Europe

Things to Do and See in Seville

I LOVE Seville. My first time visiting the Spanish mainland. I’ve been to the Balearic’s, and the Canaries, but never actually to Spain itself. Most people choose to go to Madrid or Barcelona for their first experience of mainland Spain.

Me? I choose to take three flights and go to Seville.

Living just north of Aberdeen, there’s not many direct flights. Pretty much the only direct flights are to Paris or Amsterdam – and there’s all the helicopters to the offshore oil platforms. To get to Seville, I had to fly to Heathrow, then Madrid, then Seville. Thankfully, all of my flights were on time, so the journey was actually quicker than a lot of the times where I’ve only had 2 flights.

Anyway, back to Seville.

It is just STUNNING. I adore Moorish architecture, and Seville has it in abundance. Just like any other popular city, it was quite busy, but because it’s so awkward to get to, it’s not as busy as, say, Paris or Venice, which was nice.

It was also ROASTING. Even in the middle of September, it was high thirties. Drink lots of water, folks!

I would go back to Seville in a heartbeat, if I had the money. There is a lot to see in Seville, and I didn’t manage to see everything. If any of you have any ideas of other places to see, please let me know! 🙂

Plaza de Espana
A trip to Seville is not complete without a trip to the Plaza de Espana. Situated in Parque de Maria Luisa, it is gorgeous. I was particularly taken with the bridges made of tiles. I also love the little alcoves showing all the provinces of Spain – it’s fun seeing how each of them has been portrayed.

Catedral de Sevilla
Seville Cathedral is the largest cathedral, and the third largest church, in the world. And you can tell. It is absolutely MASSIVE. The orange courtyard (a courtyard with orange trees, not a courtyard that is bright orange) is lovely – I have this weird thing where seeing fruit in trees really amuses me. Every time I go to Italy, I love seeing the lemon trees. And in Madeira, there is fruit growing everywhere!

No one is completely sure if Christopher Columbus is buried in the cathedral, or if it’s his son Diego, but there is a very fancy tomb dedicated to Columbus in the middle of the main room It is also opposite the most unflattering mirror in the world (it’s tilted at an angle, so that you can get a selfie with the ceiling, but any photos taken from below are baaaaaaad).

Metropol Parasol
The largest wooden structure in the world, this is the place to go for views. Being so high up in a city where the buildings aren’t that tall makes for a spectacular view. For 3 euros, you get a lift up to the top, and you can spend as long as you like up there. It’s not that busy either, so there’s no need to elbow people out of the way.

Alcazar of Seville
One of the most beautiful buildings I have ever been in. I love Moorish architecture, and this palace has it in abundance. The gardens are stunning, too, although I was unfortunately too tall for the maze.

Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla
Situated in the Alcazar, just below it, with access through the gardens, these were originally rainwater tanks, but they are worth a look.

The Alhambra
Yes, it’s a day trip, but it is SO WORTH IT. It’s about 2.5 hours on the bus to and from Granada (our trip picked us up at 7am, and we got there just after 9am). The palace is massive and is an excellent example of Moorish architecture (I don’t think I mentioned that I love Moorish architecture?). It’s so worth the early start. Our tour guide was lovely – he was so passionate about the palace. You could tell that he loved it.

Generalife
This was probably what I was looking forward to seeing the most. The pictures are all over the guide books, and they do not do this place justice. People on our tour were given the option of not doing this part, and just relaxing in the palace gardens, but I would recommend doing it.

Convent Sweets
This was an unusual experience, but I loved it. There are maybe half a dozen convents scattered throughout Seville where you can buy sweets from nuns. I happened to find the one where you don’t even see the nun – you put money on a metal turnstile, and they give you the sweets with an ‘Ave Maria’. Unfortunately, the day I visited, the turnstile wasn’t working, so I went into the church itself. There was a sweet old lady knitting behind a big grill. I paid her, and she squeezed a wooden box of sweets through the gap. They are literally made with egg yolks and sugar, but the money goes towards helping the nuns and the convent.

Tiles
There are tiles everywhere in Seville. I may have bought half a dozen as souvenirs.

If I have missed anything, please let me know. Any excuse to go back 🙂

Things to do in Funchal, Madeira

You’ve probably noticed that the title of this post is ‘Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’, as opposed to ’10/15/etc Things to do in Funchal, Madeira’.  This is because, as I mentioned in my last post, I live here now, and so this list will probably be regularly updated as I find more and more things to do.

1. Cathedral

This cathedral is so cute and small and really opulent inside.  Definitely worth a look.

2. CR7 hotel and museum

This is for those of you who like football.  Since Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, he has his own hotel named after him.  Shake hands with the statue of Ronaldo outside that looks nothing like him – imagination goes a long way!

3. Cable car to Monte

This is a really nice ride above Funchal.  It takes around 15 minutes, so plenty of opportunity to take photos!

4. Tropical Gardens

If there’s one garden that you see in Madeira, make it the tropical gardens.  They’re consistently named as some of the most beautiful gardens in the world and they’re stunning.  My particular favourite (which has nothing to do with plants) is the geode room.  I’ve never seen so many in one place before – or ones that are so big!

