Tuesday, August 16, 2011

VERY IMPORTANT - BLOG MOVED

Hello

Thank you for visiting my blog.



This blog has moved to: http://www.sharemytravel.wordpress.com/
CLICK ON THIS SITE

I have recently added two more articles:

New York City (including videos)

A weekend in Gozo


Thanks for your support

Joseph 



Thursday, June 02, 2011

A DAY IN DINANT


Dinant is a picturesque town built on the River Meuse, in the Upper Meuse Valley in the province of Namur, south of Belgium. This valley is well known for its fortresses and castles. In fact because of its strategic location, Dinant has witnessed several battles and destructions which left a mark on its historical heritage.

Dinant was first mentioned in about 800BC, well before the imposing Citadel which today guards the town
, came into existence. Infact it was towards 1040 when the first fortress was built, followed by the first bridge over the River Meuse in about 1080. Dinant became the late-medieval centre for the manufacturing of metal and copper objects. The industry thrived but the town and castle were destroyed by Charles the Bald in 1466. Eight hundred copper beaters were tied together in pairs and thrown into the River Meuse.
The Notre Dame church (Our Lady's Church) is the main monument in the centre of the town. This Romanesque church was built at the end of the 12th century. It was then partially rebuilt in Gothic style in 1227 after a part of the rock behind the church fell down and destroyed the tower.

It was originally intended to built two majestic towers for the church. However, because of financial difficulties, these were replaced in the main entrance by a 68m high onion-shaped tower which still serves as a landmark of the Dinant skyline. Inside the church are several religious objects, made in 'dinanderie'
. Most religious metal objects in the churches of the Meuse-Rhine valley originate from Dinant.

Above the church the mighty 'Citadel' (fortification) dominates the city. The first citadel which was built in the 11th century to overlook and control the Meuse valley was rebuilt and enlarged in 1530 by the bishops of Liege. The French troops destroyed it again in 1703. Later, in the 19th century the Dutch troops rebuilt it in the present style.

World War I saw battles taking place inside this fortress and the town itself. The town was again destroyed and numerous inhabitants were killed. During one of the battles a French lieutenant was wounded here in Dinant. After the war, the new bridge spanning the river in the center of the city was named after him : the CHARLES
DE GAULLE bridge. Today this bridge is decorated with various modern statues of the saxophone, which was invented by Adolphe Sax (19th century) who was born in this town. The citadel today serves as a museum of the military history of Dinant and can be visited either through the 408-step stairway or by cable car from behind the Church in the Market Square (entry ticket €7.5)

In 1995 a few houses on the left side of the church were destroyed when another part of the rock went down.

Today the restored town of Dinant is a major tourist city for one-day trippers who can enjoy a relaxing day in the valley of the Meuse.
It is easy to travel to Dinant from Brussels. Trains depart daily every hour from Bruss
els Central Station (usually every 7 min after the hour) proceeding through North Station. On certain days there is another train which departs every 37 min after the hour. For further information visit the Belgian Railways website at www.b-rail.be/main/E/
Belgian Railways provide special week-end return tickets half the price of an ordinary ticket (€12.5).

2 June 2011





























A view of the Charles De Gaulle bridge from the Citadel




















A view from the Notre Dame de Bellevue College - Dinant

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

VALENCIA

5th - 8th March 2011
This blog has moved to: http://www.sharemytravel.wordpress.com/

Valencia is Spain’s third largest city and lies on the mediterranean shores of Spain. It offers a mixture of culture and entertainment through historic monuments, art and architecture, parks and a very long sandy beach for relaxation.


I visited Valencia on the weekend of Carnival (5th - 8th March 2011) leaving Malta by Ryanair at 06.50 and arriving at 09.15. This was a very convenient flight because practically I earned a whole Saturday in the Spanish city. The weather was great, most of the time with blue skies but quite cool. Temperatures varied from 7 or 8 degrees early morning up to 18 degrees at peak day going down again during the evening and particularly at night.


