Barcelona

From Granada, we took a plane from the Granada Airport to Barcelona Airport. The journey time is less than 2 hours. From Barcelona Airport to the city, we took the Aerobus from Terminal 1 and alight at Plaza de Catalunya. The initial plan was to get to the city and take the local subway to Sagrada Familia Station, where our accommodation, Hotel Sagrada Familia is located at. However, we missed the last train and ended up taking a cab to the hotel instead. Cab fare was less than 10 Euro as it was a very short distance from our current location to the hotel. Hotel Sagrada Familia is a decent hotel, the room that we stayed in was very clean. We did not opt for the breakfast buffet as it requires additional charges. As the hotel is located at a good location, there are some cafes nearby that usually open early to serve breakfast. The good thing about this hotel is that their counter is open 24 hours which is a good news for us and as well as people who take late night flights to reach the city.

Our first stop in Barcelona was to visit Sagrada Familia, designed by Antoni Gaudi. Before travelling to Spain, I have booked the tickets with tour online. Do book earlier if you would like to join the guided tour. They have a few timings to choose from, depending on your schedule. I personally like the guided tour as it was interesting to understand the history of this building. Right now, the building is only completed halfway and I would really like to re-visit this place again in future.

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From Sagrada Familia, we took a train to Paral.lel Station to have lunch. I would recommend to buy T10 Zone 1 at 9.95 euro, which allows us to take 10 trips within Zone 1 region. The card can be shared among your travelling buddies and can be use on bus and train. The tapas place we went to for lunch – La Tasqueta de Blai – served very decent and reasonably price tapas and beers. Their tapas are on their bar counter, you can just pick and choose whichever you like and just remember to retain the toothpicks as they charged the tapas by counting the number of toothpicks you had on your plates.

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After lunch, using Google Map, we walked to a bus stop to take Bus 150 to Castell de Montjuic, a fortress that is really pretty. The entrance fee to the fortress is 5 euro. I think students do get more discounts as there were some students who queued in front of us showed their student passes to the ticket counter lady to receive student price tickets.

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Our next stop is to visit Museu Picasso, which is located near Urquinaona station. Every Thursday, their opening hours will be extended to 9.30pm and the entrance fee is 11 euro. I guess people who loves art might be able to appreciate Picasso’s drawings. The range of art pieces started from really very early when you get to see sketches of people, places, nature etc to drawings that are more abstract. A great place that I would recommend to people who love and appreciate art in different forms.

After art appreciation, it was time for dinner. Initially the plan was to go to this burger place but as we were so tired, and we saw this pasta place that was really in need of some good ratings on Tripadvisor, we thought why not just give it a try. So we step into Maccaroni and have a look at their menu. I would say the menu has a comprehensive list of ingredients that you can choose from to make your own pasta. Their pasta portions were huge and we also ordered a plate of salad for sharing. We almost could not finish the pasta. I hope that pasta place is still around if I am back to to Spain in future as I did give really good score and review on Tripadvisor.

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On our second day in Barcelona, our first stop was Parc Guell. The nearest station is Vallcarca but the walk from the train station to the entrance was kind of far, about 15 mins walk up the slope, with the help of escalators. Parc Guell is a very complicated place as it has a few entrances and somehow that one entrance we had entered through got us to the back of the park. Nevertheless, we managed to find our way to the other side of the park. The design of this park was really awesome but it was incomplete in a way. The initial plan by Eusebi Guell was to develop the place into a housing site and he hired Antoni Gaudi to design the place. But, at that time, only two houses was built and Gaudi had stayed in one the houses. The design of the structure was really very unique, especially the mosaic design on the terrace and on the ceiling. I would say this is a good place to relax and enjoy the fresh air.

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From Parc Guell, we took the wrong exit and ended up taking longer time to reach Las Delicias which should be a few bus stops away from Parc Guell. Las Delicias is a restaurant located in a quiet neighbourhood. They served very nice western food at decent price. My sister would recommend Secreto Iberico, i.e. the grilled black pork and I do agreed that it was really delicious.

