Monthly Archives: November 2013

The foundation of Spanish cuisine

Spanish cuisine can not be understood without a large table, surrounded by family and friends, with plenty of food, good wine and a long after talk. In Spain, gastronomy goes beyond eating and feeding, it is a time to sit together, whether with family or friends or even for business reasons, where to share laughter, experiences, ideas, arguments and problems.

This way of life and understanding of food, has attracted many to this healthy Mediterranean cuisine which highlights, above all, the quality of raw materials.

Spanish tapa of Jamon Iberico

Spanish tapa of Jamon Iberico

Spanish cuisine is rich and varied with influences from different cultures and a combination of land and the sea products. The climate favours the cultivation of quality vegetables and fruit that stand out for their intense flavours. Prominent products include extra virgin olive oil, Iberian ham, wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero, meats, cheeses, spices like saffron, olives, anchovies, asparagus, red peppers and many more.

Today, these products are known by public and demand reaches as far away as China, Japan or the USA and Canada. The increase in exports and the good acceptance of these typical Spanish products, encourages many producers and farmers to focus on these markets.

Spanish cuisine in Budapest

Spanish cuisine in Budapest

Apart from the undeniable quality of these products, much of the success is also due to the influence of Spanish chefs around the world. Distinguished restaurants like El Bulli, or the recently awarded best restaurant in the world, the Celler de Can Roca, populate the first pages of the gastronomic press, which highlights the products made in Spain.

An example of the internationalisation of Spanish gastronomy is La Plaza Restaurant in Budapest. This restaurant is part of the Budapest Grand hotel of the hotel chain Iberostar Hotels & Resorts. Chef Sergio Montaño leads this spanish restaurant in Budapest and in his menu you can find typical products, such as jamon iberico and olive oil as well as dishes like paella, cod “al pil pil” and suckling pig.

 

 

The trip of the month: A guided bike tour of Madrid

You have probably visited Madrid a thousand times. Or maybe not, and it is one of those destinations that you have on your travelling must visit list. Well, wether you have visited or not the capital of Spain, this month we recommend a fun trip to Madrid, like you have never imagined. A guided tour of Madrid, on bike!

Walking through Madrid, strolling and watching people come in and out of the metro, discovering its shops, bars and taverns, its markets, park next to a terrace and enjoy a drink in the sun… All this without leaving your bike. To some, it may seem almost impossible to move around Madrid freely on bike, in a quiet and relaxed manner, in spite of traffic and the crowds of people that swarm the streets and avenues. Madrid is a beautiful chaos, but very accessible on bike, as odd as it sounds.

Bicycle tour of Madrid

Bicycle tour of Madrid

Proof of this, are the tours proposed by Tourism Madrid that, leaving the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, offer the possibility of visiting famous landmarks such as the Park of El Retiro on bike or biking to the Casa de Campo.

In total, there are currently available 4 cycling routes from the Tourist Centre of Plaza Mayor, with an average duration of two hours :

· Historic Madrid on bike. – It is scheduled for Sundays at 12 pm (Saturdays at 12 pm in English) and it is the perfect tour to discover the centre of Madrid, the very heart of the city, on two wheels. From the Plaza Mayor and Plaza de Oriente through the square of Santa Ana, the neighbourhood of Las Letras, the great promenade of El Prado, El Retiro, Puerta de Alcala and then back to the Puerta del Sol.

· El Retiro . – Biking through the park on Monday evenings at 18.00 pm. A visit to the Retiro park that aims to provide the opportunity to do a little exercise while you learn the story of Spain’s most emblematic “green lung”.

· Casa de Campo. – The visit to what once was royalty’s country house is programmed for Tuesday afternoon, at 18.00pm. Starting at Plaza Mayor and with a 2 hour tour, it is the perfect evening of cycling and history, through one of the closest natural areas to the centre of Madrid.

· Madrid Rio. – This is a tour of the so called environmental axis, which crosses the city from north to south connecting the neighbourhoods on both sides of the river. A nice route with which to experience different aspects of todays’s Madrid.

Bike tour of Madrid

Bike tour of Madrid

How can you sign up to these bike tours in Madrid? Simply, visit the Tourist Centre in Plaza Mayor or contact them directly by email. The capacity is limited to 20 people, so the best is to book in advance. Be aware that children under 8 years are not allowed and those over 8 have to skilfully manage the bike.

You have to bring your own bike so, you either use a rent a bike bike service in Madrid or you ask at your hotel: there are many hotel chains in Madrid that have strengthen their active tourism offer and provide guests with a free rent a bike service. Some of the hotels that offer a free bicycle service in the centre of Madrid, close to the Plaza Mayor are:

La Posada del Peine. A historic hotel in the heart of Madrid.

Mayor Plaza Hotel. On Mayor Street, just steps away from the square.

Puerta del Sol Hotel and the Petit Palace Arenal, both in Calle Arenal, between Sol Square and Plaza Mayor.

A tour of the coast of Ibiza: Figueretas (I)

Summer is over. It is definite, however, who says one can not dream and start planning some of the destinations where you to enjoy the sun and relax for next year… On this occasion, we propose a tour of the coast of Ibiza, a perfect plan at any time of year, although it is between May and October when the island offers its true Mediterranean essence in all its glory.

This route along the coast of Ibiza will take us to amazing places, rugged coastlines, hidden coves, fine sandy beaches, small cliffs, areas in which the Mediterranean sea seems to melt into the island, also known as the “White Island”, for its light, its beautiful scenery and its free spirit.

