Archive | October 2015

Toulouse in pictures

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The best pistachio and raspberry tart probably in the world. Find it at the cafe O The Divin.

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I like these blue shutters!

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The interiors of the convent

Day trip to Ronda in pictures

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Zahara de la Sierra

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Main street in Zahara de la Sierra

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Barcelona!!

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Barcelona. Wow is the one word that sums it up for me. I don’t know about you but when other people get excited about a town and tell me about it, I’m excited for them and with them but don’t have the feeling for the town because, obviously I haven’t been there. Let me tell you about it! The public transport system is easy to navigate and there are nice tourist day passes or 10-trip cards that make buying tickets so much easier. A metro every 3 minutes? Yes please!

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Of course, if you’re in Barcelona, a MUST SEE (clichéd “must sees” but really, it’s a must see) is the Sagrada Familia. Designed by Gaudi and even though currently still under construction, this towering cathedral will leave you gobsmacked. I expected it to be big but in person, it’s enormous. And fascinatingly, the yet to be built tallest tower is going to be even taller than the existing ones. I paid for the audio guide and also to go up the nativity tower but I think if you don’t want to go up the tower, you’re not missing out on much except city views. I’m not sure why but I was expecting great interior architecture inside the tower….obviously I do not study architecture.

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A quick metro ride away is Barcelona beach. Well, it’s a strip of beaches but they’re each called different names. Fun fact that I learnt, the beaches are man-made and the sand has been shipped from Egypt. The water is really nice and if it’s not windy, would be such a nice day outside!

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During my few days (too short!) in Barcelona, the annual La Merce festival was on. There were many events happening around the city and one that I did catch was the Correfoc or ‘fire run’. People dressed as devils with fireworks were going through the streets dancing to different rhythmic drumming groups (set course not running through every street) and was suppose to turn this part of the city into hell for the duration of the event. What an event! I didn’t take part as I wasn’t well dressed (you get small holes in your clothes) but from observing everyone who did, they seemed to be having a great time. It was great to see because an event like this in Australia would not exist due to how “dangerous” this event would be classified as.

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There are plenty of tours around as well to see the city and surrounding mountains. On this trip I look a free walking tour and a Gaudi tour. These modernists buildings are hidden around the city and some even on small streets that you may not even find! Modernism is just a part of Barcelona.

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One of my favourite parts of this city was La Boqueria market on the Rambla. Fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, meat, cheese and ready to go fruit containers (my favourite) are what this market is about. The fresh fruit containers and fresh fruit juices seemed to be very popular. I found the prices here cheaper than the supermarket and more fresh so definitely put it on your list.

I didn’t expect to like Barcelona this much but everyone was very friendly and even though it was quite touristy, I got the sense that the Catalans pride themselves in their city and what they can offer. Let us now get into a discussion about Spain and Barcelona. It’s such a liveable city that once was not, so it was great to see what a bustling city it is now.

Have you visited Barcelona? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

-S.

Day trip to Ronda, Spain

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I am a big fan of day tours especially over half day tours (they are too rushed) so, whilst in Seville, I decided that I wanted to go and see Ronda. After going to the tourist office, I booked in on a day tour. The landscape changed so quickly once you get out of town and continued to change the further out you go. We saw farm lands, fields of olive trees, a national park and cork trees!

The first town we stopped at was Zahara de la Sierra. This town is one of the ‘Pueblos Blancos’ or white towns dotted in Andalusia. Spectacular. It was a tiny town but we only stopped for a morning tea break. I had heard a rumour that these towns are required to paint their houses white at least twice a year but cannot confirm! Our guide assured us that we would see at least one house painting their house today. We didn’t end up seeing any! The photo above and below are of Zahara de la Sierra.

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After a rocky descent up surrounding mountains and over the hill and far away, we stopped at another pueblo blancos, Grazalema for lunch. This town was bigger and I think, a stopping point for different tour groups. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any time to walk around to discover the city but this is where the local area hospital and high school are. And then, we went to Ronda.

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This town was packed with tourists but I am told that there are even more in the peak summer season. The viewing point for this picture above is off the beaten track so I was so happy that our guide brought us here. There was no-one around allowing an un-interrupted picture for once. This is the bridge that comes up when you google Ronda. This town (I guess much like the rest of the big towns in Andalusia) has a mixture of roman ruins and Christian and Muslim architecture co-exisiting. Ronda is also surrounding by fields so don’t forget to also look out and beyond.

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If you’re without a car, I would recommend a tour as the pueblos blancos are each quite small. Taking a bus out and then having to find another bus to your next destination will be quite hard as buses don’t run very frequently to these small towns and they are worth seeing if you’re in the area. We had 1-hour free time in Ronda, but I think you could spend at least half a day there walking around the town. Remember to pack your good walking shoes as these towns away from main cities tend to be very hilly and paths stoney.

Have you been out to any other pueblos blancos? Let me know in the comments!

-S.