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Europe’s five best Christmas markets

Discover Europe’s most magical Christmas markets. It’s something that’s worth doing with the family at least once in a lifetime! Just one tip – wrap up warm!

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Catania's Street Markets

La Fiera and La Pescheria are two outdoor daily markets that give life to the streets of Catania and have become one of the city’s major tourist attractions as they are a meeting point between indigenous people and curious foreigners who enjoy watching these markets environment.

La Fiera expands along the city center, being la piazza de Stesicoro its nerve center where the market branches on different streets of the city. From early in the morning you can walk through this market and let the smells and colors of the fruits and vegetables wrap you in. La Fiera is always full of people picking through the wide range of things you can find at this huge market.

La Pescheria is the other central market located next to la piazza del Duomo, an incredible fish market buzzing with its merchants from 5 am until noon. La Pescheria offers a huge variety of incredibly fresh fish and seafood and also offers the opportunity to try in situ some of the products such as clams, mussels, oysters and sea urchins.

After walking through these markets, you better enjoy the wide variety of dishes provided by the restaurants in Catania.

Picture by Berthold Werner

Text  by Fran Arnaiz.

Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here!

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Madrid’s Gastronomic Markets Route

It’s a fact that gastronomy is in vogue in Madrid, as we saw for ourselves on our recent trip to the capital. The classical, long-standing bars, restaurants and fondas have been augmented by new venues for enjoying good food and drink – gastrobars, gastroclubs, gastronomic events and gastronomic markets. It was this latter concept we investigated on our trip, with very rewarding and tasty results, too.

Market of San Miguel. Or how to pamper yourself at a unique venue.
(Plaza de San Miguel, s/n)

Located next to the Plaza Mayor, this is definitely the tourists’ choice. Housed in a unique building, it is Madrid’s only surviving ironwork market. Renovated in 2009 and turned into a gastronomic precinct, it still preserves its original charm from the time it was built, in 1916. Inside you will find mainly Spanish haute cuisine. Taste the delicate cheeses and sausage, enjoy the specialities of a Madrid classic like the Lhardy, choose from a large assortment of croquettes, savour the tapas in the Pescado Original, have an aperitif at La Hora del Vermut and a delicious array of etceteras.

Market of San Antón. Chueca’s cultural and gastronomic space.
(C/ Augusto Figueroa, 24)

Located in the heart of the Chueca district, it is divided into three distinct sections. The market itself, which offers first-rate fare, is located on the first floor. The gastronomic section, where you can taste the cuisine of different regions (Canary Islands), countries (Japan, Greece) and specialities (seafood, roast chicken) is on the second floor. The third floor features a magnificent lounge-terrace where you can enjoy the views while sipping a cocktail. Also sited there is the restaurant, La cocina de San Antón, where we recommend you pick a cooking, by which you select the meat or fish you want in the market and they will cook it for you in the restaurant, accompanied by whatever side dish you choose from the menu.

San Ildefonso Market. Taking a breather during your shopping spree.
(Fuencarral, 57)

Smaller than the previous two markets, it can go unnoticed on the Fuencarral shopping street. Once inside, go up to the first floor, where you will come to a small but inviting area, inspired by London or New York street markets, with an array of different gastronomic stalls. You can have a gourmet hamburger at Gancho Directo, nibble at the cured Iberian ham at Arturo Sánchez, taste a brochette at La Brochette, or have the finger-licking egg dishes at La Granja Malasaña. The atmosphere is young and modern, in keeping with the Malasaña district it is located in. There is also an interior patio for those who like to have a beer and a smoke, and a bar counter where you can try their cocktails.

El Huerto de Lucas. For organic lovers.
(C/ San Lucas 13)

A small market specialising in the sale of organic produce, which also features La Cantina, where you can taste the magnificent wares displayed in their stalls. Here, the food is not the only organic element – so, too, is the architectural project, completed by Paula Rosales’ More&Co studio. The space is designed to minimise environmental impact, both in terms of construction and its day-to-day operation. We were impressed with the hanging bosque de cintas (forest of ribbons) and the warm decor.

