Δευτέρα, 26 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

DUBAI

DUBAI

A DESERT THAT HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED INTO A PARADISE
A LUXURIOUS PARADISE!


DUBAI WAS JUST A SMALL TRADING PORT AND FISHING VILLAGE. THE INHABITANTS WERE PRACTICING THE PEARLING INDUSTRY AS WELL. IT WAS A GATEWAY BETWEEN EAST AND WEST. 
DURING THE YEARS DUBAI HAS DEVELOPED INTO A MODERN ARCHITECTURAL MARVEL WITH BIG SKYSCRAPERS, HUGE SHOPPING MALLS, LUXURIOUS HOTELS AND RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS.

DUBAI HAS A LOT TO OFFER FOR EVERYONE…

AL BASTAKIYA IS THE ORIGINAL OLD CENTRE OF DUBAI. IT HAS NARROW LANES AND HOUSES WITH TALL CHIMNEY-LIKE STRUCTURES, CALLED “WIND TOWERS”.

IN THE AREA, YOU WILL FIND THE DUBAI MUSEUM, WHICH IS HOUSED IN AL FAHIDI FORT. LIFE-SIZE FIGURES AND SOUND EFFECTS DISPLAY EVERYDAY LIFE IN OLD DUBAI. 
A VISIT IN THE MUSEUM IS A MUST TO GET TO KNOW DUBAI’S COLORFUL PAST.
A WALK ALONG THE EDGE OF THE CREEK IN THE BASTAKIYA DISTRICT WILL TAKE YOU TO A NUMBER OF OUTDOOR RESTAURANTS. IT IS A GREAT PLACE TO ENJOY ARABIC FOOD WHILE WATCHING THE RIVER TRAFFIC.

A VERY ROMANTIC WAY TO ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL AREA OF THE CREEK IS A DINNER CRUISE BY THE CREEK, ON A DHOW. (DHOW IS THE TRADITIONAL ARABIAN SHIP).
YOU CAN ALSO TAKE A TRIP DOWN THE CREEK ON AN ABRA (TRADITIONAL WATER TAXI). (IT’S VERY-VERY CHEAP)
A VISIT TO THE CULTURE VILLAGE, WHICH FEATURES MUSEUMS, EXHIBITION HALLS, ART AND CRAFT GALLERIES, WILL ALSO GIVE YOU THE CHANCE TO KNOW DUBAI OF THE PAST.

SOME OF THE PARKS OF DUBAI WHERE YOU CAN SPEND A LOT OF FUN TIME ARE:
WILD WAFI WATERPARK IS A 12-ACRE WATER PARK, WHERE THE FUN NEVER ENDS!
CREEKSIDE PARK BOTANICAL GARDENS, FISHING PIERS, JOGGING TRACKS, BARBECUE SITES, CHILDREN’S PLAYING GROUNDS, RESTAURANTS AND AN AMPHITHEATRE .
THERE IS A CABLE CAR THAT YOU CAN GET, TO ENJOY THE PARK.


JUMEIRAH BEACH PARK IS A BIG AREA BY THE BEACH, IN THE GULF OF DUBAI. WHITE SAND, PALM TREES AND CLEAR WATERS ARE WHAT YOU WILL ENJOY IN THIS PARK.
DUBAI GOLF CITY IS A VERY BIG AREA WITH RESTAURANTS BY THE WATER AND OF COURSE A HUGE GOLF GROUND. VERY BEAUTIFUL AT NIGHT TIME, WHERE THE LIGHTS OF THE CITY ARE MIRRORED IN THE WATER!
DUBAI MARINA IS HUGE! AND IT IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION (2010).
LUXURIOUS HOTELS, CAFÉS, RESTAURANTS AND PLAYGROUNDS.
A CRUISE WITH A DHOW IN DUBAI MARINA IS ALSO A VERY BEAUTIFUL WAY TO SEE THE AREA.


DUBAI IS THE COUNTRY OF CONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT. EVERY NOW AND THEN, A BRAND NEW BUILDING IS READY FOR PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD TO ENJOY.

SOME OF THE PROJECTS ARE:

THE PALM ISLANDS: THE PALM JEBEL ALI, THE PALM DEIRA AND THE PALM JUMEIRAH, WHICH IS ALREADY FINISHED AND INHABITED!

THE WORLD, WHICH COMPRISES OF 300 ISLANDS!
THE UNIVERSE, WHICH WILL BE CORAL-SHAPED ISLANDS, TO BE USED AS RESIDENTIAL AREAS. (15-20 YEARS TO BE COMPLETE!)  
BURJ DUBAI IS THE TALLEST TOWER IN THE WORLD!
DUBAI TOWERS ARE TWO TWIN BUILDINGS THAT ARE ALWAYS RECOGNIZABLE IN THE DUBAI SKY.

THE DUBAI HOTELS SCREAM TO EACH OTHER OF WHICH ONE IS THE BIGGEST AND THE MOST LUXURIOUS!...

SO….DO NOT MISS A VISIT TO:

BURJ AL ARAB HOTEL: LUXURY, LUXURY, LUXURY AND ALL OF THAT IN THE SEA!!! YES IN THE SEA! (IS THE HOTEL OF THE PICTURE ABOVE). YOU NEED TO HAVE A RESERVATION FOR ONE OF THE HOTEL’S RESTAURANTS, OTHERWISE YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO GET IN! RESERVATIONS WELL IN ADVANCE BECAUSE THEY ARE ALWAYS FULL! IT IS A BIT PRICY BUT BELIEVE ME, IT WORTH’S IT!

JUMEIRAH BEACH HOTEL: RIGHT OPPOSITE THE BURJ AL ARAB, BY THE SEA OF THE AREA JUMEIRA. VERY IMPRESSIVE!

AL QASR HOTEL: WHAT CAN I SAY…..WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH!...
A HUGE ARABIC STYLE COMPLEX OF LUXURIOUS ROOMS, RESTAURANTS, CAFES AND A SOUK (SOUK MADINAT).  ALL OF THAT SURROUNDED BY A HUGE ARTIFICIAL LAKE, SO CRYSTAL CLEAR THAT YOU WON’T BELIEVE IS MAN-MADE!
AND THE “ABRAS” PASSING THROUGH THE CANALS OF THIS LAKE, SO THAT YOU CAN CATCH ONE AND HAVE A MINI CRUISE BY GOING TO THE DEFERENT AREAS OF THE COMPLEX!
IT’S MAGIC!…YOU CAN SPEND HOURS AND HOURS PAMPERING YOURSELF IN AL QASR!


MINA A’ SALAM HOTEL IS LOCATED IN THE SAME LAKE AS AL QASR, AND IS AS BEAUTIFUL AND WONDERFUL AS AL QASR.
ATLANTIS HOTEL, THE PALM IT IS LOCATED IN THE PALM JUMEIRAH AND IS THE TWIN OF THE ATLANTIS HOTEL OF NASSAU, BAHAMAS IN THE CARIBBEAN. HUGE AND LUXURIOUS. TROPICAL GARDENS, BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES, LAKES, AQUARIUM AND SO MANY OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS TO ENJOY…

THE LIST OF THE HOTELS OF DUBAI ARE ENDLESS…AND IT IS GETTING BIGGER BY THE MINUTE!... I JUST MENTION A FEW, BUT YOU CAN FIND MANY-MANY OTHERS AS WELL.
BARE IN MIND THAT MOST OF THE HOTELS HAVE RESTRICTED AREAS IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE PRIVACY OF THEIR CUSTOMERS.
BUT THERE ARE MANY GROUNDS OF THE HOTELS THAT YOU CAN ENJOY BY YOUR VISIT. AFTER ALL, DUBAI IS TO VISIT AND MARVEL THE EXTREME ARCHITECTURE OF THE HOTELS AND OTHER BUILDINGS.

