will find easy access to the many hotel and Barcelona apartments via the station and connecting metro lines. Passengers arriving late at night or with early morning departures can appreciate the Hotel Sants offering affordable rooms right in the train station.

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