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After lunch, the place to visit is Colonial Guell, another Gaudi’s design. To get to this place, we took FGC from Plaza Espana to reach Colonial Guell. The lines to take are S4, S8 and S33. Remember to buy a Zone 2 ticket as we almost paid a fine when we used the Zone 1 ticket to enter and leave the station. From Colonial Station, cross the roads and follow the blue footprints to get to the visitor centre for Colonial Guell. As Colonial Guell is huge, it will take about 3 hours to explore. Gaudi’s Crypt is a must place to visit.

From Colonial Guell, we traveled back to the city by FGC and went on to visit Boqueria Food Market which opens until 8pm that day. To get to the market, alight at Liceu station. Here, we bought some turrons to give to family and friends as souveniers. Turrons are similar to nougats but they are softer and have more flavors available.

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From the market, visit the Las Ramblas and walk towards the Plaza de Catalunya directions. Here, there are a lot of boutique shops that sells shoes, clothes, turrons etc. I bought quite a few shoes and accessories for myself. Plaza de Catalunya will big brands like Mango, Zara, Stradivarius etc.

On our third day, we had signed up for the free walking tour for old city. The meeting point is at Plaza Reial, close to Liceu station. Our tour guide was an English lady who had been in Spain for years. She first started off with the Spanish history in a comedy-way and then follow by the tour to quite a number of places. During the tour, she will also take a bit of the history to give us some contexts. By the end of the tour, we just tip her to thank her for bringing us around. The tour was very interesting and the tour guide is very patient and willing to answer your questions. She can also provide some suggestions like the place to go for lunch and turron shopping.

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After the walking tour, we went to Creps al Born which is located nearby for crepes and hot coffee as the temperature seems to drop quite a bit in Barcelona. The crepes are decent and price is reasonable. From the crepes place, we traced back footsteps to visit the two markets that we had passed by during the walking tour. We bought quite a bit of goat cheese and Pate from one of the markets. They provide food tasting which we really get to try before buying. The second market sells mainly accessories and some of the items were made from recycled materials. Although the items were not cheap, I still bought a iPhone 5 cover which has this owl icon that will remind me of Spain.

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From Liceu, we took a train to Passeig de Gracia, where all the branded shops are located. The street has Zara, Mango etc which are usually cheaper compared to Singapore’s outlets.

So, this is the last post about Spain. FINALLY!!!

I will try to blog again about my first Japan trip soon. Please look forward to that=)

 

 

 

Granada, Spain

Granada, a place that I think is famous: 1)The Alhambra and 2)The Sacromonte area. The Alhambra is a must-see attraction and we have actually booked a tour with Granavision to bring us around for a half-day tour, given that The Alhambra is huge and not easy to explore. I have actually learnt that The Game of Thrones was also shot in The Alhambra as well, which makes me want to visit even more although I am not exactly a big fan of that TV series.

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If you happens to stay around Sacromonte area (which we happened to stay at that area), you will be able to see The Alhambra from far. For your info, the name ‘Alhambra’ means red fortress in Arabic due to its walls and towers look red during sunset. Some of the places that were highlighted during the tour were ‘Court of Lions’ and ‘Generalife’.

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The design of  The Alhambra is very ‘Arabic’ in its own manner that wherever we go, we can recognized some of the motifs and their language. After the tour has ended, we were allowed to stay around and continue to explore this place.

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After the visit, we walked to this tapas place called Bar La Riviera. They offer big food options and their tapas were really good. For every alcoholic drink ordered, it comes with a complementary tapas. As we were not aware of that, we ordered some drinks and planning to order 3 different main courses to try when the waitress actually stop us from ordering. So, we ended up having two complementary tapas and two main courses which almost ‘killed’ us when we left that place. Recommend this place for budget travelers as the pricing is reasonable.

After the meal, we went to Granada Cathedral, which can be easily located along the Gran Via area. And, outside the Cathedral, you can buy some tea leaves and preserved fruits from the vendors as souvenirs. The Granada Cathedral is a small place that will only require less than an hour to complete the tour. Their opening times can be very weird, so make sure to do your homework before going.

