Steve's World Blog Information and articles on cities, towns and villages around the world.

May 20, 2010

Palmitos Park Gran Canaria

Filed under: Canary Islands,Spain,Travel — Tags: , , , , — needahand @ 10:53 am

A huge 20,000 square metres in area and one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island of Gran Canaria, Palmitos Park reopened last summer after a years closure due to a forest fire which devastated the area. Situated about 15 km inland from the popular resorts of the southern coastline of the island, Palmitos Park is a botanical garden with a number of other attractions including and aviary with some 230 species of birds, an aquarium and a butterfly house. The attractive gardens have numerous species of palm tree and cactus on display, and all are set in a beautiful area of countryside, offering some wonderful panoramic views. A bus service operates from some of the seaside resorts of Puerto Rico, Playa del Ingles and San Agustin, for those not hiring a car.

Gran Canaria Map.

May 19, 2010

Mallorca Spain

Filed under: Balearic Islands,History,Spain — Tags: , , , , , , — needahand @ 4:00 pm

Though it may seem a world away, the beautiful island of Mallorca is easily reachable from the Costa Blanca region and well worth a visit if you have a few days to spare. A short flight from Alicante airport or a ferry ride from the resort of Denia, will see you on the holiday island in no time.

Mallorca (normally called Majorca in the UK) is the biggest of the Spanish Balearic Islands, the other main islands are Ibiza, Menorca, Formentera and Cabrera, Mallorca itself is often likened to a continent rather than a small island, due to is rich and diverse landscape, which varies from the alpine like mountains of the Serra Tramuntana and the Serra de Levant to the flat fertile plains of central Mallorca. The island is also rich in flora and fauna and its natural parks such as the wetlands of S’Albufera in northern Mallorca, provide important protection for hundreds of bird and animal species.

Mallorca was one of the pioneers in mass tourism during the 1960’s and 1970’s and many of its popular resorts became over developed, but don’t let that put you off the place, get away from the built for tourism resorts (mostly gathered on the south coast), and you will find some charming little towns and villages, which remain much as they have for hundreds of years. Though almost nowhere is Mallorca is totally untouched by tourism, and most places rely on it, in one way or another, there is plenty to see that has not been spoiled by it.

Mallorca was first inhabited in around 5000 BC and its first organised culture was known as the Talaiotic Culture which built settlements in Capocorb Vell and Artà in  1000 BC. The Talaiots left their mark in the form of great stone towers which can still be seen today (the neighbouring island of Menorca is particularly rich in these structures). The Romans conquered Mallorca in 123 BC and called it Balearis Major, they built their capital at Pollentia (Alcudia) and introduced vineyards and olives, though it remained an outpost of the Roman Empire and less important than the Spanish mainland. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Vandals arrived on Mallorca, persecuting the Christian population, though their control was relatively brief and they were ousted by the Byzantines who restored Christianity and order to the island, under Byzantine control Mallorca became a province of Sardinia.

The next major year in Mallorca’s history was 902 AD when the Moors invaded, incorporating the island into the Caliphate of Córdoba, the Arabs called it Medina Mayurqa and set to work improving the irrigation of the island with their advanced techniques, introducing new crops such as oranges and almonds.

Mallorca was re-conquered for the Christians in 1229 by King Jaime I of Aragon, his son Jaime II was later to become the 1st King of Mallorca.

Mallorca suffered numerous pirate attacks throughout the 16th to 18th centuries and a number of watchtowers were built around to coast to warn the inhabitants of these attacks.

In late 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, Mallorca was attacked by Republican troops, the attack was repulsed and the island remained in Nationalist hands throughout the war (1936-39).

Mass tourism arrived in the 1960’s with the opening of the Son Sant Joan Airport and Mallorca catered for this modern invasion by developing its southern coastline, in 1983 the Balearic Islands became an autonomous region of Spain, with Palma de Mallorca as its capital.

Mallorca Map.

Miami Playa Costa Dorada

Filed under: Costa Dorada,Spain — Tags: , , , , — needahand @ 8:38 am

One of the lesser known but emerging coastal resorts on the Costa Dorada, Miami Playa has some excellent beaches in an area of attractive coastline with pretty bays and coves. Within easy reach of the resorts of Cambrils and Salou, and also the ancient city of Tarragona, Miami Playa is an ideal base for visiting the coastal regions and hinterland of the Costa Dorada.

