A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros



Louvain, regarded as the Flemish Salamanca for its large student population during the academic year, is the ideal destination to head for on a getaway to Brussels as it is less than half an hour’s train ride away.

Louvain and its University

The university is a major feature of Louvain (Leuven, in Flemish). Not only is it a historic institution – it was founded in 1425 – but an international student magnet as it attracts large numbers of foreign Erasmus scholarship holders each year. Many of these will be unaware that Erasmus of Rotterdam, after whom the exchange programme of almost thirty years’ standing is named, actually used to lecture at Louvain University.

No wonder, then, that the population of this Flemish city increases by around 20,000 youngsters at the start of each academic year. They study during the day and hit the town by night, turning Louvain into one of the most fun spots in Europe. Come heat or cold, many of these students congregate in the Oude Markt, a square packed with cafés, pubs and restaurants, compounding what is considered to be Europe’s longest bar counter.

In the morning, many of these students make up for the previous night’s debauchery in the library, located in the Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein square. The library building, formerly sited on the Naamsestraat, was destroyed in World War I and rebuilt with Belgian and American funding. The square is embellished by a striking landmark – a beetle pierced by a huge, three-meter-high needle. It was unveiled in 2005 to mark the 575th anniversary of the University.

Louvain’s Historic City Centre

Some of the most emblematic buildings in Louvain, the capital of Flemish-Brabant province, are located in the Grote Markt or Main Square. The most remarkable landmark is the City Hall, an example of the mid-15th-century Brabantine Gothic, with over 230 small sculptures adorning the facade. Noteworthy, too, is St Peter’s Church with its unfinished, low belltower and the Neoclassical building known as the Round Table (Tafelrond), currently the site of the National Bank. Starting from the Grote Markt, if you head along Bondgenotenlaan street, you come to Martelarenplein (Martyrs’ Square) with its marked Spanish air, redesigned as it was by the architect, Manuel de Solà-Morales, between 1998 and 2004.

Like the city of Mechelen, Louvain has a magnificent, 12th-century Grand Béguinage. This secluded precinct is just a fifteen minute walk from the centre and once housed the Beguines, a female religious community that led an austere life. Covering an area of six hectares, the Grand Béguinage is now the residence of many exchange professors and Erasmus students. Bear in mind that Flemish beguinages are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Other places of interest include St Gertrude’s Abbey, the Church of St Michael – a masterpiece of the Flemish Baroque – and the statue of Fons Sapientiae (Source of Wisdom), by the Belgian artist, Jef Claerhout, which is decked out in different costumes at various times of the year.

Gastronomy and Beer in Louvain

Beer is a must in Louvain, and several beer routes have been set up, including a tour of the Domus brewery and that of Stella Artois, the best known brand in the city. Several restaurants in town offer menus paired with local beer, notably Zarza and EssenCiel, the latter situated on the crowded Muntstraat.

Now that you know how to find your way around Louvain, get your Vueling to Brussels and enjoy the university city!


Text by María Jesús Torné from tusdestinos.net

Images by Toerisme Leuven, Frédéric Van Hoof, milo-profi.be

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Marseille, pure French Provedance

Dreaming of a holiday that mixes fun, culture and relaxation? Marseille, in the south of France, is for you. Its benign climate, situation and special light have been inspiration for celebrated artists, including Braque, Cézanne, Derain and Marquet. Founded by the Greeks, it is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the second oldest in France. (It is also the second most populated French city). Its rich history and great number of monuments, beauty spots and museums have put Marseille on the international tourism map.

Marseille is the third largest port in Europe (after Rotterdam and Antwerp). This constant flow of ships and passengers from across the world has lent it a cultural mix that is palpable in its people, neighbourhoods and architecture, making an all-together cosmopolitan city.

Five days is about the right amount of time to spend here. The best bet is to divide your itinerary into different areas. Public transport is very good; you can get around in the metro, by bus and by ferry. The best way to do this is with a Citty Pass; it's cheap and will also get you into museums and out to the islands.

Booking a well-situated hotel is key to navigating your way around this marvellous city. The Beauvau Marsella Viejo Puerto is perfect. It has stellar service and is located a few steps from the Vieux Port metro station – a major hub. You'll find masses of stalls selling oysters and whatever else you can think lining the streets that lead down to the port – at really great prices.

In the same area there are dozens of restaurants where you can eat exquisite fresh fish or a superb bouillabaisse. Here are two that are recommended:

Une Table au Sud: This restaurant has fantastic views over the port and offers modern, creative, mouth-watering cuisine. Standout dishes include a chestnut and sea urchin soup.

Le Miramar: They say it’s the best restaurant in the city to try bouillabaisse. Take that onboard and find out for yourself.

An easy stroll through the port leads you to the Fort Saint-Jean. Constructed during the reign of Louis XIV, it is also the location of the MuCEM; the first major museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilisations. Its wide focus spans anthropology, history, archaeology, art history and contemporary art. The museum is housed over three sites in different parts of Fort Saint- Jean, connected via a pleasant walkway through a Mediterranean garden.