DUBAI IS UNDOUBTEDLY A SHOPPER’S PARADISE! WITH SO MANY SHOPPING MALLS, MODERN ONES AND TRADITIONAL ONES. WITH THE “SOUKS”, BETTER KNOWN AS “BAZAARS”. AND THE PRICES; OF THE WORLDS BEST! YOU CAN GET A HUGE RANGE OF ELECTRONICS, FASHION WEAR, TEXTILES, PERFUMES, GOLD JEWELLERY, LEATHER GOODS, SILVER AND BRASS ITEMS, PERSIAN CARPETS AND MANY MANY MORE…IT IS A SHOPPER’S PARADISE!

ENJOY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING, OR EVEN BETTER, ALL OF THEM!

SPICE SOUK THE AIR IS HEAVY IN THE TINY LANES AND ALLEYWAYS OF THE SOUK. THAT IS OF THE AROMAS OF THE SPICES, DRIED FRUITS, PERFUMES AND ARABIC COFFEE.
THIS SOUK IS AN ENJOYMENT FOR THE EYES BECAUSE IT IS FULL OF COLORS!

GOLD SOUK IS UNDOUBTEDLY DUBAI’S MOST FAMOUS SOUK. IS WHERE YOU CAN GET VERY HAPPY BY BUYING GOLD!  THE PRICES ARE AMONG THE LOWEST IN THE WORLD!!!! AND DO NOT FORGET THE BARGAIN IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD IS A CUSTOM. YOU CAN GET REALLY GOOD PRICE BY BARGAINING!

AL KARAMA IS A SHOPPING AREA WITH TWO CENTRAL STREETS LINED WITH LOTS OF SMALL SHOPS WITH REASONABLY PRICES ON CLOTHING AND “ALMOST GENUINE” DESIGNER FASHION.
WAFI CITY WITH PYRAMID-SHAPED ROOFS IS ONE OF THE MOST ELEGANT SHOPPING COMPLEXES IN DUBAI, HAVING THE ARABIC ELEMENT IN ITS DESIGN.
MADINAT SOUK SHOPPING IN OPEN-FRONTED SHOPS IN A BAZAAR-LIKE ATMOSPHERE AND DINING IN TERRACED RESTAURANTS AND BARS OVERLOOK WATERWAYS AND WIND TOWERS.(LOCATED IN AL QASR HOTEL).
MALL OF THE EMIRATES HAS 350 SHOPS AND THE KEMPINSKI HOTEL WITH THE WORLD’S THIRD-LARGEST INDOOR SKI SLOPE!
DUBAI MALL IS A SHOPPERS PARADISE WITH MORE THAN 1200 SHOPS, 160 FOOD OUTLETS AND AN AQUARIUM, HOME TO 33,000 SPICES OF FISHES.
OUTSIDE OF THE MALL, THERE IS A VAST AREA OF BUILDINGS INCLUDING HOTELS, SOUKS AND APARTMENTS. ALL OF THAT ARE BUILD IN THE CANALS OF A LAKE (AGAIN ARTIFICIAL! DO NOT FORGET THAT DUBAI IS A DESERT!). IN THIS LAKE THERE IS A “SINGING FOUNTAIN” SHOW, ABOUT EVERY 20 MINUTES. IT IS SOMETHING YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS!...
THE BURJ DUBAI, WORLDS TALLEST BUILDING IS LOCATED IN THIS AREA AS WELL.

EVERY FEBRUARY, THEY HAVE THE “DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL”. IS THE BEST TIME FOR SOMEONE TO SHOP, AS THE ARE PUTTING UP MANY SPECIAL OFFERS. BUT IT IS VERY CROWDED AND THE HOTELS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE DUE TO HIGH DEMAND.

FOOD: FROM STREET-SIDE CAFES TO FIVE STAR DINING YOU CAN FIND A MIX OF LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL TASTES. FISH IS AT ITS BEST BECAUSE IS FRESH FROM THE GULF SEA. SHISHA PIPE (ARGYLE) IS VERY POPULAR IN LOCAL CAFÉS AND RESTAURANTS.
TOURS THAT YOU CAN ENJOY WHILE YOU ARE IN DUBAI:

EAST COAST TOUR: VISIT FUJAIRAH, ONE OF THE 7 EMIRATES (ABU DHABI-THE CAPITAL, AJMAN, FUJAIRAH, RAS AL KHAIMAH, SHARJAH, AND UM AL QUWAIN).
IN THIS TOUR YOU WILL SEE HAJAR MOUNTAINS, THE DIBBA VILLAGE, THE INDIAN OCEAN, FUJAIRAH’S OLD FORT’S RUINS AND AL BADIYAH MOSQUE WHICH IS THE OLDEST MOSQUE IN THE EMIRATES.
DESERT SAFARI :FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE DESERT RALLY, SAND SKIING, HENNA PAINTING AND TATTOOS, CAMEL RIDING, DUNE DINNER AT SUNSET WITH ARABIC MUSIC, ARABIC DANCE AND ARABIC BARBECUE. ALL OF THAT UNDER THE STARS…VERY ROMANTIC!

DUBAI CITY TOUR: THERE IS A DOUBLE –DECKER, BRITISH-STYLE BUS TOUR, THAT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE MOST INTERESTING PARTS OF THE CITY.
YOU CAN-HOP-ON AND OFF WHICH IS VERY CONVENIENT.

DUBAI IS AVERY HOT COUNTRY, SO BRING WITH YOU SUMMER CLOTHS, (COTTON ONES ARE THE COOLEST) BUT DO NOT FORGET THAT IT IS AN ARABIC COUNTRY THAT YOU ARE VISITING AND MANY EUROPEAN STYLE CLOTHING ARE CONSIDERED “NOT APPROPRIATE”! BUT THEN AGAIN, DUBAI IS A VERY MODERN COUNTRY AS WELL! JUST DON’T OVERDO IT WITH THE CLOTHES OTHERWISE YOU WILL GET VERY STRANGE LOOKS FROM THE LOCALS. THEY ARE VERY POLITE BUT THEY STARE…

ENJOY YOUR VISIT IN DUBAI
AND COME BACK IN A FEW YEARS
IT WILL BE DIFFERENT!...


ALL THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY DESPINA ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. PICTURES CAN ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT OF DESPINA AND THEY HAVE TO BE LINKED BACK TO THIS BLOG. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO USE THE PICTURES FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DESPINA.


Κυριακή, 25 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

MALAYSIA

MALAYSIA

TRULY ASIA

MALAYS, CHINESE, INDIANS AND MANY OTHER ETHNIC GROUPS HAVE LIVED TOGETHER IN MALAYSIA FOR GENERATIONS. THIS MOSAIC OF CULTURES, HAD CREATED A TRULY MALAYSIAN ONE! EVERYTHING, FROM ITS PEOPLE TO ITS ARCHITECTURE, REFLECTS A COLORFUL HERITAGE AND CULTURE. THIS LAND OF DIVERSITY HAS BEEN A PART OF THE INTERNATIONAL “SPICE ROUTE”, MANY HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO, WHEN TRADERS FROM INDIA AND CHINA ESTABLISHED TRADING PORTS IN THE AREA.
ITS ORIGIN IS IN THE MALAY KINGDOM, WHICH FROM THE 18TH CENTURY, BECAME SUBJECT TO THE BRITISH EMPIRE. STILL VIVID IS THE EVIDENCE OF THE BRITISH COLONIZATION IN MANY BUILDINGS AND IN MANY AREAS OF THE COUNTRY.
ONE OF MALAYSIA’S KEY ATTRACTIONS IS ITS CONTRASTS. BIG SKYSCRAPERS LOOKING DOWN UPON WOODEN HOUSES ON STILTS AND FIVE-STAR HOTELS SITUATED JUST A FEW METERS AWAY FROM ANCIENT REEFS!


SO HAVE FUN IN MALAYSIA
THE TRULY ASIA COUNTRY!