May 18, 2010

Pilar de la Horadada Costa Blanca

Pilar de la Horadada church

Pilar de la Horadada Church

The attractive little town of Pilar de la Horadada is named after an ancient watchtower which was originally used to warn local inhabitants of pirate attacks many centuries ago. It was probably originally inhabited by the Iberians and was later settled by Romans, Moors and eventually reconquered by Christians. Pilar de la Horadada is the southernmost town in Alicante and the Costa Blanca, to the south is the Murcia region and the area known as the Costa Calida. After the Christian reconquest it marked the border between the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile and it eventually ained its independence from the town of Orihuela in 1986. Pilar is well known as an agricultural area and grows much produce including lettuces, broccoli and celery, other products include melons, oranges and lemons, for this is citrus growing territory, it also grows numerous flower species. The nearby Rio Seco is an important protected area with some rare species of flora and fauna, in particular orchids and a species of dwarf palm tree. In recent years Pilar de la Horadada has become more developed with an increase in demand for holiday homes and properties for relocation, and the town now has a large expat community, with many Brits and North Europeans choosing to settle here permanently. Pilar has a popular beach area where many visitors enjoy the fine local weather especially during the hot summer months, it attracts both Spanish and International visitors.

Pilar de la Horadada Street Map.

Mijas Golf Costa del Sol

Filed under: Costa del Sol,Spain — Tags: , , , — needahand @ 4:48 pm

One of the most popular golf destinations on the Costa del Sol in Andalucia southern Spain, Mijas Golf actually comprises 2 golf course built at different times and designed by Robert Trent Jones. The first built of the golf courses was Los Lagos (named after its numerous water hazards), a fine par 71, 18 hole golf course with wide fairways, big greens and a playing length of 6,007 metres. The second built was Los Olivos (named after the large amount of olive trees lining the fairways), an undulating course with many bunkers, Los Olivos is par 72 and has a playing distance of 5,866 metres. The town of Mijas is one of Andalucia’s “white villages”, built on a hillside overlooking the Costa del Sol coastline, its coastal section Mijas Costa is adjacent and almost joined to the resort of Fuengirola. The region enjoys a fine climate and Mijas weather is excellent for all year round golfing although the cooler winter months are more popular. Mijas Map.

Ventnor Isle of Wight

Filed under: England,United Kingdom — Tags: , , , , — needahand @ 9:17 am

A popular coastal town and resort in the south of the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom, Ventnor was established as a holiday destination during the 19th century. Formerly just a small fishing village, Ventnor grew after the introduction, in 1866, of the Isle of Wight Railway, connecting it with Ryde in the north of the island. Renowned for the treatment of tuberculosis, the pleasant weather and fresh sea air, were thought to be beneficial in the treatment of this dreadful disease. In the height of its popularity between the two world wars, Ventnor saw regular steam packet visits from Southsea on the mainland. Still popular today, and one if the Isle of Wight’s best loved resorts, Ventnor has a decent sandy beach, which is excellent for bathing, a renowned Botanic Garden, and a popular esplanade. Ventnor can be reached by way of the A3055 or the B3327, it is about 4 miles from Shanklin and about 9 miles from Ryde.

Ventnor Map.

May 17, 2010

Playa Taurito Gran Canaria

Filed under: Canary Islands,Spain — Tags: , , , — needahand @ 6:54 pm

A rare gem on the south coast of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands of Spain, Playa Taurito, although a built for tourism resort, is in a secluded spot away from the mass tourism of such resorts as Puerto Rico and Maspalomas. Playa Taurito’s wonderful sand and shingle beach is sheltered by two surrounding cliffs, making it a perfect spot for a tranquil beach holiday, if you don’t like swimming in the clear blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, you can always try out the privately operated lido, which is one of the features of the resort. Boasting some first class hotels, the resort offers excellent accommodation facilities such as the 4 Star Princess Hotel Playa Taurito with its 2 swimming pools set in lavish tropical gardens. If you like a vibrant night life don’t go to Playa Taurito, while the hotels have some decent evening entertainment, for clubs and discos head for nearby Puerto Rico. What kind of climate can you xpect? Well Playa Taurito weather is glorious for most of the year and is especially pleasant during the winter months, when a break in the sun is even more enjoyable. Playa Taurito is situated south of Puerto de Mogan on Gran Canaria’s south coast.

