Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

The Saturday City: Madrid

Posted: 31 Jul 2010 11:06 AM PDT

Madrid Spain StreetsLast year, I went to Madrid during my summer European tour. Unfortunately, my visit coincided with a bad cold and I spent most of my time bed ridden. My week in Madrid – that my week I was supposed to be spent exploring one of the greatest cities in Europe – was instead more like 5 days in bed and 2 days dragging my sick self around the city because I at least needed to see something.

Madrid is famous for its museums and architecture but what it is most well known for is the food and drink. Madrid is synonymous with delicious tapas, midnight dinners, and cafes filled until dawn. Nightlife in Madrid could better be considered dawnlife as you can find people out until the wee hours of the morning here. This is not a city for early sleepers. Madrid comes alive at night. It’s a frenetic, vibrant, and moving city. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch a glimpse of it. I only saw a scratch of the excitement that makes Madrid a city on everyone’s favorites list. Madrid and I will reunite again. I suspect it won’t be too long from now either. The city beckons me. There’s much about Madrid I’ve yet to see and experience. If you find yourself in Madrid without a cold and are looking for things to do, look no further than these:

  • Palacio Real: Also known as the Royal Palace, this is the official residence of the King of Spain but it is only used for state ceremonies. The palace is partially open to public, except when it is being used for official business and on Sundays it is also closed. The Palace is free on Wednesdays for E.U. citizens and guided tours in English are also available.
  • Stroll Plaza Mayor: By taking a stroll through Plaza Mayor you will be able to walk the streets of historical Madrid. The Plaza Mayor is Madrid's main square, and it located in the middle of the city. These winding streets will take you past churches, tapas bars, and give you insight into Royal history and architecture. While walking this plaza, not to be missed, include Ayuntamiento, San Pedro, San Francisco el Grande, and Calle de Cuchilleros.
  • Madrid Spain Streets

  • Puerta del Sol: This is Madrid’s most famous and most central square, located just a short walk from the Plaza Mayor. Originally it was the site of one of the city’s gates, which faced the east and was adorned with an image of the sun, hence the square’s name. The square is actually almost semi-circular in shape and owes its current form to the major renovation work carried out between 1854 and 1860.
  • See Flamenco Dancers: Madrid has been listening to the best flamenco since the early 19th century and has seen the best artists triumph here. Flamenco can be seen in many bars and taverns in Madrid. Normally you would go for an evening meal to one of these places, and listen to the music afterwards.
  • See a Bullfight: Madrid’s main bullring is called La Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas del Espíritu Santo, or more simply, Las Ventas. The best time to see bullfights in Madrid is during the months of May and June. The world famous San Isidro bullfight festival takes place during these months and brings together the best fighters, bulls and aficionados. There are fights every day for 20 days, starting at 7 o’clock in the evening.
  • Visit the Prado Museum: The Prado Museum is Madrid’s top cultural sight, and one of the world’s greatest art galleries. It;s dazzling display of works by the great European masters such as Velázquez, Goya, Raphael, Rubens, and Bosch (among other major Italian and Flemish artists), is housed in an 18th-century building that opened as a museum in 1819.
  • National Archeology Museum: This well designed museum houses an incredible collection of archaeological finds from across the peninsula. It leaves the visitor with a sense of the chronology of civilization in Spain. There are also a few pieces from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • El Retiro Park: The main of Madrid, the perfect place to take a rest during a sunny day, or take part in the drum circles around the statue of Alphonso XII on summer evenings. There is a large boating lake where one can hire a rowing boat. There is a monument to the victims of the Madrid 3/11 terrorist bombings, the Forest of the Absent, and the Crystal Palace.

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site. Looking for travel deals, news, and tips? Sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter! You'll get all the deals, tips, and advice I can't squeeze into a blog!

Cheap Flights To Las Vegas: Travel Blog

Cheap Flights To Las Vegas: Travel Blog

Link to Travel Blog

Cheap Flights To Las Vegas

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 09:04 PM PDT

Nineteen of the twenty five largest hotels in the world can be found on the Las Vegas strip (that’s by number of rooms rather than overall size), all of them are casino complexes as well as hotels, and many of them offer extra things to see and do as well some of them aimed at the foot traffic that goes past their door.

