Thursday, 20 July 2017

A guide to Marbella

How can i get there?
Marbella is located on the coast of southern Spain just 40 minutes from Malaga airport.
You can reach Marbella from Malaga airport by:
  • Taxi - Taxis from Malaga airport usually cost €60-70 euro's one way, before setting off agree a price or ask the taxi driver to turn on the meter to avoid any surprises when you reach your destination
  • Bus- Either book privately for pick up from the airport or catch the public bus from Malaga bus station, buses run from the airport to Malaga bus station regularly
  • Train - The train goes as far as Fuengirola where you can hop off to explore then catch a taxi or bus for the remainder of your journey

Where should i stay?
Hotel El Fuerte Hotel
The Hotel El Fuerte Marbella is a charming family hotel in the centre of Marbella with sea views. This is the perfect base for a trip to Marbella, it is very central so you can walk from the hotel to the old town, main street, etc and there is a private walkway from the hotel pool directly to the beach.

The hotel has been a long standing favourite with visitors from Germany, United States and the UK for many years and many of the long standing staff make every guest feel very welcome.

The hotel has recently undergone a complete renovation yet managed to keep it's Spanish charm.


Sultan Club Hotel
The Sultan Club Hotel Marbella is a family friendly hotel that is located just a couple of minutes walk from the beach. The hotel offers spacious rooms and apartments so it is perfect for families or groups.
The apartment rooms comes with fully kitted out kitchens, living room and huge bedrooms with plenty of storage space. There is a supermarket at the corner of the pathway outside which is handy for stocking up the fridge. There is an indoor pool, beautiful outdoor pool, pool bar, onsite spa, restaurant, bar and room service available too.

The rooms are very clean and comfortable, room Rates are very reasonable compared to most hotels in the area.  Rooms start at £140 per night and you can book online here




Marbella Club Hotel
If you are looking for somewhere a little bit extra special look no further than the luxurious Hotel Marbella Club Golf & Spa located on the beachfront. Marbella Club Hotel is one of the leading hotels of the world and was originally the private residence of Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, the founder of the hotel. Back in it's hey day the hotel hosted flamboyant parties for guests such as Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn.

It has retained it's old school glamour whilst being maintained immaculately and offers all the modern amenities you could ask for.

When you arrive at the gates you will find the main entrance, restaurant and hotel bar on the left. The  suites and private villas line the pathway on route towards the private beach, pool and bar.

The hotel offers fabulous suites and private cottages starting at £490 per night. Book Online here






Where are the best places to eat?
La Cuisine - The Old Town Marbella
La Cuisine is situated in the centre of Marbella old town. The food is very reasonably priced for the standard, most dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients and come in large portion sizes so if your visiting in the evening and you are not too hungry skip the starter. The menu offers a great selection of fresh seafood and other classics such as lasagne but I would recommend the duck, the restaurant has served the same duck dish for years and it never disappoints!
There is no need to book unless you are visiting in a large group, if you would like to book online contact the restaurant through here 


Hong Kong de Marbella - On the beach Front

Affordable, delicious and great views. Hong Kong de Marbella is a family run restaurant situated on the beach front near the fountains, the restaurant has a great lively atmosphere and the staff are very attentive. Hong Kong de Marbella offers both indoor and outdoor seating which give you great views of the beach whilst you enjoy your meal.
The menu includes all the classics but also some great set menu options, the quality of the food itself is second to none. The restaurant decor is not glamorous but the food is 5 stars.

Valparaiso - Mijas




A bit out of town but worth the trip, The Valparaiso restaurant in Mijas gives you the rare opportunity to experience old school glamour that Marbella used to offer.
The restaurant walls are adorned with celebrities that have visited over the years such as David Beckham and Sean Connery. On arrival the the owner Raffaele and his staff give you a warm greeting and seat you in the terrace garden for a drink whilst you wait on your table. Raffaele is very passionate about his restaurant and is there on most nights.
In the summer months the dining area is outdoors high in the hills which offer fabulous views over Mijas. There is entertainment on most evenings so even after the meal is finished you feel inclined to stay a bit longer to enjoy the music.
The staff are very accommodating and there is no request to big, they can even create off the menu items but the existing menu offers a wide selection of dishes to choose.
Book a table online here

Arco Tapas Bar - The Old Town Marbella
Dishes at Arco Tapas in the heart of Old Town start at €4.50.  They offer a wide range of tapas such as calamari, buffalo mozzarella and Iberian ham as well as daily specials such as mini burgers and prawn & chorizo skewers. Everything is made fresh daily using local ingredients.


Where are the best places to shop?
Marbella High Street
Along the main high street you will find Spanish fashion chains such as Zara, Bershka, Pull & Bear and Mango. The clothes in Spanish high streets stores such as Zara tend to be much cheaper here  than countries outside of Spain so it is a great opportunity to grab a few bargains.

