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The Seville Cathedral and the Tomb of Christopher Columbus

I have always wanted to come to Spain. I remember joking with friends that if they couldn’t find me, I would be on a Spanish beach somewhere eating olives and drinking Sangria!  So when we talked about going to Seville to find the Tomb of Christopher Columbus (actually not the only reason) and begin my love affair with Spain in ernest, I was pretty excited.

Spanish Sunshine, Flamenco, Guitars, Olives and Sangria – here we come!

 

Spanish Olives, Sangria and Sunshine
Spanish Olives, Sangria and Sunshine

 

So here we are in Seville. And it is everything I had hoped for!  Our Airbnb host is amazing. He took us to visit his brothers restaurant and we tried Jamón Serrano, marinated olives and the freshest Sangria ever!  What a super legend.  Honestly Airbnb has been the best way for us to travel. Here is link if your interested in booking yourself somewhere fabulous while in Seville too

Airbnb upturned suitcase

Seville Cathedral and The tomb of Christopher Columbus

The Seville Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in the world and is the third largest cathedral in the world.  It houses the remains of Christopher Columbus within a magnificent tomb held aloft by four symbolic figures representing the four kingdoms of Spain that existed during Christopher Columbus’ life.  These are Castille, Aragon, Navara, and Leon. Seville Cathedral was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.  The kids loved the idea that this was the tomb of a man that had explored the world.  It started many conversations about exploration, human rights, adventure and discovery.

Seville Cathedral

La Giralda

Climb the 35 storey ramp to the very top of the bell tower and take in the views across Seville.  This beautiful bell tower was originally built as a minaret and the ramp to the 35th floor is wide and tall enough for a person to ride a horse! There are 17 steps  up to the bell tower which was added by the Christians.  Walking up to the top was a challenge for the kids and each floor that we got to would elicit a cry of ‘are we there yet?’ Once we were at the top it was  a fantastic view of Seville (however it was accompanied by some howling about ‘now we have to walk all the way down!’)

I wish I had known about these tours from Get your Guide before we went as it would have been really good to have someone to explain what we are actually seeing.  Unfortunately I do my reviewing of places back to front and often places are a complete and delightful surprise. Take the tour here.

Maria Luisa Park

The grounds that make up the Maria Luisa Park were donated in 1893 by the Duchess of Montpensier.  These were the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo.  In 1929 the gardens of Maria Luisa Park were host to the Ibero-American Exposition.  This was 19 years in the making as work on the surrounding buildings started in 1911 with Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier as the principal architect.

 

It is possible to hire a little four wheel bike/buggy for an hour.  This was a perfect way for us to get the kids around the park.  With 100 acres of plants, trees, shrubs, fountains and nooks and crannies there was not a chance it was going to happen any other way. The park was a cool oasis, away from the heat in Seville.  The bike kept the kids entertained for the whole hour as we all took turns to drive.  From the looks of laughter and terror on passerby’s faces I think we may have entertained everyone else as well.

Biking around Maria Luisa Park in S
Enjoying biking around Maria Luisa Park in Seville

 



Plaza De Espana

The Plaza De Espana is magnificent with its artificial lake and incredible tiled alcoves representing the different provinces of Spain.  Built for the exposition to represent Spain, it is now used for Government offices.  All the buildings that were built for the exposition were all designed to be used after the exposition and now hold various museums (history, science and art) as well as being used as consulates.

 

Spanish Plaza

 

 

Flamenco

We went to La Casa Del Flamenco and for 18 Euros each (no discount for children) we expected it to be amazing.  We were not disappointed.  The venue is small and intimate.  The entrance looks like a small theatre but inside it felt like walking into a Spanish courtyard, which is, in fact, where we were.  A small raised stage, surrounded by seats, it was so intimate and we were so close that we could feel the heat from the dancers.  The Spanish guitars played first.  And then the Flamenco.  It was like watching a passionate relationship unfold before us.  It was worth it.  My daughter was smitten and begged us to find a dress and shoes for her which she has worn proudly for the last 3 months.
Experience Flamenco
 with Get your Guide.

 

Flamenco Dancing


We have had the pleasure of staying in Spain for 2 months on the Costa Blanca, infamously known for Benidorm and hopefully better known for its incredible mediterranean beaches and impressive coast line.  Read more about Moraira here.