Outside the Mirage for example, every night on the hour from 5pm till 11pm, an artificial volcano 'erupts' spewing pina colada scented smoke into the night air. The fountains of Bellagio outside the Bellagio hotel and casino, is a magical show of lights, music and water that can be watched every few minutes throughout the evening.

For people who don't want to walk along the strip, there's the Las Vegas monorail that runs almost 4 miles of the strip along the east side, from Tropical Avenue to Sahara Road. It takes about 15 minutes to travel its full length.

Putting aside the gambling for a moment, Las Vegas has a lot more that it can offer people. Virtually every hotel has shows on a nightly basis, from dancing girls to musicals and variety shows. See the Chipendales or Sin City Bad Girls perform, listen to good music, or even watch a magic show performed by one of the worlds great magicians such as Penn and Teller, or David Copperfield.

The Las Vegas space flights offer people the chance to experience what it might be like in outer space. A specially designed Boeing 727 takes them up into the air and then performs various moves that allow people to feel the effects of a real space flight including weightlessness. It only lasts a few minutes, but is something you'll remember for the rest of your life.

The Stratosphere Towers in Las Vegas is the tallest free standing observation tower in America – ok technically it is a casino and hotel as well, but it's the view from the top and other activities there which may reeeally excite you. The viewing platforms at the top let you see not just Las Vegas, but also the surrounding area including mountains and desert. There is a restaurant here known as 'top of the world' which revolves, and also three thrill rides.

Big shot which is a reverse bungee jump that shoots you 160 feet into the air at 45 miles per hour. Insanity which dangles you over the edge of the tower and then spins in a circle at about 40 miles per hour, and Skyjump which is a controlled descent bungee jump like ride that lets you plummet 855 feet attached to a high speed descent wire.

Other nearby sights to see, and places of interest to visit, include Madame Tussauds, the Fashion Show Mall, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area, and Mount Charleston.

Flying to Vegas doesn’t have to be expensive, and lots of cheap flights to Las Vegas can be found through who work with all the major airlines and some minor ones to offer you the best deals possible. You can arrange a simple flight, or a whole holiday including hotel and other costs.

Friday, July 30, 2010



Literal Lawn Chairs: Grass Sofas Brighten up British Summer

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 10:00 AM PDT

[ By Delana in Art & Design, Home & Garden, Nature & Ecosystems. ]

Summer means more time spent outdoors in the sun, but the National Trust of Great Britain found that British families are spending an average of 43 hours per week inside and on the sofa. That’s a grand (or not-so-grand) total of 13 weeks per year. To get people out of the house and into nature, the National Trust has unveiled ten huge grass sofas in locations all across the UK. There are no TVs, no laptops – just unique spaces for quality outdoor family time.

The massive furniture was grown in about a month using all natural materials: straw bases covered with blankets of green, growing grass. These peculiar outdoor living rooms all consist of a sofa and a coffee table, letting British families get out of their homes but still spend time together in a familiar setting.

The growing living rooms were placed in a handful of picturesque natural locations, with some even making appearances in town centers. The National Trust endeavor uses humor rather than stern authority to coax families out into the beautiful British landscape this summer.

(all images via: Inhabitat)

Relaxing on a sofa in the sun, in some of the UK’s most beautiful outdoor spots, might be the best way we can think of to spend the summer. With a mug of tea and a plate of biscuits, a family outing to one of these living rooms would make for a splendid afternoon.

Want More? Click for Great Related Content on WebEcoist:

Literal Tree Houses: Amazing Homes Built with Whole Trees

There's something primitive about the sophisticated homes designed by Whole Trees Architecture: they use whole, young-growth trees in amazing, beautiful ways. 2 Comments - Click Here to Read More »»

Super, Man! How to: Recycle 100s of British Phone Booths

It's hard to find an operational red telephone box in Britain today, but they haven't disappeared altogether. These creative reuses give the boxes new life. Click Here to Read More »»

Share on Facebook [ WebEcoist - By Delana in Art & Design, Home & Garden, Nature & Ecosystems. ]


My Round the World Adventure

My Round the World Adventure

The Weekly Photo: Birds in Flight

Posted: 30 Jul 2010 10:53 AM PDT

a bird in flight in australia

A Bird in Flight

©Nomadic Matt's Travel Site. Looking for travel deals, news, and tips? Sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter! You'll get all the deals, tips, and advice I can't squeeze into a blog!