4 Days in Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain
Last year I’ve visited Barcelona and like most people I loved it. So this year I decided to go and explore the capital of Spain, Madrid. Who would ever think that Europe and in fact the whole World will be hit by the Corona-virus pandemic and many countries be on Lockdown? I’m glad that I was not affected by the COVID-19 disease.
January is one of my favourite months for city breaks and I’ve been doing it for a number of years now, there is less tourist, the hotels are cheaper and so are the flights. A no-brainer for me. Mind you the weather might not be as good as one would wish, but what the heck. What could possibly go wrong? Well, this January Spain was hit by one of the worst winter storms in decades, with snow and 45-foot waves battered the coast. Fortunately, Madrid was spared from the worst weather and I only had one cloudy day with a bit of rain. 
Madrid is an amazing city with wide boulevards, tall buildings and busy traffic. I like the hustle and bustle of a big city. There is always something to do, photograph or admire.
The capital of Spain, Madrid is home to almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metro population of a whopping 6.5 million people. The second-largest city in the EU and has the third-largest GDP in the European Union and has an influence on politics, culture, education etc.
I only had a limited time to explore the city. Just four days and so much to see and do. If you only have a limited time to explore the city, here are a few tips on how to spend 4 days in Madrid and enjoy yourself.

Places to Visit in Madrid in 4 Days

Day 1

Explore the city, the streets, shops, restaurants. The best way to explore Madrid’s restaurants, cafes etc, is on foot. Free walking tours are very popular in Madrid as well. Once you check-in, get out and explore. Visiting one of many tradition tapas bars is a must when in Madrid. Dig into meatballs, seafood, ham, beef, patatas, the list goes on and on. A couple of beers or wine and you set to go on exploring. Or perhaps take a food tour, another great way to get to know Madrid. After all day eating, chill out in a cosy cafe on Gran Via and watch the World go by.
Check out my the latest Madrid travel video.
Madrid
Puerta de Alcala – a monument in the Plaza de la Independencia is regarded as the first modern post-Roman arch in Europe. It is located near the city centre and also close to the Retiro park. One of the largest parks in Madrid and great for a nice walk.
Puerta de Alcala
Mercado de San Miguel – opened back in 1916 you can find this big indoor market close to Plaza Mayor and is very popular with foodies from all over the World. Serving local food and delicacies. For around 12 Euros you can have your fill for the day. The market gets very busy in the evenings when all the local descend here for their favourite grab. For opening times and more about the market visit mercadodesanmiguel.es
Mercado de San Miguel

Day 2

Visit to the ancient city of Toledo. The city is perched on a hill in central Spain and offers many things to see and do. From medieval Arab monuments, old city walls, picturesque streets to well-maintained parks. Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers something for everyone. One can guess by the architecture influenced by the Muslims, Jewish and Arab settlers that the city has been here since the middle ages. Hence the nickname “City of Three Cultures”. 
Toledo Spain
Only a short train ride from Madrid, about 30 minutes from the Atocha train station, you will find yourselves as you travelled back in time. There are many tourist sites in Toledo. One of my favourites was Puente de San Martin – San Martin’s Bridge (picture above). Come down here and relax by the river as you take in the stunning landscape.
If you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, you can even cross the bridge and admire Toledo’s landmarks from the air. Yes, that’s right. The longest urban zip-line in Europe spans across the bridge. Check the prices and opening hours here.
Come to Mirador de La Granja – observation deck and take in the scenery and far-reaching views of the city, where old houses mix with new ones.
A few other things worth visiting in Toledo. The Gothic Cathedral and its over 200 years of history. Alcazar of Toledo a stone fortification that dates back to the Roman times and houses the Museum of the Army. Puerta del Sol and city wall of Toledo, an amazing medieval city gate.
Or just sit back and relax in one of many nice little cafes. Makes a nice end to a busy day exploring Toledo.
Check out my tour of Toledo Travel Video. 
Toledo
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Day 3

Exploring more of Madrid at Plaza Mayor. You will find the main square in the heard of old Madrid not too far from Puerta del Sol. The foundations of Plaza Mayor were laid, when Philip II’s court moved to Madrid, on the site of the former Plaza del Arrabal, where the town’s most popular market was located towards the end of the 15th century. 
Nowadays the plaza is filled with restaurants, shops, bars and cafes and is a very popular place visited by many tourists and travel vloggers, bloggers and Instagrammers. 
Plaza Mayor
Torres de Colon or Columbus Towers are an office building which was built from top to bottom and were once named the ugliest building ever and have a suspended structure. The building looks like an electrical plug and many locals refer to it as the Plug. Located on one of the major commercial centres in Madrid, Plaza de Colon. The Towers stand 116 metres tall, comprise Madrid’s eleventh highest building.
Torres de Colon
Temple of Debod. If you love history and archaeology then you must visit the Temple. An ancient Egyptian temple built in the 2nd century in Egypt and was dedicated to the goddess Isis.
In 1960, due to the construction of the Great Dam of Aswan in Egypt and the consequent threat posed to several monuments and archaeological sites, UNESCO made an international call to save this rich historical legacy. The Temple was donated to Spain in 1968.
The temple was rebuild in one of Madrid’s nicest parks, the Parque del Oeste near the Royal Palaces of Madrid and opened to the public in 1972.
Temple of Debod