We start from Playa d’en Bossa, from the Club Palm Beach hotel, next to the famous nightclub Space Ibiza and very close to the island’s airport. There, it is very easy to find a good accommodation, at a good price and well connected to the rest of the island. It is an ideal location for a holiday to Ibiza, the beach of Playa d’en Bossa offers all kinds of services and at the same time, in this particular area, a little more quietness than at other areas.

Fiesta Club Palm Beach hotel services

Fiesta Club Palm Beach hotel services

The route will take us through the nearest beaches to Playa d’en Bossa: Es Cavallet, Figueretas and Ses Salines, the second most famous beach in Ibiza. It is a calm shoreline and in the case of Figueretas (or Figueretes ) with a more urbanised landscape and family atmosphere, with gardens, children’s playgrounds and some of the most emblematic family hotels in Ibiza.

Figueretas is the beach of the neighbourhood with the same name, and it belongs to the city of Ibiza. It measures just over 100 meters and is surrounded by a seaside promenade where to walk under the shade of the many palm trees. The beach of Playa d’en Bossa is set on the right, and if you would continue walking to the left, one can go into the historic centre of Ibiza, which is called Dalt Vila.

It stands out for its night market where you can find all kinds of crafts, accessories and hippie style clothing. You may also find areas for recreational fishing, and even from Figueretas we can take the tourist boat that connects Ibiza with her “little sister”, Formentera.

Hotel in Playa d'en Bossa

Hotel in Playa d’en Bossa

The mystery of Cofete beach in Fuerteventura

Cofete Beach is located in the northern mountains of Jandia, on the peninsula of the same name, which occupies the southern tip of the island of Fuerteventura. It is a unique spot due to its spectacular contrast of textures, colours and vegetation, and offers those who visit it for the first time a sense of peace that very few places in the world can boast.

It is one of the longest and most beautiful beaches of Fuerteventura, with a length of 12 km extending from the feet of the mountain range of Jandia to Pico de Zarza (the highest peak of all this “Majorera” peninsula ) rising above, overlooking the horizon.

Iberostar Fuertevebntura Palace

In this spectacular setting, hidden away in a strategic location, you can see what is known as Villa Winter or Casa Winter, a large mansion located in the small village of Cofete owned by a German by the name of Gustav Winter, an engineer who accomplished numerous projects on the island. For many years, it was speculated that he was really a Nazi spy. Others argue that many parties where held at the mansion, where many military men of all ranks assisted and some claim that it was a secret hideout for many relevant figures of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Making a trip to Cofete without hearing any of those stories is almost impossible. Wherever you go, you will hear all kinds of myths about this piece of land that sits on overlooking the beach of Cofete and that, word says, has the same shape as the island of Fuerteventura.

Hotel in Fuerteventura

Hotel in Fuerteventura

One after another, just like them, a thousand stories and legends have been passed mouth to mouth about this spectacular villa, that in fact, looks incomplete.

Similarly, the history of Cofete and its beach never ends, changing constantly. What remains is its natural beauty, virtually untouched by human action. The beach, as well as having fine golden sand, has a little island in the centre, to which is connected by a short stretch of sand and goes by the name of Islote. Another of its peculiar facts is the large vertical rock that emerges in the middle of the beach and that locals call Roque del Moro.

Historically, it is a quiet beach as this area of the sea has strong currents that make it dangerous at times for swimming. If you are thinking of organising a holiday to Jandia with your partner or children, a visit to this area is essential, but you much be aware of the strong waters.

If your hotel is in Playa Jandia, one of the areas with greater services and better adapted to tourism, the best is to rent a car ( a 4X4 would be ideal) and visit the small village of Cofete, eat at its delicious seafood restaurant, stop at the Mirador de la Degollada and enjoy the beautiful views of this part of Fuerteventura, and if you have time, get a closer look a the mysterious Casa Winter.

Confortel Valencia Hotel: the new member of the Confortel family

To continue our work of hotel reviews around the world, today we bring you one of the new hotels that the Spanish hotel chain Confortel Hotels has incorporated to its portfolio: a hotel next to Valencia’s Conference Centre, a 4 star hotel completely refurbished and with a new design.

It is a hotel with a simple and functional design, where open spaces and natural light prevail, and these details can make the stay much more pleasant to guests. Although the decoration of the rooms is very simple, without too many colours or designer furniture, the common areas offer a very different look with a more exclusive touch.

Confortel Valencia Hotel

Confortel Valencia Hotel

Among these spaces, we point out its outdoor swimming pool, with a spectacular night illumination and its solarium area. The gym and sauna, ideal for those travelling for business reasons to Valencia, as it provides a comfortable relax area before entering the rooms.

The rooms are complete spaces, designed for family or group travel, or for business executives. Rooms can be booked as standard (the most basic), adapted (with spaces specifically designed for the disabled), triple (ideal for couples with one child) and family rooms.

But, if there is a truly remarkable aspect, is its location in Valencia: right next to the Conference Centre and with easy access to the airport. With the city’s centre 3 km away and the City of Arts and Sciences at a distance of 5 km, your comfort is assured.

It offers direct sales through its official website, Confortel Valencia hotel, and appealing discounts if you book in advance.

The key points of the hotel:

· Hotel for business executives and families.

· Internet access via Wifi.

· Adapted for handicapped people.

· Outdoor swimming pool, gym and sauna.