Playa Taurito Map.

Palafrugell Costa Brava

Filed under: Costa Brava,Spain — Tags: , , , , — needahand @ 2:25 pm

Despite its proximity to several popular Costa Brava seaside resorts, the town of Palafrugell seems little affected by the tourism on which the area depends. Formerly supported by the local cork industry Palafrugell suffered  considerably after the largest factory (American owned) closed in the 1970’s. Palafrugell these days has a population of just over 21,000 and administers the coastal resorts of Tamariu, Calella and Llafranc. Worth a visit in Palafrugell is the old town centre, where you will find the Gothic church of Sant Marti, the weekly market, the Town Hall and the Cork Museum, which informs of the previously important cork manufacture. Historically Palafrugell was a fortified town as inhabitants of the coastal towns moved inland to escape attacks by Barbary pirates, little evidence remains of its ancient fortifications and modern day Palafrugell is a more peaceful place with a slow pace of life. These days holidaymakers arrive to enjoy the fine weather, the rugged coastline and the attractive beaches.

Palafrugell Map.

Altea Costa Blanca

Filed under: Costa Blanca,Holidays,Spain — Tags: , , , , , , , — needahand @ 10:19 am

A coastal town and municipality situated in the Alicante province of the Costa Blanca, Spain, Altea is a popular holiday destination which is more attractive and peaceful than the neighbouring resorts of Benidorm and Calpe. Altea has a resident population of around 18,000, though this of course rises considerably during the hectic summer season. The area of the municipality of Altea is 34.4 square kilometres, taking in several small villages such as Altea la Vella a charming little place. The history of Altea stretches back into the mists of time when ancient Greeks traded along this coast, with later Phoenicians, Romans and then Moors all trading in the Bay of Altea. After the Christian reconquest, the town was fortified to protect it from further incursions, the enclosed area now forming the old town of Altea. The town is renowned for its picturesque blue domed church, the Nuestra Señora del Consuelo, much photographed and definitely one of the symbols of the Costa Blanca region. Altea of course like the entire Costa Blanca region, enjoys wonderful weather conditions for most of the year, with long hours of sunshine and low rainfall, making it ideal for beach style holidays. Apart from Benidorm and Calpe, there are a number of small coastal resorts surrounding Altea, amongst these are Albir, Finestrat, Benissa and Moraira. Altea can easily be accessed from the N-332 coast road, it is about 32 miles north of Alicante.

Altea Map.

May 16, 2010

Torredembarra and La Mora

Filed under: Costa Dorada,Spain,Travel — Tags: , , , , , — needahand @ 5:23 pm

If you are planning a trip to the Costa Dorada region of Catalonia in Spain, and want to avoid the mass tourism resorts such as Cambrils and Salou you might consider a couple of small resorts to the north east of Tarragona. La Mora and Torredembarra are two charming unspoilt little coastal resorts with fine beaches and a quieter more laid back atmosphere. La Mora is situated on an attractive bay just eight kilometres from Tarragona, here you can view the Torre de la Mora. Torredembarra has a choice of three super beaches called La Paella, Playa del Barrio Maritimo, La Paella and Els Muntunyans, and is just twelve kilometres from Tarragona.

Timanfaya Lanzarote

Filed under: Canary Islands,Spain,Travel — Tags: , — needahand @ 12:17 pm

One of the most visited locations on the Canary Island of Lanzarote, the Timanfaya National Park is a volcanic delight, some 51km2 in area in the southwest of the island. Formed when a huge eruption took place in the 18th century, Timanfaya still has molten lava bubbling away four metres under the surface. When visiting you will be able to see water instantly turned to steam by the intense heat, brushwood immediately engulfed in flames, and in the El Diablo (The Devil) restaurant you can eat a barbeque grilled over the heat of the lava. Trips to the Timanfaya National Park (Parque Nacional de Timanfaya) are organised from all the major resorts on the island. Lanzarote Map.