Day 4

Last day in Madrid I visited: Plaza Matadero. Formerly a slaughterhouse and livestock market, now converted to an art centre. It hosts markets, festival, workshops and performances. Makes for a nice day out not only for artsy people.
Plaza Matadero
Las Ventas Bullring. One of my most favourite places in Madrid must be the Las Ventas bullring. I’ve been to a few bullrings in Spain Before, but Las Ventas is the most famous and one of the largest, working bullrings in the World with a capacity of over 23.000 seats.
As I said the bullring still hold annual bullfights and is very popular with locals and tourists alike. Mind if you do not fancy watching the bullfight, you can just take a tour of the place and admire the history and architecture here. For the latest tour itinerary and prices go here
I have always wanted to watch the bullfight, but unfortunately, the fights only run from March to October, so I will have to come back some other time. For bullfighting season information and tickets go here
I know that bullfights are not everyone’s cup of tea and there are certainly some controversies on that topic, but it is a quintessential Spanish tradition and many people enjoy to come and spend a day out here.
Puente de Toledo Bridge. This amazing piece of architecture was built between 1718 and 1732 in Baroque style and spans the Manzanares river. For pedestrian use only and rebuilt on a site of a former bridge, the Toledo bridge is one the lesser-known places to visit in Madrid.
Bridge of Toledo
Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Probably everybody, even non-football fans heard of Real Madrid. Right? With a seating capacity of over 81.000 people the stadium has been the home of Real Madrid since its completion in 1947. The stadium hosted European cup/ UEFA champions league many times before. 
You can take a tour of the stadium, the museum, the locker rooms and much more and feel like the many football stars walking and playing here.
Renovations of the stadium began in 2019 and set to last until 2023. The capacity will remain at 81,000 seats, but the height will be increased by ten metres and a roof will be added. You can still visit the stadium regardless. There are good transport links to and from central Madrid, so getting here is not a problem.
After your tour of the stadium pop into El Almacen Argentino, a very nice Argentinian restaurant just across the road from Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Great staff, rich menu and good prices.
Santiago Bernabeu stadium

Public Transport in Madrid. Getting Around Madrid

Using public transport in Madrid is the best way to move around in Madrid. You can choose from Bus or Metro. I preferred using the Metro system as it is the fastest way of transport in Madrid.
Metro – to use the Metro in Madrid you will need a prepaid travel card called Public Transport CardThe Metro trains are modern and clean so there is almost no hassle to use them. There are 13 Metro lines and more than 300 stations with frequent trains, every 3 or 4 minutes.
There are also numerous Bus routes called EMT. The blue buses serve the whole of Madrid’s neighbourhoods. Again nice, clean and modern buses with wheelchair access and air-conditioning make you journeys pleasurable.
Commuter trains called Cercanias serve Madrid and its metropolitan areas and are another good way to travel in Madrid and beyond. If you want to go and explore outside Madrid, then I recommend taking the commuter train. I used it to get to Toledo. Which only about 30 minutes away and makes for a nice day trip.
How to get to and from the Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport? The second-largest airport in Europe and a very busy place too. There are many options on how to get to the centre of Madrid which is about 12 km away. You can take the Metro from Terminal 2 or 3 to Nuevo Ministerios station in the centre, using Line 8. From there take your desired line to your destination. The Metro system is very easy to use so one should have no problems using it.
Use a Bus – The Airport Express– Expres Aeropuerto- the bus calls at Terminals 1, 2 and 4 and a single journey cost 5 Euro.
Taxi – the easiest, but not the cheapest way to get to and from the airport is getting a Taxi. The journey will cost you between 25 and 30 Euros. I used the Cabify app for Taxi. Similar to Uber, but a bit better prices on it. It’s a great app so good to have it on your phone.

Madrid Weather

Madrid has a Mediterranean weather with hot summers and mild winters. From October to April Madrid experiences a lot of rainy days, but from May to November it hardly rains. As I said the summer is very hot in Madrid so the best time to visit the city is in the spring months, where the temperatures more pleasant. The average temperatures from June to September are anywhere between 25 – 35 degrees Celsius.

Stay Safe.

Protect yourself from the CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) disease.

Planning to visit Kuala Lumpur?

Thing to do in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia.

The capital of Malaysia and the largest city, Kuala Lumpur is one of the greatest cities in Southeast Asia. Officially called the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, but many people call it just KL. The home of the Parliament of Malaysia and official residence of the Malaysian King, KL is a financial, economic and cultural centre of Malaysia. In 1874 Sultan Abdul Samad accepted a British Resident, which allowed the British to rule while the Sultan remained the head. The British rule lasted until 1957.

I flew in from Bali and only had 3 days to explore KL so there was a lot on my “to do” list. First of all exchange some money at the airport. Malaysian ringgit is the currency in Malaysia ( $1=4.18 MYR) then a taxi to the hotel. Bytheway I was using Grab app, probably the best way to travel around KL and very cheap as well. Once you get over the heat and humidity, you will love the great mixture of Malaysian, Chinese and Indian cultures, fantastic food, awesome and friendly people.

Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur

Petronas Twin Towers  – most people probably heard about the iconic Petronas Twin Towers before, so myself being a bit of fun of the Formula 1 motor racing visiting the towers was on the top of my list. Once the tallest skyscraper in the world, the towers stand some 452 m tall. Largely occupied by the oil company Petronas and its subsidiaries. The towers are also a tourist attraction. You can buy a ticket to go to the Sky bridge on the 41st floor and 86th floor where the observation deck is and admire the amazing views over Kuala Lumpur. If you come to KL visiting the Petronas Towers is a must. More info about tickets to Petronas Towers available here

Petronas Towers

Suria KLCC – after coming down from the Petronas Towers you cannot miss the largest upmarket shopping mall in Malaysia with over 300 shops at the ground level of the towers. If you want to splash some cash the Suria KLCC is the right place for you.

suria klcc

Lake Symphony – within the KLCC park is a 10.000 sq feet man-made Lake Symphony. A set of fountains shooting water sky high. The best time to come here is after dark when it all comes alive. Watch the fountain-show here every night with awesome colour and music performance. 

Petaling Street Market – a bargain hunters paradise. Located in Chinatown, come here to get some unbelievable bargains, from handbags, clothes or watches. You name it, Petaling street market has it for you. Just keep in mind that all the designer goods are knockoffs. Take a moment to relax in one of the many food stalls here and watch the world go by.

petaling street

Sultan Abdul Samad Building – located close to the Merdeka Square the building is one of the oldest in Kuala Lumpur. The landmark once housed the colonial British administration, now the home of the Ministry of communications, information and culture of Malaysia. Behind the building, where the Klang and Gombak rivers confluence is a lovely tropical garden, ideal for taking a rest from the heat and humidity of the city.

Sultan Abdul Samad building

More Things To Do In Kuala Lumpur

Menara Kuala Lumpur is also known as KL Tower is a communication tower. Reaching 421 m, the tower is very popular with visitors. You can get to the observatory deck and admire the 360-degree view of Kuala Lumpur or take a break at the revolving restaurant. The tower also acts as the Islamic falak observatory to observe the crescent moon which marks the beginning of the Muslim month of Ramadan. Check pricing and get your tickets to KL tower here

Batu Caves – another popular place to visit in Kuala Lumpur are the Batu Caves a limestone hill with a series of caves and cave temples. The complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. Cathedral Cave is the largest and most popular cavern in Batu Caves. The caves are located about 13 km from Kuala Lumpur and are easily accessible by commuter train from KL Sentral or by a car. 

Street Food In Kuala Lumpur

Whether you like satay skewers, curry or noodles, the streets of KL offer something for everyone. One might find the street food here as diverse as the city’s inhabitants. A rich mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines go side by side on every corner. It is quite common in Malaysia to eat 6 small meals a day, yep 6 meals a day,  often outside of the home and in the company of friends. The food stalls in Kuala Lumpur are usually pretty busy and people sit on plastic chairs and chat with their friends as dishes are brought out one at the time. Grab a chair in the shade away from the heat and immerse yourself in the atmosphere and different smells and dig in. I went to probably one of the most famous places to eat at Madras Lane right next to Chinatown. A wet market in a small alley offers everything for your cravings after a long day of exploring KL.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Places To Stay In Kuala Lumpur

Being a top destination for visitors in South-East Asia, Kuala Lumpur offers endless possibilities for places to stay from hotels to apartments for very reasonable prices. The 12 million visitors coming to KL every year are being spoiled for choice. I stayed at the Ambassador Raw Hotel Suites by Lanson Place.

Getting Around In Kuala Lumpur On A Budget

I guess like any Asian city, KL is notorious for its traffic jams, gridlocks and infamous morning and evening rush hours. Luckily with extensive public transport network, trains and taxis, getting around Kuala Lumpur is very easy and cheap.

Public transport – is highly developed in KL to make it easy to travel anywhere in the city and beyond.

Using Metro, Mono Rail or Bus will take you to your desired destination around the city and the KLIA Ekspres is a good way to get to the airport from the city centre and back. For journey planner and ticket prices visit myrapid

For those travellers who don’t have much time to spend in Kuala Lumpur, the Hop on – Hop off bus is a great and affordable way to explore the city. You can choose from the Garden route or the City route or why not take both routes for the best KL experience. No worries the bus is air-conditioned a must in KL. For more info about the routes, timetable and prices visit KL Hop-On Hop-Off

Another great, cheap and my favourite way to explore Kuala Lumpur is using Taxi.

Download the Grab app, which is similar to Uber or other taxi apps and move around KL in comfort and without the hassle of waiting for a bus or train. Also, a great way to get to know the locals by chatting to a friendly driver, who’s always happy to advise you on what to see or do in Kuala Lumpur if you do not have your own plan.

Kuala Lumpur Weather

Kuala Lumpur has hot and humid weather all year round with two seasons, wet and dry. So no need to worry that you’ll be cold there, but you will experience the odd shower or a thunderstorm in the evenings. The best time to visit KL is May to July with the least showers, but quite hot temperatures.

The dry season is from March to September and it gets hot and humid here. The wet season is from November to March. Worth mentioning are the two monsoon seasons. One is from March to April and the other from October to November, with the latter being the worst one with heavy rain and storms.

