Traveling in Spain with kids – Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia, a city with population of more than 700,000. Seville is an amazing city with great sites, restaurants, Flamenco and bars. Most of the interesting sites are located in the old city which makes it easy to get around by foot especially with kids.

La Giralda

La Giralda

One of the most visited sites, and where we started our tour of the city, is La Giralda (see map below) – the main Cathedral in Seville. La Giralda was built on the site of a great Moorish mosque built in the 12th century. Work on the Cathedral started in 1401 and took a century to complete.

The Cathedral is huge and includes an enclosed garden as well. Don’t miss the view from the top of the tower, although be warned – it’s a long way to the top… Here are some pictures of La Giralda we took:

Seville is the center of Flamenco in Spain and I highly recommend going to see an authentic show. The best place we found is the Museo del Baila Flamenco – a museum founded by one of the most important Spanish Flamenco choreographers (Christina Hoyos). The place includes a small museum, gallery and performance hall that seats probably 50-80 people. Definitely book your show in advance!

La Giralda is located in the old Jewish Quarter – Barrio Santa Cruz. Take time to stroll through this beautiful old Spanish neighborhood with the narrow streets, restaurants and other attractions. I highly recommend strolling down Calle Mateos Gago (starts at La Giralda) and finding your way to Plaza de Santa Cruz (see map below for both). Then you can make your way back along Calle Agua. If you want to get something to eat and you are tired of Spanish fare, L’Oca Guiliva is a terrific Italian restaurant on Calle Mateos Gago (see map below).

Another fantastic site to visit is the Real Alcazar, a royal residence built for Pedro I on the remains of a muslim palace. The palace evolved over the years as later rulers added their own mark on the palace and gardens. Note that there is a line to visit the palace, so especially when visiting with kids start early…

Everywhere you go in the old city you will see the touristy horse carriages – it’s an expensive ride but a good way to see the smaller streets and some of the lesser known sites.

Horse ride

Horse ride

A nice walk outside the old city is marked on the map below – along the river on the further bank from the old city –  allows you to take in the sites of the city from a different angle.

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Traveling in Spain with kids – Cordoba

Previous Traveling in Spain posts:

Cordoba is a large modern city with an historical old city that dates back to the Middle Ages when it was one of the greatest cities in the world. The old city was preserved beautifully and is best explored by foot.

I highly recommend staying at a hotel close to the old city, as it makes the exploring the city so simple. We stayed at Hostal La Fuente (see map below), a very simple but superbly located hotel.

Ronit with the magnificent Mezquita in the background

Ronit with the magnificent Mezquita in the background

The highlight of the visit to Cordoba is the Mezquita – a huge mosque built in the 8th century AD and expanded over time. The building is a testament to the amazing craftsmanship of the rulers of the Iberian peninsula at the time. The building is huge and includes a lovely internal square – the girls loved running around all over the place.

Bordering the Mezquita is the old Jewish Quarter, the real heart of the old city. Take the time to stroll through the alleys and streets – it’s an amazing experience. At the height of the city’s power during the Muslim rule, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony and created one of the most impressive cultures in the western world.

I highly recommend walking along Calle Cairuan just outside the old walls (see map) and then go back in and stroll through Calle Judios to the Cassa de Sefard, the Jewish heritage museum.

Calle Cairuan

Calle Cairuan

Here are some of the old city’s pictures we took along the way:

Another gem off the beaten-track is Palacio Museo de Viana (see map) – a beautiful 17th century villa with a dozen gardens. We spent a couple of hours exploring the villa and gardens, which the girls loved most:

Finally, if you are interested in Flamenco, you can book a show at Tablao Flamenco Cardenal (see map). It’s a touristy show, but if you can’t make it to Seville for a real Flamenco performance (at Museo del Baile Flamenco), this is a decent alternative.

