FOUR MUST SEES IN PAMPLONA – In the city of fiestas there’s so much more to see!

Home to the famous ‘Running of the Bulls’ during the san Fermin festival, held in early July each summer, and also the adoptive home of Ernest Hemingway, Pamplona is a picturesque and peaceful party town, especially during the fiestas! Though biggest city in the Navarra region, Pamplona has so much history and culture bursting through in its narrow streets it is well worth a day or two here just to see this magnificent place. So, where should you go? Here we’ve put together some paces to see, but there is so much to see we couldn’t have fitted it all on this page!

The Old Town (Casco Antiguo)

This is where you’ll find most of the people, most of the time as Pamplona residents are  proud to of their beautiful Old Town, Originally it was surrounded by a large defensive wall which you can still see evidence of today. With plenty of bars, restaurants and shops the paved streets make strolling the area a pleasure. Head on down to the Castle Square (Plaza del Castillo) where a certain Mr. Ernest Hemingway would relax and work on his book about the ‘Running of the Bulls, “The Sun Also Rises.”

The Castle Square (Plaza del Castillo)

The plaza is Pamplona’s main square and is full of bars and restaurants with cool shaded terraces and located where it is makes it the ideal spot to either begin your meanderings through the old town. For over hour hundred years, from the mid-15th century, the square was used as a bull ring and later for markets, music and fiestas.  The Plaza del Castillo is just the perfect place to start or end a walk through the Old Town.  Look out for Bar Txoko, the Café Irun and the Hotel La Perla which we’re al favourites of Hemmingway.

Medieval City Wall & Interpretation Centre

Although much of the wall was destroyed when the city began growing in the early 20th century, originally Pamplona was a well-protected town surrounded by the city wall, and to this day you can still see some of the remains of it.

Heads out from the interpretation Centre, and passes by the Santa Maria Cathedral, on its way to the Portal Nuevo – which also takes in the Navarre Museum, More information about the original city and the walls that guarded it can be found in the interpretation centre which is known as the “Fortín de San Bartolome,” and is at the junction of streets Arrieta and Arala.

Taconera Park

When you’re travelling you will always need a break, some time to relax and just take a rest as the world goes by, and this is the perfect place to do that. Dating back to 1830, the Taconera Park is said to be the oldest and most splendid park in Pamplona with its well-manicured gardens and colourful floral schemes. Head on in through the Saint Nicolas Gate, again a part of the history of the city as the gate was a part of the original city walls, and enjoy more history as you head down to the zoo. Next, the moats where you’ll discover a small zoological park at the lower end of Taconera Park, and there nature and wildlife will enhance your visit to this wonderfully peaceful park. As a market leader in holiday car hire, Goldcar is able to offer car rental at the very best prices. Promotions and offers are always available with Goldcar who specialise in car hire for the tourist. With the very best deals available to its customers, Goldcar continues to set the standard for holiday car hire throughout Europe.

Four Favourites to Find in Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela, a breath taking destination at the very heart of the lovely Galicia region, these days for tourists, hikers and pilgrims still following the ancient Way of St James from anywhere in Spain or even from France. The historic old town is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and any visit must take in the impressive Cathedral of Santiago which is said to be one of the very best in Spain.

Pilgrims made their way to Santiago (the Spanish name for St James) to worship the relics that had been brought to the city from the Holy Land during the middle ages. The city was as important as Rome and Jerusalem at the time and is still a site of worship for many these days.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

This cathedral is described as the most sacred Christian monument in Spain and is a rich reward for pilgrims that have made the arduous journey to get there. Although you can drive there of course and you too will be in awe at this majestic building.  Head to the Plaza del Obradoiro and you’ll see its rising high above the town, so you can’t miss it! First constructed between 1075 and 1211 on the site of a ninth-century church that had been razed to the ground a century before.

Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos

Take a stroll along to 1 Plaza Obradoiro and you’ll find a wonderful example of Gothic architecture in the form of a former pilgrims’ hostel. Over five hundred years old, you can wander the beautiful courtyards and get the feel of how pilgrims must have felt when they finally arrived in the town.

Nowadays the place is a hotel with delicious Galician cuisine available in the hotel’s gourmet restaurant.  Be sure to check out the lovely chapel inside, the Capella de Enrique de Egas, where worshippers past and present pay their home to Santiago.

Museo das Peregrinacions (Museum of Pilgrimages)

If you want to know more about why people make the sacrifice to walk very long distances to get to this town then the Museum of Pilgrimages will help you find out more about the amazing history of the pilgrimages. Also you can find out about the huge importance of Saint James’ relics to pilgrims about when the body of the saint was brought to the hill alongside Santiago (Libredon) and see ancient artefacts and religious items that help explain the story. You can find the museum at, 4 Calle de San Miguel & Plaza de Platerías, Santiago de Compostela, and you will not be disappointed by its quality that’s for sure!

Casco Antiguo (Old Town)

The enigmatic Old Town of Santiago can be found south of the cathedral and the Plaza de las Platerías and is these days officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  I recommend you head to the two streets at its very heart, the Rua Nueva and the Rua del Villar which are the centre for activity and life in the old town. Lined by restaurants, cafes and all kinds of shops you can wander the pedestrianised streets and enjoy the old world charm that defines Santiago’s Old Town.

Goldcar, a market leader in holiday car hire, specialises in catering for the tourist by offering great deals at the very best prices. With over 40,000 new cars in over 80 destinations, Goldcar can offer the cheap car hire, discounts and offers for holidaymakers looking for a good deal for their holiday car rental.

Soak Up the Past in Salamanca

Salamanca: immerse yourself in a city rich in history, culture and life.

While travelling through Spain and experiencing its rich history and culture, one place you must have on your bucket list is Salamanca with its historical past and importance as a designated World Heritage Site. Sandstone surrounds the visitor and the cities past is displayed all around you as you head through the city. Here are a few places not to miss along the way.

  1. Plaza Mayor

There are many sites to see in Salamanca but I’d recommend you make a bee-line to what is generally agreed to be the most beautiful central square in Spain. Salamanca’s exceptional grand square is particularly impressive in the evenings when it is lit using special effects.  The Plaza was first built in the mid eighteenth century and was the site for bull fights until 1992.

  1. Casa de las Conchas

Believe it or not, this wonderful building that is covered in shells (Conchas), and which is loved by Salamancans, is the public library. But even if you’re not interested in reading while there the house will charm you with its wonderful courtyard that has a fountain and colonnades. The house was decorated by its original owner, Dr Rodrigo Maldonado de Talavera, who was a doctor and who used the shells as they were a symbol of the Order of Santiago, of which he was a member.

  1. Museo de Art Nouveau y Art Deco

This museum contains a wonderful collection of items ranging from Lalique glass, Steiff toys to elaborate Faberge watches. It is a unique type of place with paintings, sculptures and of course art deco and art nouveau pieces. Check out, with the kids, the strangely weird collection of 19th century toys and dolls and then head on down for refreshment at the very good café on site.

  1. Universidad Civil

You can’t leave Salamanca without first visiting one of the oldest universities in the world! Originally founded in 1218, the university became very popular during the 15th and 16th centuries and it boasts a wonderful library for the university which is the oldest in the whole of Europe!

The entrance is dominated by a superb tapestry showing heroes from folklore and by sculptures of the king and queen, Fernando and Isabel. Inside there are a few rooms to see but the university is impressive enough on the outside when you realise just how old it is.