Valencia offers a lot of interesting things to do and nice places to visit. A journey in time could well start in the medieval old city centre, with Plaza Reina in front of the Cathedral and the beautiful Plaza de la Virgen at the back. The Cathedral was first founded in the 13th century after the Re-conquista, with a mixture of styles from Gothic to Baroque to Neo-Classical. It is famous for the Holy Grail (the chalice of the last supper), which is said to have been taken to Rome by St Peter and then in the 3rd century Saint Lawrence sent it to Huesca, his home town, where it was protected from Islamic invaders of the Iberian Peninsula. It was later protected by the Kings of Spain and the Knights of the Holy Grail until it was finally presented to the Valencia Cathedral in the XV century. Guided individual tours are held at the Cathedral, the Museum and the Holy Grail Chapel from 10.00 to 17.00 hrs (€4.5).


You will find many Churches in the Old city. Just at the back of the Cathedral, facing the Plaza de la Virgen, there is the Basilica of the Virgen de Los Desamparados (Virgin of the Forsaken), the second most important religious structure in the city. The fountain at the side of the square is dedicated to the Rio Turia (the Turia River) which after the catastrophic floods of 1957, was divided in two at the western city limits. The water was diverted southwards along a new course on the outskirts of the city. The old riverbed is now a green park that allows cyclists and pedestrians to traverse much of the city without the use of roads. The park, called the 'Garden of the Turia' (Jardí del Túria/Jardín del Turia) boasts numerous ponds, paths, fountains, flowers, football pitches, cafés, artworks, climbing walls, an athletics track, a Zen garden and more. The many bridges overhead carry traffic across the park.

In the old part of Valencia, the cobbled streets make you feel welcome. Churches are in abundance. In the old centre you will find the Iglesia de San Juan del Hospital, the Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina, the Iglesia de los Santos Juanes, the Iglesia del Carmen, the Iglesia de Santo Tomas y San Felipe Neri and the Iglesia de San Esteban. Outside the old city you will find the Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes, the Convento de Santo Domingo, the Convento de la Trinidad, the Iglesia de Dan Juan de la Cruz and the Iglesia de San Agustin Ermita de Santa Lucia.



An interesting historical building worth visiting is the Serrano Towers, impressive 15th century Towers which were once part of the old city walls. Built originally on the river banks, the towers are an important piece of the early history of Valencia. From up the towers you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the city.




Another important building is the Lonja de la Seda (the Silk Exchange), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a preserved example of Late Gothic architecture [Open 10.00 - 14.00 & 16.30 - 20.30 Sun & Hols:10.00 - 15.00 closed Mondays entrance free]. Built in the beginning of XVI century, La Lonja is the real emblem of the Golden Age of Valencia - the times when this city was one Europe's main cultural and economic centres.




Outside the city centre, along an axis of just under two kilometres that was formerly the bed of the River Turia, lies a complex with striking architecture designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela. The City of Arts and Sciences is a unique complex devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination which is made up of five main elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX cinema and digital projections), the Umbracle (a landscaped vantage point and car park), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative centre of interactive science), the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species) and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (which takes care of the operatic programme). http://www.cac.es



To visit this complex you require at least one whole day. However, if time is not on your side then, at least, make sure you visit the Oceanografico and experience the sensation of passing through a glass tunnel underneath sharks and other fish species. One could also have lunch in one of eating places inside the park. A visit to the Oceanografico would take from 3 to 4 hours.



On the other side of the Turia River bed, to the north west of the Old City, there is another attraction worth visiting called Bioparc. This new space for animals inside the Parque de Cabecera presents a new generation zoo conceived with the zoo-immersion philosophy. When entering the more than 100,000 square metres park, the visitor feels totally submerged in the wild habitats that have been recreated here: the Savannah, Madagascar and Equatorial Africa. Visitors can enjoy, practically without barriers, spectacular landscapes in which different species co-exist as they would in nature. www.bioparcvalencia.es/en/


Stretching along the eastern periphery of the city and just minutes from the centre you'll find Valencia's two urban beaches, Las Arenas and La Malvarrosa, both of which are easily reached via city bus, metro, bike, or a pleasant stroll. Along the Valencia beach the "Paseo Marítimo," a palm-lined, garden-filled, tiled promenade runs along from Valencia's port northwards to Alboraya. The promenade, which continues for multiple kilometres, is popular for a stroll, jogging and, in general, just to "hang out." Just across the promenade from the Valencia beach, with terraces looking out over the glimmering Mediterranean waters are some of Valencia's best restaurants for paella, fresh seafood and other local food specialties.