KUALA LUMPUR IS THE CAPITAL, A BIG METROPOLIS WITH THE TALLEST SKYSCRAPERS IN ASIA, INCLUDING THE HIGHEST TOWERS OF THE WORLD, THE PETRONAS TOWERS. (AFTER THE BUILDING OF THE BURJ AL DUBAI IN DUBAI, THE PETRONAS HAVE LOST THEIR TITLE AS THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD).
THE CONFLUENCE OF THE RIVERS KLANG AND GOMBAK IS THE BIRTH AREA OF THE CITY, THE SPOT WHERE THE FIRST SETTLERS BUILT THEIR SHACKS. MANY HISTORIC TEMPLES AND MOSQUES ARE STILL STANDING IN THEIR ORIGINAL SPOTS, WITH MASJID JAME MOSQUE THE OLDEST ONE, FROM 1908.

THE DATARAN MERDEKA AND THE PETALING STREET NIGHT MARKET ARE TWO AREAS WHERE THE CITY’S PAST IS EVIDENCE IN THE COLONIAL BUILDINGS AND IN THE MIDNIGHT LAMPS OF THE STREETS.
THE DATARAN MERDEKA WAS ONCE THE CRICKET CENTRE OF THE BRITISH COLONY. ON ONE CORNER OF THE MAIN SQUARE IS THE SELANGOR CLUB, ONCE THE SOCIAL CENTRE OF THE BRITISH RESIDENTS. NEARBY IS ST. MARY’S CATHEDRAL, A NEO-GOTHIC CHURCH MORE THAN A HUNDRED YEARS OLD. ON AUGUST 31 OF 1957 THE MALAYAN FLAG FLUE FREELY IN THE DATARAN MERDEKA, SIGNALING THE COUNTRY’S INDEPENDENCE. THERE IS A 100 METER FLAGPOLE IN THE SAME SPOT.

THE SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD BUILDING IS AN IMPRESSIVE ARCHITECTURAL FEATURE WITH GLEAMING COPPER DOMES AND A 130 METER CLOCK TOWER.  IT WAS BUILT IN 1897 AS THE CENTRE OF THE BRITISH ADMINISTRATION AND TODAY IT HOUSES THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT AND INFOKRAF, WHICH IS A CENTRE FOR MALAYSIAN HANDICRAFTS.

THE LAKE GARDENS (TAMAN TASIK PERDANA) DATES BACK TO THE 1880s AND IS THE CITY’S MOST POPULAR PARK. IT IS A VERY BIG PARK WITH AN ARTIFICIAL LAKE, MANY TREES, FLOWERS, JOGGING TRACKS AND A CHILDERS PLAYGROUND. MANY MUSICAL AND CULTURAL PERFORMANCES ARE BEING HELD IN THE PARK. IN THE LAKE GARDENS ARE LOCATED MANY ATTRACTIONS OF THE CITY SUCH AS THE BOTANICAL GARDENS AND THE NATIONAL MUSEUM WITH A HISTORICAL GALLERY, A CULTURAL GALLERY, A MUSICAL GALLERY, A NATURAL HISTORY GALLERY AND A NATIONAL SPORTS GALLERY.

THE CARCOSA SERI NEGARA IS TWO 19TH CENTURY COLONIAL MANSIONS ON A HILLTOP OVERLOOKING THE LAKE GARDENS. IT WAS THE RESIDENCE OF THE BRITISH GOVERNOR AND THE HIGH COMMISSIONERS TODAY IS AN EXCLUSIVE HOTEL!

THE PARLIAMENT HOUSE IS ALSO OVERLOOKING THE LAKE GARDENS AND VISITORS ARE ALLOWED TO VISIT PARTS OF THE BUILDING BY PRIOR ARRANGEMENT WITH THE AUTHORITIES.

THE ISTANA NEGARA IS THE RESIDENCE OF THE KING. IT IS LOCATED ON A HILL AT JALAN ISTANA AREA AND IT IS SURROUNDED BY GREEN LAWNS, PONDS AND TREES. ON CEREMONIES AND OTHER SPECIAL OCCASIONS THE PALACE IS LIT-UP AND IT LOOKS VERY PRETTY.

THE CENTRE OF THE CHINATOWN IS PETALING STREET, WHICH MAINTAINS MUCH OF ITS TRADITIONAL ATMOSPHERE. AT NIGHT, VENDORS SPREAD THEIR MERCHANDISE OUT ON THE STREET, MAKING THE NIGHT MARKET AS VIVID AND AS LIVELY AS CAN BE.

THE CENTRAL MARKET WITH IT’S ART DECO STRUCTURE, IS A CENTRE OF MALAYSIAN CULTURE, ARTS AND CRAFTS. MANY PERFORMANCES, DEMONSTRATIONS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES ARE BEING HELD HERE INCLUDING BATIK PAINTING, FORTUNE TELLING, PUPPET SHOWS, GLASS BLOWING AND MANY OTHERS.

THE NATIONAL ZOO AND AQUARIUM IS ABOUT 13 KLM FROM THE CITY AND IT EXHIBITS MANY ANIMALS, BIRDS AND A BIG COLLECTION OF MARINE SPECIES.

THE KUALA LUMPUR RAILWAY STATION AND THE MALAYAN RAILWAY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING ARE OF MOORISH STYLE AND FINE EXAMPLES OF THE BRITISH COLONIAL ARCHITECTURE.

THE PETRONAS TOWERS IS THE SYMBOL OF THE CITY AND UNTIL RECENTLY WAS THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD! IT IS REALLY A VERY IMPRESSIVE SKYSCRAPER, SHOWING THE AMAZING GROWTH OF THE COUNTRY OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES! THE PETRONAS ARE ACTUALLY TWO IDENTICAL TOWERS JOINED WITH A HIGH RISE BRIDGE. GREAT VIEW FROM ITS HIGH LEVEL FLOORS!

THE ORCHID GARDENS EXHIBIT MORE THAN 800 SPECIES OF THIS BEAUTIFUL FLOWER, WHICH ARE ON SALE HERE ONLY ON WEEKENDS FROM 10am TO 6pm.

THE BUTTERFLY PARK EXHIBITS MORE THAN 6000 BUTTERFLIES OF MORE THAN 120 SPECIES IN A RAINFOREST ATMOSPHERE. THERE IS A NURSERY AND A BREEDING AREA FOR THE BUTTERFLIES IN THE PARK.


THE KUALA LUMPUR BIRD PARK IS THE LARGEST IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA WITH THOUSANDS OF BIRDS.



MALACCA  


                                 
THE CITY WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT OF WOOD AND TRADITIONAL MALAY HOUSES STILL HANG OVER THE WATER ALONG THE SHORES OF THE MALACCA RIVER, WHERE THE SCENE HAS CHANGED LITTLE! UNFORTUNATELY NONE OF THE GLOW OF ITS GLORIOUS PAST, OF THE COLONIAL ERA, IS LEFT. THE PORTUGUESE, THAT CAPTURED AND OCCUPIED THE CITY IN 1511 FOR OVER A CENTURY, INFLUENCED THE ARCHITECTURE A LOT. THEY TAXED BUILDINGS RELATIVE TO THEIR WIDTH, A POLICY THAT ACCOUNTS FOR THE THIN FACADES, THE NUMEROUS STORIES AND THE BACKWARDS EXTENSIONS. AN ARCHITECTURE WE FIND IN AMSTERDAM AND GENERALLY IN THE NETHERLANDS AND ALL OF THE NETHERLAND AND PORTUGUESE COLONIES. IT IS A VERY PLEASANT CITY TO VISIT.

HOT AND HUMID IS THE WEATHER CONDITIONS OF MALAYSIA… THERE IS RAIN THROUGH THE YEAR BUT THE WETTEST MONTHS ARE MARCH, APRIL, SEPTEMBER AND NOVEMBER. SO IT IS ADVISABLE TO AVOID A VISIT AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, WHEN THE HUMIDITY IS AT ITS HIGHEST!
ENJOY YOUR TRIP IN THIS TRULY ASIA COUNTRY


ALL THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY DESPINA ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. PICTURES CAN ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT OF DESPINA AND THEY HAVE TO BE LINKED BACK TO THIS BLOG. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO USE THE PICTURES FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DESPINA.