For Great Deals on Hotels, Attractions and Flights Visit mgphotography.uk

Best Places To Visit In Bali, Indonesia: The Island Of Gods

The island of Gods as Bali is also known, is a true paradise on Earth. Probably more famous than the country it is located in, beautiful Indonesia, the largest island country with more than 17000 islands. Bali sits between the islands of Java and Lombok and is very popular with tourists and one can see why. The lush and varied landscape, rugged coastline, amazing beaches, countless rice terraces, many smaller neighbouring islands like Nusa Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida, rich culture and most genuine and always smiling Balinese people. So why not immerse yourself in its unique and spiritual atmosphere. Bali is the only Hindu majority province in Indonesia and about 83% of the population adheres to Balinese Hinduism so seeing many temples and offerings is a normal thing here. Travelling solo? No problem. Bali is one of the best destinations in the world for solo travellers and one of my favourite.

Bali is a part of the Coral Triangle, an area with the highest biodiversity of marine life and is located about 8 degrees south of the equator, therefore has a fairly even climate all year around. With a population of 897.400 people, the country’s capital is Denpasar and Ngurah Rai International is the islands main airport and a getaway to Bali for many visitors. Then there is the traffic oooh the traffic. For the first time visitor from the west, like myself, it is a bit of a shock, to say the least. It almost seemed that there are no rules when driving in Bali. Lots of cars and motorbikes everywhere and everybody is honking at each other and… Wow, I thought to myself could I drive here? They drive on the left-hand side, just like us in the UK, that’s a plus, right? Well, I will leave the driving for somebody else for now. The conclusion? The best way to experience Bali is hanging out with a local guide, who will not only drive but also teaches you a lot about the Balinese culture, history and even cracks a joke and gives you much valuable information and even makes you blend in with the local. I still need to practice more, but what a blast I had. Terima Kasih Joni

mgphotography.uk
Joni balicatt.com

Things To Do In Bali: 5 Best Places To Visit

I don’t need to mention that there are many amazing places to visit in Bali and you will not be able to see them all in a week, but for the first-time visitor here are some ideas on the top places to see.

Mt. Batur volcano and Batur lake – Still active today, the Batur volcano located in northeast Bali is a welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of the beach resorts and is popular with visitors due to its surroundings and pure, beautiful nature. Here you can admire the extensive lava field which covers the foot of the mountain and also the Batur lake. Many small villages are located close to the mountain too. Kintamani being probably the most visited. One of my favourite locations for sure. Plenty of people come here not just to admire the volcano, but also hike up the mountain to watch the sunrise. Though you would have to get up pretty early in the morning to do that, the views are spectacular and well worth the effort.

Monkey forest, Ubud – not only for the animal lover or Instagram geek, the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud is another great place to visit. The mission of the Monkey forest is conserving the area based on the concept of Tri Hita Karana (three causes of wellbeing, harmony with God, among people and with nature or environment) a philosophy of Hinduism in Bali. There are some 750 monkeys here and also 3 temples. The forest is not just a tourist attraction but also an important place for research and conservation programs. You can buy bananas to feed the monkeys or even a take picture with them. Just keep in mind the monkeys can get a bit cheeky and jump on you or steal your belongings. I was one of the lucky ones, no interest from the monkeys in me. Luckily.

Tegallalang Rice Terrace – stop number 3, the rice paddies. Tegallalang is one of the most splendid terraced landscapes in Ubud. The lush, green landscape is a photographers paradise. Here you can try the Bali swing, take a selfie in one of the tree nests or ride a bike above the fields on a jungle zip line. It is quite fascinating when you are here and think about the hard-working farmers trying to make a living by looking after the rice paddies. Respect for them.

Pura Tanah Lot- Tanah Lot Temple – Perched on the top of a big rock formation, the ancient Hindu temple is a cultural icon not only for photography but also one of Seven sea temples on the Balinese coast. The temple was built by priest Dang Hyang Niratha in the 15th century and it’s believed that he had to fight a giant sea serpent who lived here, in order to build the temple. Another fact about this place that interested me is magical spring water which comes out of the ground here. The water from the spring is fresh, but the temple is surrounded by the sea. Another interesting thing worth mentioning is the Holy snake. Not a myth, but a real sea snake, that you can touch and make a wish. Sure I did. 

Devil’s Tear – Nusa Lembongan Island – Located off the southeast coast of the mainland Bali is a small island called Nusa Lembongan. One of many islands, Lembongan is home to many beautiful places like the Dream beach, the Yellow bridge and the Devil’s tear. Many people flock here and to its neighbouring islands of Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Penida for their sheer beauty and one of the best locations for snorkelling, visiting the mangroves or just chilling on the stunning beaches. Get sprayed by the sea mist at Devil’s tear, admire the power of the waves crashing on the rocks and take some cool selfies here. The only way to get to Nusa Lembongan is by a fast boat from Sanur, Serangan or Benoa beach. You can book just a return ticket or try one of many attraction, that are offered like snorkelling, island tour and more. Ideas on pricing available here.

monkey forest

tegallalang rice terrace
Tanah Lot temple
Devil's tear

Bali Tour Packages

Whether you want to visit Bali’s most or less famous places, get a tailored tour to suit your needs or are looking for any activity from whitewater rafting to ATV driving, visit Balicatt.com for more information.

Find your perfect Bali tour. Competitive prices and satisfaction guaranteed.

A Few More Things About Bali

Bali is famous not only for the temples, beaches, mountains or shopping but also for yoga and meditation retreats and one of the best coffee in the world.