Another pathway, starting from the Royal Gate, takes you to the neighbourhood of La Panier and the Saint-Laurent church. Despite its shady past, this neighbourhood is today a mix of traditional streets and squares with new design boutiques, restaurants and museums – all in all lending it a decidedly bohemian air. A must see.

Cours Julien is another interesting neighbourhood. A garden has taken over the centre of its main square that also hosts fashion boutiques, theatres and terrace cafes. Rues Bussy l'Indien, Pastoret and Vian stand out for their alternative vibe, with various clubs, cafes and more shops. Take note of the street art!

Marseilles geographical situation makes it a perfect base for outings in a boat. From Vieux Port you can take one of the urban ferries. One excursion you shouldn't let slip by is to Chateau d'If, where you can still see the hole that one of one of the prisoners dug in the cell wall. He was the inspiration for 'The Count of Montecristo', the classic novel by Alexander Dumas.

From here you can continue on to visit the Frioul Islands where you can spend the afternoon visiting various inlets, beaches and sandy creeks – the perfect way to end the day. It's a place of freedom and total relaxation.

Two must-sees are the Basilque Notre-Dame de la Garde and the Chateau Longchamp. The first is the city's architectonic emblem. Situated up on the hill, it affords marvellous 360º views, watching over sailors, fishermen and all the people of Marseille. Its Roman-Byzantine style is a perfect example of the large-scale buildings Napoleon III imposed in Marseille. To get there, take the bus from Vieux Port. The palace, dating from 1869, commemorates the canalization of the Durance River to Marseille. It also houses the Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum as well as a botanical garden. Ad hoc street markets are all over the city, selling fruit, fish, and clothing and brick a brac. Dive in and rub shoulders with the locals – you are bound to find something unique to take back home!

Don't leave without discovering the famous Marsella soap. It history goes back to the 16th century. Find out more in one of the company's seven factories.

The city's tourist office is situated very close to Vieux Port. Pick up a City Pass here as well as plenty more info on what to do in Marseille.

So, what are you waiting for? Reserve a Vueling flight to this magnificent city here!

Text: Tensi Sánchez de www.actitudesmgz.com
Photography: Fernando Sanz

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Gouda More Than Just Cheese

Everyone has heard of Gouda cheese. Some of us have tried it and even regard it as one of our favourites, but few know where it comes from or just what appeal its city of origin holds in store. The fact is that the popular cheese comes from Gouda, a city in the province of South Holland in the Netherlands, situated at the confluence of the rivers Gouwe and Hollandse IJssel.

What To Do In Gouda

The city of Gouda has a very picturesque historic centre, where strolling about proves to be a rewarding experience and where the major landmarks are located. Needless to say, the first of these is related to cheese and is the most powerful magnet as far as tourists is concerned – the cheese market. It is held every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from April to August. Farmers and traders meet in the market to strike deals and many centennial traditions are preserved here, as in the fact that all goods are still transported in wooden carts and that all deals are sealed by a touch of the hands.

Also located in the square – the Markt – the site of this trade ritual, is the Stadhuis, a beautiful Flemish Gothic building which has the honour of being one of the oldest town halls in the Netherlands. Built from 1448 to 1450, it was modified to some extent in 1692 and 1880. Notable rooms in this edifice are the Trouwzaal (Wedding Hall), dating from 1800, and the Council Chamber.

Another site you can also visit in the Markt square is the Goudse Waag, a building dating from 1668which was once a covered market for buying and selling cheese. It subsequently became a national monument and is now a museum dedicated to cheese.

Apart from the city hall, another gem is Sint Janskerk, which also makes an outing to Gouda worthwhile. Visitors should not hesitate to enter this Church of St John the Baptist. It has a history of withstanding fire, as it was engulfed in flames on three occasions, two of which – in 1361 and 1438 – saw the whole city on the verge of being consumed. The nave measures 123 metres, making it the longest church in Holland. Its most stunning feature, however, are its sixty stained glass windows, placed between 1530 and 1603, twenty of which are the work of the brothers Dirk and Wouter Crabeth I. One of the unusual highlights of one’s visit here is that the preliminary drawings the stained glass windows were based on have been preserved, a rare occurrence.

Those interested in discovering the city’s history should head for the Museum Gouda, located in the buildings known as the Catharina Gathuis and De Moriaan.

To wrap up your tour of the city, we recommend you head for the south side of the old town where you will come across two old windmills – the Molen ‘t Slot, built in 1831, and De Roode Leeuw (The Red Lion), built in 1619 and restored in 1771.

Before you leave Gouda, don’t forget to taste their stroopwafel, a traditional confectionery which consists of two waffles with a filling of soft caramel. Munching on one of these is ideal for restoring one’s energy after a magnificent stroll through the city.

Now that you know the secret gems awaiting you in Gouda, book your Vueling and discover them for yourself.


Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by bertknot, Sander van der Wel, Hans A Rosbach


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