Map of Corodba point of interest mentioned

Traveling in Spain with kids – La Mancha

Previous Traveling in Spain posts:

On our way from Toledo to Cordoba we stopped over at Consuegra, in the La Mancha Province. Consuegra, like other small towns and villages in Castilla – La Mancha, claims that the famous Don Quixote fought the windmills there. You’ll have to ask Cervantes about this… but it definitely fits the bill 🙂

Don Quixote's windmill?

Don Quixote’s windmill?

The town is located less then an hour’s drive south east of Toledo, and other then the windmills on the hill there isn’t much to see. But the windmills are spectacular against the La Mancha plains and there is also a restored castle to visit.

Here are some photos we took of the windmills – definitely worth the visit if you are in the area!

The town has no other attractions, but the elders meeting in the town’s main square/park provide some good photo opportunities:

Map:

Traveling in Spain with kids – Toledo

Toledo is a beautiful, romantic and mysterious town, perched on a hill above the river Tagus. The city’s history spans centuries from the Roman time, through Muslim conquest to the Middle Ages and beyond. The old city’s streets are narrow and winding, inviting you to explore it.

We spent two days in Toledo in September 2012, after the tourist season was over, and the crowds were gone. Since the old city is small, walking and seeing the sites with kids is simple and fun.

We drove from Madrid early in the morning and made it to Toledo quickly (less then 2 hours). I recommend parking inside the old city at Garaje Santo Tome (see map below), located in the middle of the old city.

The old city’s streets are mostly narrow cobblestone streets, as you will quickly discover after parking. There is very little car traffic which is perfect for strolling along with the kids.

Cobblestone alley in Toledo

Cobblestone alley in Toledo

Here are a few more pictures we took of the streets of Toledo:

Close to the parking garage there is a nice coffee shop – Cafe Delfin. Good for a morning stop over after the drive from Madrid…

We then made our way through the narrow streets to the Toledo Cathedral, a massive building dating back to the Middle Ages, considered the “spiritual heart of the church in Spain”.

After a long historical visit to the Middle Ages cathedral, an afternoon lunch was in order. Spanish local food is a must of course – and we had a great lunch at Gambrinus restaurant on Calle Santo Tome (see map below). The local Tapas dishes were perfect (although not necessarily for kids and definitely not for vegetarians… ).

The following day we visited Zocodover Plaza, the main plaza in the old city, and started off with a city tour in a miniature train-car that included a ride to the hills outside the city where you can take in amazing views of Toledo (see map below for vista point if you rather drive there). For kids this is a terrific ride, and for adults there are headphones and a guided tour provided in about 10 languages. The tour starts and ends at Zocodover Plaza. Here are some of the views you can take in from the train:

We ended our visit to Toledo with a stroll through the little alleys and squares of the city, where the girls ran around and explored things on foot.

Here’s a map of Toledo with pins marking places we visited:

My thoughts on Facebook & Promoted Posts for users

Facebook just unveiled “promoted posts” for users. The feature allows users to promote a post to more of their friends. This sounds weird initially – won’t my friends see my posts anyway? the answers is… probably not.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook’s feed is not a running list of all posts by your friends or pages you liked in the past. Facebook’s algorithm filters a lot of the posts you can potentially see, and thus we only get to see some of the posts that users share on their timeline. For better or worse this is Facebook.

Now with Promoted Posts, users can promote a specific post to get more of their friends (and their friends’ friends) to see it. For example:

Image

To me, this feels wrong. Paying to get your friends to see a personal post goes against the nature of a social network. I use Facebook with my friends so we can keep in touch, so we can communicate. Paying to get my friends to see my post beats that purpose.

But… Facebook needs to make money, I get that. Is there a different way – I think so:

Borrowing from gamification concepts, I suggest Facebook give every user the ability to designate X posts per month as “important”. Important posts then get promoted in friend’s feeds (much like the “pay to promote”). Facebook can build a mechanism to allow you to get more “important” posts per month based on things like your level of engagement, the level of engagement that your “important” posts get, etc.

Facebook should make a clear distinction between brands (who can and should pay to promote advertise their posts) and users who are the foundation of the service and should not be treated as customers.