Let’s talk about shopping. I am not a big fan of any kind of shopping myself, home or abroad, but when you are in Bali, everybody should give it a go. There are markets or shops big and small on almost every corner, so it’s almost impossible to walk past at least one a day. One of the best markets can be found in Ubud, Kuta, Denpasar, Seminyak, Sanur. If you are looking for souvenirs, Balinese Batik, clothes, fresh fruit or maybe the iconic Balinese round rattan bag, then pop into one of the shops. All the sellers are ever so friendly. But! Do Not forget to haggle, always! If the seller tells you one price, offer half of that (or less), the seller will most likely say NO, then try again. Don’t like the final price? Simply walk away and try another seller. Mind the Balinese a great sellers, so takes a bit of practising to haggle with them. Bottom – line have a fun haggling and shop in the morning for the best “morning price”.

Yoga and meditation are very popular in Bali. Many people come here just to relax. If you need some time to slow down or clarify your purpose in the world, then visiting one of many yoga retreats here is a fantastic place to go to. Rural, peaceful settings will enhance your experience even further.

More ideas on yoga retreats in Bali available here 

Coffee lovers paradise. The mountain region of Kintamani is the main coffee growing area in Bali. One of the most expensive coffees also comes from here. Kopi Luwak or civet coffee is coffee that contains partially digested coffee cherries eaten and defecated by the Asian palm civet. This improves the coffee through selection – the civet only eats the cherries and digestion – the digestive system of the civet alters the composition of the coffee cherries. Hence the name, the most expensive coffee in the world.

Tanah Lot market
Balinese Batik making
coffee civet

Tips On The Do’s And Don’t In Bali

Do Tip – for good service. Working people in Bali are not on a high salary, so a tip even a small one goes a long way.

Do Be respectful – when entering a temple, wear a sarong or long clothing.

Do haggle – when visiting the markets. Smile can get you a long way too.

Do smile, smile, smile in the land of smiles.

Don’t – bring or get involved with drugs. Indonesia has one of the toughest drug laws in the world and still enforces the death penalty.

Don’t – step on ceremonial offerings. You will come across them everywhere. 

Don’t – provoke a monkey to attack. You might get bitten and as a result, the trip to a hospital could ruin your holiday. The same applies to street dogs, there is a lot of them in Bali and many carry rabies.

Bali Weather

As I mentioned above, Bali is located close to the Equator, so you can expect a tropical and humid climate all year around. Bali only has two seasons, Dry and Rainy.

The dry season lasts from May to September. With average temperatures about 31 degrees C. July and August tend to be the busiest months, due to school holidays, many tourists come to chill in the Balinese sun.

The wet season is from October to April. You ca experience cheaper hotel bookings and fewer crowds during the wet season.

The best time to visit Bali is just before or after the high season (April, May, June or September).

Also keep in mind that a “day of silence” called Nyepi – Balinese New Year, is a Hindu celebration and the whole island comes to a standstill with no flights coming in or leaving. If you are in Bali during Nyepi make sure you do not plan any travelling or outside activities. Read more about Nyepi here

Bali Currency

Indonesian rupiah (IDR) is the currency in Bali and the whole of Indonesia. The bank notes are very colourful, making it easier to differentiate between denominations. Amounts in rupiah tend to be quite large because of all the zeros. Banknotes come as 10.000, 20.000, 50.000 and 100.000, coins do exist, but you will not use them a lot if at all. There are many places where you can exchange money, just be careful, use only authorized exchange place and always count your money before leaving. ATM’s are also widely available, but best to use one attached to a bank.

For the latest currency exchange rates check here

Barcelona Trip

One might ask, is Barcelona worth visiting? The answer is YES! I’ve only had a hand luggage and 4 days to do it (that was the plan). Plenty to see and do so let’s get on with it. 

Capital of Catalonia and the second most populous city in Spain, Barcelona is well worth visiting. Barcelona’s pleasant Mediterranean climate and famous landmarks like the Sagrada Familia and many others designed by Gaudi, attracts a lot of tourists all year round. Located on the coast between two rivers, Besos and Llobregat no wonder that Barcelona is one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe.

The 4 day trip turned into unplanned 6 days, due to unseasonably bad weather the flight got cancelled, so I stayed a bit longer and the best thing about it? Twoextra days in Barcelona for FREE. I loved it.

Sagrada Familia

What To Do In Barcelona

Gothic Quarter or Barri Gotic – a Roman village in the past. Its winding, narrow streets and numerous squares, restaurants, shops, medieval architecture mixing with a modern one, a top choice for many visitors. I recommend when visiting Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia – the most famous Cathedral and Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished work. The construction began back in 1882 and is still ongoing today. The Temple has always been an expiatory church, built only from donations. As Gaudi said: “The Expiatory Church of the Sagrada Familia is made by the people and is mirrored in them. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people.” One of my favourite places in Barcelona for sure. Get your Sagrada Familia tickets Here

Castel de Montjuic – Montjuic Castle – 173 meters above the Port of Barcelonawith stunning panoramic views across the city. Old military fortress has seen many battles since it was built in 1640. The castle is infamous in Catalan history for its role in the civil war from 1936 to 1939 when both sides of the conflict imprisoned, tortured and shot political prisoners here. Now a peaceful place, perfect for a day out. The Castle can be accessed by Montjuic cable car(Teleferic de Montjuic), or you can just walk up if you like.