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From Granada Cathedral, we went circling around, trying to locate Palacio de la Madraza and Capilla Real de Granada. Finally, we managed to locate Palacio de la Madraza. For 2 euro, it comes with a 20 minutes tour that will give an brief introduction to the design of the architecture. After the tour, we stepped out of Palacio de la Madraza and realized the Capilla Real de Granada was just right in front of it. But unfortunately, it was already very late and it was closed for the day.

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When we reached our accommodation (located at the Sacromonte area), we decided to go up to the rooftop to check out the night view of The Alhambra. It was just nice that the crescent moon was hanging right above the palace. A very nice view from our place. Would recommend travelers to stay at this area and experience the nice night scenery. A tip for travelers is to have packed light as these accommodations are usually located on the slopes and the steps are usually very steep. We have trouble moving our luggage up to our accommodation when we first reached Granada that night. Another thing to note is that Granada is famous for Zambra performance and it just so happens that Zambra Maria la Canastera is located right at the bottom of our accommodation. As we were super tired moving luggage, we did not manage to watch their performance.

In the following morning (which was also our last day in Granada), we started off with Museo Cuevas del Sacromonte, a museum about the Sacromonte. It is located about 10 minutes walk away from our accommodation. The museum is worth visiting as they showcase the different caves and their purposes, as well as how the people in olden days lived in this place. The interesting feature about Sacromonte is that they are actually caves that are white in color and some of these caves were used as residential area.

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Our next stop of the day is El Banuelo, the oldest and best preserved Arab baths in Spain. The highlight of this attraction is the star-shaped and octagon-shaped skylights lined along roof, which is the only opening for sunlight to shine through.

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After a 30 minutes visit at El Banuelo, we continued walking to Mirador de San Nicholas, a great spot for seeing The Alhambra from far. Here, there is a short performance by the local artist playing a guitar and singing to accompany this nice scenery. There is an ice-cream place nearby and their ice-cream tasted so fantastic in this cold weather. The shop owner even gave us some postcards for free.

Having ice-cream as our ‘appetizer’, we went hunting for our next lunch location, i.e. Carmela Restaurant. Somehow, I think we went to the wrong outlet and ended up paying for the most pricey meal in Granada. But to be honest, their food was really delicious and portion is huge.

With limited amount of time left before returning to our accommodation to pack and rush for the airport, we tried to locate this bakery, Pan y Dulces. Unfortunately, we made a few wrong turns and by the time we managed to find this shop, it was closed and will only be open at 5pm. Although we were disappointed not able to try out the pastries, we continued down to Alcaiceria, a small street selling a lot of souvenirs. The shops sell mainly key chains, bracelets etc at reasonable pricing.

And, that it is all for Granada. Adios!

 

Seville, Spain

From Madrid Atocha Station, we took Renfe train to Seville Santa Justa Station, journey time is about 2 hours 30 minutes.We booked Arye Hotel Seville which is about 300 meters away from the train station. El Cortes Ingles, the departmental store, is also located within the vicinity. There are bus stops located in front and opposite of the hotel. Public transport in Seville is not as well-developed as Madrid. People usually take buses to travel within the city. To get to our dinner place at Alameda de Hercules, we took Bus 32 and alighted after 6 stops, at Plaza del Duque. From there, we walked to Alameda de Hercules, 23 to search for dinner. Casa Paco is a nice restaurant which serves cheap and good tapas and wine. There are also other restaurants around that area. At Alameda de Hercules, remember to take a photo with the landmark, a pair of granite columns from a Roman temple and statues of Hercules and Julius Caesar standing on its south side since 1574.

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After dinner, we walked back to Plaza del Duque, a very crowded place as it was a Saturday night. There are a lot of shops to visit and some of the more popular clothes shops like Bershka can be found there as well.

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Our second day in Seville started very early. From our hotel, we took bus 21 and alighted after 4 stops. However, our google map seems to have given us advice and we have alighted a few stops earlier. Nevertheless, we used google map and manage to walk to Plaza Nuvea. Here at Plaza Nuvea, visit the Tourismo office to pick up a map. From Plaza Nuvea, we walked for another 10 minutes to reach our first stop, The Alcazar.

