April 26, 2017

Music Festival at Benicassim Spain

Calling all music festival lovers!  You might want to start planning to attend next years music festival in Benicassim Spain after reading this guest post brought to you by Richard Cabo!

 

Ask a person to name a music festival and, chances are, they’re likely to go with one of two – Glastonbury, the UK’s traditionally muddy three-day party in a field, or Coachella, a festival that slowly cooks both attendees and musicians in the heat of the American desert. However in the past few years, one European festival has really started to come into its own, garnering international recognition and not causing a bunch of raised eyebrows and a, “where’s that?” response: Benicassim, on Spain’s Costa del Azahar, not too far from the city of Valencia.

Benicassim beach Spain

Benicassim by luipermom, on Flickr

 

Increasingly popular with British festival goers, thanks to its sunny locale and the availability of cheap flights to Spain, Benicassim continues to become more and more popular and, in 2009, exceeded its capacity of fifty thousand revellers for the first time, and shows no sign of slowing down.

With a stellar line-up that includes some of the world’s best musicians, can you blame people from not being able to stay away?

Past festivals have seen performances from artists that cover the musical spectrum, from The Stone Roses, Scissor Sisters, Little Dragon and Portishead to Hot Chip, Oasis and Roisin Murphy. Benicassim really does have something for everyone, with rockers, ravers, pop lovers and those ever-present hipsters all having their musical preferences catered for.

Oasis at Benicassim Musical Festival Spain

Oasis @ FIB Heineken 2009 by Rafael Tovar, on Flickr

 

This year’s line-up was no less eclectic, with headliners including British rockers the Arctic Monkeys, veteran musicians Primal Scream, techno DJ supreme Benny Benassi and loud-mouthed rapper Azealia Banks taking to the stage to entertain the throngs of people descending on the small Spanish resort town. Check out 2013’s full line-up here.

Vampire Weekend at Benicassim Spain

One of my current favorite bands! Vampire Weekend - FIB (Benicassim) by feiticeira_org, on Flickr

 

Getting to the festival isn’t too much of a slog either! Rail Europe offers tickets to Benicassim with easy connections from Barcelona, Madrid and Alicante. Lots of budget airlines also serve the airports in both Barcelona and Valencia, the most convenient airports for those flying in to enjoy the festival from outside Spain. And if you wanted to combine Benicassim with a full-blown holiday, there are plenty of holiday providers offering cheap packages to Spain – First Choice has a few good deals at the moment.

Benicassim has been running for almost twenty years now, first starting in 1995, and has blossomed into one of the world’s most well-renowned music festivals. Festival goers tend to be young and eager to party, with bands often playing through until around eight o’clock in the morning, giving attendees time to rest until things kick off again in the early evening. The festivities kick off on the second Monday in July, usually going on for four days that are crammed with quality bands and the very best of the current music scene.

Beach at Benicassim Spain

Benicassim by savoir.faire, on Flickr

 

Festival goers also have the added benefit of being close to a beach, a far cry from the likes of Glastonbury. Attendees of Benicassim will likely be seen donning flip-flops and shorts rather than hoodies and wellington boots. The festival offers camping along with its four-day weekend pass, meaning that revellers wanting to really get close to the action need to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort for their love of music. Of course, VIP passes are available for those who find sleeping in anything other than quilted luxury nothing short of abhorrent.

If you only make it to one music festival during the summer, make Benicassim the one as, in my opinion, it has the best line-up, the best location and, hopefully, the best weather out of the myriad of festivals taking place during the summer months. If you do end up heading to Benicassim to party, make sure you pack a big smile, some clean clothes, your drinking hat and your snazziest pair of dancing shoes!

 

What do you think, is Benicassim a music festival you’d enjoy attending?

Discovering the Cultural Heritage of Benidorm

Beaches seem to be king in Benidorm Spain but the lovely seaside city has a cultural side too! This guest post by Jeni of Co-op travel introduces some of the cultural spots to explore in Benidrom!