Transport


Valencia has a very good transport system consisting of metro, buses and a tram. It is easy to transfer from and to the airport by metro no 3 and no 5. The bus network serves practically all the city. The metro and the tram also provide a link between the city centre and Valencia’s beaches.



Accommodation



It is worth staying at a hotel in the city centre. I stayed at the Hotel Catalunya Excelsior, Barcelonina, a very clean and comfortable 3 star hotel in an excellent location in the centre, just a 7 minutes walk from the nearest metro stations of Colon or Xativa.



Food




Valencia is the home city of the Paella. Unlike the regular Paella made with sea food, the Valencian Paella is cooked with chicken and rabbit. One important thing to keep in mind is that Spanish restaurants open late. Valencian restaurants usually open for lunch from 14.00 – 16.00 and for dinner from 21.00 to 24.00. This could create a problem for those accustomed to dine early.



Carnival




Carnival is celebrated around the main Plaza de Ayuntamiento. On Saturday evening, there is a very simple parade is organised in the square which is accompanied by many fire crackers. Infact, fire crackers are very popular and form an integral part of festive celebrations.




On Sunday morning I followed another parade where children’s floats were pulled inside the streets behind the Cathedral towards Plaza del Carmen, accompanied by a small band. Most children were dressed in simple costumes representing old trades.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

STUTTGART & BADEN-BADEN

4 - 8 AUGUST 2010

This blog has moved to: http://www.sharemytravel.wordpress.com/

STUTTGART

In the midst of Germany’s technological and industrial region, Baden—Württemberg, surrounded by traditional vineyards and deep in the Nektar Valley, lies the city of Stuttgart. This is the area where the Nektar River flows and where Diamler and Benz pioneered to create the first motor vehicle, giving way to the automobile revolution that we know today.

Airmalta flight KM 316 departed Gudja Airport at 06.30 hrs and arrived in Stuttgart at 09.00 hrs. From the arrival lounge in terminal 1 I walked to the right (going out of Customs) towards terminal 3 to find the i-punkt tourist information centre.

If you are staying for 3 nights or more in Stuttgart or its suburbs, it would be convenient to purchase a 3-day visitors ticket for unlimited travel on all means of transport. This costs €10.50 for zones 1 and 2 (city centre) and including the journey (once only) form the airport to the centre. However, if you intend to travel to places outside zone 2, like Ludwigsburg, then a ticket for the entire network costs €13.90 for 3 days.

Transport in Stuttgart during weekdays is very efficient. On Sunday transport is less frequent. The S-bahn and the U-bahn practically cover the entire city and its suburbs.

During my stay in Stuttgart I was accommodated at the City Hotel, Uhlandstrasse 18. This is very good 3 star hotel in the city centre, clean, comfortable, reasonably priced and close to a supermarket and an Italian restaurant called La Piazza. The U-bahn stop Olga-eck is just 200m away opposite the supermarket (open 07.00 - 22.00) and you will be in the Main Train Station (Hauptbahnhof stop) in just 3 stops (only 5 minutes).

At 10.00 I was welcomed by a nice female receptionist who spoke English and who also gave me the room so early in the day. Infact all hotel staff are very friendly and helpful. And by the way the buffet breakfast was also a bonus.

Arriving so early enabled me to start my sightseeing soon. So the very first place I decided to visit was Ludwigsburg.


Ludwigsburg

Ludwigsburg is a very beautiful small town, named after Duke Eberhard Ludwig von Württemberg who, in 1704, started to build the Ludwig Palace, one of Germany’s largest baroque palaces. To this Palace he later added the Schloss Favorit, a hunting lodge and country seat in Favorit Park (1713-1728), as well as Seeschloss (lake castle) Monrepos (1764–1768) about 2.4 km apart.