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I would recommend to pay a bit extra for the audio guide if you are hungry for the historical information of this architecture. The Alcazar was one of the castles of the Moorish rulers until Ferdinand III took Seville and the Christian kings moved in. However, the place still retained the Arabic decorations and motifs as we visited the different sections. The place took us the entire morning as the area to cover was huge. We have visited the garden which was too big and confusing that we almost got lost in there. The garden also have a maze made up of tall bushes but we don’t dare to try going in in case we got lost in there.

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After spending 2 to 3 hours at The Alcazar, we walked to Bodeguita Romero for lunch.This is another great tapas place and is not very expensive. The service was good and food was delicious. The place is not that easy to find as the streets in Seville is quite confusing even though we used google map. But would recommend for budget travelers to try the food.

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From Bodeguita Romero, we walked to Plaza de Armas which took us about 15 to 20 minutes. Plaza de Armas to one of the major bus terminals in Seville. From Plaza de Armas, we took bus 170A to Italica, a Roman ruins located outside the village of Santiponce. However, by the time we reached it was closed. We tired to negotiate with the security guard but she refused to let us in. Disappointed but have no choice, we went back to the same bus stop for bus 170A which took forever to come. We promised ourselves to come back and visit the place again.

After reaching Plaza de Armas by bus 170A, we decided to visit the Catedral instead of tomorrow since we have extra time to spare. While walking back to Plaza Nuvea, I believed we have passed by C. Sierpes, the main shopping street but it was closed on Sundays except for an ice cream which was crowded with people. We had some ice cream to console ourselves and take a short break before continued walking towards The Catderal.

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The Catedral (Santa Maria de la Sede) is the largest Gothic church in the world. Inside the catedral lies the Tomb of Christopher Columbus. The coffin is supported by four huge statues that represent kingdoms of Leon, Castile, Aragon and Navarra. La Giralda, the bell tower which entrance is just next to The Capilla Real, has a series of 35 gently inclined ramps which is wide enough for two persons to pass through. The initial part when walking upwards to reach the top of the tower was tiring but it was rewarding when I finally reached the top. The view from the bell tower is magnificent but I would still advice people with knee cap problems (like my sister) to reconsider because they will have a hard time going up and down the bell tower.

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By the time we have completed our visit to The Catedral, it was almost closed to dinner time. From The Catedral, we walked to Bar Alvaro Peregil but we realized that it was standing bar when people just stand around eating and drinking. So, we went to the next door restaurant which was less crowded and with tables and chairs. The restaurant we went to is called La Sacristia and it also served tapas. Would recommend their grilled mushrooms and Sangria which was really good and worth the money. After dinner, we have decided to return to hotel to pack our luggage as we will be taking train to Granada on the following afternoon.

On the last day at Seville, we took bus 21 and alight at Marques de Paradas stop, about 9 stops away from our hotel. From the bus stop, we walked to Mercado de Triana, a traditional market, about 5 minutes walk. Here, there is a sweet shop which you can buy some traditional sweets back home. You can also find jamon and chorizo in the market.

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Walking along the Triana streets, there are a lot of shoe shops and restaurants. One of the shoe shops, Mary Paz, sells very nice ladies boots. Would recommend to buy a few pairs of leather boots back. Finally, we stopped at Taberna Miami for early lunch before going back to hotel to collect our luggage and travelling to Granada.

Adios!

 

 

 

Day trip to Toledo

Toledo is a pretty small city compared to Madrid. I would say it is like a small town rich in f different cultures and religions. It is a completely different city from Madrid. Would really recommend a day trip to Toledo.

We started our day early as we had booked the 9.20am Renfe train tickets. As Madrid Atocha Station is quite big, we actually walked one big round to get onto the correct platform and almost missed our train. From Madrid, the train ride to Toledo Station will take about 3o minutes.

When we reached Toledo Station, there was a bit of confusion. Our initial first stop was to walk to Puente de Alcantara but there was no signage or directions to lead us to our destination. My sister decided to try google map to google our way there. But while walking along the main road, my sister got less confident of the directions given by google map. And, just so coincidence we a lady who happened to walk towards our direction. My sister decided to use her broken Spanish to ask for help. After 10 minutes of conversation between that lady and my sister (while I was standing there trying to do some guesswork on their body language), we finally figured out our current location. With the advice from that helpful lady, we crossed the main road to the other side, cutting through the small roads and going up the stairs to reach Puenta de Alcantara.