There’s a lot more to Benidorm than what the average tourist might think. A small village as little as fifty years ago, the Spanish town has grown to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and with good reason.

Some might wrongly believe that it only caters to sunbathers and night life seekers, but there’s another side of Benidorm that visitors can take full advantage of, including a rich cultural heritage, excellent scenic spots and a vast range of events. Below are some of the best parts of the town that are often overlooked.

Benidorm Spain

Benidorm 060 by leumas_1974, on Flickr

The museums of Benidorm are frequently neglected by visiting holidaymakers, but there are several that provide a fascinating insight into its history. The first to consider is the House Museum, or Casa Museo de Benidorm – the principal art gallery of the coastal town. Admission is free, and in it you will find numerous collections of sculptures and paintings. Different exhibitions are also frequently held, so be sure to find out what visiting exhibitions are available when you visit.

Other museums to look into include the Agricultural Museum, or Museo de Agricola. Open every day, it has on display a wide range of farming equipment that would have been used in Benidorm before it became the holiday resort that it is today. Lastly, the Maritime Cultural Centre, or Centro Cultural Maritimo, can be found in a charming small house that boasts a great exhibition of nautical pieces. Boats, fishing equipment and photos make up just some of what it has on display and give visitors an idea of what would have once been the main source of income for locals. To find the best located places to stay to see Benidorm’s museums, going to Co-op travel’s website can prove extremely useful. In doing so, you’ll also be sure to find a good discounted price.

Beautiful Coastline of Benidorm Spain

Benidorm Spain from Wikimedia

As well as its museums, there are also numerous cultural spots you can visit to get a feel of Benidorm’s history. One of the best is located in the Sierra Helada Mountains, a mountain range that can be found right next to Benidorm and separates it from the neighboring town of Albir. It’s there that you can find the watchtowers of Seguro. The towers were used during the 16th Century to scan the seas for raiding pirates, and visitors can now climb them to gain a unique view over the ocean and the land surrounding Benidorm.

 

Would you visit Benidorm for its beaches or cultural attractions?

Wheeling Through Catalonia

This type of cycling holiday is something I’m very interested in, so I am very excited to bring this guest post to you today!  Elizabeth Banks is a freelance travel journalist and food lover.  She has a passion for discovering off the beaten track holiday destinations.

As a cycling novice, I was eager to see what my first cycling holiday would be like.  For my first trip I chose Inntravel a company specializing in walking and cycling holidays.  One of the reasons I opted for Inntravel was their rating system of the cycling trips.  Level 1 is mainly flat routes where a level 2 or 3 involves frequent ascents and descents. It was not a difficult choice for me to decide on an easy grade 1 cycling holiday in Catalonia.   Another huge benefit of Inntravel cycling holidays is they transport luggage between hotels!

Now I’m off on my cycling holiday!

On arrival in the rural hamlet of Joanetes, the starting point for our holiday, we were introduced to our bikes.  We were given a city trekking bike and helmet which has to be worn by law on all highways in Spain.  We also received a handy waterproof map case (which could be attached to the handlebars), saddlebags, a pump and puncture repair kit.  But don’t worry, with Inntravel also included is emergency assistance from the bike supplier should you run into any major problems with your bike during the trip. With this added reassurance we were ready to set off!

Day 1 started at El Ferres in a tranquil valley which was a gentle introductory route so we could get used to our bikes and get a first glimpse of this beautiful corner of Catalonia.  We cycled through pretty villages on flat quiet roads and made a picnic stop where we grabbed a delicious home-made lunch of crusty bread, olives, a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. After lunch we continued onwards to the larger provincial capital of Olot before taking a leisurely route along the former railway back to our hotel.  Our family-run hotel, Mas El Ferres was a charming farmhouse in a beautiful rustic style. We curled up in the lounge by the large inglenook fireplace to admire the amazing views.  After a delicious home-cooked evening meal, it was time for bed.