Ludwig Palace palace (entrance €6.5) reminded me of Versailles and is a good example of baroque architecture with precious furnishings and the Ceramics museum. The surrounding gardens known as the Blühendes Barock are also worth visiting (entrance €7.5).

Ludwigsburg could be reached by S5 stopping at Ludwigsburg Station and following the signs to the Palace through the beautiful town. Or else one could stop at Favorit Station and walk through Favorit Park to the Schloss Favorit then proceeding to Ludwig Palace and baroque gardens. On the way back out, about 1.3 km far from Favorit Park you can also reach the Monrepos lake castle.

Stuttgart City Centre

The busiest area of the city centre is Konigstrasse, a shopping avenue that starts from the Main Station and finishes at Eberhard Strasse just across Calver platz. Schloss platz is the place where many open events take place such the open air concerts, including the famous Stuttgart Summer Festival.

Stuttgart is famous for two automobile museums, the Mercedes Benz Museum as and the Porsche Museum. I visited the Mercedes Benz Museum (S1 Nektarpark) which undoubtedly presents an excellent exhibit of the history of automobilism in Germany and the development of the Mercedes car industry. One could still see the first one stroke engine invented by Daimler and Maybach in 1885 at Bad Canstatt just outside Stuttgart. There are various original exhibits amongst them the first car produced by Daimler and the various models that followed which show how the motor car evolved throughout the years.

A visit to this museum (entrance €8) should be a must not only for car lovers but also for those who admire the development of technology which sometimes we take fore granted. I would however remark negatively on the audio sets distributed to visitors, which leave much to be desired. I noticed many visitors who had to return to the entrance to change the set because it was defective. Mine, for example, stopped working in the middle of my visit because it showed a low battery level. This is a pity, and the Museum operators should see to this problem immediately as it could spoil a lovely experience.

Other places of interest in Stuttgart are:

New Porsche Museum – Porscheplatz 1
Directions – S-Bahn – S6 towards “Leonberg” or “Weilderstadt” until Neuwirtshaus, Bus – No. 501, 502, 503, 503M or 591 to stop Porsche
Opening Hours –Tuesday through Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Closed Mondays
Admission Price – Adult: 8 Euros;Reduced price: 4 Euros

Main Train Station – A great view of Stuttgart can be seen from station’s tower.
Opening Hours – April – October: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 9:00pm
October – March: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00am – 9:00pm Thursday until 9pm
Admission – free

Schloss Square and The New Palace

The Art Building - Kunstgebäude, Schloßplatz 2
Directions - U-Bahn - U5, U6, U7 - Stop Schloßplatz; Straßenbahn - Line 15 - Stop Schloßplatz;
Bus - Line 42, 44, N1, N2, N3, N4 - Stop Schloßplatz

Old Palace (Altes Schloss) & The Württemberg Museum - Schillerplatz 6
Opening Hours - Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm
Admission price - Adults: 3 Euro Reduced: 2 Euro Children under 14: Free

Art Museum (Kunstmuseum Stuttgart) - Kleiner Schlossplatz 1
Directions - Bus 42 or 44 to Schlossplatz; Underground lines U5, U6, U7 and U15 to Schlossplatz;
S-Bahn transit to Stadtmitte station
Opening Hours - Tues - Sun, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Wed + Fri, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Mon closed
Guided tours (without prior reservation) Wed + Fri, 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. Sat + Son, 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Admission Price - Collection (including exhibitions in the collection area) € 5 Reduced €3.50 Family € 11
Special exhibition (including collection) SIMPLY VIDEO €8 Reduced €6.50 Family €18
Guided tours € 2.50 / reduced: €1.50

Johannes Church (Johanneskirche) - Gutenbergstraße 11
Directions - S-Bahn: S1 - S6 - Stop Feuersee

Television Tower - Jahnstraße 120
Directions - Street Car: No. 15 or U7 to "Ruhbank"
Opening Hours - Daily 09.00 – 22.30
Admission price - Adult €5