The Old Town
The old town is full of clothing boutiques, jewellers, shoe shops and homeware boutiques.
It is a good chance to find some unique pieces but shop around before making a purchase as some of the shops have similar items but if they have a more prime location they inflate the prices. - You will find a lot of linen boutiques, leather shops and art gallery in this area.

El Corte Ingles
El Corte Ingles is a large Spanish department store chain that house not only Spanish high street retailer but high end brands and small independents. There are two located close to the centre of Marbella, one is a five minute drive from Marbella towards Malaga (Recommended) or there is another in Puerto Banus.

Puerto Banus 
The Puerto Banus Marina is lined with some of the world's most luxurious retailers from Chanel, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Towards the bottom of the Marina near Sinatras bar there are a few independent boutiques that offer unique finds for reasonable prices.

What is there to see and do?
Boat Trips
There is a boat trip that has been running from the Marbella marina directly to Puerto Banus marina since the early 90's and the same guy still sells the tickets!
It's a fun alternative to a taxi ride and offers great views of the golden mile from the sea.
Onboard you can enjoy the views whilst enjoying a drink from the bar, it usually takes 20-30minutes to reach Puerto Banus. They do return trips up until around 10pm. To purchase tickets visit the kiosk at the entrance of the marina in Marbella.
Horse Riding
Enjoy a day trip out of town in the country horse riding followed by lunch with the 'Horse Riding Marbella' group. Trips start at €30 for a basic river ride up to two day trips €275 (This price includes food and accommodation.)
Book Online here

Food Tours
Fancy tasting all the local favourites and learn about the history of the area at the same time? Spend the evening with your very own tour guide who will bring you on a whistle stop tour of all the best tapas places in Marbella. Prices start at €100, book online here

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A guide to Giants Causeway

Where is the Giants Causeway?
Giants Causeway is located on the tip of Northern Ireland outside a small town called Bushmills  in Country Antrim. On a clear day you can see Scotland from the causeway rocks!
Check out a full panoramic view here ... yes it definitely is one for your bucket list.

What is the Giants Causeway?
Many people argue that the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland is the eighth wonder of the world.
40,000 basalt steps create a startling and stunning landscape along the coast of the country. There are several explanations for the formation, you can choose which one to go with...
a) It was formed 50 million years ago by a volcanic eruption or you could believe the more exciting story that a Giant had something to do with it.
b) Legend says that an Irish giant named Finn McCool built it to bring his girlfriend over from Scotland
c)It was man made through hard labour



How can I get there?
The Giants Causeway is only two miles from Bush mills County Antrim which is 1hr 15minutes away from Belfast city centre

Rent a car
You can rent a car and drive up through the beautiful 'Causeway coastal route' to reach the giants causeway or avail of one of the many tour operators that can take you there.

Bus
You can catch a bus from the Europa bus station in Belfast city centre however the journey takes over 3 hours so for the sake of a few pounds it is definitely worth investing in a private bus tour.
The official Belfast sightseeing tour  offer day trips to the Giants causeway and also stop at other points of interest on the way so is probably your best option if you want to see as much as you can in a short space of time. Book online here 


When is the best time to visit?
Before reaching the Giants Causeway itself you will need to pass through a visitor centre which does get very busy in the afternoon so it is best to visit as early as possible to avoid the crowds. The centre is open from dawn to dusk, usually 9am to 7pm.

How much does it cost for entry?

Adults - £10.50
Children - £5.25
Family £26.25

Are there other things to see and do in the area?

Game of Thrones Tours
If you are a fan of the HBO series Game of Thrones you cannot visit Northern Ireland without going on the official tour. Once you have your cloak and sword you will be taken to the secretive spots of natural beauty were the series was filmed.

From Belfast there are two tours available.

The Iron Islands
Departs Belfast at 08:00. Visit Cushendun Caves, where Melisandre gave birth to a dark spirit, Renly’s camp in the Stormlands, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, the Iron Islands beach where Theon dedicated his faith to the ‘Drowned God’, the Giant’s Causeway, photo stops at Dunluce castle and the Dark Hedges.

The Belfast Winterfell Tour
Departs Belfast at 09:00. Ferry trip to Strangford. Morning trek at Old Castle Ward, aka Winterfell and Audley’s Castle, aka Walder Frey’s Twins. Inch Abbey, where Robb became King in the North. Afternoon trek in Tollymore Forest to the wildling pit and the bridge where the Starks found the direwolf pups.

Book Online here 

Dunluce Castle
Dunluce castle is situated just outside Bushmills village and is a must visit when you are in the area.
The 17th century castle is connected to the mainland by a foot bridge, the walk offers stunning views of the County Antrim coastline.