  1. Catedral Vieja

History is abundant in Salamanca and the Catedral Vieja just ads to that rich culture with its precious 15th-century altar which is said to be one of the very best examples to be found outside Italy. Inside you’ll read the story of Christ and Mary set out in scenes on panels around the walls. Following an earthquake in the 18th century the cloister was destroyed but in the Capilla de Anaya you find one of Europe’s oldest organs and works of art which are five hundred years old. A historical treat is in store for you at the Catedral Vieja that’s for sure!

Goldcar is a market leader in holiday car hire and specialises in the tourism sector. With over 40,000 vehicles and offices in more than 80 destinations, Goldcar is able to offer cheap car hire and the very best deals for holidaymakers. Stay up to date with the many offers and promotions available all year round via the Goldcar website and get the very best price for your holiday car renta

Stunning San Sebastian is one of those places that you will fall in love

Stunning San Sebastian is one of those places that you will fall in love with immediately. Whether you are strolling its ancient streets in the daytime or mixing with the locals and hipsters who fill the streets in the evening. A must that-s not on this list is to sample the ´Pintxos´- the local speciality of the region.

 

  1. Playa de la Concha

One of the best city beaches in Europe, Playa de la Concha is a picture postcard of what a beach should really be like with long clean sands and crystal blue clean seas. A safe place to swim for all the family and in the summer the beach takes on a fiesta feel with a wonderful party ambience both throughout the day and evening.

  1. Aquarium

Come and see the secrets of the deep in this incredible aquarium with its huge glass sides and the long tunnel where you can see some of the amazing creatures that swim in our oceans. Big sharks looking back at you and big rays swimming around will fascinate al the family in this superbly put together aquarium. Allow some time to get around too as it’s a big place!

  1. Parque de Cristina Enea

The Parque de Cristina Enea is a wonderful escape for locals and holidaymakers alike offering lovely flora and plenty of wildlife too with ducks swimming in the pond and peacocks strolling the luscious open lawns. A great place to chill out for a while!

  1. Monte Igueldo

You must get up to the top of here and take in the spectacular panorama of the Bahía de la Concha and beyond to the surrounding coastline and mountains. There is a wonderful olden day’s style of transport system to take you to the top and to a theme park that is sited up there. Just jump on the funicular railway to the Parque de Atracciones.

  1. San Telmo Museoa

One of the newest museums in the Basque Country, the San Telmo Museoa was started in the early twentieth century and displays all sorts of artworks and artefacts and has a bit of everything to suit all tastes, whether that’s the contemporary art on display or the historical pieces depicting the Basque history and culture. After major works the place was reopened in 2011 and is well worth a visit if you enjoy local history.

  1. Kursaal

Made up of two cubes of translucent glass, the Kursaal was designed to represent two rocks on a beach and is one of the locals’ favourite buildings in the city. It is San Sebastian’s cultural centre and this s the place to go and capture those wonderful Basque musical evenings or events. Check beforehand to see what’s on but there is usually plenty to see.

  1. San Sebastian Food Gourmet Shop

If you like your food then this is a must do! You’ll find the shop inside the Hotel Maria Cristina and it is the sort of place where you can order a customised hamper and delicious food! Check out the food tours which are very interesting as well as the cooking classes that will show you some of the local specialities and how they are cooked. A good way to spend lunch or an evening looking around.

PICTURESQUE, CULTURAL AND BOHEMIAN – PALMA IS PERFECT FOR A TOUR!

Palma, Mallorca…Where the Mediterranean Merges with History

This enchanting city dates back to the 13th-century Christian re-conquest of the island, and beyond that and back to the Moors, Romans and Talayotic period leaving it rich in culture and history with plenty of historical sites to be seen and indeed visited, Palma also plays host to a huge range of art galleries, restaurants, craft workshops and of course bars. Get yourself to the beautiful Gothic Cathedral which is sited right in the geographic and historical heart of the city and from there you can wander quaint medieval streets lined with old aristocratic townhouses, marvellous baroque churches, and busy plazas. The buzzing bohemian barrios and the busy and well-stocked markets selling local produce from the island.