Solitude Palace
Directions - Bus: No. 92- Stop Solitude
Opening Hours - Tuesday – Sunday: April - October 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm - Sun and bank holidays 9 am - 5 pm; November – March 1:30 - 5:00 pm. Sun and bank holidays 10 am. - 4 pm.
Admission Price - Adults € 3.30 Reduced € 1.70 Family Pass € 8.30

State Gallery Stuttgart - Konrad-Adenauer-Straße 30-32
Directions - Subway: U1, U2, U4, U9 and U14 - Stop Staatsgalerie. Bus: No. 40, 42 and 43
Opening Hours - Wed, Fri, Sat + Sun 10:00 am - 6:00 pm - New: Tues + Thurs 10:00 am - 8:00 pm
Monday closed – Art Night once per quarter 6:00 pm – midnight
Admission Price - Special Exhibitions: 10,00 € / 7,00 €, Children up to age 12 free Young persons (age 13-20) 2,00 € Combi-Ticket (including collection) 12,00 € / 9,00 € Art Night 16,00 € / 14,00 €
Collection All-Day-Ticket 5.50 € / 4.00 € free admittance on Wednesdays and Saturdays

State Theatre - Oberer Schloßgarten 6
Directions - Subway: U1, U2, U4, U9 and U14 - Stop Staatsgalerie. U5, U6, U7, U14 and U15 - Stop Hauptbahnhof. Bus: No. 40, 42 - Stop Staatsgalerie

Stifts Church Schiller Square - Stiftstraße 12 (Mitte)
Opening Hours - Monday to Wednesday: 9:00am - 5:30pm; Friday to Sunday: 9:00am - 5:30pm; Thursday: 12:00pm - 5:30pm

City Hall & Market Square - Marktplatz 1
Directions - U1 and U4 Stop Rathaus
Opening Hours Market – Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday 7.00 - 12.30

Rotenberg Chapel - Württembergstraße 350
Directions - Bus: No. 61 from the train station in Untertürkheim - Stop Rotenberg
Opening Hours: 1 March to 1 November: Tues – Sat 10.00 a.m – 12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. – 5.00 p.m
Sun and public holidays: 10.00 a.m. – 12.00 a.m. and 1.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m
Admission Prices: Adults € 2.20 Reduced rate € 1.10 Families € 5.50

The Calwer Passage - Calwer Strasse

Schellen Tower


The Surrounding Hills

As already mentioned Stuttgart is surrounded by hills and vineyards, parks and gardens. I have drawn up an itinerary which could be performed in one day to enjoy the beautiful views and natural experience of Stuttgart’s surroundings.

Start by taking U1 (direction Vaihingen) or U14 (Heslach) and stop at Sudheimer Platz. From there take a funicular (Seilbahn) up to Waldfriedhof (graveyard). This is a graveyard with a difference as it is located in the open forest.

After descending, take again the same U-bahn in the opposite direction and stop at Marienplatz from where you could board the Zacke, an old rack and pinion tram taking you up the hill to Degenloch. Stop at Haigst where there is a small belvedere known as the Santiago de Chile platz. From here enjoy a beautiful view of the city.

Afterwards proceed by the Zacke again to Degenloch from where you may take the U5(direction Monchfeld) or U7 (direction Killisberg) and stop at Bopser. Walk for about 20min up the hill through the Bopserweg and follow the signs to reach the Weissenburg Park and Teehaus. From there you can again enjoy a panoramic view of another part of the city.

Walk back to Bopser U-bahn stop and proceed from there to Killisberg by U7. To the left after a short walk you reach the Killisberg Park, an expansive area of greenery and flowers among small ponds making this park a nice place for relaxation. If you are not afraid of heights in the middle of the park there is an open spiral tower where you can climb 173 steps to the top to enjoy a beautiful view of the city.

BADEN-BADEN

Saturday 7 August was a warm and sunny day in the area. So we decided to go to Baden-Baden, a resort in the heart of the Black Forest and still in the Baden- Württemberg region. Baden-Baden is best known for its therapeutic bathhouses. The train departed from Stuttgart at 09.00hrs and the journey took us just one and a half hour changing once at Karlsruhe. It is very convenient to buy a Baden-Württemberg Ticket which costs €28 from ticket machines (€30 from desk office). This is valid for unlimited travel for the whole day after 9.00am on weekdays (any time on weekends and holidays) on regional and local trains as well as local buses and trams (U-bahn, S-bahn) anywhere in the region.

