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.more info
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
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 Destinosmore info
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!
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.more info