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Day 2 we headed towards the charming hamlet of Els Hostalets d´en Bas.  Our route was flat and took us along pretty, winding lanes.  The route notes were easy to follow and at times I almost forgot I was cycling since I was so busy taking in the spectacular scenery and array of beautiful flowers lining the road.  The hamlet sits in the colourful Vall d´en Bass known as ‘Little Switzerland’.  The charming traditional houses with wooden balconies added to the fairy-tale appearance of the area.  We had fantastic views of the Pyrenees and decided it was the perfect spot for a picnic.  After a leisurely lunch and a wander around it was back on the bikes for the final stretch of the days cycling – which was slightly downhill and made for a very pleasant afternoon’s ride.

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

We arrived in the pretty town of Les Planes our destination for the night.  We stayed at Can Garay a truly stunning Art Deco family home, lovingly restored by our hosts Lluis Garay and his wife Sophie.  Lluis is the great-grandson of the original owner and has preserved many of the original features including stained glass windows.  With just six bedrooms, this hotel was a real find and the cozy lounge was the ideal place to curl up with a glass of wine after dinner.  The large gardens were another plus as they were shaded by centuries-old trees and scattered with fountains. Luckily, we arrived in time for an evening stroll around the gardens before our meal.

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Day 3 we sadly left Les Planes for our final day’s cycle to Girona.  Our route was nearly all along a disused railway line.  The mostly flat terrain gave us some welcome easy pedaling.  We stopped off at the delightful village of Amer, an unspoiled (yet bustling) town with arcaded buildings set around the main square.  We continued parallel to the Ter River, past lush fields and woodland right into the heart of Girona.  There is plenty to explore in this medieval walled city, the striking gothic cathedral, hidden courtyards and a labyrinth of narrow streets.  The pastel-coloured houses that line the river give the city an enchanting element that was like no other city I have visited.  We stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, a family-run hotel on the site of an old convent, just a few minutes from the cathedral.

Girona Spain

Girona Spain

 

Would you consider a cycling holiday?

 
All pictures are the property of and used with permission of Inntravel.

Rome In a Day – Or Three

This guest post is brought to you by Jenni from Jet2.com.

 

Rome is one of those cities that everyone feels they have visited, even if they haven’t.  And they should.  Many times.  While it’s perfect as a city break, and flights to Rome are easy and cheap to come by, the sheer number of attractions and iconic buildings it has to offer can seem overwhelming for a first-time visitor.

Of course, the city puts the Rome into ‘romantic’ and is perfect to visit with a partner.  But if you are visiting with a good friend, you might be more interested in the ‘antic’s than the romantic.  The city is ideal for both.  Airlines such as Jet2.com provide excellent links to the city of Rome from many UK regional airports.

Forum in Rome Italy

Forum Rome by Stevan Bauer

 

As many of the well-known attractions can involve queues, pre-booked tickets and crowds, lots of visitors prefer to spend their first Rome trip sampling the general feel of the city: many buildings are stunning enough from the outside and can be enjoyed from a seat at a piazza cafe, in the sun, accompanied by Italian wine and local olives. Once the sun begins to set, there is a vibrant nightlife in the city and lots of unusual places to hang out.  Freni e Frizoni means ‘brakes and clutches’: you guessed it – it used to be a car garage.  Now, it draws a creative, studenty crowd, provides a grand buffet decorated with flowers and candles, and serves cocktails, as well as wine and beer.  A glass of wine is reasonably priced and the buffet is free until 10.00.

Alle Fratte di Trastevere Rome Italy

Used with permission from Alle Fratte di Trastevere

 

For a more formal meal, the AlleFratte di Trastevere is a cheap and cheerful trattoria.  Sitting outside in summer, with mozzarella and freshly baked bread, and with meals between £10 and £21and wine at €10–€11, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  Oh, and you can stay there too.

For an authentic Rome experience without the queues, there are lots of lesser-known attractions. Palazzo Valentiniis the headquarters of the province of Rome but what makes it intriguing is the state-of-the-art technology which has been used to reconstruct the ancient Roman houses which once lay below the building which stands there now.  The ruins of a bath are brought to life with sound effects and lasers, and under one part of the building was found – and is now all lit up and displayed under your feet – a first-century road next to a second-century wall.  Tours can be booked online, and in English.

