TOULOUSE: 4 places you cannot miss …

Also known as Ciutat Mondina, Toulouse is a city located in the south of France and is the fourth largest in the country by population.

4 recommended places to visit in Toulouse:

  1. BASILICA OF SAN SERNÍN

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The second largest Romanesque church in France which they began to build in the year 250 at the site of the tomb of the bishop of Toulouse, San Sernín. The basilica suffered numerous modifications and reconstructions over many years until the last which was during the 20th century.

One of the pilgrimages built along the road to Santiago, it´s a place that numerous pilgrims visit each year who are surprised by its history and architecture.

  1. JAPANESE GARDEN

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A garden located in the heart of Toulouse. If you are looking for a quiet and serene place to take a walk and relax, this is the right place. At any time of the year, you can enjoy the tranquility away from the city where you will discover beautiful places.

Very well maintained and clean, the decor is phenomenal, and you will find unexpected treats such as the gravel garden or the red bridge that are a sight for sore eyes.

  1. CAPITOL PLAZA

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The Capitol Square, or Place du Capitole, is a must if you are in Toulouse. It’s a large square, not only because of its size, but also the life in it which includes multiple cafés and beer terraces where you can relax after an intense day of sightseeing. A lively square where, almost every day, you’ll find exhibitions, shows or daily markets.

It is a beautiful place and probably the most visited place in Toulouse as it is located in the heart of the city. From this square, everything will be close: shops, main monuments, restaurants …

  1. CONVENT OF THE JACOBINES

The Convent of the Jacobins is an authentic jewel that consists of a large Gothic church, a cloister, a hair salon with dining room and a small chapel. We recommend that you visit when there is enough light to enjoy the ambience created by the color of its tall columns and stained glass. The austere exterior may fool you, but the interior is awe inspiring.

In the center of the church is the tomb of St. Thomas Aquinas.

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What to see in Valencia?

Located between Castellon and Alicante, Valencia is the capital of the Valencian Community.

Situated on the east coast of Spain, Valencia has approximately 786,424 inhabitants.

If you visit the city, we suggest some places you must not miss:

  1. CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

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Designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, it is the most famous and representative building of Valencia; a group of science and biology museums, concert halls and modern gardens.

One of the museums that make up this complex is the Oceanogràfic which is considered one of the largest aquariums in Europe. You can enjoy a variety of marine species from around the world, birds of exotic origin and dolphin shows.

Distinct from traditional Valencia, in this place you will be surprised by the modern look of the buildings and the spaciousness and relaxed atmosphere to be enjoyed.

  1. ALBUFERA NATURAL PARK

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The Albufera Park in Valencia is just 11 km from the centre and forms part of the SPA, Special Protection Area for Birds. You can visit the place by bike, on foot or on one of the guided tourist boats. If you do, we recommend you go in the afternoon and stay to enjoy the sunset from the pier while surrounded by nature; you will be in harmony, and you will feel so relaxed you will not want to leave.

  1. MALVARROSA BEACH

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One of the most famous beaches in Valencia, perhaps because of the peculiarity that it is very close to the city centre, 6 or 7 Km away. It’s a large and busy area and, depending on the time you go, you can stop for refreshment in bars, restaurants or pubs. Numerous palm trees and lots of people doing sports such as fishing and swimming… I love strolling along the promenade and enjoying the atmosphere.

  1. VALENCIA CATHEDRAL

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Valencia Cathedral, known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria, is located in the heart of the city. What is most striking is its 51 meters high bell tower, and its 207 steps.

Inside the cathedral you will see the first Renaissance paintings, which remain in Spain, located in the Main Chapel. The Chapel of the Holy Grail and the Chapel of San Francisco de Borja are also recommended as they retain original paintings by Goya.

Weekend in MADRID

Madrid is the capital of Spain and is the largest city in the country: with more than 3 million inhabitants.

Art, culture, shopping, flamenco, parks and gardens, tours and excursions, eating and drinking, nightlife, leisure, history… Madrid has all this and more.

