All in Travelopes

A Night of Flamenco With The Gypsies

GRANADA, SPAIN. Traversing the narrow streets of Granada on the way to the Holy Mountains took us to the Gypsy caves. The gypsies are from India and the largest community of gypsies in Europe is now in Spain. When our travel director told us that we will watch the gypsies dance Flamenco in a cave, what I had in mind were those large and dimly lit, or most of the time dark, hollow spaces in the ground. When we arrived, I was surprised to see brightly lit rock-like structures painted in white and carved to look like normal houses filled with life and music. 

Hilly and Walled Toledo

TOLEDO, SPAIN. If you have only a day to spare in Spain, spend it in Toledo. It took us 45 minutes by coach to arrive in the capital of Castille La Mancha and to the most important city in the country. Appreciating Toledo from a distance, we saw the infamous Tajoe River that surrounds the walled city of Toledo and the St. Martin's bridge which connects the city to the outside world. We drove through the Cicadas which features houses with views of the Old Town. The price of the houses here usually starts at 1 million Euros and it is understandable why is that so as the view from these houses is magnificent.

Charming and Historic Segovia

SEGOVIA, SPAIN. A 1-hour drive in Madrid took us in Castilla and into one of the most charming cities I had been to on this trip so far. Segovia has a lot of story to tell and it starts with its aqueduct. The city built an amazing waterway system to transport their water from other parts of Spain. It runs for about 15 kilometres and snakes through some parts of the city where they finally filter it before distribution. Sometimes, the lengths of the aqueduct can be found underground, like what a canal would be; and sometimes it can be found up high, supported by columns made in stacked stones.

MADRID, SPAIN. There are two facts that I have observed while visiting Madrid. Madrileños are not morning persons and Christmas in Madrid is very well-anticipated. We were able to prove that when we went to the area of Puerta del Sol one of those nights prior Christmas and was shocked with the number of people roaming the commercial streets of Madrid during the latter part of the day as compared to when we visited these same streets the morning earlier. This part of Madrid was already alive when we arrived. There were shoppers doing their last-minute shopping, sellers, spectators and buskers entertaining those very same spectators on the streets.

In One with the Qataris

DOHA, QATAR. It is perfect timing that our visit in Doha coincides with the country's National Day (December 18). Qatar National Day is annually celebrated to commemorate their unification and independence. After finishing our dinner buffet in the Grand Regal Hotel, we immediately went out and walked to the only destination we had in mind that night: the Corniche. A promise of a grand fireworks display is waiting for us there and the promise is so good to pass up on since we are lovers of fireworks ourselves.

Of Sights and Pastries in Salzburg

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA. I woke up in our room in Austria Trend Hotel Salzburg at around 6 in the morning. It has been my usual routine to go to the restaurant first to have my breakfast before going back to our room to take a bath and dress up but knowing that this would be the last leg of our Imperial Europe tour, I chose to do otherwise. Located at the 15th level of the hotel was the Panorama Restaurant. We had our dinner there the previous night but since it was already dark outside, I was not able to see the restaurant then in its full glory.

More of the Sound of Music

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA. Salzburg as is was already amazing but to see sights there with my own eyes which I had only seen in movies was even more amazing that it took the experience we had in the city to a more special place in my heart. The Sound of Music had been a part of my childhood. I was first introduced to it by my mom. I think I was only about Grade 2 or 3 when I first watched it but it did not stick with me then. I was so young to understand the plot or at the least understand the stars past their slangs.

The Sounds of Music, the Alps and a Hint of a Snowman in Salzburg

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA. Salzburg, Salzburg. I did not know much about it prior joining the tour aside from the fact that it is in Austria and is the birthplace of the classical icon Mozart, which is kind of weird, really, as I do not know how I was able to retain that bit of information given I am neither a Mozart follower nor a pianist learning his works. Evidently, I must have picked it up somewhere.

Sophisticated Vienna in Daylight

VIENNA, AUSTRIA. Vienna is the epitome of sophistication. I immediately saw it the moment I stepped inside the Hilton Vienna Danube Waterfront and saw the Danube River flowing gracefully and calmly at the back of it. Furthermore, I felt it the instance I laid down on their firm and huge bed and rested my head on the bed's soft and amazing pillows. The combination rendered me lazy and motionless. It was as if I just want to stay there and take in the comfort I had been snatched with the last few days that I had been travelling.

Music Appreciation in the Kursalon Hübner

VIENNA, AUSTRIA. After our sumptuous meal in Pizza Bizi, we headed on towards Kursalon Hubner, which was just a kilometer-walk away from the restaurant, for some classical music appreciation. Based on Italian Renaissance architecture, the Kursalon Hübner was designed by Johan Garben and built during the years 1865 to 1867. Adjacent to it is the 6-hectare Stadtpark (City Park) which opened in 1862. During those times, the Kursalon (or rather, the land where it is now standing) only served as a place where visitors can get mineral waters to drink. After its construction, the Kursalon started seeing better days. In 1868, the first concert by Johann Strauss took place in there. Since then, it had become a venue for meetings and concerts

Lost in Gyor

GYŐR, HUNGARY. A quiet little place in Hungary, this city lies halfway of Budapest and Vienna. Even though it is relatively small as compared to the other cities in the country, Győr is still considered to be the most important city of Northwest Hungary. Since it was New Year's Day when we arrived in the city, the place was literally quiet. Almost all the shops were closed which contributed to the nice feeling of having the city all by yourself. Nothing much happened actually when we were there since we only stopped over for an hour on the way to Vienna.

Budapest by Day

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Our 2nd day in Budapest had been a wonderful one. We had not seen the sun shine like that the past few days that we were in Europe. It was at its peak, shining like an emotion kept for so long and then vented out to the atmosphere

Christmas Market Experience in Budapest

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. If there was a city that we went to during our Europe tour last December that best exemplified the magic and joy that a Christmas market brings, it would definitely be Budapest. I was already told before our trip that we might not have the chance to see a Christmas market that was still buzzing the moment we arrive in Europe and this is for the reason that Christmas markets in Europe, in general, close down and pack up before Christmas eve.

An Unexpected Trip to Bratislava

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA. Other than it was once known as the better half of Czech Republic when they were still Czechoslovakia, I absolutely know nothing about Slovakia. That's why when we visited Bratislava, the capital of the country, I immediately succumbed to the idea of traversing it using the older but more effective method of walking endlessly to cover what we can given our limited time in the place.

Artworks Around

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC. One of the things I adore about Europe is that wherever I go I am sure to find something that would catch my attention. Well, Prague is no exemption, if not more!  Here are some of the interesting things I have seen during my walk around the city! I bet these just compose a small fraction of the totality but they were already enough to keep me revelling about the fact that this city is just downright quirky and charming.

Seeing the Rest of Prague

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC. It had been snowing hard the second day that we were in Prague. Actually, it was snowing hard then in most parts of Europe. Our tour guide said that Stuttgart even reached -38 during the early part of the morning. Good thing we were not anymore in Germany by then!