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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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A Family Getaway on Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has all you need for a great family escape – a plethora of beaches of all types, suitable both for toddlers and grown-ups; reserves where you can enjoy nature in all its splendour and embark on all kinds of adventures; leisure areas where children can have a whale of a time, and a climate which permits you to enjoy holidays at any time of year. What more could you ask for? Here, then, is a selection of several family holiday plans on Gran Canaria, where you will have an unforgettable time.

Beaches for Children

Admit it – the place where kids really have the best time is at the seaside, what with its mix of water and sand where they can play for hours on end. And, don’t deny it – it’s also the perfect spot for adults, where a good dose of sunlight and a refreshing dip help you leave all your worries behind. The beaches are one of the major draws to Gran Canaria and you can enjoy them all year around, thanks to the island’s mild climate. Nearly 236 kilometres of coastline offer just short of 60 kilometres of beaches of all kinds, from the kilometres-long sandy beaches to the more rugged, rocky coves with natural pools.

If you’re travelling with the kids, we recommend you make for the south of the island, to the area of Dunas de Maspalomas. Each year this beach attracts a host of vacationers seeking a well-earned rest and it is likely to be the perfect spot for your holiday, too. Other worthwhile options include Playa del Inglés, which is perfect for doing watersports, those of San Agustín and Las Burras, swathed in an aura of tranquility, and the beach of Las Canteras, renowned for being one of the finest urban beaches in the country. If you’re the more adventurous type, then head for El Puertillo and Agaete with their natural rock pools.

Activities for Children

Apart from the proverbial seaside, Gran Canaria also hosts numerous activities for all the family. Following are some pointers.

1. Gran Canaria – a Huge Nature Reserve
As far as nature goes, Gran Canaria is the equivalent of a miniature continent which stands out for its rich biodiversity. So, make a point of touring this grand Biosphere Reserve in search of its unique landscapes.

2. Dolphin Spotting
Dolphins can often be sighted in the south of the island and spotting them is thrilling for all the family. Enjoy a sailing adventure full of excitement as you wait for these friendly cetaceans to make their appearance. They are sure to treat you the odd acrobat leap as well. Your entertainment is guaranteed!

3. Theme Parks
Theme parks are a great standby when you are travelling with children. On Gran Canaria the young ones will have lots of thrills and spills careering down the water slides at Aqualand Maspalomas, venturing into the Wild West at Sioux City or testing their climbing skills on the various circuits at GrancAventura, among other things. And, while we’re on the subject, the Poema del Mar Aquarium will be opening to the public shortly. The aquarium recreates as accurately as possible the ecosystems of dozens of species that live both in and out of the water, so take note!

4. Surfing
A holiday on Gran Canaria is the ideal opportunity for youngsters to try their hand on a surfboard. La Cícer, on Las Canteras beach, and Las Alcaravaneras, in the heart of the city, are great spots for learning and practising this sport.

5. Sightseeing in Town
And, needless to say, a holiday on this fantastic island should also include a bus tour of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the island’s major city, its old town dating back 500 years. The atmosphere there is lively and you can do a welcome spot of shopping. Don’t miss out on it!

For further information, be sure to check out the website and blog at Turismo Gran Canaria.

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