2. Fantastic “small” cities to explore in Europe in 2015 – Jerez

   After lovely Italy, my next beautiful destination that I am going to suggest comes from the south of Spain. It s name is Jerez.

Jerez (http://diverfauna.com/)
Jerez (http://diverfauna.com/)

   Jerez is the fifth largest city in the autonomous community of Andalusia. Big problem for the city, as well as for Andalusia, is the unemployment rate which goes up to 35%. Although these numbers are not going well, number of tourists has been increasing in last years. And there are a lot of reasons to be so.

   Speaking of numbers, here are the top 5 attractions in the city:
1.  Jerez is the unofficial capital of flamenco: the traditional type of dance and a grand part of Andalusian folklore. It originated in Jerez and its surroundings. But what is most striking is that is still very present in everyday life and on the streets of Jerez, where you can easily run into a full-blown flamenco show with singing, clapping and dancing, formed spontaneously by the accidental passers-by.
Flamenco festival (http://www.tristeyazul.com/)
Flamenco festival (http://www.tristeyazul.com/)
2.  What goes better with dancing then a good wine? Viniculture has great tradition and Jerez was developing its wine with every civilization running through this area. Phoenicians started viniculture in 1100 BC, Romans carried on, as well as Moors as they came in 8th century.
Wines are known all over the world. Every sommelier heard of sherryfortified wine made from white grapes. Gonazalez Byass  is one of Spain’s most well-known sherry winery. Winery is owned by 4th and 5th generation of Gonzalez family. It has impressive cellars when it comes to size.
   Tabancos are typical Andalusian premises. A tabanco is half tavern, where you can have a drink or eat some tapas, but also half wine shop, as they sell wine in bulk as well.
3. Moto GP and F1 – Circuito de Jerez is a place where Formula 1 drivers Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher used to ride. Today the circuit holds pre-season F1 testing. Moto GP riders such as Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and many others enjoy to come to the south of Spain. According to motorbikes and cars drivers, it is one of the most attractive tracks.
ITV-to-screen-MotoGP™-highlights-throughout-2014-season-01
Offical sign of Moto GP
4. Feria de caballo (Horse fair) –  exciting and lively event that brings the entire city to the park Gonzalo Hontoria Fairgrounds, which cover 52,000 square metres, giving ample space for the finest horses of Jerez  to show off their moves to the crowds. The fair attracts more than one million visitors and features music, dancing, bullfights and all kinds of horse competitions, from dressage through to polo. Each day there’s a colourful parade featuring hundreds of horses passing through the Parque González Hontoria fairgrounds.The aristocratic-looking male riders decked out in flat-topped hats, frilly white shirts, black trousers and leather chaps, and their female crupera (sideways pillion) partners in flamenco-inspired dresses.
Feria del Caballo at night (http://static.panoramio.com/)
Feria del Caballo at night (http://static.panoramio.com/)
5. Sun, sand and sea (ocean to be precise 🙂 ) The weather in Jerez is characterized by enjoying over 3,200 hours of sunshine a year. Temperatures are high in summer and mild in winter. In just 10 minutes from the Jerez, there is el Puerto de Santa Maria and the Atlantic ocean with excellent golden sandy beaches and the pleasant water temperature. The beaches have been provided with all the necessary services, such as rescue and life-saving, first-aid post, showers and access for handicapped people. These circumstances make the beaches of el Puerto the preferred place for people from Sevilla, Madrid, etc. to spend the summer in.
Beach Puerto de Santa María (http://www.vuelaviajes.com/)
Beach Puerto de Santa María (http://www.vuelaviajes.com/)
Special thanks to Manu Granados that helped with writing article about his hometown 🙂

1. Fantastic “small” cities to explore in Europe in 2015 – Brescia

  If you have visited all major cities in Europe, and still want to explore and do not know where to start, I will try to suggest a couple of destinations in few articles. All the articles will be based on expirience of locals, and the sights that locals like the most.

  First suggestion is visiting beloved Italy, and in it, a city in the northern region of Lombardy called Brescia. Lombardy is the richest region in Italy, and it is well-known as the region with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Apennine Peninsula. Brescia, as the second largest city in Lombardy after Milan, is not an exception. The complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia was added to the UNESCO List in 2011 as the serial site “Longobards in Italy. Places of the power (568-774 AD)” . 

  The complex of San Salvatore-Santa Giulia houses the local history museum, which is located inside the former monastery built in 753. The museum covers all periods from pre-history to the nineteenth century. The museum shows architectural elements from the Roman period to the present – the early medieval and Renaissance elements are particularly noteworthy.

  Piazza Duomo is a square where  both cathedrals  – Duomo Vecchio and Duomo Nuovo are placed next to each other. That allows you to see how church architecture developed as the old cathedral was built in 11th century, and the new one was finished in 1825.

10921966_10204668767793099_2112370795_n
Piazza Duomo (reposted from: http://viaggi.lastampa.it/)
reposted from http://www.turismobrescia.it/
Piazza Loggia (reposted from http://www.turismobrescia.it/)

  Piazza Loggia is the heart of the city. Visit the city centre and admire its main square while sitting in the bar and drinking cappuccino. Look around, and you will see the real Italy of 15th and 16th century through main square architecture.

