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Damian Corrigan

Spain Travel

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Where is the Most Expensive Restaurant in the World?

Sunday April 20, 2014

Despite Spain's economic problems and the fact that Spain has the cheapest resorts in the world, the Spanish island of Ibiza is about to have the priciest restaurant on the planet, when Sublimotion opens its doors later this year.

At 1,500€ per person, this will make meals at the restaurant nine times more expensive than at the world's best restaurant (according to Diners Club World), the Celler de Can Roca in Girona.

Perhaps most surprising of all is that the restaurant will be at Hard Rock Hotel, from the same company that brought you restaurants adorned with signed Fender Stratocasters and serving the 'Official Food of Rock' (their words, not mine), including the Red, White and Blue burger and something called an S.O.B. I would be surprised if anyone who usually favors the Hard Rock brand having the money to pay for a meal at this restaurant.

Spanish news website ABC.es reports, without any apparent irony, that the menu will include 'moments for humor, pleasure, reflection, nostalgia and even fear'.

Me, I prefer more typical Spanish fare, such as in Granada where the tapas comes for free.

Would you pay this much for a meal? What's the most you've ever spent on a meal? Share your thoughts below.

Madrid Zoo's Baby Panda VIDEO

Thursday April 10, 2014

Madrid Zoo's baby panda has been seen in public for the first time.

The seven-month-old 15kg fluffy guy, named Xing Bao, came out at a ceremony for the Chinese Ambassador to Spain.

Madrid's Zoo is in the Casa del Campo, the large park to the west of Madrid.

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What's the Most Photographed Sight in Spain?

Sunday April 6, 2014

What do you think is the most popular place in Spain to be snapped by tourists? La Sagrada Familia? Or Las Ramblas? Or maybe it's not in Barcelona - could it be the Alhambra in Granada?

Well, according to Thrillist's Top Ten Most Photographed Places on Earth, it's actually Barcelona's Parc Guell, which came third on the list (New York's Guggenheim museum came first).

Surprised? A lot of the commenters on the article refuse to believe the findings of the article, which uses research conducted by Sightsmap.com. They claim that almost every sight on the list is from a country that has a more photographed sight. Some take particular exception to Times Square, which is constantly being photographed, not appearing higher.

I have a little more faith in the list.

Sightsmap isn't really looking at how many times people press 'click' on their camera. No-one has this data. What they do know is how many photographs people upload to the web. And, despite the feeling we all have that our friends are uploading every photograph they ever take, the truth is that most people take hundreds of photos on a trip but only upload their favourites. So this is a list of the most satisfying sights for snap-happy visitors.

And in this light, I'm not at all surprised that Parc Guell came out on top in Spain. Las Ramblas may be more visited, but one picture of a tree-lined avenue is probably all you're going to want to upload to show your friends. La Sagrada Familia is similar - it has two photo-worthy facades.

But Parc Guell has so many excellent sights. The views, the gingerbread houses, the lizard sculpture, the ceramic bench - all of these things are worth a snap. Don't believe me? Check out my Parc Guell Picture Gallery.

 

April and May in Spain

Monday March 31, 2014

Spain is warming up and with that comes some of the country's hottest festivals and celebrations.

April is dominated by Semana Santa, or Holy Week, Spain's version of Easter. But there's also the Barcelona Beer Festival, the Festimad music festival in Madrid and Murcia's Spring Festival.

Heading into May, we have the Feria de Sevilla (later than usual due to the late Easter) as well as Madrid's month long San Isidro festival.  Wine drinkers have wine festivals in Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda. And for the gastronomically brave there's the Snail Festival in Girona, Catalonia.

AVE Trains: Wifi and Silent Carriage Coming Soon!

Thursday March 27, 2014

RENFE, the Spanish rail company, has announced a series of improvements to their AVE high-speed train service. In the near future, their services from Madrid to Barcelona, Madrid to Seville and other AVE routes in Spain will have the following services:

  • A quiet carriage Cellphones will be banned, there'll be no announcements and the lights will be dimmed on early and late trains. Sweet dreams!
  • A door-to-door baggage service No more lugging your, um, luggage around as RENFE will pick it up for your from your hotel and take it your final destination for you.
  • Wifi You'll finally be able to surf the web while traveling on Spanish trains. It hasn't yet been announced how much it will cost.

Spain's AVE train service is already the quickest and most convenient way to get from city to city in Spain, though from Madrid to Barcelona you also have the Iberia Air Shuttle that is pretty impressive too. These new improvements are just the latest ways RENFE are making getting around Spain's Best Cities easier than ever.

See also: Best Train Journeys in Spain

Good Beer in Madrid?

Monday March 24, 2014

What is the most popular drink in bars in Spain? Is it good Spanish wine? No, it's beer. And, unsurprisingly, it's bad beer.

I don't mean to single out Spanish beer drinking here: in my extensive bar stool observations around the world I have come to the conclusion that the only country where the most popular beer is one of their best beers is the Czech Republic. Yes, I'm looking at you Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and United States: you all make really good beer, but you unfortunately don't drink nearly enough of your good stuff.