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Japanese Cherry Blossom Season

3 places to enjoy Japanese Cherry Blossom

Japanese Cherry Blossom season is blooming amazing!! Dreadful pun, I know.  This was totally unplanned seeing the Cherry Blossom.  We had planned to come to Japan for 10 days, what we had not planned on was Cherry Blossom Season also known as Hanami.  The Japanese call the Cherry Blossom Sakura!  Everywhere you look there is a blanket of pinks and whites over the trees.  It is stunning.  And we are not the only ones that think so.  If you are planning on heading to Japan during Cherry Blossom season make sure you book ahead of time as accommodation can be hard to come by.  We explored Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo during this time.  We had 3 days in each place and would definitely like to come back to Japan to spend more time here, particularly to visit Hiroshima and then to head further North up towards Sapporo.

The main ingredients in Cherry Blossom viewing is to grab your friends, some beers and a blue tarpaulin and head to the local parks and kick back.

Sakura Hanami
Itadakimasu Anime

Osaka

Osaka Castle

This magnificent castle was built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to unify Japan. With over 4300 cherry trees on the grounds there is a perfect vantage place everywhere.  A lot of people particularly like Nishinomaru Park, with its vast garden and views of the castle and surrounding cherry blossom it is a perfect spot for a picnic and Hanami party.

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

Kyoto

Kyoto is incredible during cherry blossom season and it is difficult to choose just one place to view the beauty of the cherry blossom. Our favourite had to be…

Arashiyama

As you arrive into Arashiyama by train it is easy to see why this is such a gorgeous spot for a picnic and Hanami.  Cherry trees line the banks of the  Katsura River.  Many people come to have picnics and celebrate the beauty of the season. Taking a boat along the Katsura River is a perfect way to take in all the beauty of the surrounding cherry blossom and to escape the crowds of people that gather here.



 

Tokyo

Imperial Palace

While Tokyo is better recognised for the crazy Shinjuku crosswalk scramble, there are some gorgeous places to see Cherry Blossom.  Our favourite was from the Imperial Palace.  Taking a walk along the moat and then hiring a row-boat to travel beneath the blossoms with the towering walls beside us was truly amazing.

While this was a highlight for hubby and I, the kids were smitten with ASIMO at the Honda Welcome Plaza.  Being able to finally meet ASIMO and interact with him was possibly more exciting for them than our gorgeous cherry blossom tour!

 


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Enjoy Budapest’s National Holiday

We arrived in Budapest on the eve of St Stephens Day.

Budapest celebrates its National Holiday also known as St Stephen’s Day each year on 20th August.  We arrived the day before and only realised when we went to have breakfast the next morning.  We had stumbled on Budapest’s’ best day!

Most places were closed on the National Holiday but we found a great little café called Stika which served some delicious breakfast and coffee. Perfect.  Hubby ordered a breakfast burger, which was in fact two pancakes either side of a juicy pattie.

Buda Castle

The Buda Castle was hosting the annual Festival of Folk Arts.  Each year this is held at the Buda Castle and combines both Hungarian folk art as well as invited countries to display traditional folk art.  This year the theme was embroidery and Mongolia was the guest nation.

We went into a Mongolian Stupor and watched an amazing woman stitch some incredible embroidery.  Each stitch was so intricate that even watching was difficult.  I definitely need glasses!

Mongolian Embroidery on Budapest National Day
Budapest National Day

The Garden of the Budapest History Museum.

This is where we spent most of our day.  The garden was filled with traditional games such as stilt walking, a traditional wooden labyrinth, an air hockey table (minus the electricity and blown air) and ball rolling – highest score wins!

Laid out through the garden was numerous folk art areas, everyone was invited to participate.  Felting and embroidery to paper making and painting.

We strolled through the History Museum, which is three levels.  While the objects inside the museum did not hold the children’s interest for very long, there were numerous historically significant works of art.

From the open window of the History Museum we watched traditional Hungarian dancing taking place in the square below.  The window gave us the opportunity to be out of the crowds and have a cool breeze as we were much higher up.

We left the Buda Castle in the late afternoon and there were people streaming in to the Castle so that they could watch the fireworks and enjoy the music on the banks of the Danube.

