Monthly Archives: September 2012

The hidden secrets of Spain

My parents live in Spain. Several years ago my brother, Ruslan, and me went there to visit them and on a vacation. We were there for two weeks, so we had plenty of time to visit many places. For the purpose of writing this article I decided to ask my mother, Neli, several questions including the information I already had. From what we saw Spain is a country that has a lot to show to tourists. And even if you are there just on vacation, you’ll still have great time. We were in a city called El Ejido, Almeria. It was very close to the Mediterranean sea and the Sierra Nevada mountain.

The first place we visited was Mini Hollywood. It’s a incredibly interesting sight. Mini Hollywood is used as a set where big studious shoot mainly cowboy movies. When you go there you feel like you are in the middles of a desert with wooden houses, just like you see it in all cowboy movies. There was a prison, stores, a pub, etc. You can also see the big cactus garden there. There are over 400 different types of cactuses in Mini Hollywood. Also, you can see hundreds of different animals in the zoo. This was the first time we saw a giraffe and a zebra. There were also lots of exotic birds. At the end of the zoo alley there was the parrot show. A woman was giving tasks to the parrots and they were competing in doing things that are really unusual for a bird to do. The parrots had to put little rings on a stand, which they did without any mistakes. Then, they had to put shaped cut wooden pieces in a holes with the same form. It was really interesting seeing this done by a bird.

The set was designed by Carlo Simi and built for Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More in 1965. After shooting several more movies the whole set became a tourist attraction, but eventually you can still see movie scenes that are made there.

“There are not many places where you can see real buildings that are used for filming movies, almost all the sets are artificial,” said Neli.

Another very interesting place is Alhambra de Granada. This is an old fortress dating from the mid 10th century, when Spain was ruled by the Moorish. Nowadays, it is a monument of the Islam architecture. It is also part os the heritage of UNESCO. In 2007 it was also nominated for one of The Seven Wonders of the World. In this same fortress Christopher Columbus received queen Isabel and king Ferdinand’s support, consisting of jewelry, in order to sail to the New World. This lead to the discovery of America. The fortress is located on a hill in Granada and is as big as a small town. There are many houses, towers and palaces with many pools and ponds. The fortress has sewer which is a very unusual thing for a place that old. There are also many trees and gardens with different types of bushes and flowers. The gardens are made like little parks. There are ponds in the gardens with water lilies and really high bushes that are rectangle shaped and there are holes used as “doors”. When you go to the highest point of the fortress you can clearly see the whole city of Granada and the surroundings.

“The place is something unique and extraordinary,” commented Neli.

The next place we visited is the Aquarium in Roquetas de Mar. The aquarium was as big as a small shopping mall. There were many different species of fish and reptiles. From small to really big, fancy and unusual types. There was also an exposition room. This was a big aquarium with sharks. People were able to see them through a very thick windows and a host was telling more information about different types of sharks. For us the most interesting part was when we saw the eels, the starfishes and the seahorses. This was because of the strange ways these sea animals move. The seahorses have a really small fin which they start moving really fast, sometimes it’s even hard to see it move. Using that fin they move upwards and forward. We saw a very big seahorse which was older than the others. This one couldn’t move it’s fin that fast, but that was the interesting part, to see exactly the way it moves.

Then, we turned to museums. The first one we visited was the history museum in El Ejido. It is also situated on a hill. There were several tall towers with the exponents. They consisted of old soldier uniforms from many countries as well as old guns and weapons.

The next museum we visited is also something very unusual and cannot be seen that often. It was the car museum in El Ejido. The museum is property of a very good friend of my father. All the cars there are collected for many years. Every car was fixed and repaired with its original engine and parts. They only need a car battery and some fuel to run. We are talking about cars from 100-150 and even more years ago. There were even steam cars. In this museum you can see these old cars with the 3D logos and the strange forms. The really interesting part was that the owner was standing right next to us, explaining more details about every car we found fascinating and how he repaired it. The different brands there were Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes, Fiat, and many more.

If you are just on vacation and shopping therapy in Spain, again this is the right place. There are many places for that. I visited only one mall and one open market, but still the variety was big. The mall I visited was made for the tourist eye. Palm trees were planted on the underground floor and they were as high as the mall was. Up to the ceiling on the last floor.

As I wrote earlier, El Ejido is really close to the mountain. Sierra Nevada is a mountain in the south part of Spain with the highest point there – 3478 meters. There are not many trees in this part of Spain, but this was the mountain a whole different place. As high as we went we saw more trees. The mountain reveals an amazing view towards the Sea. In a really clear day it is possible to see Africa if you are high enough. There are also many places for picnics there. We went to a place that was near a mineral spring. Although it was very hot there, the water in the spring was cold and it was also very clean and clear. There are lots of rocks, so we did some hiking for fun. The highest point we went was around 2200 meters, but unfortunately because of all the water evaporating from the sea we were not able to see the continent of Africa.

From really high in the mountain we’re getting down to the beach. The beaches we went to were not ones with exactly sand. The sand consisted of little round pebbles. Many people would say that this is uncomfortable, but no it isn’t. The water in the sea was also very clear. No matter how deep we went into the sea we were able to see the bottom. The water in the sea was nicely warm. The beach was very wide and long, and very clean. It was made just like oasis – clean with palm trees.

This is only a small part of Spain. Can you imagine how much you can see in other parts of this not that big country?

“All the sights with their interesting history are just waiting for tourists”, says my mother.

