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Posts tagged ‘things to do’

Seville | The New Seville Eye

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Seville’s latest tourist attraction, La Noria de Sevilla (Seville Ferris Wheel), opens for business this Saturday, June 27, following its inauguration on Thursday. Situated at the end of the Muelle de las Delicias, where visiting cruise ships dock, it’s part of a new “tourism hub” to the south of the city’s historic centre that already includes the Seville Aquarium and riverside bars and restaurants, and connects directly to Maria Luisa Park and the Plaza España, and by the riverside walkway, the New York Wharf, to the historic centre.

noria seville (2)the VIP cabin

The wheel was manufactured in Germany and shipped via Rotterdam to the port of Seville, and has been erected on a specially prepared plot of land between the aquarium and the port entrance. The project cost over 7 million euros in total, and the new wheel is expected to attract 350,000 visitors a year, also benefiting the aquarium (there is expected to be a joint ticket for both attractions available) and local businesses.

noria seville (3)a different perspective of the Cathedral

The wheel is 40 metres in diameter, and will take riders up to 50 metres above ground. Although this is quite modest compared to, for example, the London Eye (135 metres), or the Las Vegas High Roller (at 167 metres the world’s tallest), it will provide great views of the river, the park, and the World Heritage sights. There will be 30 cabins and for 7.50 euros (5.50 for children under 4 years old) you get to go round four times, which takes just under 15 minutes. There is also a VIP cabin for 20 euros, with darkened windows for privacy, a glass floor and television, which lasts twice as long. All of the cabins are air-conditioned with optional music, and a “help button”. Coming soon: a shop, a tapas bar and cafeteria, and a VIP area.

If you’re looking for a place to stay we still have apartments available to rent in the historic centre within easy walking distance of the wheel and other sights.

La Noria de Sevilla
Muelle Las Delicias
Open: 10 am – Midnight

Seville | San Vicente Neighbourhood

For the typical visitor to Seville the San Vicente is probably the least well known and most under appreciated neighbourhood in the historic centre of Seville. Lying northwest of the city centre between Calle Feria, with its provisions market and the famous El Jueves (Thursday) street market, and the River Guadalquivir, it’s the furthest away from the main monuments, and the least obviously touristy part of the old centre. Nevertheless, it has its charms, and is well worth taking some time to explore, especially if you’re renting a holiday apartment in this essentially residential neighbourhood.

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San Vicente apartment building

Historically, it’s part of the Moorish new town, the northward expansion of the city built during the 10th and 11th centuries, as is shown by its relatively regular layout compared to the warren of narrow twisty streets immediately behind the Metropol Parasols in Plaza Encarnación. During Seville’s Golden Age following the discovery of the New World in 1492 the riverside here remained undeveloped, being above the “bridge of boats” where Triana bridge now stands, and inaccessible to the ships that plied the Americas trade. After the building of Triana bridge in 1861, and the coming of the railways (Plaza de Armas shopping centre, as can easily be seen from its design, was originally a train station), this part of the river bank could not be reached from the city, as it was walled off for security. Major redevelopment only came with the 1992 expo in the Cartuja across the river, when the rails were torn up and a new walkway built along the riverbank. Now you can walk or cycle all the way from Las Delicias near the Plaza España to the northern edge of the modern city. Great for anything from a gentle stroll to a serious morning run.

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Alameda de Hercules

On the other side of San Vicente you can find the Alameda de Hercules, one of Seville’s best places for nightlife, with lots of bars and clubs. Until a couple of decades ago it was something of a red light district, and although it’s been renovated and gone upmarket it still has an edgy and bohemian feel to it late at night. During the day it’s a popular spot for a stroll or a lunchtime drink.

It’s also an area with some of the oldest churches and convents in Seville. The convent of San Clemente, near the Barqueta Bridge, was founded in 1248, immediately after the Christians reconquered the city, and the convent of Santa Clara soon afterwards. After a period of disuse and neglect this latter has recently been reopened as an arts and cultural centre. The Torre de Don Fadrique, within the a convent precincts, is now also open to the public. Also worth visiting are the church of San Lorenzo, in the pretty little square of the same name, and the Basilica of Jesus de Gran Poder next door (and not in the street of the same name), the home of one of the most popular of the Semana Santa statues.