We stayed on the Pest side of the river Danube and walked down to watch the fireworks at 9pm.  There were hundreds of other people waiting around us for the fireworks.  Unfortunately, the fireworks took place behind some very tall buildings that made it impossible for those of us to see them from where we were.  We did however, have the pleasure of listening to them!


 

Noosa Main Beach – The perfect mix of beauty and accessibility

Noosa Main Beach

Noosa Main Beach or Laguna Bay, is not only a beautiful beach but also has many other features that make it an incredible place to visit and live. This place holds a piece of my heart. Being lucky enough to grow up here, I am so grateful to be able to call Noosa home.

Noosa Main Beach
Noosa Main Beach courtesy of Rebecca Colefax Photography

Laguna Bay or Noosa Main Beach

Laguna Bay faces North which protects it from onshore wind and has created a protected bay. I can safely say that not all bays are created equal. This is not your average bay. Noosa Main Beach or Laguna Bay is ideal for families as the water is warm and generally the current is not strong as well as being protected by First Point or the headland.  This protection also ensure that the beach sees very few stingers or blue bottles.

The water temperature averages 22 – 24 degrees celsius all year round, which makes it perfect to swim all year round. There is also a dedicated lifeguards that patrol the throughout the year.

The boardwalk extends from one end of the beach to the other. You can walk from First Point all the way down to the groin. Taking in the sea views or stopping for a coffee or lunch at one of the many restaurants that line the boardwalk.

Noosa Main Beach Boardwalk
Noosa Main Beach Boardwalk

Noosa National Park

The Noosa National Park has an idilic view of Laguna Bay and the Pacific Ocean, it is possible to walk around from Noosa to Sunshine Beach.  Taking in spectacular scenery that can include dolphins, turtles and between May to November whales during their migration.  The coastal track is my favourite.  It has an easy, wheelchair/pushchair accessible track up to Boiling Pot, which provides breathtaking views back towards Main Beach and around the point to Tea Tree and Granite Bay.  Following this track around through the National Park it is possible to find fairy rock pools, see koalas and find yourself a piece of paradise.

Little Cove

Boiling Pot

Tea Tree Bay

Granite Bay

Hells Gate

Alexandra Bay

Fairy Pools

Noosa Main Beach
Sunrise over Noosa First Point and Noosa Main Beach courtesy of Rebecca Colefax Photography

A Surf Break Off First Point

How is it possible to have a safe beach for families and a perfect long board surf break at the same place?!  Noosa Main Beach does.  Each year the Noosa Festival of Surfing has its annual competition, surrounded by perfect waves, beautiful beach and great restaurants!  In July 2014 this break was designated a National Surfing Reserve. It is also a proposed site to for a World Surfing Reserve.

Noosa National Surfing Reserves
Photo National Surfing Reserves – Noosa

Accommodation at Noosa Main Beach – Hastings Street

Some of the best accommodation in Noosa is on Hastings Street. This means you will have views of Laguna Bay, easy access to shopping and the beach. It also means you will pay a premium for this location. Some of our favourite places to stay along Hastings Street would have to be Tingirana. With an infinity pool looking out to the Laguna Bay and one of the best restaurants supplying room service – Season Restaurant – you really can’t go wrong!

Alternate Accommodation to Noosa Main Beach

Alternatively you can consider other areas of Noosa that will also give you access to Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street as well as the beach and restaurants, but will cost you less.

Restaurants

Noosa has some amazing restaurants.  Hastings Street, which is the main strip which runs the length of Noosa Main Beach has  many dining options.  From the Noosa Heads Surf Club, where you can get bistro style meals, perfect for families and large groups and the best view of Noosa Main Beach and Laguna Bay, to fine dining experiences with Sails, Bistro C and Season Restaurant.  Personally I can’t go past Season Restaurant, the food, the staff and the outlook are something very special.

Season Restaurant View of Noosa Main Beach
The view of Noosa Main Beach from Season

 

Shopping

Hastings Street has many boutique shops, tourist shops and high street brand name stores.  Perfect for gift shopping, birthday presents or just that little something that you really ‘need’.  I highly recommend checking out Lamington for its unique and humorous store front windows and perfect presents (for yourself or friends) inside.

 

Noosa truly is the most beautiful beach in Australia and it has so much more to offer.  Have you been to Noosa? leave a comment below.