Σάββατο, 24 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

COMOROS ISLANDS

COMOROS

THE EXOTIC ISLANDS


THE COUNTRY IS LOCATED OFF THE EASTERN COAST OF AFRICA, IN THE WESTERN INDIAN OCEAN. IT CONSISTS OF FOUR MAIN ISLANDS AND SEVERAL SMALL ONES IN THE VOLCANIC COMOROS ARCHIPELAGO. THE FOUR ISLANDS ARE GRANDE COMORE (NGAZIDJA), MOHELI (MWALI), ANJOUAN (NZWANI) AND MAYOTTE (MAORE). MAYOTTE IS THE OLDEST OF THE ISLANDS, AN ANCIENT VOLCANIC ISLAND WITH MOUNTAINS AND STREAMS. THE CAPITAL IS MORONI ON GRANDE COMORE, WHICH IS THE YOUNGEST OF THE ISLANDS AND IT HAS A MASSIVE, ACTIVE VOLCANO. THE OTHER TWO ISLANDS ARE MOUNTAINOUS BUT HAVE HAD NO RECENT VOLCANIC ACTIVITY. IN THE WATERS AROUND THE ISLANDS LIVES THE “COELACANTH”, A SPECIES OF FISH THAT WAS ONCE THOUGHT TO HAVE BEEN EXTINCT FOR 60 MILLION YEARS! IN 1938 IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT IT STILL EXIST AND IN THE 1950s IT HAS BEEN CAUGHT BY FISHERMEN IN THE COMOROS ISLANDS. SEVERAL HAVE BEEN SINCE CAUGHT! THERE IS A BIG ONE PRESERVED IN THE MUSEUM OF MORONI.

AS THE CROSSROAD OF MANY CIVILIZATIONS THE COUNTRY HAS A DIVERSE CULTURE AND A RICH HISTORY. RICH IN SWAHILI CULTURE THE CHARMING INHABITANTS COME FROM ARAB TRADERS, PERSIAN SULTANS, AFRICAN SLAVES AND PORTUGUESE PIRATES. THE NAME “COMOROS” COMES FROM THE ARABIC WORD “MOON”. THE FIRST INHABITANTS OF THE ISLANDS WERE AFRICAN SETTLERS WHO TRAVELED TO THE ISLANDS BY BOAT IN THE 6TH CENTURY AD.
THE ISLANDS BECAME A FRENCH COLONY AFTER WORLD WAR II AND GAINED THEIR INDEPENDENCE IN 1978, ALTHOUGH MAYOTTE CONTINUES TO BE A FRENCH COLONY UNTIL TODAY.

GRANDE COMORE IS THE LARGEST OF THE ISLANDS, WITH MORONI AS THE CAPITAL. IT FEELS LIKE ANOTHER WORLD! LAVA AND SANDY BEACHES WHERE BRILLIANT WHITE MEETS DARK VOLCANIC BLACK SAND! BANANAS, BREADFRUITS, VANILLA, YLANG-YLANG AND COCONUT PLANTATIONS FILL THE ISLAND. YLANG-YLANG IS A TREE THAT GROWS IN THE COMOROS AND ITS NAME MEANS “RARE”. IT HAS A VERY STRONG SCENT AND ITS OIL IS USED IN AROMATHERAPY. IT IS SAID THAT IT RELIEVES HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AND SOME SKIN PROBLEMS!
MORONI IS THE CAPITAL. IN THE COMORIAN LANGUAGE IT MEANS “IN THE HEART OF THE FIRE”, A NAME COMING FROM THE LARGEST ACTIVE VOLCANO IN THE WORLD, MT KARTHALA. ITS LAST BLOW WAS IN 2005, RESULTING MANY FLAT VILLAGES AND A DESERT MOUNTAINOUS LANDSCAPE! THE MORONI HARBOR IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN, ESPECIALLY AT SUNSET! VISIT
THE NARROW STREETS OF THE OLD ARAB QUARTER, THE OLD FRIDAY MOSQUE (ANCIENNE MOSQUEE DU VENDREDI), THE WHITE BUILDINGS OF THE SEAFRONT AND THE WOODEN BOATS MOORED BETWEEN VOLCANIC ROCK JETTIES!

MAYOTTE IS STILL A PART OF FRANCE. IT HAS THE WHITEST OF WHITE BEACHES AND TURQUOISE SEA!! IT PROVIDES EXCELLENT DIVING AND SNORKELING, AS WELL AS SAILING.

MOHELI IS THE SMALLEST ISLAND AND THE MOST UNDEVELOPED. IT IS WILD, WITH SEA TURTLES, DOLPHINS AND WHALES. ALL ARE PROTECTED IN THE “PARC MARIN DE MOHELI”. GENERALLY THE ISLAND HAS NOT STEPPED YET TO THE 21ST CENTURY, MAKING IT A PERFECT HIDEAWAY VACATION!

ANJOUAN, CALLED “THE PEARL OF COMOROS”, IS THE MOST SCENIC, KIND OF ROBINSON CRUSOE, DESERT, TROPICAL ISLAND! IT FEATURES FORESTED HILLS, RIVERS AND THE VOLCANO MT NTINGI. IT IS COVERED WITH VEGETATION LIKE LARGE FERNS, TROPICAL MAHOGANIES AND WILD ORCHIDS!

THE ISLANDS HAVE A TROPICAL CLIMATE WITH WET AND DRY SEASONS. THE WET SEASON IS FROM OCTOBER TO APRIL, WITH MARCH THE HOTTEST MONTH. THE DRY SEASON IS FROM MAY TO SEPTEMBER, WHICH ARE THE COOLER AND THE DRIER MONTHS, MAKING THIS PERIOD THE BEST FOR A VISIT TO THE COMOROS ISLANDS IN ORDER TO AVOID THE HIGH HUMIDITY OF THE TROPICS.

COMOROS ISLANDS ARE THE KIND OF PLACE YOU GO JUST TO DROP OFF OF EVERYTHING…THEY ARE SO REMOTE THAT YOU WILL FEEL LIKE A FUGITIVE! BUT REMEMBER…ISLAM AND ALL ITS TRADITIONS IS EVIDENT EVERYWHERE. THEREFORE, WOMEN ARE EXPECTED TO SHOW MODESTY AND COVER UP, AND ALCOHOL IS A NO-NO FOR BOTH SEXES! SO ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAYS IN THIS TROPICAL PARADISE WITHOUT ALCOHOL…


ALL THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY DESPINA ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. PICTURES CAN ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT OF DESPINA AND THEY HAVE TO BE LINKED BACK TO THIS BLOG. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO USE THE PICTURES FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DESPINA.







Παρασκευή, 23 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

SINGAPORE


SINGAPORE
THE CITY OF THE LION

THIS COSMOPOLITAN ISLAND, CALLED “TEMASEK” IN THE 14TH CENTURY, WAS ALWAYS A BUSTLING TRADING PLACE FOR MANY NATIONALITIES, INCLUDING THE ARABS, CHINESE, EUROPEANS, INDIANS AND MALAYS. LATER ITS NAME CHANGED TO “SINGA PURA” MEANING “THE LION CITY”. THE STORY HAS IT, THAT A PRINCE WHO ARRIVED IN TEMASEK TO SET UP HIS KINGDOM, SAW A LION AND GAVE THE ISLAND A NEW NAME.  IN 1819 SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES LANDED BY THE SINGAPORE RIVER AND ESTABLISHED A TRADING POST.
TODAY, SINGAPORE IS A CONFLUENCE OF RACES AND CULTURES, OF TRADITIONS AND INNOVATIONS, OF ASIAN AND WESTERN VALUES AND LIFESTYLES ALL BLENDING COMFORTABLE TOGETHER.
DISCOVER THIS BEAUTIFUL ISLAND FOR YOURSELF AND YOU’LL FIND OUT THAT IS MORE THAN JUST A “SHOPPERS PARADISE”, WHICH IT IS, AS THE PRICES OF ALL THINGS, ESPECIALLY ELECTRONICS ARE VERY LOW AND OF THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY!

