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Plan a romantic and gastronomic getaway in Paris

Renowned as the city of love, Paris is widely regarded to be one of the most romantic cities in the world. The charms of the River Seine and its bridges, the majestic Notre Dame cathedral, the beauty of the Champs-Élysées, the iconic Eiffel Tower and the magic of Sacré Coeur are just some of the marvels that have earned the city its fame. And to end your visit, nothing beats an intimate dinner for two at one of the romantic Parisian restaurants recommended here.

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Rabat Getaway

Rabat is a little known destination and one not much frequented by tourists heading to Morocco. This is precisely one of its major attractions – the chance to enjoy its monuments and spots full of atmosphere, minus the stress associated with other cities like Marrakech, Casablanca or Fez.

The city lies on the mouth of the river Bou Regreg, on the Atlantic seaboard, and is a curious blend of the old and new. The old medina and the city walls contrast with the new city, home to the country’s administrative facilities. It is not overly big, so you can see it all in a couple of days. Following is a selection we have made of the essential sights to see when visiting Rabat.

The Hassan Tower – Splendour Cut Short

The Hassan Tower is one of Rabat’s major landmarks, the unfinished fruit of the city’s greatest age of splendour. In the 12th century, Sultan Yaqoub al-Mansour decided to build the largest mosque in the West, to which end he commissioned the same architect who had designed the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakech, and La Giralda of Seville. Unfortunately, the sultan died before the mosque had been completed, and construction work came to a halt. The most striking architectural feature is the minaret with its geometric designs. It was scheduled to be 86 metres high, but only 44 metres were eventually completed. The rest of the complex comprises the columns built to support 21 naves.

Alongside this ancient mosque stands the Mausoleum of Muhammad V, where the remains of the Alawite monarchs, Muhammad V and Hassan II, were laid to rest. Built between 1961 and 1971, it is a commendable example of contemporary Moroccan architecture. The project was assigned to the Vietnamese, Vo Toan, who successfully captured the essence of the country’s architectural and decorative tradition.

In Search of Origins – the Chellah Necropolis

The Chellah is a fortified precinct located some 2 kilometres from Rabat. Its interior houses, among other things, remains of the Roman city – after the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, they were the first to settle the area. Preserved in this early urban nucleus are the remains of the forum and temple of Jupiter. There are also vestiges of the early Islamic era. In the 15th century the precinct was reconverted by the Arabs into a necropolis, and features remains of tombs and a mosque.

The Kasbah of the Udayas – Rabat’s Magical Corner

Rabat is well worth visiting, if only for a tour of this walled quarter, made up of labyrinthine streets full of houses painted blue and white. The Kasbah was built in the 17th century by the Udayas on a cliff sited on the south bank of the river mouth to defend the coastline from a possible Spanish invasion. This is evident in its fortress-like character, with numerous battlements and lookouts, which now make excellent viewpoints for sightseers. In addition to wandering through the streets, soaking up the atmosphere in all its corners, you should take the chance to visit the Museum of the Udayas, located in the Andalusian Gardens, which boasts one of the finest jewellery collections in Morocco.

City of Gardens

Rabat is also known as the “city of gardens”, so make sure you stroll leisurely through and relax in one of them. Most noteworthy are the Nouzzah Hassan Gardens, located opposite the city walls, designed by the French general, Lyautey; the Jardins d'Essais Botanical Gardens, with exotic fruit, ornamental and Mediterranean trees, and Rabat Zoo, for those who fancy seeing animals, apart from plants.

Shopping in the Souq

The word souq, associated with tranquility, might sound like science fiction to the traveller in Morocco, but this is true of the bazaar in Rabat. With hardly any hustling by street vendors, you can tour the Souq in search of food, spices, craftwork, garments, carpets and a host of other goods.

You’ve noted everything you can see in Rabat, right? Take out a Vueling and enjoy a visit to this city.

 

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Jacopo Romei, SnippyHolloW, Fr Maxim Massalitin, Mustapha Ennaimi, Julia Chapple, Shawn Allen

 

 

 

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Romantic Getaway to La Palma

Planning to give yourself and your partner a treat for Valentine’s Day? While Rome and Paris tend to be the favourites as far as romantic flings are concerned, why not flout the norm and opt for a place where natural beauty is the ideal setting for enjoying love? This time around, we recommend La Palma, an island situated in the north-west corner of the Canary Island archipelago and widely known as the “beautiful isle” for its lovely scenery. Here are some tips for getting the most out of this beautiful nature reserve where you can also enjoy the added value of a pleasant, mild climate at this time of year.

Journey to the Heart of the Island

The length and breadth of La Palma is made for sightseeing, redolent with spectacular landscapes of volcanic origin which boast the well-earned accolade of Biosphere Reserve, awarded by UNESCO. Covering 708 square kilometres, it is comparatively easy to tour by car, although you will come across a large number of slopes, so just take it easy. The reward is that you will encounter numerous vantage points on the way where you can soak up the spectacular views, like the Cumbrecita in El Paso, Los Andenes viewpoint, El Roque de Los Muchachos in Garafía – one of the most spectacular – and La Concepción viewpoint, with views over the city of Santa Cruz de La Palma.

