Mallorca (derived from Latin “insula maior” (larger island)), the largest of the Balearic islands, has become a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world in recent years. The name of the island has become a synonym for cheap mass tourism since the 1960s.
But besides the well-known tourist centres around Palma de Mallorca and at the southern and eastern coast Mallorca also offers many diverse landscapes, excellent sites and perfect conditions for various leisure time sports, an untouched Mediterranean fauna and flora, an unspoilt Mediterranean wildlife and numerous historical sights. Charming little mountain villages, secluded and quiet sandy beaches and bays, peaceful and cozy fishing villages and the bizarre shaped, wild romantic rocky coastline await discovery. These spots can be best explored when you rent a bike or car and go out on your own for the experience of the unknown Mallorca on its coastal roads or wooded, mountainous hiking trails. Due to its geographical richness and its wide range of vacation possibilities Mallorca is an ideal holiday destination for individual vacation, group vacation, couple vacation and family vacation.
The Palma de Mallorca region with its long-established tourist infrastracture and the coastline of the adjacent Migjorn and Llevant regions are the main tourist area of Mallorca. The long sandy beaches such as Playa del Palma offer a large variety of leisure time activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, waterskiing, jetskiing, boogieboarding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, surfing and swimming. The beaches may be crowded during high season. Palma de Mallorca, the island´s capital, offers some interesting historical sights, numerous bars, cafes and restaurants, various shopping possibilities and a vibrant nightlife programme. The 16th century Palma Cathedral (“La Seu de Palma” or “La Catedrál de Palma de Mallorca”), a Roman Catholic Cathedral, was built on the former site of an Arab Mosque and impresses the visitor with its French Gothic style. The Almudaina Palace (“Palau de l´Almudaina” or “Palacio de la Almudaina”), a former Muslim fortress built in the 11th century under the Almoravid dynasty, is a spectacular piece of medieval Moorish architecture. It was restored in the 14th century on the order the Catholic Spanish king Jaime II of Aragón as a palace.
The northern and western coast of the island is occupied by a long mountain range, the Tramuntana range (“Serra de Tramuntana” or “Sierra de Tramuntana”), which reaches from Andratx to Cap Formentor. The Tramuntana range with its wild romantic and rough mountain scenery, bizarre shaped rocks, pine woods and steep coastline can be best explored on mountainous hiking trails. Its calmness and isolation contrast with the noisy and crowded tourist areas at the southern and eastern coast of Mallorca. It is ideal for lovers of ecotourism and a perfect holiday destination for travellers seeking privacy and calmness. Some charming, picturesque old villages such as Lluc, Pollenca, Alcúdia, Sóller, Alaro, Arta and Deià lie hidden in the Tramuntana mountains, all of which are worth a day trip.
Located at the northeastern coast of Mallorca, the city of Alcúdia offers shopping possibilities and other tourist attractions. Its nearby mile-long and sandy beach invites to sunbathing and offers a large variety of water sports activities such as surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, sailing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and bathing. Take a stroll through the charming picturesque old town of Alcúdia and visit its weekly markets. The nearby Roman amphitheatre is a worthwile historical monument.
The close-by Hidropark (“Parque Acuático”) with its swimming and boating pools, mini-golf courses and giant water slides is a worthwhile day trip destination for families. The nearby S’Albufera National Park (“Parc Natural de S’Albufera” or “Parque Natural de S’Albufera de Mallorca”) with its dunes, salt water marshes, lagoons and lakes fascinates the visitor with its untouched Mediterranean flora and fauna and unspoilt wildlife. It is known among nature lovers for its birdwatching sites.
Set high in the mountains near the northern coast of Mallorca between Sóller and Pollenca, the village of Lluc, an medieval place of pilgrimage, awaits discovery. The Monastery of Lluc/ Monastery of Our Lady of Lluc (“Monestir de Nostra Senyora de Lluc”) was founded in 1121 and dedicated to Saint James of Santiago de Compostela (“San Jaime de Compostela”), the patron saint of Spain.
Since the Middle Ages millions of Roman-Catholic christians have followed the ancient pilgrim´s trail from Caimari to the Monastery of Lluc to adore the Black Madonna of Lluc (“Virgen de Lluc” or “Nuestra Señora de Lluc”, also called “La Moraneta” by the locals), the patron saint of Mallorca. The monastery was renovated by Antoni Gaudí.