  The Castle of Brescia is situated at the northeast part of the town, on top of Cidneo Hill (245 m). It has been built between the 13th and the 16th century and it is one of the largest castles in Italy. It is Brescians’ favorite recreational area with wonderful views.

   You just can not come to Italy, and not enjoy the food. Yeah, pasta is easy to cook, but the question is do you have all fresh ingredients in your market and do you know the right recipe? Well, local italians are proud of casoncelli  large ravioli stuffed with Parmigian cheese, spinach and eggs, as well as spiedo (spit-roasted beef) served with polenta and manzo all’olio (beef cooked in oil). Brescia also excels as the land of vines, which have been cultivated in the area since Roman times and have made the Brescia area the second most important wine producer in Lombardy.
 
   Special thanks to Enrico Andreoli  that helped with writing article about his hometown 🙂
  If you have some beautiful places to suggest, please do that in comment section below.

Prague – architecture and beer

        You are probably asking yourself why did I put architecture and beer in the main title. The answer is simple, both are excellent!

      I had the opportunity to enjoy both somewhere around mid-december. Prague was already decorated into Christmas spirit 🙂 On the main Old Town square there was big Christmas tree, and couple of ponies where all the kids were playing with these lovely animals. Streets were full of tourists despite the cold wind and temperature.

     Everywhere in the streets you could get hot wine to warm up, and taste traditional cake (sweet pastry) called trdlenik. This tasteful pastry originally comes from Transylvania, but it is culinary heritage of Hungaria, Slovakia, as well as Romania. Among these outdoor food, Prague is full of restaurants. My friends and I ate couple of times at a restaurant called U Dvou Sester, which is located near the center and has excellent food, from czech traditional to italian pasta at a reasonable prices. Food is good, but beer is even better! My friends and I tasted every time the different czech beer, and we never got disappointed! I am not going to name any, just try every each and one, and give your judgment. I can suggest bar named U Vejvodu, has really god prices, beer is just over 2 euros!

     If you are on a low-budget, I suggest going to a hotel that is not in the center. I am completely confident that you can get by metro into center for 15, 25 minutes from any location in Prague. You can buy a 4euro all-day ticket, and you can ride with metro, bus or tram if you like to.

     I am not going to describe each any every tourist sight, you got to come and see it yourself. You will be amazed by architecture and buildings built way back in the 12 century.

    If I get a chance, I would certainly come again to Prague just to  walk and enjoy.

20141211_09451220141211_124411
20141212_121002

Top 3 European destinations to visit in 2015

1. Rotterdam

On the one hand- energetic, new, modern, vibrant, and on the other preserves holland tradition windmills which are alongside tulips, national symbol of Netherlands. Kinderdijk is Unesco World Heritage site, it has 19 windmills.

Kinderdijk-South-Holland-024

2. Istanbul

Turkey has become more and more popular for tourists! Is it because Turkish food wich is not only kebab? Is it about its position on the Bosphorus which divides the city into a European and an Asian side? Is it because Dolmabachce palace is more than just a copy of Versailles and Buckingham Palace? Visit and find out!

Istanbul-Turkish-Tourism

3. Milan, Como

Fashion, pizza, gelato! Three simple words that describe this classy city of northern Italy. One big plus for this destination, is how easily you can escape traffic and tourists by using train and going to a small town on a lake Como. This picturesque town may give you chance to relax, or perhaps see some of many famous people who have their homes on the shores of Lake Como, such as Madonna, George Clooney, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Sylvester Stallone. Lake Como is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe.

Lake Como

Poll

20141211_112336

 

Marseille – mixture of cultures

When you hear about Marseille, probably the first thing that comes to your mind is beautiful Mediterranean Sea! Awesome blue water and wonderful blue sky will give you desire to visit this destination.

Marseille is the second largest city, right after the City of Light. Maybe it is not the biggest, but it is definitely the oldest city in France. Due to it s excellent position on the coast, Marseille was one of the important trading centers. Greek had their settlements here around 600 years BC.

Diversity – best definition of todays population of a city! French, italian, greek, jews, Armenian, Moroccan, Tunisian, and many more all live here in harmony. All this people brought and kept their culture and tradition. You can definitely see this trough lovely food!

Marseille is easy accessible from all parts of Europe, by train TGV (high-speed train, goes up to 400km/h). From Paris to Marseille, it takes you only 3h, a distance of 775km!

Some of the best attractions:

1. Unité d’Habitation: designed by famous Le Corbusier. The building is called “la maison du fada” (the house of the foolish) by local people. The building contains a shopping street, a church, a children’s school and housing. You can access the roof and enjoy the breathtaking view of Marseille between hills and sea (10am-6pm). There is a bar/restaurant/hotel on the 3rd floor too.

2.Le Panier. Panier means basket in French, but in Marseille it is the name of the oldest area of the town. In the middle of this area there is the Vielle Charité, a wonderful old monument, now hosting museums and exhibitions.

3. la Corniche: a walkway and a road by the sea that provides lovely views of the sea, the Chateau d’If to the south, and les Calanques to the east.