Dark Hedges
The dark hedges is a tunnel of atmospheric trees which were brought to fame in the HBO series Game Of Thrones. There are no access fees, it's basically a case of parking up along the roadside and walking down to view the trees. The area does get busy at lunchtime but if you go early in the morning you can more than likely have the whole road to yourself and plenty of opportunities to take some great photos without other tourists in the background.



Causeway Coast Foodie Tour 

This a unique opportunity to learn and enjoy local produce from the area. The Causeway Coast Foodie Tour group offer three different tours.

The Whiskey Lads cask & Sea -£250 per person
The tour begins with breakfast onboard fired up over whiskey barrel chipping followed by stops at two of the worlds best scotch distillers 'Ardbeg Distillery' and 'Laphraoig' where you will learn all about the history of whisky making and sample the produce along the way.

Coast and country tour - £55 per person
A tour across some of the coasts hidden culinary gems. There are five stops on the tour where you will have the chance to sample local delicacies from the area.

Catch and sea tour - Recommended - £50 per person
This tour offers the rare opportunity to catch your own breakfast at first light and enjoy the amazing views over Rathlin Island.

Find out more about Causeway coast foodie tours and book online here 


Where can I stay?
Bushmils Inn Hotel is nearby, cosy and also has a fantastic bar & restaurant.
Rooms start at £200 which is a bit expensive however it is close to all the action and they have been voted one of the UK's top 25 hotels in 2016 & 2017.
To view rates and book online visit their website.

Galgorm resort is a relaxing haven located 45 minutes from the Giants Causeway. The resort offers a world class spa and dining experience to make your trip to Northern Ireland extra special.
Rooms start at £375.00, book online directly with the hotel here.




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Monday, 27 March 2017

A guide to Seville

How to get there
You can fly directly into Seville airport although it can be difficult to find departing airports that fly this route. Alternatively you can fly into Malaga airport then catch the train from Estacion de Malaga Maria Zambrano to Seville, Santa Justa station. The train journey takes around 2 and a half hours which goes through scenic Spanish countryside, before reaching Seville it stops in Cordoba so if you wish you could spend the day here before travelling to Seville.

Where to stay
We stayed in a fantastic city centre penthouse apartment which was a great sunspot.
The apartment had all the essentials plus little luxuries like a wide screen TV and an espresso coffee machine. The apartment is owned by a company called 'AT Sevilla Centro' who own several apartments around Seville. The apartment we stayed in was called the 'Deluxe Two Bedroom attic with Terrace- Plaza Magdalena, 3' which was located at the top of a residential building. On arrival a rep from AT Sevilla Centro greeted us with the keys and showed us around, he also gave us some great tips on things to do during our stay in Seville.

The apartment sleeps 4 and worked out at £114 per night.

You can get in touch and book via their website, http://apartamentosevillacentro.com

Food
There are lots of options in Seville, you can traditional Spanish restaurants, tapas bars (on almost every street), Italian restaurants and indian curry houses too. 
Top Recommendations for traditional Spanish food and tapas are:

Antigua AbacerĂ­a de San Lorenzo 
Charming, tasty tapas and good value for money
Tapas here start at €2.00 they have fresh meats, cheeses and much more. Read the full menu for Antigua AbacerĂ­a de San Lorenzo Seville here: http://antiguaabaceriadesanlorenzo.com/carta/ 

El Rinconcillo 
A must visit when in Seville.
This restaurant was founded in 1670 but still manages to bring in the crowds every day which says a lot. This restaurant is popular with Families, groups and couples too. You can sit indoors or outside on the square. 
It is the perfect place to try real traditional Spanish cuisine, they have a fantastic selection of main dishes and tapas.
Read the full menu for El Rinconcillo Seville and book online here: http://www.elrinconcillo.es/carta-menus/
Picture @TA
Looking for something a little different? For a unique dining experience try La Terrazzo Restaurante Panoramico de EME. They offer  fantastic taster menus which give you the opportunity to taste a variety of gastronomic delights!
Read the La Terrazzo Restaurant Seville menu and book your visit here: http://restaurantepanoramicolaterraza.com/en/vanguardian-tasting-menu/ 

Things to do
Taking time to wander around the old cobble streets is a must. You will come across little wonders that maps just don't mark out. The must-see places include:
  • Plaza de Espana, Seville (A huge park located outside of the city centre, which includes a boating lake, cafes,beautiful buildings and gardens).
  • Seville's Gothic cathedral (located in the city centre, you can go on a full tour of the inside. It can get very busy so it is best to go early in the morning) 
  • Gerald Bell Tower (located in the city centre)
Andalusian cooking class Seville

If you want to learn to cook some of the local classics there is no better place than 'Taller andaluz de cocina' - cooking school. The class is located in the Triana food market (just over the Triana bridge).