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Plaza San Lorenzo, the church, and Basilica de Jesus de Gran Poder

There are also lots of good places to eat, and lots of argument about which are the best, but three that are on almost everyone’s list are Al Aljibe in the Alameda de Hercules, Eslava (a popular neighbourhood bar that’s a personal favourite of ours) and La Azotea, which is a bit more expensive, but definitely worth the extra.

Seville | The New Aquarium

I was rooted to the spot as the big shark turned lazily above me then dived swiftly downwards, a streamlined silhouette against the light shining on the surface of the water. Was this it? Was this how it was going to end?

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Fortunately not. The shark was inside the big tank at Seville’s newest attraction, the Acuario de Sevilla, and I was safely outside, along with what seemed like a hundred other journalists and bloggers who’d come to the press event to mark the grand opening last Tuesday. The dignitaries would arrive shortly for the announcements and photo ops, but me, I was just there for the fish.

And there were fish aplenty. According to the handouts about 7000 specimens belonging to 400 species, distributed through 40 specially built tanks. There were also crocodiles, turtles, crabs and other denizens of the deep to delight, and sometimes amaze the eye. There was also a display of some of the junk that gets fished out of the sea, just to get you thinking a bit.

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The sharks were the obvious stars of the show, but my favourites were some of the less obvious exhibits, such as the octopus and the cuttlefish, and those unfish-like fish the rays and skates. And the swarms of tropical fish. And the crocodiles. And – well, you get the picture. Or in this case, pictures.

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The new aquarium has been a long time coming, with not a few delays to the completion of the project, but now it’s here it’s a welcome addition to the activities and attractions that Seville has to offer, especially for children when the weather is either too hot or too wet. You can find it at the far end of the Las Delicias Wharf where the cruise ships berth, an area that has been undergoing a lot of renovation in recent years, and now boasting a riverside walk and a number of bars and restaurants.

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay veoapartment has a wide range of apartments nearby.

Seville Aquarium

Calle Santiago Montoto (Puerto las Delicias)
Opening hours Mon-Thur 10am to 7 pm (Nov-Feb)
10am-8pm (Mar-Oct)
Fri- Sun 10am – 9pm (10pm Mar-Aug)
Tickets €15 adults €10 children, disabled, pensioners. Discounts for families and groups.

Cordoba | The Palacio de Viana

About an hour and a half away from Seville by train, Cordoba is one of Spain’s great old cities, once the capital of Moorish al-Andalus and regarded as one of the most enlightened, sophisticated cities of the European Middle Ages. It was a place where Moslems, Jews and Christians lived for the most part harmoniously, creating a cultured, intellectual life that was not to be equalled again for many centuries. It’s famous above all for the Mezquita, the Grand Mosque of the Caliphs of Cordoba, but away from the monumental area it is also a city for people, and one of its most captivating aspects is that it is a city of flowers.

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This is best shown by the festival of the Patios of Cordoba, which is held every May, when the private patios of many buildings, with their plants and fountains, are opened to the public, but streets adorned with the typical blue flower pots of the city are common all year round. In the spring and summer months they are alive with flowers and I love to visit the city at this time of year to enjoy its colours and smells.

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Not surprising, then, that one of my favourite places to go in Cordoba is the Palacio Viana, also known as the patio museum. Now about 500 years old, it originally belonged to the Marqueses de Villaseca, and acquired its modern name when it was bought by the Marquis of Viana in the late 19th century. It was eventually sold to the CajaSur foundation in 1982, and turned into a museum. From relatively small beginnings it has grown over the centuries by buying up surrounding properties, and now boasts no fewer than 12 patios, as well as the main garden.

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The modern grand entrance into the Patio de Recibo was built to impress visitors with the wealth and power of the owners, and features a colonnade around the perimeter. To one side is the carriage house, where you can see the Marquis’s carriage and (a personal favourite) a sedan chair, which looks really heavy for four men to carry! From here you go into the older parts of the palace. The little Patio de Los Gatos, or courtyard of the cats, will certainly charm you as it always charms me. In mediaeval times it was a Patio de Vecinos (neighbours), where the common people lived, and to one side is the palace kitchen of the early 20th century.