Situated at the northern coast of Mallorca, the charming picturesque 13th century town of Pollenca with its historical sights is also a worthwhile day trip destination. You might walk the Way of the Cross (“Via Crucis”) up to Cavalry Mountain (“El Cavalri” or “El Calvario”) and see the Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross (“Mare de Déu del Peu de la Creu” or “Madre de Dios del Pie de la Cruz”), a much-revered virgin statue housed in a chapel on top of the hill. The Plaça Major, the main square of Pollenca, has some good cafes, bars and restaurants and invites the traveller to having a coffee and relaxing after a day´s strolling through the twisted alleys of the medieval town centre.
Pollenca also offers a wide range of shopping possibilities and the lively and busy Sunday market at the Plaça Major is also worth visiting. Dominating the Plaça Major, the Church of Our Lady of the Angels (“Esglèsia de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels” or “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles) built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century impresses the visitor with its austere Baroque façade.
Located at the northwestern coast of Mallorca, the charming, quiet town of Sóller surprises the visitor with some interesting sights. The Botanical Gardens of Sóller (“Jardí Botànic de Sóller” or “Jardín Botánico de Sóller”) and the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences (“Museu Balear de Ciènces Naturals” or “Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales”) invite to exploring the huge bio-diversity of Mallorca and are worthwhile day trip destinations.
The Bank of Sóller (“Banc de Sóller”,”Banco Central Hispano” or “antiguo Banco de Sóller”) and the Parish Church of Sant Bartomeu (“Església de Sant Bartomeu” or “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu”) located at Plaça Constitució, the main square of Sóller, are further spectacular monuments. Founded in 1248 and originally built in Gothic style, the church was renovated in 1904 by Joan Rubió I Bellver, a pupil of Antoni Gaudí, in Art Noveau style. The bank was built in 1889 and designed in Modernist style by Rubió in 1912.
The Museum of the Casal de Cultura (“Museu del Casal de Cultura” or “Museo del Casal de Cultura”) is also worth a visit. You might as well make a trip with the Sóller Train (“Ferrocarril de Sóller”) running between Palma de Mallorca and Sóller since 1912 and enjoy the diversity of Mallorcas many different landscapes. A trip with this ancient train is really an unforgettable event and a main tourist attraction.
Further historical sites of interest in the Tramuntana mountains are Alaró Castle, Valdemossa Monastery, the Monastery of San Salvador (“Santuari de Sant Salvador” or “Monasterio de San Salvador”) in Felanitx and The King´s Castle (“El Castell del Rey” or “El Castell del Rei”) in Pollenca. Mallorca is also a paradise for golf players and offers a wide range of first-class golf courses in Andratx, Santa Ponsa, Son Gual and Canyamel, just to mention a few. Nature lovers and lovers of ecotourism might also visit Sa Dragonera Nature Park, Cala Mondragó Nature Park and Cabrera National Park and enjoy Mediterranean nature in its purest form on numerous hiking trails and in total calmness.
Discover the beautiful province of Valencia for your Walking and Hiking Holidays in Spain.
Here, there is space…..and lot’s of it! Rugged mountain walks, gentle strolls through the hilly countryside and historical towns, such as Xativa, overlooked by it’s imposing castle.This is an incredibly green region of Spain, where oranges, lemons and olives grow in abundance. Where the sun shines for over 300 days a year and where the terrain supports superb fauna and flora, which,in the delicate cycle of life, also sustains the varied array of wildlife. Whether it be the African bee eater or the wild boar or even the insects and lizards, the whole area is an enormous nature reserve.
The people of the region of Valencia are keen nature lovers and many of the local ranges have their own recognized walking trails, with literature and maps available.
Options for groups range from single travelers wishing to join a larger group, to team building exercises – all tailor made to suit particular needs.
Accommodation in the region ranges from budget pensions, log cabins, private villas to luxury hotels where you can soak away the rigors of the day.
Don’t forget that on days off, there is so much to explore away from nature – Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, and has a wealth of historical and modern sights to see whilst visiting. The City of Arts & Sciences, The ancient Carmen District, the many museums and theatres, the superb nightlife….. the list is endless.