Afternoon Boat Ride Villa Borghese Park Rome Italy

Afternoon Boat Ride Rome - Villa Borghese Park by David Paul Ohmer, on Flickr

 

If you can squeeze more in before your flights home, a wander to Villa Borghese Park can soak up plenty of relaxation time.  A beautiful green space in the city, there is a courtyard where you can drink coffee and watch the world go by. The park also hosts the Villa Borghese Art Gallery and the National Museum of Modern Art. Or perhaps you could save these until your next visit.

Because there will be one.

 

What would you do with one day in Rome?

Tenerife A Climate to Suit all Holidays

This guest post is brought to you by Jenni from Jet2holidays.

If you are one of those people who like to go on a summer holiday every year, you will know all about the excitement that overcomes us as the warmer months approach. There is something magical about the anticipation of a vacation in a sun-kissed paradise, especially if the preceding few months has been particularly difficult. In many ways, this annual ritual represents a far cheaper and significantly more convenient form of therapy!

Tenerife Canary Island Spain

One issue that seems to be a little contentious in many households is the choice of destination. Each individual member of the family may have their own opinions about which resort would tick all the necessary boxes, so it could be some time before a firm decision is made. There are some holiday locations, however, which have something to suit everyone, and many seasoned travelers would agree that Tenerife falls into this rather select category.


An Enigmatic Island

This enigmatic island is one of the Canaries and is located off the west coast of Africa. Despite its location, however, it remains resolutely Spanish in atmosphere. Tenerife has a number of highly impressive sandy beaches which are simply perfect for families with young children, and in the town centers there is plenty of fun-packed nightlife which will appeal to anyone who’s looking to have some fun after the sun has gone down.

Walking in Tenerife Canary Island Spain

The center of the island is home to a dense forest, and there are a number of hills and mountains. Because of these features, Tenerife has a special appeal for walkers and hikers. The fact that it’s a volcanic island and on the same line of latitude as the Sahara Desert means the temperatures can fluctuate greatly from one location to another. This microclimate is often a little unpredictable, but most visitors would agree it’s never boring.

Tenerife sea front Canary Island Spain

If you are yet to discover just why the Canary Islands provide the perfect vacation for all ages, it’s high time you made the trip. There are so many good reasons to visit, and with Jet2holidays offering cheap holidays to Tenerife there has surely never been a better time to go. All you need to do to find the ultra-low fares is log on to the web and make a booking. In these days of financial hardship, it’s good to know there are still some great deals that are just waiting to be found.

 

Would you spend your holiday in Tenerife?

All photos are property of Jet2holidays

Visiting Zurich

Besides being in one of the most beautiful countries or having an excellent airport to fly into, why should you visit Zurich?  Here is a sponsored post that will shed a little light on Zurich Switzerland!


Located on the North Western tip of Lake Zurich is Switzerland’s most prevalent city, Zurich.  The history of Zurich dates back over 2000 years when the city was called Turicum. Today Zurich is a global leader and one of the world’s top financial centers, with numerous companies setting up research centers to take advantage of the low tax rate.  Zurich has been named Europe’s wealthiest city, with the world’s highest quality of life.  These elements in addition to the cities pristine location make it a truly extraordinary place to visit.

The Lake

With its illuminating blue water, and sprawling shore line this lake is a natural gem. The lake has a number of public beaches giving tourists easy access to the water. This is a bonus during the hot summer months as you will always be able to take a quick dip in the water to cool off! The lake also offers an array of different options for water sports. So if you are interested in sailing, water skiing, paddle boating, tubing or kayaking you will be able to do it on Zurich Lake.  For sail boat rentals close to the city of Zurich check out Zimi Sailing.