ENJOY…

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE: THE MUSEUM CONSISTS OF TWO GALLERIES. THE SINGAPORE HISTORY GALLERY EXHIBITS ART DATING BACK TO THE 14TH CENTURY AND THE SINGAPORE LIVING GALLERY, WHICH EXHIBITS FASHION, FOOD, FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY. NEAREST METRO STATION: DHOBY GHAUT.
AT EMPRESS PLACE YOU’LL FIND THE ASIAN CIVILISATION MUSEUM.  
NEAREST METRO STATION: RAFFLES PLACE.
SINGAPORE ART MUSEUM: THE MUSEUM EXHIBITS CONTEMPORARY PIECES. NEAREST METRO: CITY HALL OR DHOBY GHAUT.

ETHNIC CORNERS:
BUGIS:  IS THE ARAB DISTRICT. VISIT THE SULTAN MOSQUE, ONE OF THE BEST EXAMPLES OF MUSLIM ARCHITECTURE IN THE CITY. THE MALAY HERITAGE CENTRE WILL GIVE YOU A GLIMPSE INTO THE AREA’S PAST. 
NEAREST METRO STATIONS: BUGIS.          
CHINATOWN: VISIT THE CHINATOWN HERITAGE CENTRE TO LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE EARLY CHINESE SETTLERS. THIAN HOCK KENG IS THE OLDEST HOKKIEN TEMPLE.  THE CHINATOWN FOOD STREET AND THE NIGHT MARKET MAKES THE VISIT TO THIS AREA UNIQUE.                                                                                       
NEAREST METRO STATION : CHINATOWN OR OUTRAM PARK.
LITTLE INDIA: SERANGOON ROAD IS THE MAIN ROAD OF THE DISTRICT WITH MANY TEMPLES SUCH AS THE NATIONAL MONUMENT ABDUL GAFOOR MOSQUE.           NEAREST METRO STATION: LITTLE INDIA.  
CITY HALL AND PADANG: THE PADANG (MALAY TERM FOR A FLAT FIELD) IS THE GREEN FIELD IN FRONT OF THE CITY HALL AND IS THE CITY’S OLDEST UNTOUCHED PLOT OF LAND SINCE THE 1830s. IT WAS HERE WHERE THE JAPANESE SURRENDED TO THE BRITISH FORCES IN 1945. IT WAS ALSO HERE THAT IN AUGUST 9 1965 SINGAPORE DECLARED INDEPENDENT.                                                                   
NEAREST METRO STATION: CITY HALL.
ORCHARD ROAD: THIS IS THE PLACE FOR SHOPAHOLICS. IS THE MOST FAMOUS SHOPPING STREET OF THE COUNTRY. YOU CAN FIND ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF AMONG THE MANY SHOPS AND SHOPPING MALLS OF ORCHARD ROAD!
THE FULLERTON HOTEL: IS A UNIQUE FIVE STAR LUXURY HOTEL BY THE RIVER SIDE IN BOAT QUAY AREA. VERY IMPRESSIVE! 

RAFFLES HOTEL: SINGAPORE’S OLDEST HOTEL HAS PLAYED HOST TO MANY CELEBRITIES. VISIT IT’S BEAUTIFUL GARDENS AND SHOPS. ALSO HERE YOU WILL FIND A GOOD RESTAURANT AND A BAR TO TRY THE VERY WELL KNOWN DRINK ‘SINGAPORE SLING’. RESERVATION IS NEEDED FOR THE RESTAURANT.  NEAREST METRO STATION: CITY HALL.
RAFFLES LANDING SITE: A WHITE MARBLE STATUE OF SINGAPORE’S FOUNDER, SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES, STANDS ON THE SAME SPOT WHERE HE HAD FIRST SET FOOT IN SINGAPORE.  NEAREST METRO STATION:  RAFFLES PLACE OR CLARKE QUAY.   
MERLION PARK: IS WHERE YOU’LL FIND A BIG LION STATUE STANDING BY THE RIVER SIDE. NEAREST METRO STATION:  RAFFLES PLACE OR CLARKE QUAY.
SINGAPORE RIVER: THE SINGAPORE RIVER HAS BEEN AN ECONOMIC ARTERY FOR THE ISLAND SINCE THE FIRST DAYS OF FOREIGN SETTLING. THE BUSINESS CORNER IS NOW KNOWN AS THE BOAT QUAY.  A BUMBOAT RIDE ON A CRUISE IS A MUST, TO DISCOVER THE RIVER’S RICH HISTORY. NEAREST METRO STATION:  RAFFLES PLACE OR CLARKE QUAY.

CLARKE QUAY: IS A BEAUTIFUL AREA WITH MANY RESTAURANTS AND STREET EVENTS BY THE RIVER SIDE. VERY BEAUTIFUL IN NIGHT-TIME AS WELL.                   
NEAREST METRO STATION: CRARKE QUAY.
ESPLANADE: IS A HUGE AREA OF THEATRES, RETAIL, MALLS  AND OUTLETS ON THE BAY. NEAREST METRO STATION:  RAFFLES PLACE OR CLARKE QUAY.
SINGAPORE BOTANICAL GARDENS: THE 147 YEARS OLD GARDENS HAVE A SPECTACULAR TROPICAL FLORAL COLLECTION OF MORE THAN 10,000 TYPES OF PLANTS, INCLUDING THE COUNTRY’S MOST SIGNIFICANT COLLECTION OF ORCHIDS. NEAREST METRO STATION: ORCHARD.
SENTOSA ISLAND: ENJOY THE MAGNIFICENT VIEW OF SENTOSA ISLAND ON THE CABLE CAR, WHICH WILL BRING YOU TO THE ISLAND. SENTOSA HAS THREE OF SINGAPORE’S FINEST BEACHFRONTS: TANJONG, SILOSO AND PALAWAN. A DAY MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO THIS LITTLE GETAWAY ISLAND. THERE’S THE SKY TOWER, A 360 DEGREE VIEWING DECK. AT THE MERLION YOU WILL FIND THE MOUTH GALLERY VIEWING DECK FOR A BETTER VIEW. IN FORT SILOSO YOU WILL FIND THE WORLD WAR II UNDERGROUND PASSAGES AND CANNONS. THE FORT WAS BUILT IN 1880 AND IT BECAME A CONCENTRATION CAMP DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION. THE UNDERWATER WORLD IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST OCEANARIUMS IN ASIA. IN THE DOLPHIN LAGOON YOU’LL ENJOY THE DOLPHINS. THERE’S ALSO THE BUTTERFLY PARK FULL OF BUTTERFLIES! 
NEAREST METRO STATION: HARBOR FRONT.

THE BEST WAY TO GET AROUND SINGAPORE IS A COMBINATION OF THE METRO AND OF WALKING. THE METRO IS VERY EASY AND INEXPENSIVE. YOU CAN BUY TICKETS FROM MACHINES, AS WELL AS FROM TICKET OFFICES, AND YOU CAN GET A REFUND EVERY TIME YOU REFUND A USED TICKET ON SPECIAL MACHINES THAT CAN BE FOUND IN MOST METRO STATIONS! GOOD WAY NOT TO SPEND A LOT TRAVELING AROUND THE CITY, ISN’T IT!
DON’T FORGET YOUR UMBRELLA. IT’S A TROPICAL ISLAND YOU’RE VISITING…RAIN COMES OUT OF THE BLUE!...AND IT CAN GET VERYYYYYYYYYY HUMID…BUT DON’T GET ALARMED. A VERY HIGH AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEM IS IN EVERY INDOOR BUILDING WAITING TO COOL YOU DOWN! 

THANK GOD FOR AIRCONDITIONING!!!!!




