Sunday, 27 June 2010

Spanish love

Before this trip, my knowledge of Spain was limited to their fashion brands, soccer and 1 tennis dude. I didn't know about the influence of Moorish, Islam, Christianity and Roman on Spain, phantom the idea how different religious beliefs managed to cohabit peacefully together, learned the significance of bull fighting, visited 7 out of 41 UNESCO world heritage sites of Spain........
Pros of joining a packaged tour
  1. Everything is planned for so all you need to do is pay and get on the plane
  2. Transportation is covered throughout so visiting smaller towns won't be a problem
  3. You will hopefully get a local (Spanish) guide who knows his/her stuffs. Audio aid, if available, works well too.
  4. No worries about language barriers
  5. Good accommodations (all our hotels this time round were 4*)
Cons of joining a packaged tour
  1. Fixed itinerary. Little free time to explore the place on your own or for shopping
  2. Stuck with people in the group you might not get along with (hasn't happened to me but tolerance is definitely required)
  3. Package food SUX. Out of the few meals they covered, 3 of which were CHINESE (come on. Did I travel halfway around the world to get lousy Chinese food???), their so called local specials are essentially 'tourist specials', thus unable to accurately reflect their cuisine.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


Cathedral of Valencia
Somewhere inside this Cathedral houses the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper, the Holy Grail.
Mercado Central, their central market. something similar to the Grand Bazaar Market in Istanbu, Turkey. Here, they mainly sell ingredients for their famous Paella, fresh fruits, hams, cheeses and olives
UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Lonja de la Seda. It was one of the very first few commercial trading centers before Banks were established. People traded based on trust and verbal agreements and this building later became the first 'bank' in Europe.
top: Zara, shorts: F21, blazer: Zara, head wrap: Uniqlo, shoes: Aldo, bag: Balenciaga
Another of Gaudi's master piece, Casa Batllo.
Tourist street of Barcelona, La Rambla. It happened that our last day in Barcelona, allocated for shopping, coincided with their Catalunya Holiday and ALL the shops were CLOSED. Tourists roamed around the streets of the dead town, desperately finding shops that were opened...
While walking disappointedly along the streets, we spotted people carrying shopping bags. Surely there must be shops somewhere that were opened so we decided to walk in that general direction. The occurrence of those shopping bags increased and we knew we were getting close. Finally, where everyone flocked to..... a little shopping centre at their waterfront. Sadly, nothing for me still.... Luckily I prepped myself to not expect any shopping since my track of 'shopping trips' have been really bad, thus I wasn't that disappointed. But still, I could have returned a very happy girl with a full full luggage. Next time then.........
We had a really satisfying tapas dinner at the Waterfront though. Totally trumped the one served in the package.

Friday, 25 June 2010


A short drive to a cathedral town of Guadix, where people live in caves, called Troglodyte Quarter. The really cool thing about living in these caves is that the temperature inside the cave remains around 18-20 degree Celsius regardless of the season. Also, all they need to expand their floor area is to dig further into the cave (soft clay hill).
We then took a long drive to Alicante, a historic Mediterranean port. The Mediterranean coastline, stretch of beaches, sea breeze, clear blue sky, makes it the perfect sun tanning spot in Summer. Countless people flock here in Summer because of the nice Mediterranean climate.
top: F21, skirt: Zara, necklace: Metallica, Sandals: Steve Madden, bag: Mulberry
Next up, Valencia, the third biggest city in Spain. Some modern architectural amongst the country with the most UNESCO world heritage sites. Science and Arts Centre.


Cathedral de Granada. There's this 102m tall bell tower which we had to ascend for a paranomic view of the surroundings of the Cathedral. It was about 34 levels and climbing it wasn't as easy as I thought after so many days on foot...
The body of Christopher Columbus. Apparently, his voyage to the discovery of America was funded by the Queen of Spain...
top: Zara, shorts: Topshop, shoes: Sperry, bag: Mulberry
Granada, capital of Spain’s last Moorish kingdom, lies at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the autonomous region of Andalusia and served as the Moorish capital of Spain until liberation in 1492. Alhambra, a palace, is one of the greatest accomplishments of Islamic art and architecture. It's basically a palace for display, arcs and pillars which doesn't support anything, symmetry in structure, alabaster wall engravings....

We ended the night with their local famous Flamenco Dance in the Gypsy caves of Sacromonte (holy mountain). It's similar to tap dance but with a little element of seduction.
The night view of Alhambra from Sacromonte

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Good bye to Madrid and off to Andalusia, Cordoba. It's sad that for our short 2 days in Madrid, we were not given any time to shop at this Capital! Also, we failed to tour Spain's famous football stadiums and watch any bull fights =( Definitely something I'll do if I return in the future. Then and again, most cities look the same and it's always more interesting visiting the smaller heritage towns.
dress: Topshop, shoes: Aldo, bag: Mulberry
Another long day of traveling on the coach but stopping by a little town called Puerto Lapice. Really nothing special about this town besides it being a rest stop for tourist heading towards Cordoba...
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site - Cordoba.
Something super interesting about this place is that it's a Cathedral that was built inside a Mosque, which was built over a Roman Temple once upon a time... Jewish, Arabs, and Christians managed to cohabit peacefully and help construct this magnificent structure (Mosque/Cathedral/Temple).
The most distinctive feature of the Cordoba is the arcs used in the mosque and was built in a shocking 10 months, as compared to regular structures of that era which took few hundred years to complete.
The holiest place in the mosque where the Coran was read
Right in the middle of the mosque, a Cathedral was erected.
And under the floors of the mosque, ruins of a Roman Temple was found
How much more complicated can this religious house get? hahahaha. No wonder it makes the UNESCO list =)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Madrid - Toledo

Plaza Mayor, the central plaza of Madrid

Palacio Real, a palace that's still visited by the Royal Family and used to host official events. It's huge with 1600 elaborately decorated chambers, and used to house over 6000 people.
dress: Miss Selfridge, necklace: Banana Republic, shades: Ray Ban, sandals: Steve Madden, bag: Balenciaga
We didn't get to visit the famous stadiums of Real Madrid F.C. but still managed to take a snap shot of the stadium as our coach drove past...

The entire afternoon was spent at UNESCO World Heritage Site, formal capital of Spain - Toledo. Christian, Jewish and Moorish used to coexist here.
Narrow streets, pebbled pathways, stone walls, arc bridges
Catedral de Toledo

Sunday, 20 June 2010


UNESCO World Heritage Site - Segovia. The extremely famous Aqueduct of Segovia. It is essentially a bridge right on top for water to be transported from one side of the city to another via a water pipe. And instead of building a regular bridge or wall, they built this formation of arcs. Walking through these old towns brings a totally new understand to how people lived in the past.
cardigan: Primark, dress: Hollister, bag: Balenciaga
Alcazar Castle, the source of inspiration for Walt Disney's Snow White Castle in Disneyland Paris.