5. Toboggan

Imagine a sledge but without the snow.  That’s pretty much what this is – but so much faster.  You go down 2 km in around 5 minutes.  I loved it, it was so much fun! (The one in the picture looks pretty battered – the ones you go down in are much better condition!)

6. Casino

As well as being a casino (obviously), you can have dinner with a show here.  The singers have incredible voices!

7. Presidential Gardens

Only 1 euro and when I visited, there were parrots!  (I don’t know if the parrots are always there or not…)

8. Santa Maria Street

The street of painted doors.  I have spent many a night wandering around the bars here 😉

9. Municipal Gardens

Slap-bang in the middle of town, these gardens are a nice place to go to relax and pretend you’re not in the middle of a city.

10. Santa Catarina Park

My favourite park (after the tropical gardens).  I love just sitting and looking down at the marina, or at the pond, where there are usually lots of swans!

Top 20 European Destinations

Manarola1

Out of all the continents, Europe is the one that I have travelled the most (living in Scotland helps!  What doesn’t help is the fact I have to take at least 2 planes to get anywhere…).  I’ve decided to make a list of my Top 20 European Destinations.  Some of these I’ve been to, some I’m desperate to visit but I hope you enjoy my list!

Just a head’s up, this list isn’t in order of how much I like the destinations, as they’re too amazing to put in order!

                                                                                                       20. Dubrovnik, Croatia                                                                            telegraph.co.uk

If you wanna pretend you’re in Game of Thrones (although, you’ll probably end up killed off like the rest of the characters…), then this is the destination for you!  Dubrovnik is a beautiful, old town, full of amazing history and museums.

Picture 02619. Saas-Fee, Switzerland

I need to go back here.  Saas-Fee is amazing for skiing.  Only electric cars are allowed in the town, which is full of cute buildings and amazing shops (and hot chocolate!)

                                                                                                                18. Monaco                                                                                              hotel-r.net

The world’s second smallest country (after the Vatican), Monaco is one of the glitziest places in the world and I badly want to visit it.  It’s very expensive, though!

                                                                                                          17. Barcelona, Spain                                                 timeout.com

I’m desperate to visit Barcelona and see the Sagrada Familia, get lost in the alleys, and enjoy everything Gaudi!

DSC_025216. Prague, Czech Republic

One of the most beautiful places I’ve visited, Prague is full of amazing architecture, history and everything is so cheap!  And you need to try a trdelnik – they’re so good!

                                                                                                      15. Amsterdam, Netherlands                                                           digital.fespa.com

Full of brilliant museums, Amsterdam is also famous for its biking, culture and history.

Edinburgh114. Edinburgh, Scotland

I lived here for 4 years, so Edinburgh will always have a special place in my heart.  Make sure you visit the many museums and the castle (and palace!).  And you must get lost in the small back streets! (The above photo is the street I lived on – isn’t it gorgeous?!)

                                                                                                       13. Budapest, Hungary                                                                            lvs.luxury

Budapest is probably up there for culture and architecture.  And I’ve heard it’s a good place to travel to if you’re on a budget.

DSC_073212. Verona, Italy

I love Verona.  It’s so small, cute, rustic and full of history – and it’s so easy to get away from the crowds as well!

                                                                                                     11. Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic                                               czechtourism.com

Another small, cute town, Cesky Krumlov reminds me of The Grand Budapest Hotel (one of my favourite films!)

                                                                                                             10. Athens, Greece                                                                   lonelyplanet.com

I love anything to do with Ancient Greece, so what better place than Athens?

                                                                                                             9. Lisbon, Portugal                                                           worldwanderista.com

Lisbon is up there as one of the places I’m probably going to visit soon (fingers crossed!).  This beautiful city is full of amazing culture, great food, and gorgeous, tiny streets.

                                                                                                                8. Colmar, France                                                              thousandwonders.net

Probably the cutest town in France – how can you resist all of those gorgeous, brightly coloured houses!  And they’re next to a river!  Can’t go wrong there 🙂

                                                                                                             7. Ronda, Spain                                                                    malagatogo.com

I badly want to visit this cliffside village – imagine the views!  And the history of the place is amazing.

Picture 0046. Paris, France

The romantic City of Lights, there’s so much to do in Paris – amazing nightlife, culture and food, to name a few!

                                                                                                          5. Dordogne Region, France                                                       leseyzies-tourist.info

So many castles!  I need to go here!

                                                                                                         4. Santorini, Greece                                                                                   foundtheworld.com

You’ll recognise the pictures – the gorgeous, white buildings with blue roofs.  I’ve also heard the sunsets are amazing.

DSC_00053. Venice, Italy

I love Venice.  It’s so unique and unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before.  It’s impossible to walk over a bridge and not take a photo of the canals.

                                                                                                            2. Seville, Spain                                telegraph.co.uk

As well as the history and the amazing architecture, Seville is also famous for tapas, flamenco and sangria.

DSC_00681. Cinque Terre, Italy

Five gorgeous, small towns by the coast.  Hike or catch the train between each town.  Be prepared, though – there’s not a flat area anywhere.  It’s all hills or stairs.