A great way to see this ancient Mediterranean port city and find out about the best things to do in Palma de Mallorca is with a 24 or 48 hour tour ticket aboard a City Sightseeing bus which is an open-top, double-decker bus. With this trip (around 20€) you will get to see all the important sights of Palma de Mallorca or you can also go on the walking tour, boat tour, or have free entry to Bellver Castle which is all included in the price of the ticket.

If you’re feeling a bit more energetic why not hire some bicycles and see the city first hand and at your own pace. Follow a local guide at a gentle and sensible rate of knots and see the top city attractions including Palma Cathedral. There’s also the option (and highly recommended it is) of a visit to a tapas bar where you can complement your Palma experience with some delicious tapa, along with a nice cool drink.

One of the best ways to see Palma is to gently cruise along the coast along Mallorca’s breath-taking western coastline on a boat ride and then to stop and relax in one of the local towns. Grab some lunch and then why not jump onto the local tram to Soller and explore the village with a guide. After that how about a vintage wooden train ride for a look at the wonderful views of Soller Valley’s farming landscape as you head on to Son Reus.

Located next to the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, and with a charming and enigmatic historic quarter including the cathedral, the Palace of Almudaina and the fish exchange, Palma has plenty for all no matter how you get around…and don’t miss the lovely Plaza Mayor which is another stop for you on one of your many possible routes around Palma!

Goldcar, the market leader in holiday car hire, specialises in providing hire cars from its constantly updated fleet for tourism, and at the very best prices.

With ongoing promotions and offers finding a cheap car for your holiday is as simple as going to their website at, www.goldcar.es and finding the ideal car for your holiday at the very best price.

Take Time Out for Toledo … 5 places you can be enveloped in history

Toledo, originally known as the ‘city of three cultures’  where  Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities peacefully lived together in the middle ages, Toledo is an imposing city situated above the River Tajo. This place is a real step back in time for visitors and a treasure to be explored!

Mosques, synagogues and one of Spain’s best examples of a Gothic cathedral can all be found in its ancient centre. Here’s five of the best to get you started!

  1. The Alcazar

For great views the dramatic Alcazar is the place to go. Watching over the city from its highest point the fort was rebuilt under Franco but nowadays is home to a large and comprehensive military museum. Head on over to the huge historical section, which covers, in detail, Spain’s history in both Spanish and English.

 

  1. Transito Synagogue

This impressive synagogue, which now houses the Sefardi Museum, was originally built in 1355 with the permission of the king at the time. Inside, the huge main prayer hall has been carefully restored and visitors will note the amazing decoration and the wonderful pine ceiling. Also inside are displays depicting the past and especially the history of Jewish culture in Spain

 

  1. The Greco Museum

This museum, as well as the house itself, which is full of information and facts about the famous painter, is a must for art lovers. From the excavated cellars which formed part of a Jewish-quarter palace to the wide range of paintings, which include examples by Zurbaran, by El Greco himself and also work by his son and some of his followers. The story goes that at the start of the 20th century, a rich landowner bought El Greco’s house and spent a fortune restoring it and turning it into a museum. The problem was that El Greco never lived there! But, thankfully, the museum remains.

 

  1. Toledo’s Roman baths & Tolmo Museum

Ok, you won’t need long to look around the underground remains of Toledo’s Roman baths but it’s well worth a quick look to get an idea of the life of Romans. However, just over the road is a fine art collection from such noted artists as, Picasso, Miro, Barcelo, Tapies, Chillida and Antonio Lopez plus a piece of artwork explaining Toledo’s history is an interesting piece too.

 

  1. Toledo Cathedral

Rated as one of the top ten cathedrals in Spain, Toledo‘s magnificent main church is a fine example of medieval Gothic architecture, and once inside you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer size of the place! Wonderfully designed and inspiring in its way the cathedral also boasts a very good art collection where works by Goya, amongst many others, are on display.