Although we had plenty of time to discover the interesting places in Spain, it was not enough.

Neli’s conclusion:

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Martha’s Vineyard – A piece of paradise

My friends travel a lot and that’s why I chose this topic of my blog. This week I interviewed Yana Aladzhova. She told me about Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA. She has been there several times during the last couple of years.

Martha’s Vineyard is a famous destination where rich people spend their holidays. “It’s a really cute island,” says Yana.

The islanders are very nice, cheerful and amazing people. They will greet you with a smile and ask you how you are doing. In July and August tourists come. Yana describes this part of the summer as tenuous and slow. There’s is a lot of pressure at work at that time. It is also slow because it takes you a lot of time to get from one place to another, “5 minutes to walk a couple of meters”, because the place becomes overcrowded.

It is a great place for work and travel students and teenagers.

Several things impressed Yana in Martha’s Vineyard. First of the things is the Flying Horses Carousel. It is the oldest operating platform carousel in America. It is also listed in the National Historic Landmark.

Another thing is the gingerbread houses. People usually see these houses as part of amusement parks, but not in Martha’s Vineyard. Gingerbread houses are “the cutest little houses, colorful, and just small and nice.” They look like doll houses. There is not just several houses of these, but a whole neighborhood. The neighborhood is called Oak Bluffs. When you go there you turn from left to right and you see the houses in many different bright colors. The houses were built in the 1800s and the owners keep them colorful and ornate at all times.

“When you are around those houses you feel like you are in a fairytale.”

She continues with the lighthouses. There are five lighthouses on the island. She says that the most beautiful and impressive one is the one in Aquinnah, Gay Head. The lighthouse went into service in 1799. Since then it has been renovated a couple of times. Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society offers seasonal tours of the tower every year.

Gay Head is a cliff. The South Beach and the State Beach there are very clean and usually there are not big waves. The water is warm and it it the perfect place if you want to go for a swim or to relax. The nature there is very green and pleasant.

There are also many entertainments in Martha’s Vineyard. There are several golf clubs. The most popular one is Vineyard Golf Club. It is famous mainly because it is very expensive and a lot of influential and rich people are members there. Every year American presidents go there to have a break and play golf. President Obama was there in 2010 and 2011. Also, the previous presidents of the US were there for their vacations. Morgan Freeman and Edward Norton were there as well. Yana was lucky she worked there so she can interact with these people, because not everyone can get into this golf club. You have to be either a member there or staff.

An interesting fact for the music fans is that Lady Gaga has a house there, although not many people have seen her in her house.

“Martha’s Vineyard is not America, it’s a little piece of heaven in America.”

The fact that everything there is calm makes people go to the island. Yana’s advice is that if you want to go to a nice place on vacation and you can afford Martha’s Vineyard, you should definitely go there.

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A friend of mine, Kaloyan Vasilev, visited Denmark a couple of years ago. Every time we talk about going to a different country, he always mentions his experience in Denmark.

He describes Denmark as really different from his home country which is Bulgaria.

In Denmark a big impression for him made the buildings. The architecture styles used are the ones that were used in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“They are really dim and tall”, he says.

The domes are sharp and pointy. It was impressive for him to see old buildings, that were in perfect condition, in the 21st century.

One of the buildings that impressed him the most was the train station in Copenhagen. This is an old building which connects antiquity and modern technology in one. The building is also one with a pointy dome. If you see it your first thought would be what a beautiful building. You’ll never think that it is a train station, if you don’t see the trains going out of there. When you go inside you’ll see all the lifts and escalators that are perfectly combined with the old architectural style of the building. Then there come the trains, which are really fast, ones that they didn’t have in the past for sure.

Even though Hamlet is a fiction character of Shakespeare, there is a castle named after the character. The actual name of the castle name is Kronberg. Kronborg is one of the most important Renaissance castles in Northern Europe. It is also part of UNESCO. Kaloyan was impressed by all the knight armors and old paintings in the castle.

Another place that impressed him very much was the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. In the museum you can see original real ships of the Vikings. Vikings were the first people to live in Denmark. The ships in the museum are reconstructed using leftovers from the damaged ones. They are made in the exactly same manner as the Vikings used to make them. Around the 11th century five ships were sunk at Skudelev in Roskilde Fjord. The point of this was to protect Roskilde from enemy attacks from the sea. The ships turned out to be different types ranging from ships used for delivering cargos to ships of war.

Another curious thing about Denmark is the people.

“The people are great they are so open minded and friendly”, says Kaloyan.

He told me that one can always ask for directions or just chat with strangers on the street, even in English. He is impressed by the fact that many people speak English, even if it is not that fluently, they are ready to help.

Kaloyan’s advice is if you ever have the opportunity to go to Denmark, you should go. Even if it’s just for a few hours between switching a flight to somewhere else, go around the city just to enrich your knowledge.

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Are you interested in sightseeing or just a place you’ve heard a lot? Don’t know where exactly to go? We are going to help you see many different places with our reviews.
You are not interested in traveling? On the other side you love reading about intriguing cities and countries? This will be the blog that will introduce you to the places you are interested in.
Every week someone will tell us more about an incredible place they have visited. People will share their experiences and adventures in a short blog story containing pictures. They will also tell us about their impressions and if their expectations were met, exceeded or not met at all. We will collect stories of places from around the world.
We will try to show you all the sides of many interesting places.

From the poll that’s at the bottom of my first post I see that you would like to read more about non-commercialized sights and natural sights.

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