Zürich Switzerland and its lake

Zürich and lake Zürich by MadGeographer

Exploring the City

Zurich’s ancient history gives the city a special feeling. Take the time to explore Zurich by foot, as there are numerous historical sites and points of interests that should not be missed! Strolling along the Limmat River to the lake is a wonderful way to spend time.  Zurich also offers many museums, art galleries, theaters, churches, parks and exceptional shopping!  Of course, there are a variety of cafes and restaurant’s within the city that provide endless amounts of mouthwatering food that has to be tasted! For traditional Swiss food you might want to try a river side restaurant like Haus zum Rüden.

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich Switzerland

Augustinergasse in Lindenhof quarter, Zürich (Switzerland) by Roland zh

Chocolate

Swiss Chocolate has a world renowned reputation and for good reason! It is a must that you treat yourself to at least three different chocolates while visiting the city ;-) There are a variety of different choices of chocolate to pick from and a chocolate shop on every corner (or so it seems).  But if sweets are your passion, you don’t have to stop at chocolate.  You could opt for a traditional Luxemburgerli which is a special macaron. In addition the Lindt factory, only fifteen minutes from the city center, offers tours of the factory and discounted chocolate is sold!

Confiseur Läderach Zurich Switzerland

Confiseur Läderach by bigbirdz, on Flickr

Finding a hotel in Zurich

Switzerland is known for its high prices whether it be for food, souvenirs, or hotels. To help keep costs down, while getting a true feel for the Swiss culture, try staying with a local! This can easily be done through Wimdu who offers an online private rental platform with 50,000 listings worldwide. It is here that you will be able to find trendy city center rooms or quiet apartments just outside the city limits.

 

What is your favorite way to enjoy a day in Zurich?

Epicurean’s Guide to Europe: Delicious Dishes You Have To Try!

As I mentioned in German Food Traditional & Tasty, food may not be a reason I visit a city but it is definitely something I look forward to!  Here is a guest post exploring more of Europe’s cuisine.  Enjoy!

 

Epicureans will travel the world to experience masterfully created flavors. When visiting Europe, epicureans simply must put these countries at the top of their lists.

 

Spain 

Tapas in Spain

Tapas by Ben Sutherland, on Flickr

Spain has many wonderful regions that foodies will want to explore. If you have to focus on one area, though, make it Basque Country where you will find a lot of variety to satisfy all of your cravings!

The Basque Country has earned a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in Spain. In this region, though, they usually serve tapas on bread with a “spike” through the ingredients so it all holds together. They call it pinxto, which takes its name from the word for “spike.” Expect to find pinxtos containing olives, cured meats, cod, stuffed peppers and regional cheeses.

Turkey

Turkish cuisine can vary significantly depending on where you travel. The region near the Black Sea, for instance, uses a local anchovy that offers a distinctive flavor. No matter where you go, though, you will find homemade recipes that have been in families for generations.

When in Turkey, look for dishes carefully built around grilled meats, dates, pistachios, lentils and eggplant.

If you have recently been in other parts of Europe when you visit Turkey, you will immediately notice that Turkish cooks use spices more sparingly than those in other countries. As an epicurean, you need to experience how wonderful this simplicity can taste. It will show you that amazing food doesn’t necessarily need a complex recipe.

France 

Pot de Creme Dessert France

Pot de Creme by arnold | inuyaki, on Flickr

One could argue that excellent European cuisine began in France. The country’s chefs maintain a long tradition of technical skill and innovative flavors that should put it right at the top of your list.

When visiting France, pay careful attention to two things – dessert and wine. Some desserts to include are:

  • Tart tatin (an upside-down tart with apples)
  • Flaugnarde (a large pancake filled with various fruits)
  • Pot de crème (a potted custard)
  • Koign-amann (a kind of puffed pastry)

If you find a really good restaurant (which is easy considering that Paris alone has about 100 Michelin-rated restaurants), then a sommelier can pair your dessert with the perfect wine.