I would recommend arriving early to explore the fresh food stalls and bars in the Triana market for some tapas, pinchos and live music. The stall at the Triana food market offer great local produce for a fraction of the price you would pay in the UK or US such as serrano ham and sherry vinegar.

'Taller andaluz de cocina' offer several different types of classes and tours to suit everyones tastes and timescales. View all of the classes on offer and price here

We took part in in the Spanish Evening cooking class. The class itself takes around 3.5 hours and is very relaxed, Victor is a skilled chef who leads the class. He takes great attention to detail and explains each ingredient and recipe plus gives fantastic tips.

The class teaches you how to make a 4 course menu, on our visit we made:
  • Salmojero (A cold tomato & garlic based soup)
  • Spinach with chickpeas (A delicious side or main meal made from spinach, garlic & cumin)
  • Cod Fritters (Tasty light dish made from fresh fish served with beautiful sauce on the side)
  • Spanish omelette (As simple as it sounds learning the proper recipe for this was invaluable, it tastes restaurant quality).
You get to learn how to create the recipes step by step then sit down to eat your culinary creations with a cold beer or glass of wine.
The class cost €50 per person and was definitely value for money. Book online here or contact Victor to book directly via email info@tallerandaluzdecocina.com .




Shopping

Seville has a great mix of high street stores such as Zara and H&M alongside Spanish boutiques. There are a lot of homeware stores so if you are looking for unique finds for your home this is the perfect place.

The markets such as the Triana Market are a fantastic place to pick up dried fruits, cured meats, sauces and oils to take home with you.

Religion
Whilst in Seville you will come across some beautiful churches but during La Semana Santa, Holy week you will get to see the huge procession that takes place and goes around the whole city. It starts in the morning and goes on right into the early hours. There are floats, musicians and prayers said and residents come out to the streets to pay their respects along the way.




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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A guide to Positano


How to get there

The best way to get to Positano is by flying to Naples airport and travelling by taxi or bus to Positano.

To travel to Positano from Naples airport by bus:

  • A bus leaves on the hour every hour and takes 1h15minutes
  • It stops in Sorrento train stations where you have to the "Sita" bus to Positano, again there is one every hour and this bus takes 50 minutes.
  • The bus is cheaper but have to change 2 times and it takes much longer


To travel to Positano from Naples airport by Taxi:
Its costs around €100, here are some local taxi services.

  • Mr Ottavio: info@positanotaxiservice.com
  • Vincenzo: info@divinacarservice.com
  • Francesco: info@positanodrivers.com


Where to stay

Residence Villa Degli dei is a traditional Italian house situated high above Positano in the hills of 'Nocelle'. The house overlooks the town of Positano below, it offers charming suites with spectacular ocean views that you cannot find in the main town of Positano. It worked out at £78 per night which is one of the cheapest accommodations in the area.
Picture@expedia



It is a long walk up to the villa from the town (Around 6km) however there is a bus that goes up to Nocelle every hour and vice versa for just a couple of Euros per person.

You can walk to Positano from Nocelle but after walking down myself I would recommend the bus, the walk winds around the mountain sides so although it doesn't look like a long descent it is very decieving! There are also taxis available.

Restaurants
The main town of Positano is filled with cafes, patisseries and restaurants.
The best restaurants are situated at the sides on the town on the hills, the restaurants down on the main beach can be overpriced and lack the same traditional fare and atmosphere that you can find off the main drag.


For true authentic Italian dining head up the hill to Nocelle where you will find a few gems such as 'La Terra, Montepertuso' . But you cannot visit the area without spending an evening dining at II Risotto deli Dei in Nocelle. It is set in a cave which overlooks the sea and the town of Positano. The food is homemade and fresh so the menu can vary from day to day. It is a hidden secret and you will not regret making the trip!
They serve fresh meats dishes, pasta and pizzas, it is also extremely cheap.
Read more reviews of this amazing little restaurant on Trip Advisor http://bit.ly/2nk9olh 

See video below for what the atmosphere is like : )





Shopping
There are lots of boutiques in Positano from designer labels to local designers, you can find beautiful linen clothing, paintings and pottery. Most shops offer free postage so if you find a large item like a painting that you would like to purchase they can take care of the shipping for you.


The Beach
To access the beach walk through the main town and past the restaurants, you can hire beds next to the sea or you can pay extra to hire a lounger just above the beach which has it's own private bar and toilet facilities. (It is around €10 per person for a day).



Capri
You can see the island of Capri from the beach on Positano, you can jump on a boat from the beach to visit for the evening or go on a day trip, book a tour to Capri here http://www.capri.com/en/e/the-island-in-a-day




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For more travel tips on Positano visit http://www.positano.com

Thinking of visiting more of Europe? Read our guide to Barcelona here:
https://daintykane.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/a-guide-to-barcelona.html
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