Platea Market. Fanfare and haute cuisine in Serrano.
(Goya 5-7)

Set aside from the rest, this erstwhile cinema – that was its original mission – was converted into a space dedicated to gastronomic leisure. The former Carlos III cinema was remodelled by the interior designer, Lázaro Rosa-Violán, as an array of restaurants for tasting haute cuisine. No less than six Michelin stars and twelve Repsol suns have been awarded to the chefs that work there, which include such celebrities as Paco Roncero, Pepe Solla, Ramón Freixa and Marcos Morán. Two storeys, three stalls and a section specialising in confectionery to immerse yourself in and enjoy, not only the food and drink, but also the live music and DJ sessions.

Wouldn’t you just love to dive into this flavour-filled world? Check out our Madrid flights here.

Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Photos by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación and Mercado Platea

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The markets of St Petersburg and surrounding areas

Its markets are the best place to take the pulse of any city,places where you can experience the day-to-day life of the people and mingle with the local population. This is no less true in Saint Petersburg, where haggling is encouraged and stallholders will even offer you their wares without any kind of pressure to buy.

Kuznechny Market

The most central and representative of the markets in Saint Petersburg (and also the most expensive) is the Kuznechny Market where you will find flowers, vegetables, cheeses and natural honey for sale.

Numerous attractions are located close to the market: the Arctic and Antarctic Museum can be found in the former Church of Saint Nicholas and includes exhibits on the characteristics of the polar regions, the history behind the conquest of the Great North and the economy and culture of the Nordic people. The Floral Exhibition Centre, the Vladimirskaya Church and the Lensoveta Culture Centre at 42 Kamennoostrovsky Avenue are also worth visiting.

The Dostoevsky Museum is another nearby attraction – the place where this famous writer and author of such novels as ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘Demons’ and ‘The Idiot’ lived and died. This house museum has been faithfully restored to how it was originally.

If you get hungry, why not try the Marius Pub or the Tres Amigos restaurant. However, if it is thirst that needs quenching, Mollie’s Irish Bar is a great place for a drink.

Sennoy Market

What was once an old hay market has now become a major food market with clothing stalls that fill the surrounding streets.

A large part of  ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Dostoevsky is set in the streets of the Sennaya district, where the Sennoy Market is to be found. It is more popularly known as the Dostoevsky District.

It is an excellent area for a spot of shopping in the large department stores. Sennaya Square is a bustling hive of activity where you can find the famous PIK and the large Sennaya Shopping Centre.

For some nice, reasonably-priced home-made food, you should head over to Kafe Adzhika.

If you’re up for a short walk, take a stroll over to Yusupov Palace, located on the edge of the River Moika and one of the most spectacular monuments to classicism to be found in Saint Petersburg.

Sitni Market

On the small Zayachy Island in the River Neva is the true historical centre of the city: Peter and Paul Fortress, the original citadel of Saint Petersburg. Peter I the Great ordered its construction in 1703 and it contains such remarkable buildings as the Peter and Paul Cathedral, where all the Tsars from Peter I the Great to Nicholas II and his family are buried. Standing 122 metres tall, the cathedral bell tower is the highest point in the city.

Although initially designed for defensive purposes, it never needed to be used for that but rather served as a prison until 1917. Its most famous prisoners included such individuals as Trotski, Dostoevsky and Bakunin.

Also nearby is the Saint Petersburg Zoo and the Political History Museum.

A good choice for something to eat would be the popular Salkhino restaurant where they serve Georgian cuisine. In the evening, you might want to try out the legendary Tunnel Club, the first techno club to open in Russia.

Vernisazh Souvenir Market

Less of a market and more a collection of souvenir stalls, this is to be found behind the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ or the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and is one of the most popular tourist sites and an attraction in itself. Here you will find many traditional Russian gifts and souvenirs.

The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood was built on the spot where Tsar Alexander III was killed. The interior and exterior mosaic decorations are fantastic, as are its stained glass windows. The temple was built in the Russian architectural style of the 16th-17th Centuries (pure Russian orthodox) and bears a striking resemblance to Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square.

Its five large bulbous domes decorated in numerous colours and gold, as well as the meticulous detail work that covers the exterior, are yet more features that make this an outstanding piece of architecture.

Imagen de iwillbehomesoon

 Makes you want to go, right? Do it! Check out our prices here! 


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