Casa Batllo – is a UNESCO World Heritage site, designed by Anton Gaudi and considered one of his masterpieces. Some people call it House of bones due to its visceral, skeletal quality. Colourful facade with small balconies almost reminds a fairy tale house. The house is open to the public and visited by many people every year. If you visit Barcelona, do not forget to come and see for yourself. Get your tickets Here 

Park Guell – escape to the hill above the city. Located in La Salut, a neighbourhood in the Gracia district, with amazing views of Barcelona. The park is a reflection of Gaudi’s design. Gaudi implemented here a series of structural solutions rooted in geometry. Hence the shape of the buildings, the terraced gardens and the colourful mosaic roofs and facades. Everyone loves the garden with many plants, palm trees and benches to just sit down and take in the scenery. It is Free to visit Park Guell, but to enter the mosaic terrace, you will need to purchase a ticket. Book your Park Guell tickets Here

Barri Gotic
Sagrada Familia
Barcelona Port Panorama
Casa Batllo
Park Guell


El Born – Cultural Centre 
– or Mercat del Born is a former public market and one of the most important buildings in Barcelona. Located in the lower and eastern side of the La Ribera neighbourhood, it is the largest covered square in all of Europe and marked the start of Modernism in Catalan architecture. Now a museum and cultural centre covering archaeological ruins which were part of the La Ribera district that was demolished in the early eighteenth century.

El Born Centre Culturel

La Boqueria – The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria – La Boqueria market, provides a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, sweets as well as meat, fish, cheese and dairy. Very popular with locals and visitors alike. Immerse yourself in the smells, atmosphere and flavours of some of the Spanish most favourite foods.

La Rambla – It is the central boulevard which cuts through the heart of the city centre and is a vibrant and lively promenade filled with Barcelona’s action at its best. Its popularity with tourists has affected the character of the street, with a move to pavement cafes and souvenir kiosks. If you like to watch the world go by, La Rambla is the perfect place to visit.

La Rambla

Camp Nou – the home of FC Barcelona, it is the largest stadium in Spain and Europe, and the third largest football stadium in capacity. An exciting experience even for non-football fans. Book your Camp Nou Barcelona tickets HERE and save.

La Monumental – Plaza de Toros Monumental Bullring. It was the last place in Catalonia where bullfights were held since the Parliament of Catalonia passed a law banning bullfighting events on 28 July 2010 that came into force in 2012. Now a museum and a must see place to visit in Barcelona.

La Monumental Bullring

Venetian Towers – Torres Venecianes is the popular name for a pair of towers on Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina at its junction with Placa de Espana in Barcelona. They serve an ornamental function, to mark the entrance to the exhibition district, now known as Fira de Barcelona, and the start of the grand avenue leading up to the Palau Nacional on Montjuïc.

Venetian Towers Barcelona

Getting Around In Barcelona

Barcelona has a modern and well-developed public transport to get quickly anywhere in the city. The metro, bus and tram all run at a very tight pace and until late into the night.

Taxi in Barcelona, The Barcelona taxi service operates with city fare rates for services within the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The intercity fare, which is authorized by the Catalan Regional Government, is applied to routes outside of this geographic area. The easiest way to book your Taxi is by using MyTaxi app

The most convenient way to travel around Barcelona is using public transport, Bus or Metro. The TMB  service is very reliable and the most affordable way to move around Barcelona. Get your FREE Metro map HERE.

For unlimited journeys be metro and other public transport, get your Hola Barcelona travel card in advance. Barcelona metro service is well connected with El Prat Airport and the city centre as well.

If you prefer walking, download a FREE Barcelona map HERE.

Barcelona Weather

Winter, from December to February, is mild, although you may encounter different weather situations. Atlantic fronts can bring clouds and rains for a few days. Sometimes, even cold and windy days can occur, when cold air masses from eastern Europe arrive: in such cases it may even snow. The lowest temperatures in Barcelona are not particularly cold: typically the temperature drops around freezing or slightly below on colder nights.

Summer, from mid-June to August, is hot and sunny, with highs close to 30 °C (86 °F); the heat is sultry because of humidity, but sea breezes make it more bearable. The city is somewhat protected from heat waves that can affect other parts of Spain, but we can not exclude some particularly hot days, with peaks of 35/36 °C (95/97 °F). 

Spring and autumn are mild and relatively rainy, however, there is a fair amount of sunny days also in these periods. 

Visit London: Things to do in London

Who had not heard about or wanted to visit London ? Everybody has, right?

The capital of the United Kingdom, London is one of the greatest cities in the world. With a population of about 9.5 mil. and history dating back to Roman times it is on the top of the list of every traveller. For sure London is one of my favourite places to visit in Europe. Those who are planning to visit London in the near future might be asking what are the top things to do in London?

Places to visit in London.

The world famous Big Ben or great bell, seen here “through the keyhole” was the largest and most accurate clock in the world when completed back in 1859. It sits at the north end of the Palace of Westminster and is a must-see building when you visit London.

The Tower Bridge a suspension bridge built over 100 years ago to help easy London’s traffic. Still in perfect working order and considered an engineering marvel to this day. No wonder that the Tower Bridge is a favourite place to be seen by all visitors especially at night with all its lights on.