                                  
                                       
ALL THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY DESPINA ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. PICTURES CAN ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT OF DESPINA AND THEY HAVE TO BE LINKED BACK TO THIS BLOG. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO USE THE PICTURES FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
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Κυριακή, 18 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

SPAIN


MADRID
MADRID IS THE CAPITAL AND THE LARGEST CITY OF SPAIN. IT IS LOCATED ON THE MANZANARES RIVER AND IN THE CENTER OF THE CASTILIAN PLAIN.
CHRISTIANS AND ARABS CONQUERED THE CITY BEFORE THE BEGINNING OF THE 19TH CENTURY THAT JOSEPH BONAPARTE UNDERTOOK SPAIN. AT THE 2ND OF MAY OF 1808 THE PEOPLE REBELLED AGAINST THE FRENCH TROOPS ONLY TO BRING THE ENTHRONEMENT OF THE CATHOLIC MONARCHS, SUCH AS QUEEN ISABELLA AND FERDINAND II OF ARAGON.
WHILE MADRID IS A MODERN COSMOPOLITAN CITY, IT HAS PRESERVED MANY OF ITS HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS AND MONUMENTS. IT IS A BEAUTIFUL CITY WITH MANY INTERESTING SITES.
ENJOY

PALACIO REAL IS A BIG PALACE IN PLAZA DE ORIENTE WITH BEAUTIFUL GARDENS SUCH AS “CAMPO DEL MORRO” AND “ JARDINES DE SABATINI”.  DO NOT MISS THE MAIN COURTYARD AND THE FOUR FACADES OF THE PALACE.

NEAR PALACIO REAL IS TEATRO REAL, THE OPERA HOUSE.

PLAZA MAYOR IS THE MAIN SQUARE OF THE OLD CITY, SURROUNDED BY MANY BEAUTIFUL BUILDINGS OF OLD STYLE ARCHITECTURE. HAVE A STROLL IN THE NARROW STREETS OF THE OLD CITY TO FEEL THE AURA OF THE PAST. VERY BEAUTIFUL!
THE AYUNTAMIENTO (THE OLD MUNICIPALITY) IS TO BE FOUND HERE. IN FRONT OF THE AYUNTAMIENTO, ON THE PAVEMENT, IS A MARKER THAT MEASURES ALL ROAD DISTANCES IN SPAIN. IT IS KNOWN AS “KILOMETRE ZERO”.

PUERTA DEL SOL IS A BIG SQUARE THAT LEADS TO A MAIN SHOPPING AREA, STREETS FULL OF SHOPS, COFFEE BARS, RESTAURANTS ETC.
ONE OF THE MAIN SHOPPING STREETS IS GRAN VIA.
FOR NIGHT LIFE GO TO THE AREAS OF PUERTA DEL SOL, GRAN VIA AND CHUECA.

PLAZA DE ESPANA CAN BE YOUR STARTING POINT IF YOU WANT TO VISIT A BIG PARK IN THE WEST OF THE CITY. THERE, IS LOCATED THE TEMPLO DE DEBOD. AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SPANISH CAPITAL!
YOU CAN ALSO GET THE “TELEFERICO” THAT WILL TRANSFER YOU UP THE MOUNTAIN FOR GREAT VIEWS OF THE CITY. THERE YOU WILL FIND A RESTAURANT. THE RIDE IS JUST TEN MINUTES.

PUERTA DE ALCALA IS LOCATED IN PLAZA DE LA INDEPENDENCIA. IS VERY NEAR TO RETIRO PARK AND YOU CAN COMBINE TWO SITES IF YOU ENTER THE PARK FROM PUERTA DE ALCALA SIDE AND LEAVE THE PARK FROM ALFONSO XII AVENUE’S SIDE TO VISIT PRADO. RETIRO PARK IS NOT TO BE MISSED, AS IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PARKS OF MADRID, A VERY BIG PARK WITH MANY ATTRACTIONS TO ENJOY.

THE BOTANICAL GARDENS ARE ALSO IN THE SAME AREA.

PLAZA DE TOROS MONUMENTAL DE LAS VENTAS IS WHERE THE BULL FIGHTS STADIUM IS LOCATED. IF YOU WANT TO HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF A BULL FIGHT, YOU WILL COME HERE. IS A REALLY TOUGH SIGHT!!!

MADRID IS A CITY FOR MUSEUM LOVERS: PRADO, REINA SOFIA (PICASSO’S GUERNICA IS IN REINA SOFIA MUSEUM), COSTUME MUSEUM, NATIONAL MUSEUM, CERVANTES MUSEUM AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL-ETHNOLOGICAL-SCIENCE AND NATURAL MUSEUM ARE ALL WORTH A VISIT.

TO ENJOY THE MOST EXCLUSIVE FLAMENCO SHOW OF SPAIN, GO TO CORRAL DE LA MORERIA. IS LOCATED IN AN ALLEY OF THE OLD CITY AND IS OFFERING THE MOST PROFESSIONAL TABLAO FLAMENCO. THE BEST THAT I HAVE EVER SEEN! TABLAO IS THE ORIGINAL FLAMENCO. A BIT PRICY BUT IS INCLUDING A GOURMET DINNER AS WELL.

IF YOUR STAY IN MADRID IS LONG ENOUGH YOU CAN ALSO DO SOME DAY TRIPS: 

TOLEDO, WAS THE CAPITAL OF MEDIEVAL SPAIN UNTIL 1560. ARABS, CHRISTIANS AND JEWS, ONCE LIVED TOGETHER IN HARMONY. YOU WILL SEE THE 13TH CENTURY CATHEDRAL, THE MEDIEVAL CASTLE, THE SYNAGOGUE AND THE EL GRECO MASTERPIECE.
(HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

EL ESCORIAL MONASTERY IS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE AND YOU WILL GET TO KNOW HOW THE MONKS USED TO LIVE.

DO NOT MISS A VISIT TO A TABLAO FLAMENCO SHOW. MADRID OFFERS MANY RESTAURANTS THAT YOU CAN ENJOY THE RICH SPANISH CUISINE AND A FLAMENCO DANCE. 


BARCELONA

BARCELONA IS THE CAPITAL OF CATALONIA.
IS THE CITY WITH THE STRANGE ARCHITECTURE OF ANTONI GAUDI, WHO DIED IN 1926 BEFORE COMPLETING HIS MASTERPIECE “LA SAGRADA FAMILIA”.
IT IS ALSO A MODERN CITY OF NEW ARCHITECTURE OF THE SAME STRANGE STYLE!


LA SAGRADA FAMILIA: IS THE UNFINISHED WORK OF BARCELONA’S FAVORITE SON, ANTONI GAUDI. YOU WILL ADMIRE THIS BIG CATHEDRAL WITH THE BEAUTIFUL SPIRES, HIGH IN THE SKY.




LA PEDRERA: ANOTHER GAUDI MASTERPIECE OF THE YEARS 1905-110. IS HOSTING THE GAUDI MUSEUM AND IS VERY INTERESTING ON THE INSIDE AS WELL AS ON THE OUTSIDE!

TORRE AGBAR: IS A BIG ROUNDISH SHAPED, MODERN BUILDING, WITH BRIGHT COLORS SUCH AS BLUE AND RED!
PARC GUELL: IS THE MOST FAMOUS PARK OF BARCELONA, DECLARED A WORLD HERITAGE SITE BY UNESCO.    

PARC DE LA CIDUADELLA: HOSTS MANY MUSEUMS, PALACES AND LAKES.

PARC LABERINT: IS LABYRINTH STYLE PARK OF 1791.

HISTORIC GOTHIC CENTRE: IS A FEW BLOCKS NORTHEAST OF LAS RAMBLAS, IN THE OLD CITY, WITH MEDIEVAL BUILDINGS DATING BACK TO 14TH AND 15TH CENTURY.
LAS RAMBLAS: IS THE MOST VISITED STREET OF BARCELONA, POPULAR WITH BOTH TOURIST AND LOCALS. IS A 1.5 KILOMETER LONG TREE-LINED PEDESTRIAN STREET FULL OF STREET STAND-SHOPS AND OUTDOORS ENTERTAINMENT.

PLAZA CATALUNYA: IS A VERY BEAUTIFUL SQUARE WITH BIG FOUNTAINS. 

PLAZA CATEDRAL: YOU CAN STILL SEE PARTS OF THE ANCIENT WALLS OF THE CITY AROUND THE AREA OF THE CATHEDRAL.