If you happen to be a sports enthusiast, be sure to hire a mountain bike and ride along the myriad forest trails criss-crossing the island – you will not be disappointed. Another option is to secure some sturdy footwear and choose a route through this ramblers’ paradise, which has nearly one thousand kilometres of waymarked footpaths. They stretch across the whole island, from La Crestería or Route of the Volcanoes to the Camino de la Costa (Coastal Route) fringing the island, or the Ruta de los Puertos (Route of the Ports), which links Santa Cruz de La Palma to the Puerto de Tazacorte.

Sundown at the Seaside

Nothing like the seaside for being lulled by romantic charm, as well as taking in the marvellous scenery. While the beaches of La Palma are not that well known, the island actually boasts a number of secluded seaside spots where you can get away from it all and enjoy intimate moments with the immense Atlantic Ocean before you. Among our favourites is the beach of Los Nogales, accessed by going down some 300 steps, which you will have to climb back up when you leave! Then there is that of Bujarén, in Garafía – suitable only for those with no fear of heights – and La Zamora, where you can enjoy a picture postcard sunset with your loved one. What more could you ask for?

A Charming Hotel

No romantic escapade would be complete without a resting place with a charm of its own. The Hotel Hacienda de Abajo, located in the heart of the historic centre of Tazacorte, is a reconverted sugar mill and the perfect spot for chilling out after a lengthy sightseeing day on the Beautiful Isle. We recommend checking out their bath house, where you can enjoy a good massage, and make a point of refueling in their magnificent restaurant.

Book your Vueling to La Palma here and celebrate Valentine’s Day in style!

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Image by Ivan Borisov

 

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Tallinn the Perfect PreChristmas Getaway

Northern Europe with its markets and ad hoc decoration is the perfect destination for anyone seeking to get into the Christmas spirit before actually celebrating the festivity with their family. One city with a must-visit flea market is Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, which boasts one of the best preserved medieval towns on the Baltic. The historic precinct, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997, is ringed by walled fortifications which have withstood all wars. Any further reason for visiting Tallinn? Well, it has one of the most beautiful seafronts in the world and, according to Condé Nast Traveler, it is due to become one of the most prosperous cities of 2017. What else?

Tallinn was a major commercial hub during the period when the Hanseatic League dominated the Baltic and North Sea trade routes. At that time it was known by the Germanic name Reval and such was its prosperity that it could afford to have two mayors and twenty-four municipal councillors who only worked alternate years. The Old Town dates from medieval times and is arranged around the City Hall, which bears the city’s symbol, “Vana Toomas” (Old Thomas), a weathervane in the shape of a mercenary holding a sword in one hand and a flag in the other. Noteworthy, too, is the Lutheran St Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Dome Church, in bare Gothic style, and the Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, dating from 1900, located on Toompea hill. Danes, Germans, Swedes, Russians and, lastly, Soviets have left their mark on Estonia’s history. Prominent from the latter period is the cinema, now one of the major leisure centres in Tallinn, and the network of inner patios scattered across this Baltic city.

You can’t say you’ve been to Tallinn unless you walk down Pikk jalg (Long Leg) Street and Lühike jalg (Short Leg) Street and stop to take in amazing iconic views of the city from the Patkuli viewing platform overlooking the sea, the harbour and the Church of Oleviste (St Olaf). Neither will you be seasoned experts on the capital of Estonia unless you take a stroll through the modern Rotermanni district, or if you fail to laugh on hearing the names of two of the best known towers on the city wall – “Look in the Kitchen” and “Fat Margaret”.

The inhabitants of Tallinn enjoy going to the beach and one of the most crowded in summer is Pirita (Brigid). With its fine white sand, locals have no qualms about bathing in the wild, frigid waters of the Baltic, where freshwater fish like the pike can also be caught. This coastal district has a marina where athletes who took part in the 1980 Moscow Olympic sailing events were housed.

The Museums of Tallinn

Tallinn boasts a plethora of green areas and museums. Kadriorg Park is home to the palace of the same name, commissioned by the wife of Czar Peter I of Russia. The palace houses the Art Museum of Estonia which exhibits works by Italian, Dutch, German and Russian artists, among others, ranging from the 16th to the 19th century. Nearby is the Kumu Art Museum, one of Tallinn’s most modern and unique buildings, structured in limestone and copper, which hosts all kinds of exhibitions throughout the year, both permanent and temporary.

Other cultural venues well worth seeing, particularly for families travelling with children, include the Rocca al Mare Museum, located in a large wooded park with thatched roof farm cottages dating from the 18th to the 20th century, a timber church and a school. Another highlight is the Estonian Maritime Museum, which features such emblematic nautical exhibits as the Suur Tõll icebreaker – the largest surviving icebreaker in Europe – the Kalev mine-layer and the submarine Lembit.

Make a point of visiting the capital of Estonia – book your Vueling to Tallinn here.

Text by Tus Destinos

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