Some cities bring to mind the word “empire” – Paris, Saint-Petersburg… Without a doubt, Vienna would be at least the third.
You don’t even have to know the city’s history – you’ll understand everything from the first sight. Its all about the pomposity of its architecture and the spaces between its buildings. It’s just like in the Japanese painting, where untouched spaces are no less important than the image itself – this way, they stimulate the flight of fancy. Here, in this city, grand voids between huge buildings will fill your mind with some ideas. That is why empty space is not something you regret about.
The city of waltzes, parks, baking and wine – that’s what Vienna is. The capital of Austria is a truly cosmopolitan city. In the course of many centuries different nations that inhabited the city’s territory shared their cultures and traditions with each other. That is the reason why local people have such an intriguing and sometimes cynical character.
In approximately 500 BC the Romans chose a settlement on a Danube river as a place for their frontier city, “Vindobona”. Since then the city, now called Vienna, played a principal part in European history. This is the place from where Austria grew into a powerful empire. The capital became even more magnificent during the rule of the Hapsburg dynasty. Those days are gone, but local people still follow historical traditions. Moreover, local masters of the past left a huge cultural heritage to the future Viennese generations.
In 18th century Vienna got popular all around Europe as the city of rich culture, especially music. Great musicians, such as Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Bruckner and Lanner lived and worked here, and their music is still performed at concert halls all around the world. And in the end of the 19th century the city’s artists and architects, such as Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Joseph Hoffman, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos committed cultural revolution which opened a new page in history of experimental and radical arts.
Still, Vienna is a Baroque city. While tourists scrutinize golden statues and churches with rosy-cheeked cherubs, wander around the treasure-filled museums, or while away their time in one of the inevitable cafes, they get the feeling that splendour and richness are all around them. This pomp looks like delicious whipped cream – the citizens’ favourite Schlagobers which adorns many Viennese cakes.
The Viennese style is really pompous and flowery: white horses prancing by the sounds of an elegant music, rich drapery adorning local monuments, beautiful decorations embellishing the city’s strict houses, gilded Johann Strauss statue standing on a grave among the greenery, passionate music by Richard Strauss; geometric mosaic on ornamental canvases by Gustav Klimt, slow measured melody of mechanical clocks. This majestic, attractive and magic city enchants its guests with its charm and aristocratic elegance. This is the place where waiters still bow as if greeting Hapsburg prince. The waltzing city. Vienna is never in a hurry and it would be best if you were not hurrying as well – this is a good way to feel the true spirit of Vienna.
It was a dream some years ago, specially for the price. Things have begun to change, and something that began for more than 5,000 euros (7,250 US dollars) is now a reality for a bit more than 2,000 euros (3,000 US dollars). As the airlines industry has grown and the sky has been progressively “released” to new competitors, fares have gone down all of a sudden and now the dream to make a Round the World trip is pure reality.
The thing is… where to begin with? Sometimes it can be tricky enough to plan a trip to one single country, and now those guys are telling you that they have nearly 1.000 airports available to land and you need to choose between all them. Well, that can be pretty tricky and I am really not going to help you in that. Seriously, this is your choice, and there are no real recommendations, just follow your dreams.
Another thing, is choosing which is the best provider either in price and quality of services to choose when going for this adventure. There is a need to understand that a round the world trip is not something provided by an airline alone but by alliances of airlines instead. The 3 big ones in the market nowadays are Star Alliance, One World and Sky Team. I am going to introduce you to the three of them and let you choose the one that fits best your needs.
Star Alliance puts together 841 airports in 157 countries. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Thai, Air New Zealand, Scandinavian Airlines, United, Singapore Airlines, US Airways, Austrian, Spanair, Swiss… these are some of the most important airlines they work with, making a total of 17. They allow you a maximum of 15 stopovers, which they consider stays in one city that last more than 24 hours, and you can travel a maximum of 39,000 miles.
Regarding the fares, they will depend on the class you want to travel in and the number of miles you do, from 26,000 to 39,000, divided in 4 levels of pricing. The only problem is that they don’t offer exact numbers in their web-page and you need to plan all your route, enter your personal data, and then access to a screen where the price will be calculated. The interactive system to plan your trip is very good but I find it a big mistake to do not give any fare estimate.
