Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Travel Bug's 3 Fascinating Facts about Riga

The Travel Bug has dusted off his walking boots, bought himself a new winter coat, and embarked on his first adventure of 2017 to the beautiful Latvian capital city of Riga. He read all his guide books carefully; used lots on online bug chat forums, and these are the fascinating facts he uncovered:

TTB Riga Latvia
Me outside the House of the Blackheads in the Old Town
Born in Riga as Jakobs Jufess, and later known as Jacob W Davis, this tailor was asked by a customer to design strong trousers for her husband, who worked as a woodcutter.  Jacob's answer was to come up with the basic formula for jeans.  He later teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the product and the rest is history.  

Riga Balzams:
The city is home to a rather powerful blackcurrant liqueur called Black Balzams. It's made from a combination of 24 different herbs, as well as some extremely strong pure alcohol vodka.  According to stories, Catherine the Great once visited from Russia while full of cold and was cured after a shot of Balzams.  TTB's humans tried it and can confirm that it does, indeed, kill off any bad bacteria in your body.

Riga is home to the largest market in Europe, which is located in Old Town and is housed over five massive zeppelin hangars by the side of the Daugava River. Each hangar is dedicated to a different product; such as meats, fish, cheeses, spices and fruit and veg, and it has plenty of fresh carne for hungry little bugs.... 

Do you have any other fascinating facts about Riga to sure with The Travel Bug?

TTB xx

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Top 5 Sights In Palma

I'm the first to admit that Spanish Islands never feature in my list of travel targets as I tend to,  rightly or wrongly,  associate them with drunk British tourists and family holidays.  I know this means I'm missing out on all the history and culture that lies beneath the surface,  so I thought I'd check out to historic city of Palma in Mallorca and see what sights it had to offer. 

la sue cathedral, palma mallorca majorca
the magnificent Palma Cathedral
La Seu Cathedral:
This Gothic Roman Catholic gem sits in the centre of Palma's historic old town and has taken pride of place since the early 1600s, looking out over the Mediterranean sea and the popular Parque de la Mar. 

Gaudi was famously asked to assist with restoration project but resigned his position after a fall out with in 1914, before many of his ideas were put into place. One of the only changes made was the addition of a large canopy, which remains in place today. 

Parque de la Mar:
This public space is popular with tourists and locals alike and was created from reclaimed land on the coast in front of the impressive La Seu.  The park flourishes with the beautiful Med backdrop and boasts a huge fountain and artificial sea lake, as well as cafes, bars and an auditorium. 

In the summer, the space is used to events and concerts, as well as an open-air cinema that projects movies on to a floating screen positioned in the lake. 

Passeig del Born:
If you're prone to a bit of shopping, or just want to chill out in Palma's exclusive boutique-lined street, then the city's head 'Golden Mile' is a must see location. With Prada, Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Zara, to name a few, you can flex your credit card and enjoy a coffee (or something stronger) at one of the many neighbourhood cafes and bars. 

The street was once renamed in honour of General Franco, but the change didn't take and it has always remained as 'the Born'.

Basilica de Sant Francesc:
This 13th Century Franciscan monastery and basilica stands in the square of the same name and is a huge sandstone structure, housing the remains of Ramon Llull, who was a Spanish mystic who met a messy (and painful) death when he was stoned for trying to convert Muslims. That'll teach him, I suppose.

Anyway, the church is magnificent and the cloisters and tree lined courtyard are incredible. You will need a ticket to enter, but you can pick one up there. If you have time to see the structure lit up at night, it's well worth the trip back after closing.

Palau de l'Almudaina:
Sitting opposite Palma's Cathedral is this impressive Palace, which has Moorish and Gothic influences and now acts as the headquarters for the military.  Although no longer used as an actual palace, the King of Spain (obvs...) still uses the building to host formal gatherings, so you can rest assured that it's not a bad spot.

If it takes your fancy, you can visit the Royal Apartments while you're there. You know, just to see how they compare to your own home, and there's also a charming restaurant and coffee shop on site for taking a break from all the sightseeing.

Do you have any other must see places in Palma to add to the list?

Suzanne x