So imagine how much more difficult it is to get good beer in Madrid when quality brews only started to appear in the past three years or so. Check out my short list of the best places to get a beer in Madrid: Craft Beer in Madrid.

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The Fallas Festival in Valencia is Go!

Monday March 17, 2014

Visitors to Valencia this week might have been surprised to discover a gigantic street festival is taking place in the city.

The Fallas festival, filling the streets of Spain's third-biggest city is probably Spain's best party and is in my list of Top Festivals in Spain.

What's great about the Fallas festival, apart from its size, is the number of different events going on. Whereas the Pamplona Running of the Bulls is all about the bull run that takes place each morning, and the Tomatina Tomato Fight has little more than the hour's food fight, the Fallas festival has four days for the festival itself and things happening all over the city. There's the pyrotechnics, the artistry of the Fallas monuments, the religious aspect in the Ofrenda, the beauty pageant, the street food and much, much more.

Check out the Official Fallas Site (if you don't mind the broken bits and the awful English) or check out my Things to Do at Las Fallas.

Ten Years Since '11-M' Madrid Train Bombing

Tuesday March 11, 2014

It is ten years today since the Madrid bombings of March 11, 2004, in which 191 were killed and over 2,000 were injured.

I had moved two Madrid two months earlier and had recently moved into an apartment ten minutes walk from the attack. I had traveled once on the train line that was attacked.

I was coming home from an early morning class (I was an English teacher at the time) when a friend called to ask if I was OK and to tell me what had happened. I already had an idea something was up. A woman crying on the Metro, screaming 'Y estan todos muertos' ('And they are all dead') shook the entire carriage. My Spanish wasn't too good at the time and I couldn't tell if she was crazy or not, but the deeply saddened faces of my fellow passengers told me that something serious had happened.

The indiscriminate nature of the attacks made everyone fearful over the next few days. We felt that we were all targets.

Madrid was a dark place for the coming weeks. Cars would drive by with memorials in the window. Shrines were erected in Puerta del Sol and at the train station. There was some debate over when these memorials should be removed: the train staff, who had been closest to the attack, had to walk past these makeshift remembrances every day. "We don't want to forget, but we need to move on" was the sentiment of those who worked there.

Madrid has honoured the dead with a Madrid Bombings Memorial at Atocha Train Station.

Today, my heart goes out to all those affected by terrorist attacks throughout the world.

Best easyJet Guaranteed Hand Baggage (And it Works for Ryanair Too!)

Monday March 10, 2014

One of the downsides to traveling with budget airlines like easyJet and Ryanair is that, with such high checked baggage fees, we all want to travel hand baggage only and yet still have a full wardrobe and all the gadgets and amusements we need to make our vacation go smoothly. You then have to use some serious Jedi powers to get everything into your hand baggage,  or at least know how to perform the 'these are not the oversized bags you are looking for' trick on the stormtrooper staff that man the baggage cages as you board the plane.

We all have our favourite ways of getting more than we're supposed to past their beady eyes. But slipping things by the attendants in our big winter jackets has backfired on us, the passengers, as the overhead lockers can no longer take everyone's luggage.

easyJet is the only airline to sensibly tackle this problem, by introducing a new 'guaranteed hand baggage' size of 50cm x 40cm x 20cm (19.7" x 15.7" x 7.9") in 2013. Not a 'limit' as such (you can still carry on the industry standard hand baggage size, which is more than what Ryanair allows), it's just that a larger bag might be put in the hold if the plane is full.

But who has a bag that fits well? I have several bags that are smaller but then I lose out on what I'm entitled to. And as I'm going to really stuff this bag full to burst, I need a bag that is sturdy enough for the job. Oh, and as I inevitably have to swallow my dignity and fly Ryanair on occasions, I need a bag light enough that it doesn't eat into their 10kg weight limit (easyJet has no weight limit).

And I have found the perfect bag: it's made by Cabin Max. Using two of their bags, as well as some nifty packing tips that my wife taught me, we packed a weeks' clothing, toiletries and gadgets for each of us and were well under the weight and size limits. Check out how we did it: Packing for Ryanair and easyJet: Hand Luggage Only

March and April in Spain

Tuesday March 4, 2014

Are you visiting Spain this March or April? Boy, have you got a lot to fit into your schedule!

If you're already in Spain, March gets off to a bang today with the Carnival (known as Mardi Gras in the US) taking place in many cities around the country. Check out my list of Carnival Cities in Spain or read about what's going on tonight at the Carnival in Sitges or the Chueca Carnival.

If you're not in town for the official start of Lent, don't think that the next forty days will be bereft of fun things to do. The Fallas Festival also happens this month, with events earlier in Valencia leading up to the big event from March 15 to March 19.

See also:

April sees Semana Santa, Spain's week-long Easter celebrations, dominate events. Check out the Best Semana Santa Cities in Spain to see what to head for (or to avoid, if Easter is not your kind of thing).

See also:

Further Reading

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