On the other side, One World has an offer of 10 different airlines. American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Jordanian and LAN are some of their best members. Dragonair, considered the best airline in China, joined them recently on the first of November. Even if they have less airlines than their competitor Star Alliance, One World has managed to cover 700 airports in more than 150 countries.
Furthermore, they have two different options for the world tour. One uses this basic airlines and another one, called Global Explorer, for an extra cost will allow you to use airlines that are not members of their alliance. Duration of the trip goes from 10 days up to 12 months, so you have complete freedom to decide depending on your availability
Regarding the price, it will depend on the number of continents you visit and the class you want to travel in. Considering the economy class, fares will vary from 3,900 dollars for the 3-continents route (2700 euros) to 5,300 dollars (3650 euros) for the 6-continents trip, using the non-extended airlines option.
Finally, Sky Team is not left behind at all, with some of the biggest European airlines such as Alitalia, Air France, KLM and Aeroflot. Also offers the rest of the biggest airlines in the world that the other alliances do not include, with names such as Aeromexico, China Southern, Continental Airlines, Delta and Korean Air, totaling 11 plus 3 associated airlines. With 841 cities in 162 countries, it has possibly the widest range of operations.
The situation is the same regarding the time allowed to travel, varying from 10 days to 1 year, and they offer 3 different options depending on your needs, flexibility and pricing. Your choice, as well as with Star Alliance, can vary between 3 and 15 stops along your route. The offer includes 3 price levels for 29,000, 34,000 and 39,000 miles, and also depends on the class. Taking an example with economy class, we could make the 29,000 miles trip for 3450 US dollars (2380 euros), for 4420 dollars the 34,000 miles world tour (3,049 euros), and up to a maximum of 39,000 miles that will cost 5500 dollars (3800 euros) approximately.
As you can see, the decision is not really easy. After all, my best recommendation would be to choose the alliance depending on your dream destinations. Plan your trip before looking at what they offer, make a selection between 3 and 15 cities that you would like to visit, draw the lines in a world map, and then take a look at which one of the 3 alliances is able to bring you to the most of your destinations. The price variance exists, but the strong competence between the three of them makes the difference too little as to take it into account. Plan the trip of your dreams and choose simply who wants to take you there!
Vienna is one of the most interesting cities in Europe from all perspectives. Its 20 centuries of intense history have place on it the spiritual and optical image of the old “Imperial City”. To the great monumental richness of the city it comes together the loveliness of a lifestyle that, without covering its modern dynamism, keeps a part of their past traditions.
In Vienna it is possible to contemplate the stones dating back from the romans time, vestiges of their art, Gothic architecture and baroque palaces, which all together make this amazing mixture characteristic of the city. To all this, you need to sum up the contribution of their famous forests, the fabulous castle with the wonderful park of Schönbrunn, the little vineyards, the roses from Volksgarten and the unique atmosphere of the cafes dating back from the XIX century.
The city has really its own style, in which you can encounter the harmony between the Austrian people old spirit together with the modern urban reality. A style in which you can appryleeciate the melodies composed by Mozart, Liszt, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert or Brahms, a st that claims for its golden age of waltz and the operas written by Lanner, Ziehrer or Strauss. And still today their numerous museums are full of artistic treasures.
Saint Steven constitutes the neuralgic center of the city. The stylish tower of the Gothic cathedral can symbolize the spirituality of a city that has been during many centuries a reference for the whole occidental civilization.
Not far away from Saint Steven, you can find the Michaelerplatz, following the busy streets of Graben and Kohlmarkt. A label in this square reminds that there it lived Joseph Haydn, upstairs in a little room in the middle of XVII century. He was one of the great musical talents of this country, that so many great musicians has given to the world.
This square is one of the most interesting spots of the city. Here it is also placed the church under the same name, an old sanctuary of the imperial army and also a beautiful temple from XVIII century.
Do never visit Vienna taking a ride on a touristic bus as you will never get the magic of it. You need to walk the streets, you need to get immersed into the vibrant past that the city offers, into its unique culture. Close your eyes and try to go back some centuries. The feeling of the past is still alive in Vienna, and you will get the most out of it if you manage to feel it.