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Puenta de Alcantara is a bridge, it is also the entrance to the old city centre. After spending a good 10 minutes taking selfies, we followed the directions that my sister has researched from the Internet. According the directions: ‘after crossing the bridge, cross the road and go up the stairs on your right which will lead you to the carpark. From there, take two long escalators to get to Plaza Zocodover.’ However, the directions led us to more stairs and more stairs and more stairs… We were so engrossed in taking pictures of the scenery that we saw while climbing the stairs that we did not realized that we almost reach Plaza Zocodover without taking the “two long escalators”.  The route that we have taken was kind of tiring given that the number of stairs we have to take but the good thing was that we get to see the view from that height.

At Plaza Zocodover, there is a shop named “Santo Tome” which is famous for a type of sweet called marzapan. Would recommend to try it as it a unique food that can only be found in Toledo. My sister who has been eating marzapan for the next couple of days, claimed that the sweet cured her cough. I don’t know whether is there any link between the sweet and her cough but it really taste good.

From Plaza Zocodover, we followed the directions on the signage to get to Catedral de Toledo. The building was started in 1226 and completed in 1493. A beautiful building with a magnificent bell tower. An altarpiece “El Transparente” is a beautiful art piece which shows figures floating in cloud. The opening of the vault allows light to shine onto the altar, making the altarpiece more lively.

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After exit from Catedral de Toledo, Archbishop’s Palace with a flamboyant Gothic style portal can be seen.  I believed that building was not opened to the public but it will make a nice picture.

We walked to Ludena, a restaurant recommended by Trip Advisor. The restaurant offered lunch set that include wine, appetizer, main course and dessert. The wine comes in a small bottle which is equivalent to 3 half-filled wine glasses. The appetizer were huge in portions. By the time our main course came, we were kind of full. But, we still go ahead with the dessert and it was really delicious. Generally, the meal was actually worth it.

With a good and sumptuous meal, we took a stroll along the streets and I saw this shoe shop. Knowing my sister wanted to get shoes from Spain, I pointed out the shop to her. She got interested and went into the shop. The funny thing about this shop is that their products are displayed at the glass window but you don’t see a single pair of shoes displayed inside the shop. So basically you have to go outside, spot your favorite shoes and inform the sales assistant which design you wish to try. I admired my sister for being so street-smart. She suggested to use my DSLR (which i have been carried around after stepping out of Ludena) and take pictures of the shoes to show to the sales assistant. Anyway, while she was having fun trying the shoes, I met a Korean auntie with a teenage son. We were chatting happily in English because I just suddenly cannot remember how to converse in Korean. So much so for attending Korean Language classes for 1 year!

My sister left the shop happily because she bought two pairs of shoes. I would said the designs that she had chosen were very unique. One of them is similar to walking boots in maroon and the other is low cut red boots with faux fur around the ankle area. The maroon boots has a stylish design and the red one is kind of cute.

Moving on, we followed the directions on the signage to The Alcazar Fortress. To be honest, I feel that this place is not worth to go. The Alcazar Fortress has been modified into an army museum. Unless you are interested in the museum, you might not want to spend your money on the entrance fee. Admire the exterior of the building if you want.

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Across the fortress, there is a bus stop which you can take bus 71 to Mirador del Valle. While waiting for the bus, which can take 1 hour of waiting time, we visited some shops nearby. There were accessories shops nearby and many of them were plated with gold or silver and carved with different designs. The price of each piece is not cheap but is very unique. They also have craftsmen sitting at the entrance of the shop carving designs on the accessories.

From the bus stop opposite fortress, take bus 71 and alight at Parador (10 stops). Mirador del Valle is the best place to enjoy the view of entire Toledo. The bus will display the name of every bus stop. However, the funny thing that happened to us was that the bus driver had skipped a bus stop and we ended up alighting at the wrong bus stops with a few other passengers who happened to go to the same destination as we do. The bus stop does not look like a bus stop as there is no bus stop stand to indicate and it is smacked right at the junction of the deserted road. Scary right?