If you are spending a weekend in this amazing city, you cannot miss these 5 ‘must-sees’

1.PARQUE DEL RETIRO

Located in the heart of the city, and covering an area of 118 hectares, thousands of locals use the landscape and beauty of the gardens, monuments and fountains for jogging, walking, cycling or skating along its paths.

In the centre of the park, there is a lake where you can rent a boat and enjoy a fun ride. There are also many terraces where you can have a snack and enjoy the atmosphere of the place.

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  1. DEBOD TEMPLE

Debod Temple is famous for its sunsets. The best sunsets in Madrid can be seen here.

Located in the mountain park, it means you can enjoy the sunset without any buildings interfering with your view. A very relaxing place, that will transport you back to ancient Egypt, it was donated to Spain in 1968 by the Republic of Egypt in gratitude for their help in rebuilding the temples of Nubia.

The perfect place to relax, stroll and let the mind go blank for a few minutes.

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  1. GRAN VIA

The principal and most charismatic street in Madrid and an essential place for anyone visiting the city. Virtually since its construction in the twentieth century has been the main centre of entertainment for the capital where you´ll find cinemas and theatres, clothing stores and restaurant chains are also in this grand avenue.

It’s a fascinating place to explore on foot where, if you look up, you will see the ornate tops of the buildings, and if you look back down, you will be surprised of the incredible beauty of some of the buildings in this area.

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  1. PUERTA DEL SOL

In the heart of Madrid, Puerta del Sol is kilometre zero of the city and one of the most emblematic and busiest squares in the capital.

It is an area that is always lively with people of all nationalities including locals and tourists plus traffic too.

One of the peculiarities of the Puerta del Sol is that people come to the square to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the New Year. Following the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, the second hand of the big clock, that dominates the square, marks the last 12 seconds of the year. On that night there are about 25,000 people enjoying the fun.

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  1. ROYAL PALACE

Another of those essential places if you are visiting the city and located next to the Plaza Oriente gardens, the Royal Palace was built after the fire in 1734 in the Real Alcazar and covering an area of 135,000 square metres makes it the largest palace in Western Europe.

Today it is used for official ceremonies as the Spanish monarchy resides in the Zarzuela Palace.

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PORTO: 3 places you must not miss

Porto is the second largest city in Portugal with around 230,298 inhabitants.

It’s a destination where you can enjoy many activities and there´s lots of places to visit. If you’re going to spend the weekend, you´ll have time to see Porto in depth.

Here we have 3 that you must not miss if you visit this city:

LUIS I BRIDGE:

Built in 1886 over the Douro River and designed by Theophilus Seyring, it’s the best known bridge in Porto and both the bridge and its surroundings are one of the most beautiful and romantic places of Porto. You can even walk along the upper walkway of the bridge and enjoy the view.

Now part of the historic centre of Porto, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Livraria Lello & Irmão:

Located at Rua das Carmelitas 144, in the historic city centre, the shop was founded in 1869 and has been recognised as one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world by numerous personalities from literature.

Before entering you´ll see the striking facade of the neo-Gothic building with modernist touches by author Jose Bielman. But it will surprise you even more inside. After passing through the door and as you delve deeper into the library, you´ll be immersed in the warm atmosphere of the books and the tranquillity of a relaxed environment. A little like traveling back in time and becoming part of a Harry Potter movie. The curious central staircase will draw your attention for a few moments too; passion red curves mingle with shelves full of books on literature and cinema.

It has been rumoured that the stairs inside the library were the inspiration for the stairs of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.

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Porto Cathedral:

Considered the most important religious building in the city it is located in the upper area of Porto, next to the ancient walls, in the area of Batalha.

Construction began in the twelfth century but was not finished until the thirteenth century and throughout history it has undergone several reconstructions and renovations: it bears a Romanesque style façade with a Gothic inside and baroque domes.

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5 places to go: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Cluj-Napoca is a municipality located northwest of Romania and is the second largest city with about 300,000 inhabitants.

If Cluj-Napoca is in your upcoming travel plans, we’ll tell you the places you have to visit.

  1. Church of San Miguel

Located in the Unirii Square, and one of the most important buildings in the city. It is the second largest church in Transylvania and is considered one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in the region.