London Eye an observation wheel situated on the south bank of the river Thames with far reaching views over London. Thousands of people come here to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks every year.

Slightly of the beaten track yet not too far is the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. A pedestrian crossing over the river Thames linking Bankside and the City of London. The bridge leads gently towards St. Paul’s Cathedral an Anglican cathedral and the seat of the Bishop of London. Admired by all architecture lovers.

What to do in London.

Whether you like culture, sightseeing or shopping, London has a lot to offer. There are numerous museums to visit, many free of charge. Mine favourite one is the Natural History Museum.

If you visit London in the Winter, then don’t miss to see the Ice Skating Rink at the Tower of London. A historic castle on the north bank of the river Thames just a short stroll from the Tower Bridge. It served as a royal residence in the past and still is the home of the Crown Jewels today. Well recommended to visit for all visitors to London.

Another fun place to visit is the annual Christmas event- Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Dive into the Christmas atmosphere here. See one of the live shows, circus or ice show or just admire amazing light show after dark. Tuck into hot churros or German sausage and watch the people go by. Perfect place to bring your kids in.

Open all year round with a perfect mixture of culture and restaurants is Chinatown. A piece of China in the heart of London not far from the theatre district or Piccadilly Circus. Fancy a Peking duck or Wonton dumpling? London’s Chinatown is just the perfect place for you.

London sightseeing.

Interested in London bus toursLondon attractions and more? Do not miss our great Limited time Offers

Getting around in London.

London has one of the largest public transport networks in the world. So getting from one place to another is very easy. TFL or transport for London offers many ways to get around London, but I think the most convenient way is to use the London Underground network or the London Tube as it is called here. Admire history and breathtaking architecture of London’s underground stations some dating back to 1863. Modern train cars whiz beneath London streets and will get you to your desired place in no time. So don’t miss a ride on the London Tube. Get your Free London Tube map Here.

Love London? Grab your Free digital image download HERE

london tube

Plan your stay in London with Booking.com

Photography Highlight

What a Year It’s been…

Started off with a Photography trip to The Big Apple-New York . What a trip. Every photographers dream. The trip has come and gone. Bye Bye New York.

Now we Have the Summer here. Finally, Right? Lets have some fun…Sun, Sea and Sangria? Why not. The Mediterranean Island of Mallorca is the perfect destination. Lovely place to visit. Just when you start enjoying it it’s  time to go back home. I wiped the sand of my camera and back to the reality again.

The Autumn was here. The days are getting shorter, no more sunshine Ooooh. But wait. Maybe a quick trip somewhere? Somewhere warm? Yes! Alicante in Spain. 
Alicante is a port city on Spain’s southeastern Costa Blanca, and the capital of the Alicante Province. It was in late September and the temperature was still in high 20’s. As it happens time to go back home was here once again. Hasta Luego Espana.

The long, cold, wet winter is here again. Nothing else to do but go through all my photographs I took during the year. Lots of nice memories in those images. I had to book another trip. Last one this year. The Winter is here so might go out there and make the most of it. I was going to Slovakia. The Low Tatras mountains. 
The Low Tatras is a mountain range in central Slovakia, separated from the northern High Tatras by the River Váh. Most of the area is in Low Tatras National Park. Time to go was here. I finished my hot tea with rum, said goodbye to the friendly, welcoming people of Slovakia. But do not worry, will come back again soon.

That was my year in a few words and pictures. Do photographers work alone? People ask. Yes is the answer in my case. But the results are worth it I think. And if you love photography, there is nothing else you would like to do more. I am excited to see what will the new year bring.

One last thing. My long awaited photography site is up and running. Visit Us at  mgphotography.uk

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from mgphotography.uk

Have You Heard About The Two Week Diet?

Well I have. I guess we have all been there once or twice or… you know what I am talking about. Dieting.

I have tried all sorts of diets to loose weight from Keto to Atkins myself and do not get me wrong they work but my god what a pain in the backside, right? So I decided to spend more time researching and searching for something much more easier. It took me a while, but then I found something called The 2 Week Diet, how to loose weight in two weeks. Now what is that about you probably ask?

The 2 Week Diet focuses on three main components to help dieters lose unwanted weight: diet, exercise, and mindset. Dieters learn what, when, and how to eat for optimized weight loss. They also receive supplement and exercise advice to accelerate the process. Finally, they develop the mindset—or willpower—to lose weight and keep it off. Brian Flatt, nutrition coach and owner of R.E.V. Fitness, developed the 2 Week Diet in Southern California.

The two-week diet to loose weight is the diet program for safe, rapid weight loss. Based on a decade of scientific research, it promises at least pounds of body fat in just 14 days.

The complete 2 Week Diet system includes:

The Launch Handbook – which explains the revolutionary science in plain language. Dieters get a simple, easy-to-follow crash course in the specific nutrients needed to lose fat, increase metabolism, and regain their health and energy.

The Diet Handbook – which reveals how dieters can tailor their rapid weight loss plan to suit their body type. Dieters find exactly what, how, and when to eat each day. This handbook eliminates the guesswork that often accompanies other dieting plans.

The Activity Handbook – which discusses how a moderate amount of exercise is more than sufficient in the pursuit of fat-loss. Using these groundbreaking workouts, dieters get amazing results exercising only 20 minutes a day for 3-4 days a week.