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After walking a bit, we managed to find a good place to view Toledo from far. And, we quickly return back to the same bus stop to wait for the bus which will looped back to the City Centre. We hopped onto the bus and continued the journey, alighted at Puente de San Martin. It was already 6pm when we reached and the sky became very dark around that time. We crossed the bridge and continued to walk to Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes which we did not get to go in because they have closed by then. But we still took some photos of the outside of Monasterio San Juan de los Reyes.

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We walked back to the same bus stop and took bus 71 back to Plaza Zocodover. The bus passed by Puerta de Bisagra which my sister wanted to go but lacked of time. At Plaza Zocodover, there is a place that sells nice chocolates and sweets. The shop name is “Jacinta & Maria Chocolates”. The owner can speak perfect English and provide great service. He packed my chocolates inside a box, wrapped it and tied with a nice ribbon. My sister bought some marzapan alcohol from there as well and it tastes so good. The place is located behind Arco de la Sangre, in Zocodover Square if you are interested in getting chocolates and sweets as gifts.

After some light shopping around Plaza Zocodover, we took a bus back to Toledo Station and board the Renfe train back to Madrid.

Next post will be on Seville.

Adios!

Spain – Madrid

Spain is one of my countries-to-visit after watch the Korean variety show – Grandpas over flowers. With my sister kept mentioning about wanting to visit Spain someday. I just thought why not let’s check out the air tickets prices on SIA website. And to my surprise, there is promo actually to fly from Singapore to Barcelona – approx. $1130. Of course, I immediately booked the air tickets for our November trip, knowing that Spain should be cooler during the period since it is autumn. Then, we started to decide which cities to visit, and book the accommodations and Renfe train tickets. And here comes the itinerary planning… I realized that planning our Spain trip was not as easy as planning Korea trip because of the lack of information from the Internet. So guide books will be next best option for doing research. One tip for budget Spain travelers is to do research for your lunch and dinner using Trip advisor.

And, after planning and waiting for a few months, we were finally at Changi Aiport Terminal 3, waiting to board the plane. The flight took about 14h with 1h layover at Milan.

We reached Barcelona Airport Terminal 1 around 8 in the morning. After clearing immigration and getting our luggage (which took quite a bit of time), we reached the arrival hall. We bought our sim card with 2GB data and quickly took the escalator down to the shuttle bus bus stop.We have to transfer from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 in order to board the Renfe train to Estacio de Sants station so that we catch the train to Madrid. Here is a tip for budget train traveler, if you have pre-booked your train tickets, you may be able to claim your complimentary train ride from the airport to the Estacio de Sants. For more information on how to do it, you might want to google ‘Renfe Combinado Cercanias’.

The train ride from Terminal 2 to Estacio de Sants station lasted from about 30 minutes. Once we alighted, here comes the confusion. Because this station is very big, with all the major trains stopping here and traveling to other cities, we need to ask for directions in order to get onto the correct platform. Most of the Spaniards speak Spanish only and not English, so we often found ourselves in situations that we have to use sign languages in order to communicate. In this case, we got lost for 10 minutes before finding the gate to the platform. At the gate area, we have to get our luggage scanned before entering the waiting area. We have to check the platform number on the screen just like checking for counter number and gate number before boarding the plane. The personnel only allow us to enter the platform 20 minutes before boarding time.

Finally, we board the train to Madrid which will take another 3h to reach. The station which arrived at is called Madrid Atocha Station. This is another big train station where trains will travel to other cities in Spain. From this station, we walked to the underground metro and board the metro train to Gran Via where our Airbnb was located.

Our Airbnb was located 5 minutes away from Gran Via station and surrounded by a lot shops. After checking in, I took a quick shower before started to venture out with my sister.

 

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Our first stop was to Retiro Park. The sun started to set as we reached there around 6pm. The sky turns dark faster than we expected and it gets more difficult to take photos with the lack of lighting. We decided to revisit the place again the following morning.

Evening:

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Morning:

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Our next stop for that night was to Puerta de Sol and La Mallorquina Bakery. We bought some of the desserts from the Bakery as recommended by Trip advisor before proceed to Emma Cocina for dinner.