The train station of Baden-Baden is far out of the town centre in the suburb of Oos. Don't try walking, unless you afford at least an hour before you reach the centre. It’s better to take Bus 201 (direction: Lichtenthal) which runs every 10 minutes from the station and stop at Leopoldsplatz.

The ride usually takes 15-20 minutes depending on traffic conditions. The old town is on your left, the Kurpark and Kurhaus and the beginning of Lichtenthaler Allee just round the corner to the right.

The Baden-Württemberg Ticket it is valid on the bus.

Another option to see the town without walking is the fancy "train", touring the town centre, Lichtenthaler Allee and the road to the Merkursberg funicular hourly from March to October. The City Train is a hop on hop off system, the ticket (adults 5 €) is valid for a whole day of unlimited travel.

Merkur Mountain

From Leopoldsplatz take bus 204 or 205 which takes you to the funicular reaching the Merkur Mountain. The buses run every hour and bus 205 also runs to/from the train station.

The funicular runs every 8-15 minutes depending on demand. Return fare is 4 €. You can buy tickets either from the souvenir shop in the station or from a ticket machine. KVV tickets are not valid on the funicular.

The funicular is remarkably steep, 54% in the top part of the line.

When you arrive at the top, there is a tower whose top you may climb through an internal lift and some stairs. From this tower you may have a wonderful panoramic view of the area and the black forest.


Geroldsauer Waterfall

From the funicular station you could take the hourly Bus 204 to get to Geroldsau.

As you arrive in front of the terminal Malschbach (Malsch Bacher Street) in Geroldsau, you may proceed with a short walk in the main road on the left to reach the parking place. However the road is very busy with traffic and is a bit dangerous. So it is recommended to take a short deviation through a path through the Schwarzenweg and a then climb through a path on the left to reach the parking place in just under 5 minutes. Then just cross the road towards the parking place and from there follow the signs. From there a 1.4 kilometers path leads through the woods to the waterfall.

You would be crossing the stream through a nice wooden bridge and then proceed along the stream upwards until you reach the waterfall. If you stop to take pictures it takes around 45 minutes to reach the fall. In a little walk further up (300m), one arrives at the forest restaurant Bütthof. Return back could be quicker and easier and could take less than 25 minutes.


The Neues Schloss

If you have time to spend at Baden-Baden, it would be interesting to visit the New Palace which lies high above the old town and near to the Stiftskirche. It is the former home of the Margraves of Baden-Baden.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SEVILLA

26 – 29 JUNE 2010

This blog has moved to: http://www.sharemytravel.wordpress.com/
Sevilla is the beautiful capital of the Spanish region of Andalucia. It is the largest town in Southern Spain, the city of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro.
According to legend it was founded by Hercules on the banks of the Rio Guadalquivir (river) and is one of Spain’s largest historical centres in Europe. The Romans called it Hispalis and to the Moors it was known as Isbiliya. Its high point in its history was following the discovery of America.
Sevilla is famous for the Bell Tower of La Giralda, standing next to the cathedral (one of the largest in Christendom), and also for the Alcázar Palace. Part of its treasure includes Casa de Pilatos, Torre del Oro, the Town Hall, Archive of the Indies (where the historical records of the American continent are kept), the Fine Arts Museum (the second largest picture gallery in Spain) , plus convents, parish churches and palaces.
Santa Cruz, La Macarena, San Bartolomé, and Triana (on the other side of the river) are the most famous quarters. The street of Las Sierpes, La Maestranza bullring, María Luisa park and the riverside walks are all representative images of Sevilla.
Ryanair flight left Malta on Saturday 26 June at 13.55 and arrived at Sevilla at 16.45. Immediately outside the airport there is a bus stop from where to take the bus to the city centre. The bus leaves every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour on Sunday/holidays. However there are extra trips at peak times both on weekdays and on Sundays. The ticket costs €2.30 and the bus stops at Avenida de Portugal. However the point of departure from the city centre back to the airport is Avenida del Cid just around the corner. The trip from airport to centre takes from 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic.