PLAZA DE SANT JAUME: THE SQUARE HAS A MARKET AND MANY IMPORTANT BUILDINGS, MOST IMPORTANT THOSE OF THE AJUNTAMIENTO (MUNICIPALITY) AND THE PALAU DE LA GENERALITAT.
EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON THE CATALANS ARE GATHERING HERE TO DANCE
“THE SARDANAS”, THE TRADITIONAL CATALAN DANCE.

LA BARCELONETA: IS A WIDE, SEASIDE PROMENADE WITH MANY CATALAN RESTAURANTS, AMONGST OTHERS THE FAMOUS “AGUA RESTAURANT”.

BARCELONETA BEACH IS THE NEAREST ONE TO THE TOWN.

GRACIA: IS A DISTRICT WITH MYRIAD OF SMALL NIGHT SPOTS AND OUTDOOR CAFÉS.

THE HARBOR VELL AND THE MIRADOR DE COLOM: THE BEAUTIFUL AREA OF THE HARBOR IS BEGINNING AT THE END OF THE RAMBLAS, WITH THE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS  MONUMENT,  KNOWN AS “THE MIRADOR DE COLON”.

YOU PASS THE ALWAYS FULL OF PEOPLE “RAMBLA DE MAR”, WHICH IS A PROMENADE IN THE SEA AND YOU ARRIVE AT MAREMAGNUM. IS A SHOPPING MALL IN THE HARBOR WITH MANY RESTAURANTS AS WELL. 

PALAU DE LA MUSICA CATALANA: IS A BUILDING OF 1908 WITH MOST EXTRAORDINARY MUSIC HALLS. ATTEND A CONCERT OR TAKE A TOUR OF THE HALL.

MUSEO PICASSO: YOU CAN ADMIRE THE WORK OF THE ARTIST.

TIBIDABO: IS THE HIGHEST HILL (1778 ft) WITH EXCELLENT VIEWS OF THE CITY!
HERE IS AN AMUSEMENT PARK, THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TOWER AND THE TEMPLE “DEL SAGRAT COR”. THE CHURCH IS ACTUALLY TWO CHURCHES, ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER, WITH A GIANT CHRIST ON THE TOP ONE! YOU CAN VISIT THE ROOF ON A LIFT OR ON FOOT FROM THE STAIRS…
TO GO THERE YOU MUST TAKE THE METRO-EXIT TIBIDABO. THEN TAKE A TRAM TO THE FUNICULAR STATION AND THEN THE FUNICULAR WILL TRANSFER YOU TO THE MOUNTAIN. IT WORTH’S THE VISIT!!!





MONTJUIC: IS OVERLOOKING THE CITY AND IS SURROUNDED BY GALLERIES, LEISURE ATTRACTIONS, PARKS, PART OF THE 1992 OLYMPIC GROUP SITES, MUSEUMS, FOUNTAINS AND THE SPANISH VILLAGE WHICH IS A PARK FEATURING THE DIFFERENT PARTS OF SPAIN.

GIRLS… BARCELONA IS ONE OF THE GREATEST SHOPPING DESTINATIONS WORLDWIDE!!! THE FASHION HERE IS…KIND OF DIFFERENT, UNIQUE! IF YOU LIKE SMART AND NOT VERY USUAL CLOTHS, BARCELONA IS THE
RIGHT PLACE
FOR YOU! SO BRING LOTS OF MONEY WITH YOU WHILE VISITING…
MALAGA
MALAGA IS THE CAPITAL OF COSTA DEL SOL ON THE COAST OF THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA. IT IS A BIG HOLIDAY RESORT AND ONE OF ANDALUCÍA’S BIG PORTS. RIGHT BEHIND THE PORT LIES THE CENTRE OF THE CITY WHICH INCLUDES THE AREAS OF DE LARIOS AND PLAZA DE LA CONSTITUTION KNOWN AS SHOPPING, NIGHTLIFE AND CULTURAL AREAS.
ALCAZABA IS THE ARABIC FORTRESS AND THE LANDMARK OF THE CITY. IN THIS MOORISH FORTIFICATION OF THE 8TH CENTURY YOU WILL SEE RUINS OF A ROMAN THEATRE AND AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM.
GIBRALFARO CASTLE WAS BUILT IN THE 14TH CENTURY AND IS CONNECTED TO ALCAZABA BY A WALL. IT IS LOCATED ON THE TOP OF THE HILL AND IT OFFERS A GOOD VIEW OF THE PORT AND OF THE CITY.

MALAGA’S CATHEDRAL WAS BUILT BETWEEN 1528 AND 1782 IN A BAROQUE AND RENAISSANCE STYLE. IT IS ALSO KNOWN WITH THE NAME “LA MANQUITA”. NEXT TO IT IS THE IGLESIA DEL SAGRADO WITH ITS UNIQUE SHAPE.    

AYUNTAMIENTO DE MALAGA IS THE CITY HALL, LOCATED NEAR THE HARBOUR GIVING A GOOD VIEW OF THE ALCAZABA AND THE GIBRALFARO AS THEY ARE ON A HILL NEXT TO IT. IT HAS A BIG GARDEN, VERY BEAUTIFUL AND PEACEFUL. THE CITY HALL AND ITS GARDENS IS THE FAVORITE PLACE OF THE LOCALS TO HOLD THEIR WEDDINGS.
MALAGA IS ALSO THE BIRTH PLACE OF PABLO PICASSO. THE PICASSO HOME MUSEUM IS A BUILDING OF 1861 DISPLAYING THE WORK OF THE FAMOUS PAINTER. IN THE BASEMENT YOU WILL SEE ROMAN AND PHOENICIAN RUINS THAT WERE FOUND DURING THE RESTORATION OF THE BUILDING.
CASA NATAL MUSEUM IS THE BIRTH PLACE OF PICASSO AND IS LOCATED IN THE PLAZA DE LA MERCED, SURROUNDED BY THE HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS OF MALAGA. THERE IS A BIG SELECTION OF HIS WORK AND INFORMATION ABOUT HIS LIFE AND FAMILY.
EL PARQUE IS FILLED WITH TROPICAL TREES AND EXOTIC FLOWERS BROUGHT FROM ABROAD. IT IS STRECHING ALONG THE “PASSEO DEL PARQUE”.
DO NOT FORGET THAT MALAGA IS ONE OF THE  FAMOUS BEACH DESTINATIONS OF ANDALUCÍA.
NERJA BEACH IS A LONG WALKWAY OVER THE ROCKS AND AN IDEAL AREA OF FISHING.
TORREMOLINOS BEACH IS A POPULAR BEACH AMONGST LOCALS AND TOURISTS, WELL EQUIPPED WITH FACILITIES.

GRANADA
THERE IS NOTHING IN LIFE AS THE PAIN OF BEING BLIND IN GRANADA!
GREEKS, ROMANS, MOORS, MUSLIMS, ARABS, ALL PASSED FROM GRANADA, EACH LEAVING THEIR FOOTPRINTS BEHIND TO THIS AMAZING CITY! IN 1492 THE CITY BECAME UNDER CATHOLIC CONTROL AND BY THE 16TH CENTURY GRANADA TOOK A MORE CHRISTIAN LOOK WITH CHURCHES AND CATHEDRALS. TODAY THE VISITOR CAN ADMIRE BOTH CHRISTIAN AND MOORISH BUILDINGS, SCATTERED ALL OVER THE CITY.
THE COMPLEX OF THE ALHAMBRA AND THE GENERALIFE IS THE MOST EMBLEMATIC MONUMENT OF GRANADA AND A WORLD HERITAGE SITE.  THE ALHAMBRA IS A PALACE-CITADEL, COMPRISING ROYAL RESIDENTIAL QUARTERS, COURTS, OFFICIAL CHAMBERS AND A MOSQUE. THE CONSTRUCTION BEGAN IN THE 13TH CENTURY BY THE FOUNDER OF THE NASRID DYNASTY, IBN AL-AHMAR. THE GENERALIFE IS THE SUMMER ROYAL RESIDENCE WITH BEAUTIFUL GARDENS. THE ALCAZABA, ALSO KNOWN AS “THE RED FORT”, DUE TO THE RED ROCK OF ITS WALLS, IS THE OLDEST PART OF THE ALHAMBRA.