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Our last stop for the night ends at Zara, where I bought my first leather bucket bag. So happy~~~

On the second day in Madrid, after visited Retiro Park in the morning, we went to Plaza Espana and Temple de Debod. These two places do not have entrance fee. If you visit Temple de Debod, you can also see Palacio Real from far.

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After visited so many places in the morning, we decided to have lunch first at Market of San Miguel before visiting Palacio Real and Almudena Catedral, which were just next to each other. Market of San Miguel, as suggested, is a market. Here you will find a wide variety of food choices. After walking one round, we settled for one of the stalls and ordered our tapas and wine. The tapas was really good and reasonably priced. After some tapas and wine, we moved on to another stall that sells yogurt and ice cream. We ordered two shot glasses yogurt to try and it was really yummy.

From Market of San Miguel, we walked to Chocolate San Gines. This is the famous place for its thick hot chocolate and churros. I would recommend Spain travelers who drop by Madrid to try it. It was really tasty as a snack or dessert.

After enjoying a great meal, we visited Almudena Catedral, followed by Palacio Real. We spent a short while in Almudena Catedral, exploring and taking pictures of the stained glass. I find that most of the Catedrals in Spain have very simple design for the outer part of the architecture and except for some which I will mention it later. But the interior part of the structure is something which I feel worth taking a closer look.

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We moved on to Palacio Real where we spent a great deal amount of time taking selfies and perfecting our selfies skills. Haha.  For foreigners who do not come from EU like my sister and I, there is no need to queue as the queue is meant for travelers from EU who do not required to pay an entrance fee. For us, since we are paying for the entrance fee, we do not need to queue.

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For Palacio Real, photography was not allowed in the exhibition. However, they do have a wide collection of items from the Spanish Royalty which I find it very interesting. Do get the audio guide if you are hungry for more information.

Since we had a late and heavy lunch, we decided to drop by this pizza place recommended by Trip advisor to takeaway two slices for dinner before returning back to our accommodation. This place is called Vesuvio and they have a wide range of flavors for you to choose from their menu. After ordering from the window, they will prepare the pizza fresh. As this is our first time ordering, we thought they will gave us one slice per flavor. Instead, to our surprise, for every flavor which we ordered, it came as a personal pan size. So much so for having a light dinner…

On the third day in Madrid, we traveled out to Toledo which I will blog later…

Our last day in Madrid was more of a relaxed day as we will be taking the Renfe train to Seville in the afternoon… We took up some suggestions from our Airbnb owner and decided to visit Malasana as he said that this is a popular shopping street. However, the shops were still close at that time. I guess we have to re-visit this street next time in the afternoon. Most of the shops do not open until 10-ish or 11. So, we just taking a stroll along the different streets and stopped by at a cafe for a cup of coffee to get ourselves warm. We continued to explore until we reach Gran Via, where all the well-known brands were located at: Zara, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear, Pimkie, Lefties…

So, our last day in Madrid ends with shopping!

My next upcoming blog will be on Toledo.

Adios!

 

 

 

Seoul Part 4 – Everland

Everland, one of the must-visit theme parks in Seoul during Summer. To reach Everland, we took train to Giheung Station, transfer to Yongin Everline and alight at Jeondae/Everland station. From the station, cross the overhead bridge and you will see a queue for shuttle bus which will take you to Everland. Shuttle bus is free and takes about 15 minutes to reach Everland. The entire journey time took us about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Nevertheless, weather was great and we were really excited about it.

A tip for budget travellers: Google for some discount vouchers which can save you quite a bit. For Singaporeans, visit Korea Plaza at Samsung Hub. KTO may place some brochures there and sometimes there are some cut-out coupons which can give you discounts to some of the attractions.

Once we bought the entrance tickets, we immediately went for the rides. Since we are quite early, the queues were not that long for some rides. However, there were also rides that were not yet ready at that time. Bags can be deposited in the lockers and small fees applies. Bring along some small change in case you need those lockers.

Some rides were very popular among the adults. The roller coaster, which made up with wooden planks, was really popular and the queue was extremely long even when Everland just open its door. The roller coaster ride lasts for 3 minutes and its downward slope and elevated heights were the highlights for this ride.

