The Alhambra, Granada

The Alhambra, Granada

Located on a rocky hill protected by mountains and surrounded by woods, The Alhambra is considered the most brilliant Islamic architecture in Europe. It was the residence of royalty and of the court of Granada in the middle of the thirteenth century. The location of it is absolutely breathtaking which is set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountain range of Spain. It is one of the best preserved Arabian palaces of its era. There is a limit to the number of visitors to the Alhambra. Maximum is about 6,600 people each day, with just 300 every half-hour to enter the Nasrid palaces. We bought our tickets 2 months in advanced online as we knew we were going there at a busy time during Semana Santa (Holy Week). How to buy your tickets: We purchased our tickets online via www.tickemaster.es. This is the easiest way to purchase your tickets in advanced. I highly recommend purchasing in advance so you can get the time slot you want. You can purchase at least 3 months in advance. We purchased the ‘Alhambra General’ which includes access to all the visitable spaces of the monument: Alcazaba, Nasrid Palaces, Generalife, Carlos V Palace, Public Baths and the Mosque. – Once you’ve clicked ‘buy tickets’, it will take you to a page where you choose the date you want to visit. – Choose the number of tickets you want to purchase. – A time schedule will show up. Click on the time you prefer to enter the Alhambra. You’re given a choice to enter either in the morning slot, afternoon or evening. – Once you’ve clicked...
Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain

Seville is a beautiful city. Much different from other cities in Spain I’ve been to as it has a more traditional feel with the people and architecture. It’s not trying to be hip or modern, the people are proud with it’s traditional heritage and culture. We picked up our rental car in Lisbon and did the 4.5 hour drive to Seville. The drive was beautiful and really easy. Surprisingly, there is no border between Portugal and Spain. That was a nice surprise for us! When we arrived Seville, we went straight to the narrow maze like streets of the old town as our hotel was right in the middle of it. Driving in the old town was the most stressful ever! The streets were so narrow and we couldn’t tell the difference between a street and pedestrian. It was so crazy! We got lost in it for an hour until we found our hotel. Our hotel was right in the middle of the old town surrounded by perfumed jasmine flower and orange trees. It’s the typical Seville atmosphere I wanted to be surrounded by. We stayed at Hotel Rey Alfonso X. Choosing a place to stay in Seville was a little bit more challenging. With road closures throughout the day and night for Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions and having a rental car to park, I made sure we were in a hotel that has it’s own parking lot within the hotel grounds. Hotel Rey Alfonso X is in a perfect location with it’s own parking and valet service. There are so many other choices of hotels that are more charming but they...
Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is stunning! The city is covered with patterned tiles and endless stairsteps. But we survived the hills and stairsteps of Lisbon during our 6 day visit. Lisbon is one of those cities where everywhere we looked, we wanted to capture it with our camera. I think we took 3,000 photos in Lisbon alone. While in Lisbon, we stayed at this beautiful rental apartment in the Santa Catarina area in Lisbon’s historic center. We rented our apartment via housetrip.com as it has lesser fees than airbnb (though, we oringally found it via airbnb). While searching for an apartment, I wanted to be in the historical area but in a more residential neighbourhood as I wanted to stay where the locals live. With Lisbon being a hilly place, I made sure we were in the “lower” neighbourhood so it’s flatter and easier to get in and out of the apartment with an umbrella stroller and for a taxi to be able to drop us off right at our doorstep. The “lower” neighbourhood of Lisbon would be Rossio, Baxia and Chiado. We were a short walking distance to these places and just on the bottom of Barrio Alto. The hilltop neighbourhoods would be Bairro Alto to the west and Alfama to the east. With Luna in tow and an umbrella stroller, I knew it would be a challenge to stay anywhere in the hilltop neighbourhoods as with some places, you can only get to it by endless stairsteps. Imagine getting off the taxi and having to drag a couple luggages, an umbrella stroller and Luna up the stairs to get to our apartment?! That would...

Lagos, Portugal

We based ourselves in Lagos for the 2nd half of the week to explore the Western side of Algarve. We were based in Tavira while exploring the Eastern side of Algarve for the first part of the week. We chose Lagos as it boasts the best beaches in...
Olhao – Portugal

Olhao – Portugal

Olhão is a much, much bigger town than Tavira. It’s the largest fishing port in the Algarve and it’s full of Moorish-style houses. Olhão almost has two personalities – a more industrial look from the fishing port side but if you wander in the historic side of the town, you’ll find homes covered in white paint (almost looking like Greece) and small buildings with wrought iron balconies and tile decorations in pastel colours. They’re beautiful. Olhão is also known for their 2 markets but unfortunately, they were closed by the time we got there. But I hear these markets are filled with a variety of fresh fish and seafood straight from the port and local fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a must see market so if ever you decide to visit, check out the market schedule first. There is also a beautiful church of Nossa Senhora Rosario which was built in 1698. It has a beautiful baroque facade and apparently, it’s the first stone building in Olhão. We admired it from outside but couldn’t enter as it was closed. We must have visited at an odd time with the markets and the church closed but nevertheless, we enjoyed our short visit. Would we recommend staying in Olhão? Probably not as it doesn’t have the quaintness of a smaller town. But it’s a great place to visit and perhaps a seafood lunch at the port as you watch the fishermen go about their...
Praia do Barril – Portugal

Praia do Barril – Portugal

Praia do Barril is one of the beaches in Tavira. To get to the beach, you can walk or take an old school train which takes about 8 min and cost 1 euro each way. We loved Praia do Barril. The Anchors Graveyard is pretty awesome. Nothing I’ve seen before at a beach. We played around it for a bit while Luna collected some shells and kept herself occupied making sand cakes (she likes doing this wherever she sees sand). The beach is very tourist friendly with washroom facilities, shower (extra charge), restaurants, shops, bars and a playing area for the kids. The beach is vast and the water extremely cold. It was a very hot day though but even then, the water was too cold for us to jump in. If you’re in the Tavira area, I highly recommend this beach. Give yourself an afternoon or even a full day here. Apparently, this beach doesn’t get the crowds unlike the other beaches in Algarve. So you’ll have a lot of space to stretch around you and play in the...