Outside, you can see the high tower (80 metres), reckoned to be the tallest tower in Transylvania. It’s the newest part of the church as it had to be rebuilt in the nineteenth century following a fire.

Currently, it is a Catholic church, although throughout history it has been a temple of varying religious beliefs.

You can visit the inside of the church Monday to Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00pm.

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  1. Unirii Square

One of the largest squares in Romania, Unirii Square is located in the centre of the old town with surrounding buildings typical of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It’s a busy place with many shops and restaurants to enjoy shopping or have lunch or dinner quietly.

  1. Lucian Blaga National Theatre

A Baroque building in the heart of the city and currently the main cultural centre of Cluj-Napoca. If you like art, do not miss this, you can enjoy theatre and opera concerts… You can find all the performances and book the any you would like to see at: www.teatrulnationalcluj.ro

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  1. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Catedrala Adormirii Maicii Domnului)

This beautiful Romanian Orthodox cathedral was built in the early twentieth century and is the most important religious building in the city.  At the very front you’ll see the Lucian Blaga National Theatre.

The cathedral stands 64 metres high and is constructed with reinforced concrete, bricks and stones from the nearby towns of Baciu and Bampotoc.

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  1. Botanical Garden

The Botanical Garden Cluj-Napoca, or in Romanian, Grădina Botanica din Cluj-Napoca, covers around 14 hectares and administratively depends on the Babes-Bolvai University. It was founded by university professor Alexandru Borza in 1920.

A pleasant place to stroll and enjoy the atmosphere; walking amongst the many different species of plants, trees and flowers or just to sit and relax. You can disconnect surrounded by nature.

MALAGA: 7 places you must not miss

Malaga is a Spanish coastal City belonging to the Community of Andalusia.

It has about 572,947 inhabitants, making it the sixth most populous city in Spain.

If you visit this city, we recommend seven places you must not miss.

  1. Cathedral of the Incarnation

Malaga´s cathedral is the Holy Cathedral Basilica of the Incarnation, but is popularly known as “the Manquita”.

Its designers were Diego of Siloam and Andres de Vandelvira and the building was completed in 1782. It is undoubtedly one of the must-see attractions if you’re in Malaga. Outside is spectacular, but inside will surprise you even more.

The tour price is 5€ and you can visit the main areas, the inner courtyard and a small museum.

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  1. Alcazaba

A building built on the rock (palatial fortification) in the Muslim era around the eleventh century.

Precious intimate gardens, Roman, Arab and Castilian arches, mysterious walls, indoor fountains … all offer peace and tranquility while you´re strolling within its walls.

The normal cost to enter is €2.20, but on Sundays from 2.0pm it´s free. If you go to Malaga this is a must-see, but do not go on a Monday as it´s closed.

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  1. The Port

The port of Malaga is a sport fishing, commercial and passenger cruise port. You can stroll along the promenade and enjoy the sea breeze and the pleasant temperatures (the average annual temperature of Málaga is 19°C). In recent years it has become the third stop off  for the Mediterranean cruise.

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  1. Castillo Gibralfaro

If you visit the Alcazaba, it is a must that you go to Castle Gibralfaro.

The castle was built in the fourteenth century to house the troops and protect the Alcazaba. The castle consists of eight towers and two walls is divided into two parts: the upper and lower. The ‘upper’ is the main courtyard where there is the biggest tower at 17 metres high and the Phoenician well and bathrooms. The ‘lower’ castle is the courtyard, where the troop barracks and stables are.

We recommend paying the entrance of the Alcazaba and the Castle of Gibralfaro together. To get there, you can drive up with your car or jump on the line 35 bus that drops you at the door. After seeing the castle, you can walk down to the Alcazaba.

After leaving the castle you can stop at the Parador Malaga where you´ll enjoy spectacular views of the entire city.

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  1. MalagaPark  

Finally, you can not miss the parque de Málaga. An extraordinary place to walk between the port and the cathedral that will let you feel peace and tranquility. You can also see a variety of trees and vegetation from all over the world.

It covers an area of over 30,000 square metres and has three 800 metre walks.