I stayed at Hotel Melia Seville, a lovely four star hotel just about 300m from the bus stop in Avenida de Portugal (5 min walk) (http://www.booking.com/hotels/hotel/es/sevilla/hotelmeliasevilla.html?label=gog235jc;sid=883c46fe749ec5326affee1164484378)

This hotel is very close to the Plaza d’espagna, about 10 mins walk to the bus station at Prado San Sebastian and about 20 mins walk from the Cathedral. To reach the Cathedral one could take the tram from Prado San Sebastian to reach the old city by public transport. The tram practically leaves Prado San Sebastian and stops at Plaze Nueva which is just about a 20 mins walk. A single bus/tram ticket costs €1.5 but if one uses public transport frequently, then it is more convenient to buy an unlimited day ticket for €6. There are also carnets of 10 journeys costing €10.

Unfortunately, the transport system is very difficult to understand. It is also difficult to communicate with personnel because very few speak English. It is more possible to communicate in Italian than in English.

There are two important bus routes which perform a circular tour of the city, starting from Prado San Sebastian station. These are C1 which goes south to the other side of the River while C2 goes north towards the Santa Justa Train Station. Both lines cover the same route from opposite directions.

There are other buses which connect with stops on the route but these pass just outside the old quarters. It is advisable to obtain a bus map in order to plan a journey. There is an information office at Prado San Sebastian where staff are very helpful even though they do not communicate very well in English.

To move inside the old quarter and see the monuments and Churches one either has to walk or hire a bicycle. Walking is tiresome especially during the very hot midday hours. Temperatures in Sevilla ranged from 37 degrees Celsius at 14.30 to 34 degrees at 19.00 and 28 degrees at 22.30. Weather is fine and sunny but not so humid and gets dark at around 22.30. It is advisable to protect oneself from the extreme sunlight. However most of the streets outside the old quarter are shaded by trees while in the old quarters the streets are narrow and quite shadowy. The streets connecting Plaza Nueva to Plaza Duque de la Victoria is the main shopping area. This area is shaded by tents hanging from side to side of the buildings, thus providing some shelter during hot hours. Shops, except the large department stores, close for the early hours of the afternoon.

Sevilla is also full of parks. This is quite impressive for there is so much greenery in a city which is really scorching hot. These parks are ideal for relaxation and for moving away from direct sunlight, but be prepared to walk on yellow Sahara sand in all the walking paths of the such parks.

The bicyle is a very popular means of transport in Sevilla. Streets in the centre provide bicycle paths for cyclers thus making it easy to travel around the city on a bike. You may hire a bikefrom near the Torre Del Oro, on the bank of the river.

Sevilla is famous for its tapas, the traditional Spanish snacks. Infact there are many cafes and bars and Cervecerias and less restaurants. And beware that restaurants open around 20.30 or 20.45. Some also open at midday between approx 13.00 and 16.00.

There is a good Italian restaurant “Ristorante San Marco” at Calle del Dottor Pedro Castro just next door to Hotel Melia Sevilla.

Another good Spanish restaurant is “La Raza” at Avenida Isabel La Cattolica.

There are also a number of Restaurants at Calle Betis on the other side of the river opposite the Torre del Oro to the right, crossing the San Telmo bridge towards Plaza de Cuba.

Suggested Tours
You could find a good tour of the old quarter on the following link:
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/seville/0065010008.html

Not included in this tour but worth visiting are the Alameda de Hercules and the Ancient Wall of the City near the Basilica de la Macarena.

Sevilla is an excellent place for a short break. To visit all musuems one requires more time. Musuems and attractions such as the Isla Magica Amusement Park are usually closed on Mondays.

Sevilla is connected to the other Andalucian towns such as Cordoba and Granada through the Renfre Train Network which departs from Sta Justa Train Station. A train journey to Cordoba takes about 1hr 15min while to Granada it takes 3hr 15min.