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Beyond that are the Patio of the Oranges (a Moorish style garden), the Patio de las Rejas, which means bars or gratings, which gets its name from the bars that separate it from the street, and allowed those outside to look enviously at those inside, and the Patio de La Madama (the lady of the house), perhaps the most picturesque of all the courtyards.

The two largest spaces come next. The Courtyard of the Columns is a modern addition, but its fountains blend harmoniously with the older elements. It is used for events such as concerts and theatre. Alongside is the garden, with a formal area of low, square hedges around a central fountain and a grand oak tree. The two interior patios, the Courtyard of the Chapel and the Courtyard of the Archives, are the quietest and most tranquil. Finally, you come to the courtyards where the gardeners worked, and stored their tools. These include the Courtyard of the Well, which was fed from an underground stream, and provided enough water for all the patios.

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You can also take a guided tour of the inside of the palace, though admission is extra, and see the living quarters of the aristocratic owners and their collections of art and books, and other historical items.

Although it’s outside the main monumental area, I always try to make time to come here when I’m in Cordoba, and I think you should, too. I don’t know anywhere else that’s quite like it.

Palacio Museo de Viana
Plaza de don Gome, 2
Tel: 957 496 741
Tues-Sat 10.00 am to 7.00 pm Sundays 10.00am to 3.00 pm Closed Mon
July and August 9.00 am to 3.00 pm Closed Mon
Price 5 euros to the patios, 8 euros with entrance to the palace.
Website

Veoapartment Goes to the Beach

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Over the last few years veoapartment has established a reputation as one of the leading holiday rental apartment providers for the major cities of Andalucia – Seville, Granada and Malaga. But now, for the first time, we are offering a superb beach front apartment for that perfect seaside holiday.

The Virgen del Mar Apartment is a fully equipped holiday home right on the beach in the resort town of Rota. With two bedrooms and two bathrooms it will accommodate four people in comfort. A large living-dining area with big picture windows that let in lots of light faces the beach, as does the L-shaped terrace, where you can enjoy a meal or a drink al fresco, or just enjoy the view across the bay to the ancient seaport of Cádiz.

0666_virgen-del-mar-sea-views-apartment-terrace-rota-cadiz-19enjoy sea views from the comfort of the spacious living room

Although Rota is primarily a seaside resort, famous for its long stretches of sandy beach, its history goes back to Phoenician times, and something of that past can still be experienced in Rota’s old town. The mediaeval Castillo de Luna (Castle of the Moon), which is now the town hall and tourist information office, is well worth a visit, as are a number of religious buildings, particularly the parish church of Nuestra Señora de la Expectación, the church of San Roque and the tower of the Convent of Merced (though the convent itself no longer exists). There’s a local museum, the Fundación Alcalde Zoilo Ruiz-Matos, and a botanical garden. Spend some time at the old Pesquero Astaroth fish market, and sample some of the local delicacies, such as Urta de la Roteña or Arranque Roteña (fish dishes made with freshly caught local fish), and the local red wine La Tintilla de Rota. For something more unusual the artificial fishing ponds of Los Corrales or the Bucarito pig and goat farm.

0666_virgen-del-mar-sea-views-apartment-terrace-rota-cadiz-20fully-equipped kitchen to prepare your market purchases

Rota also makes a great base for visiting other nearby towns and attractions. The three sherry towns of Jerez, Puerta de Santa Maria and Sanlúcar de Barrameda are all close by, and for anyone interested in wines a visit to at least one of the bodegas is an absolute must. They are fascinating places, full of the aromas of sherry and the sherry making tradition. All three towns have picturesque old centres where you can get lost in the winding streets and little squares. It’s also possible to take a catamaran ferry to Cádiz, and spend a day in this fascinating old city. My favourite places are the market, with its spectacular display of fresh fish, the old fortifications and the botanical gardens, though there’s lots more. Be sure to grab a coffee or a drink in the Cafe Royalty in Plaza Candelaria.

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On the other side of the River Guadalquivir from Sanlucar is the famous Doñana National Park, the oldest national park in Europe, and an area of great natural beauty with its sand dunes, lagoons and woods. Also nearby is the Cadiz bay nature reserve, an area of wetlands in the inner part of the Bay of Cadiz, a fascinating though rather desolate landscape of marshes and abandoned salt pans.

All in all, our Virgen del Mar apartment is a great location in any season to enjoy this very lively part of the the Costa de la Luz (coast of light).