The Motivation Handbook – which enables these unbelievable results by developing the right mindset, allowing dieters to stay motivated on their goals. Cultivating willpower is the key to a winning mindset.

There are some case studies backed by experts.

Harvard Studies on Cellular Inflammation Fuel Innovative Diet Program.

Dieters dissatisfied with ineffective, run-of-the-mill diets now have access to a groundbreaking program that guarantees weight loss of 8-16 pounds in 14 days.

Brian Flatt, a seasoned nutritionist and owner of R.E.V. Fitness, developed The 2 Week Diet in response to “mainstream diet programs that are time-consuming, inefficient, and just plain ineffective.”

After reading well over 500 medical studies, dozens of diet books and reviewing hundreds of diet systems, programs, gadgets, pills and potions, Flatt put together what he feels is “the ultimate rapid weight loss diet system.” This program is the result of more than a decade of research and more than two and a half years of real-world tweaking and testing.

According to nutrition experts like Dr. Alessio Fasano, holder of the W. Allan Walker Chair at Harvard Medical School, the primary culprit of weight gain is cellular inflammation. The 2 Week Diet applies groundbreaking findings like these to optimize the body’s natural fat-burning mechanisms.

“If we take control of cellular inflammation, we can effectively increase our ability to lose weight, burn fat, increase metabolism, and permanently stave off body fat,” Flatt said.

His 2 Week Diet also:

Corrects common misconceptions popularized by the mainstream dieting industry

  • Provides dieters with a straightforward, step-by-step plan of action
  • Produces rapid results to fuel dieter motivation
  • Avoids outdated and ineffective techniques like “Count every calorie” and the “Eat less, exercise more” mantra

“Most of the diet plans out there approach weight loss with a slow and sensible approach,” Flatt said. “It’s true that eating certain foods and following rigorous workout programs will produce weight loss. Unfortunately, the process moves at a snail’s pace. The reason is simple: these plans don’t attack stubborn, stored body fat.”

The 2 Weeks Diet provides dieters with nutrients essential for good health and proper functioning, while eliminating foods that slow—and even prevent—fat burning. Ordinary diets burn carbohydrates and proteins before fat, but a specialized diet can circumvent that order. It also helps dieters maintain lean body mass and increase their metabolism.

To learn more about the 2 Week Diet, please visit .

Dr. Fasano Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384703 

Now , this is my week 2 and I must admit that it really works and what is even better that you do not have to “torture” yourself anymore like with all the diets before. I will never look back.

If you would like promo or to find out more about how to loose weight in two weeks, feel free to check it out here.

Mallorca, Spain.

Back from a trip to the Spanish island of Mallorca, well know holiday destination for most people. Mallorca together with other islands, Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera, Cabrera form the Balearic Islands. Only a short flight away from The UK and other European cities, no wonder that the Balearics are so popular.

I was staying not far from the Palma airport, a resort called Can Pastilla.

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Not as busy as perhaps the south of the island, therefore more relaxing atmosphere. Plenty of hotels offering decent accommodation, numerous bars, restaurants and miles and miles of nice sandy beaches. Other advantage of Can Pastilla is the close proximity to the islands capital Palma de Mallorca, where about half of the people from the island live.

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Cosmopolitan city indeed, with pleasant Mediterranean feel, cuisine and climate. Historic place with plenty of sights to see. One of the most visited is probably the Cathedral de Mallorca, with far-reaching views over the bay of Palma.

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Sadly, as always the holiday come to an end. So until next time…

Sunset#2

Hasta Luego Mallorca.

 

The Hiker

Recent nice weather finally allowed me to pursue my passion, the great (British) outdoors/hiking. So I decided to visit my favourite place – Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

Brecon Beacons

After about 40 minutes fast paced hike, I made it to the first summit, passing a few experienced hikers and some first timers as well. Quite funny to watch some of those people huffing and puffing trying to make it to the top, in their attire suitable more for a sunday stroll to the beach or down to Tesco. Fair enough, they might have learnt after first 10 minutes of walking and hopefully will come better equipped next time.  I have been doing a bit of hiking for a couple of years now, so yeah being a smart ass :). Anyway what a place to go to, keeps you fit and the views…

On the Top #2

Looking toward Cribyn (2608ft) from Pen Y Fan (2864ft). Well worth it.

 

 

“The Beast from the East”

Well, The Beast from the East has come to the UK, and gone or maybe not just yet. Had a bit of snow, more than We usually get over here. IMG_20180302_132134

The tv stations kept us well-informed, “be prepared for freezing conditions” mind You -4 C is much colder than We are used to, nothing in comparison with my native country Slovakia where -15 C is average temperature for this time of the year. Anyway, as I mentioned We’ve been well-informed by the media, do not travel if you don’t have to, good, right? Like nobody have to go to work etc. Trains, planes, public transport cancelled, schools closed. So obviously people are worried and try to stock up on food and whatever They need. I have decided to do the same and pop in to my closest supermarket, where I don’t have to drive my car to…

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So much for stocking up on fruit or veg (delivered fresh today). Empty shelves!!! Oh no! Never mind, shall I try the meat isle?

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I give up…Gonna wait a couple of days, hopefully no more Beasts are coming.

It’s all good, We keep on smiling. 🙂 🙂 🙂