Praia da Luz Portugal

Filed under: Algarve,Holidays,Portugal — Tags: , — needahand @ 11:11 am

Praia da Luz (“Beach of Light”) is one of the prettiest of the Algarve coastal resorts, with life centred around the sandy beach, one of the finest in the region. Developed around the original fishing village, the resort of Praia da Luz attracts large numbers of visitors during the hot summer months, but is still a relaxed resort with a great appeal for families and also for water sports enthusiasts, who are well catered for. The climate is one of the biggest attractions of the resort, with Praia da Luz weather perfect for holidays right through the year, though especially appealing between May and October. Praia da Luz is situated about ten kilometres west of Lagos and can be reached from the N-125 coast road. Praia da Luz Map.

Orpesa Valencia

Filed under: Costa del Azahar,Spain — Tags: , , — needahand @ 10:44 am

One of the more peaceful resorts of the Costa del Azahar, Orpesa can be reached by taking the scenic coast road from Benicassim. The main attraction of Orpesa is its two main beaches, La Concha and Morro de Gos, though it has some historic monuments including the ruined Arabic castle and a couple of 16th century watchtowers. The nearby Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca Natural Park, will be attractive to nature lovers and has some rare bird species in its environs. Orpesa is situated to the north of Benicassim in the Comunitat de Valencia, Spain.

May 15, 2010

The West Coast of Ibiza

Filed under: Balearic Islands,Holidays,Spain — Tags: , , — needahand @ 12:20 pm

Considered by many to be the most beautiful part of the holiday island of Ibiza is the stunning west coast, with its rugged pine-clad coastline backed by mountains and hills, well known for its splendid beaches it comprises a series of isolated coves and bays which are still mostly unspoilt by mass tourism. In contrast to these pretty area the vibrant resort of San Antonio (Sant Antoni de Portmany) is a little ‘tacky’ and a world away from the traditional Ibizan town, developed from a small fishing village San Antonio is now an ugly urban sprawl of hotels and apartment blocks catering for Europe’s young ravers who dance through the night in the town’s popular night-clubs. San Antonio does however have a history and was known in Roman times as Portus Magnus, and favoured for its excellent natural harbour, unfortunately little remains of its early history and culture seekers will have to make do with a visit to the 14th century fortified church in the Plaça de Esglesia. Some of the best known beaches in the area include Cala Conta, Cala Bassa, Ses Fontanelles and Cala Salada. A little to the north you will find a pretty village, high in the hills amongst almond orchards, called Santa Agnes de Corona, this is a bit more like a traditional village, with its quaint little church and laid back atmosphere. If you are booking car hire whilst visiting the area you can explore some of the more out of the way places and a number of isolated resorts in picturesque coves include Cala Moli, Cala Vedella and Port d’es Torrent, all relatively unspoilt and perfect for a visit or for a relaxing holiday away from the hustle and bustle of San Antonio. Other places worthy of a visit on the Ibiza west coast are the town of Sant Josep de sa Talaia, the Roman cemetery at Ses Paises de Cala Hort, the watch tower of Es Savinar and the islet of Es Vedra rising vertically from the sea off the south-west coast.

Ibiza Map.

Manacor Mallorca and Surroundings

Filed under: Balearic Islands,Spain,Travel — Tags: , , , , , , — needahand @ 11:48 am

Some inland towns in the east of Mallorca include the second largest town on the island, Manacor, an industrial town which is renowned for its artificial pearls. The pearl factories are a major tourist attraction for the town and thousands of visitors arrive each week to watch the pearls in production, the pearls are made from glass beads, covered in resin and fish scales, they are hard to tell from the real thing. Another small inland town is the charming Felanitx, famous for its ceramics, it is worth visiting for its 13th century church of Sant Miguel. Further south is the honey-coloured Santanyi, built from the same stone as Palma cathedral, Santanyi is a former fortified town, with much remaining of its fortifications, its coastal are Cala Santanyi is a popular holiday resort. Ending with another little coastal resort to the north near Capdepera, Cala Ratjarda is a pretty little resort in an area of rugged coastline, this former fishing village has become popular with holidaymakers seeking a quieter holiday. Manacor Map.

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