Italy 

Branzino all'acqua pazza Cuisine Italy

Branzino all'acqua pazza by 10Rosso, on Flickr

You probably think of pasta when you think of Italy. You can certainly find plenty of pasta dishes throughout Italy, but the country really excels when it comes to seafood. Only an Alaskan cruise excursion could give you access to fresher seafood!

Some dishes to look for include:

  • Cappon magro (a large seafood salad with a thick sauce)
  • Acqua pazza (poached white fish)
  • Cacciucco (a fish stew)
  • Scampi in the shell

To really get a thrill, visit an open-air market in the morning. You will see gigantic fish that still have their heads attached but don’t let this have a ruin your afternoon meal! In Italy, every part of the fish gets used to make some of the most delicious soups and sauces you will ever taste.

Germany

Germany’s epicurean fame typically comes from its commitment to excellent beers and processed meats. It has that reputation for some very good reasons. In fact, breweries around the world still use the Bavarian Purity Law from 1487 to make high-quality beer with only the most essential ingredients.

When you venture into Germany expect to find plenty of meat dishes including those made of: lamb, goat, duck, turkey, pork and beef.

You’ll swear that you can live off sausage alone once you’ve toured through Germany.


Europe has diverse cuisine that not only varies from country to country, but city to city. For the true epicurean, every European destination lies somewhere on the list of must-visit places.

 

What is your favorite European cuisine or food?

 

This guest post was brought to you by Miles Young,  a freelance travel writer who specializes in all things outdoors. Whether it’s biking, vacations, cruising or just exploring the city, Miles has done it all. When he’s not out conquering the world he’s geeking out on tech or attempting to play the piano. You can reach Miles at mrmilesyoung@gmail.com.

London Bridge through the Ages

The London Bridge has been at the heart of the English capital for its entire history, playing a vital role in linking the north and south banks of the River Thames. There has not only been one London Bridge, however.  The name has referred to a number of very different structures over the ages.

Origins

London as a major metropolis came into being after the Roman invasion in AD 43. Although trade along the Thames was by then well established, it was the invaders who first bridged it, probably with a pontoon bridge of the sort used by troops. The first permanent, substantial London Bridge appeared a little over a decade later, but this wooden edifice was destroyed during the revolt led by Boudica in AD 60. Once the rebellion had been put down, the London Bridge was rebuilt.  This cross-river link helped to confirm London as the capital of the Roman province of Britannia.

Medieval times

When the Roman legions departed from Britain, around AD 410, the engineering skills required to maintain the London Bridge went with them and the bridge gradually decayed until late Saxon times. During this period and the first century of Norman rule, the London Bridge was rebuilt several times after destruction resulting both from military action and natural causes, such as the tornado of 1091. The final structure from this period, originally ordered by Henry II, was finished in 1209. This timber bridge survived for 600 years and, at its height during the Tudor period, boasted 200 shops along its 800-foot length.

London Bridge at night London England

London Bridge Illuminated by burge5000

The 19th century bridge

By the 19th century, it was clear that the ancient bridge was inadequate for the much larger London of the Industrial Revolution. In 1831, the new five-arched stone bridge was opened and the medieval bridge was then demolished. Although the new London Bridge had more capacity than the one it replaced, as the city continued to grow, it in turn became overcrowded. By the turn of the 20th century, the London Bridge was the single worst point of congestion in the entire capital.  In fact, the sheer weight of vehicles crossing it every day lead to the foundation beginning to sink.

London Bridge today

Despite its flaws, it took until the second half of the 20th century for this London Bridge to be replaced. Famously, it was purchased by an American businessman, who had it shipped in pieces to the US and reassembled in Arizona. The replacement bridge, the one that stands today, was opened by the Queen in 1973. This is a straightforward concrete box girder bridge, which does not have the elegance of some of its predecessors but is able to stand up to the high demands of 21st-century traffic.

The many visitors who stay in London Bridge hotels today may well pass over the bridge regularly without ever realizing the two millennia of history behind this Thames crossing!

 

Have you crossed the London Bridge without realizing its history?

 

This article was brought to you by Mercure hotels.