A Morning Visit in the Alhambra

GRANADA, SPAIN. Often enough, I find myself at loss for words when visiting a place. These are those instances when I just find myself revelling in the beauty that is ahead of me rather than typing incessantly in my phone to form sentences and paragraphs that I will later on use in my blog posts. During my visit in the Alhambra, I was struck by that desire to just enjoy and let it be. I found no notes or whatsoever in my phone. This time around, I will not type any phrases and sentences to go with the pictures. They are on their own and I will just let them do the talking.

Granada, Spain: Hotel Carmen

GRANADA, SPAIN. We stayed in Hotel Carmen for a night when we went to Granada to watch the Flamenco in Cueva del Rocio that same night and to visit the Alhambra Palace the day after. Compared to other alternatives, it is an upscale option for accommodation with a pool and a restaurant. Starting today, I will only focus on four factors that greatly matters to me in a hotel: location, wifi connection, food and their beds. 

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. 

Risotto in Toledo

TOLEDO, SPAIN. Going up and down for 3 hours in the streets of Toledo made my tummy crave for nourishment. That is why when we were introduced to this place that apparently offer a nice plate of Risotto, we immediately grabbed it without even considering the fact that we are about to eat an Italian dish in a Spanish city. Tucked at the end of Calle Alfonso VI, Restaurante Virgen de La Estrella can be reached by entering at the Puerta de Alfonso VI and traversing the said street.

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.

Tapas Night in Cinco Jotas

MADRID, SPAIN. Tapas night is always a great idea on a Saturday evening in Madrid. We joined a tour group and part of the experience being put forth by Trafalgar is its ability to let its travellers experience what the the locals typically do at a given day or moment of a day and bring them to the best places there is in town to let them experience it. Our travel director whisked us away to a nice restaurant along Calle del Padre Damian and near out hotel, AC Cuzco. Cinco Jotas is the name of the restaurant and it offers varying types of tapas that are so flavorful and delightful which made me forget all the tapas (especially those disguising as tapas) that I have eaten before.

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.

Winter in Australia: Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the morning (Day 2 of 6)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA. We woke up at around 6 in the morning to go with our uncle on his way to work. He was telling us the day before that his office near the Circular Quay has an impeccable view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the left and the Opera House on the right. Apparently, Circular Quay is the gateway to the two iconic landmarks and with this, a great idea sparked in an instant.

Giveaway: Ballet Manila x Flatter My Senses

Hi, there! Christmas is again near and I bet everyone is feeling it already! With all the lights and spectacles being put up right and left this early, it is hard to not feel a tingle of that holiday-feeling when we come across them. To fully accompany you in diving to that magical feeling that Christmas gives early on, I have tied up with Ballet Manila for this giveaway that will surely put a smile to your faces!

Cakes and Chocolates in Niemetz

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA. Confectionery shops or konditorei dominate Europe. I think it is safe to say that we have gone to at least a couple of dozen cafes during our 12-day Euro tour last 2014 because one, it is a good place to escape the cold weather outside and two, the coffee, pastries and hot chocolate of Europe are just freaking delicious. It had been the same when we went to Salzburg. Before we left Salzburg, we dropped by this eye-catchy shop called Niemetz Cafe near the Horse Wells which offers a wide variety of cakes and has an old-fashioned interior highlighted by pink and gold detailings.

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.

A Curiousity-Inducing Dinner in Grandma's House

VIENNA, AUSTRIA. It was our last night in Vienna when we dined in Marchfelderhof which was just a 10-minute drive from the city center. I was not feeling well then that even though I had been looking forward to going to this restaurant, I was actually sizing myself if I can handle it or not and if I should just stay in our hotel to rest. But since I know I should not miss this since I already made a preconceived image of the place, I persuaded myself that I was already feeling better so I did go.