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After a couple exciting rides, take a stroll at the Rose Garden. As the season is summer, flowers were blooming and great for taking nice pictures. A lot of the Korean dramas also have scenes filmed at Everland because of its beautiful scenery. Remember to watch the parade which will normally take place in the late afternoon.

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Other than the exciting rides and beautiful gardens, Everland also has a zoo. I guess this place is not just to cater for adults, they are also catering for kids and families. We took a bus ride which drove us to the enclosure area. Remember to get ready your camera for picture-taking because the animals will be really very close to you!!

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The bus driver was very entertaining. He brought some food along to attract the animals to our bus so that we can have closer look.

That is all for my experience in Everland and Seoul. Although it is a very short post this time round, I hope my blog has been very informative for travellers who are planning their free-and-easy trips.

Look out for my next post, which will be on Spain.

Annyeong!!!

 

 

Seoul Part 3

In Korea, there are a lot of things that you can do, especially in Seoul. So, here is my next long post about Seoul again…

When you are in Korea, most of the tourists will visit the palaces as these places were heavily featured in the Korean dramas. One of the most famous palaces that we have visited was Gyeongbukgong. Beware that this place has a lot of tourists irregardless whether is it a weekday or weekend and a lot of Chinese tourists will jam at the entrance area. So, I would suggest to proceed to quieter areas for phototaking and selfies in order to avoid ‘photobomb’. There will be guided tours at certain timings so make sure to do the research as we kind of miss the timing when we visited there and so, we just explore the place by ourselves.

We also get to see the famous “Blue House’ from far, where the president works daily. It is a heavily secured place, and hence we can only see and take pictures from far. If you are lucky enough, you can even get to see the changing of guards outside of Gyeongbukgong.

After almost 2 hours of walking and phototaking, we went to a famous Korean Ginseng Chicken restaurant, Tosokchon which is located near Gyeongbukgong Station, Exit 2, for lunch. The queue tends to get longer during the lunch time. So, it is better to go early. If I remember correctly, one ginseng chicken set costs about 10,000 won and it includes the side dishes and one shot glass of ginseng wine.

After a good lunch, we took the train and alighted at Anguk Station. From Exit 2, continued walking straight, you will reach the Bukchon Village. If you asked for directions at Bukchon Guesthouse, they might provide you with a map and provide suggestions on how to explore this village.

Bukchon Village is a quiet neighbourhood, with streets that look like Haji Lane in Singapore with cafes and clothes shops, and surrounded with Korean traditional houses.It is a great place to take a stroll after lunch.

After some sightseeing, it was time for some shopping. We took the train and alighted at Ehwa Womans University Station. The university is another great place to visit. It has a bit of European style just by looking at the building and how the landscape was designed. The street next to the university is packed with stores that sell beauty products, shoes, clothes and bags. Here, you can get your laneige products, le bunny bleu’s shoes and clothes that priced at 10,000won per piece. It is a popular place for students and tourists to shop and update their wardrobes.

Another place that I would recommend for shopping is Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade. To go there, take train and alight at Express Bus Terminal Station. From the station, take Exit 8 and you will find this corridor with a lot of shops that sells clothes, cosmetics, furniture, bedsheets etc… The clothes here are very pretty and trendy, and you can get the clothes for around 10,000won per piece. I would not recommend shoes from here as it was costly.

Along the street next to Ewha, there are a lot of food carts where you can get to try different flavors of kimbap, soondae and spicy rice cake and the prices are reasonable. If you would like to experience eating street food in a market, I would recommend Gwangjang Market. To get to Gwangjang Market, you can take train to Jongno 5-ga (Exit 8) or Euljiro 4-ga (Exit4). This is the famous market featured on Running Man. The recommended food to try are: Kimbap, Kimchi Pancake, Bibimbap, Cold noodles with dumplings, Mung Bean Pancake. The stall owners are very generous in the food servings and normally we order one serving for two person to share. The market also sells textile products, red ginseng products, seaweed etc. The pricing were actually cheaper compared to other places. Next to Gwangjang Market is the Cheongyecheon stream where you can take a stroll after a meal.

So, this is all for today…

Will blog a bit more about Seoul the next time. Annyeong~~~

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