THE SACROMONTE NEIGHBOURHOOD IS THE GYPSIES AREA AND THE ORIGINAL BIRTHPLACE OF FLAMENCO. THE CAVE HOUSES IS THE TYPICAL WAY OF HOUSING IN THIS AREA WITH MYSTERY AND MAGIC IN THE AIR.  HERE ARE LOCATED THE ABBEY AND SAN CECILIO, WHICH IS THE FIRST BISHOP OF THE CITY. DO NOT MISS A “ZAMBRA” FLAMENCO SHOW IN ONE OF THE MANY CAVES OF SACRAMENTO. ZAMBRA IS A FLAMENCO DANCE WITH ORIGINS OF THE 16TH CENTURY

THE ALBAICIN IS THE OLD MOORISH NEIGHBOURHOOD WITH LABYRINTH NARROW STREETS AND THE TYPICAL “CARMENES” (TRADITIONAL STYLE HOUSES). ALL OF THEM HAVE A GARDEN FULL OF COLOUR AND PERFUME. SOME OF THEM ARE NOW TOP CLASS RESTAURANTS. WALK UP TO SAN NICHOLAS MIRADOR (VIEWPOINT) FOR A SPLENDID VIEW OF THE ALHAMBRA AND THE CITY. SUNSET IS THE BEST TIME TO GO TO SAN NICHOLAS MIRADOR BECAUSE OF THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS THAT IT OFFERS AS THE SUN GOES DOWN BEHIND THE ALHAMBRA!

PASEO DE LOS TRISTE AT THE FOOT OF THE ALHAMBRA, BESIDES DARRO RIVER, IS A BEAUTIFUL WALKWAY WITH MANY CAFES AND RESTAURANTS WHERE YOU CAN ENJOY A BEAUTIFUL WALK AND A MAGNIFICENT SUNSET BY THE ALHAMBRA WALLS.
BIB-RAMBLA SQUARE IS THE CENTRE OF GRANADA WITH RESTAURANTS AND CAFES. IT USED TO BE THE PLACE FOR BULLFIGHTS AND ALL KIND OF PUBLIC EVENTS LIKE TRADING, FAIRS AND EXECUTIONS.
HUERTA DE SAN VICENTE IS THE SUMMER HOUSE OF THE FAMOUS POET FEDERICO GARCIA LORCA, WHERE HE WROTE MANY OF HIS FAMOUS WORKS. IT IS LOCATED IN A BIG PARK, THE PARK OF GARCIA LORCA, NEAR THE CITY’S CENTRE. THE HOUSE IS NOW A MUSEUM, EXHIBITING THE ORIGINAL FURNITURE AND PERSONAL ITEMS OF THE POET.
GRANADA HAS ONE OF THE BEST CLIMATES OF EUROPE! DUE TO THE SIERRA NEVADA, SUMMERS ARE MILDER THAT IN OTHER PLACES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN AND COOLER! SO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS AND HAVE A GREAT TIME WHILE VISITING!
SEVILLE
TARTESSIANS, ROMANS AND BARBARIANS WHERE THE CONQUERORS OF SEVILLE BEFORE THE LONG OCCUPATION OF THE IBERIAN PENINSULA FROM THE MOORISH. LA GIRALDA, THE TOWER OF THE CITY’S CATHEDRAL, IS THE MOST WELL-KNOWN ISLAMIC MONUMENT OF SEVILLE. THE CITY IS LOCATED ON THE PLAIN OF THE GUADALQUIVIR RIVER AND IT PLAYED AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN COMMERCE BETWEEN SPAIN AND THE AMERICAS. TODAY, IT IS STILL AN IMPORTANT RIVER PORT IN THE IBERIAN PENINSULA.
THE CATHEDRAL AND THE GIRALDA IS THE MAIN ATTRACTION OF THE CITY. THIS GOTHIC CATHEDRAL OCCUPIES A HUGE AREA AND JUST OUTSIDE ONE OF ITS SIDES IS THE PATIO DE LOS NARANJOS, A LANE OF ORANGE TREES THAT DATES BACK TO MOORISH TIMES. THE TOMB OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS IS TO BE FOUND INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL. THE GIRALDA, THE CATHEDRAL’S BELL, IS ONE OF THE MOST MAGNIFICENT BUILDINGS IN SEVILLE AND IT DOMINATES THE SKYLINE. CLIMBING TO THE TOP OF THE GIRALDA IS WELL WORTH THE EFFORT FOR THE REMARKABLE VIEW!
THE ALCAZAR GIVES THE IMPRESSION THAT IS A MOORISH PALACE BUT IT IS OF A MUDEJAR ARCHITECTURE. IT WAS BUILT BY MOORISH WORKMEN, BROUGHT FROM GRANADA, BY KING PEDRO THE CRUEL OF CASTILE, IN THE 1360’s. IT IS A MUST VISIT TO ENJOY THIS SPLENDID ROYAL PALACE WITH ITS BEAUTIFUL GARDENS.
BARRIO SANTA CRUZ IS THE MOST PICTURESQUE PART OF THE CITY WITH NARROW STREETS AND WHITEWASHED HOUSES. SOME OF THE CHURCHES WERE ORIGINALLY SYNAGOGUES AS IT WAS THE FORMER JEWISH QUARTER, LOCALLY KNOWN AS “THE JUDERIA”. “CALLEJON DEL AGUA”, WATER ALLEY, IS A NARROW, SHADED LANE WHICH FOLLOWS THE ALCAZAR GARDEN WALLS. AT THE END OF IT IS PLAZA ALFARO, THE INSPIRATION BALCONY SCENE IN ROMEO AND JULIET. NEXT TO THIS IS PLAZA SANTA CRUZ WITH A 17TH CENTURY CROSS IN ITS CENTRE. THE CROSS COMMEMORATES THE CHURCH DESTROYED BY THE FRENCH IN 1810.

PLAZA DE ESPANA IS ONE OF EUROPE’S PRETTIEST SQUARES-IF NOT THE PRETTIEST ONE! IT IS AN IMPRESSIVE, VAST, SEMICIRCULAR COMPLEX OF BUILDINGS WITH STAIRCASES, A BIG LAKE AND MANY FOUNTAINS. THE ADJOINING MARIA LUISA PARK IS A BEAUTIFUL AREA OF GREENERY IN THE CITY.
PASEO DE CRISTOBAL COLON IS A LONG WALKWAY BY THE RIVER FREQUENTED BY THE LOCALS AS AN AREA OF JOGGING OR JUST WALKING ENJOYING THE RIVER AND THE ROW OF THE TYPICAL ANDALUSIA HOUSES WITH THEIR IRON BALCONIES IN THE OPPOSITE SIDE.
TORRE DEL ORRO IS A DODECAGONAL MILITARY WATCHTOWER OF THE 13TH CENTURY, CONSTRUCTED TO CONTROL THE ACCESS TO SEVILLE VIA GUADALQUIVIR RIVER. DURING THE MIDDLE AGES IT ALSO SERVED AS A PRISON AND AS A STORE FOR THE PRECIOUS METALS BROUGHT FROM THE INDIES. IT IS PROBABLY THE REASON THAT TOOK ITS NAME (THE GOLD TOWER). IT IS LOCATED IN A BEAUTIFUL AREA FOR WALKING AND RELAXING BY THE RIVER.
DURING THE SUMMERS MONTHS SEVILLE IS VERY HOT! IS ONE OF THE HOTTEST CITIES IN EUROPE! SO TAKE CARE OF THE SUN IF YOUR VISIT IS IN THE SUMMER TIME.

ENJOY YOUR VISIT TO SPAIN
IT IS A VERY BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY OF EUROPE FULL OF CULTURE AND LIVELY PEOPLE


ALL THE PHOTOS TAKEN BY DESPINA ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. PICTURES CAN ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT OF DESPINA AND THEY HAVE TO BE LINKED BACK TO THIS BLOG. IT IS FORBIDDEN TO USE THE PICTURES FOR COMMERCIAL REASONS.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DESPINA.