Dec 19 2014

January in Barcelona – counting the days until…

In January, everyone will be counting the days. Spanish children are counting the days until the three kings arrive, Tango-lovers are counting the days until they can finally dance and shopping-lovers are counting until the winter sale starts…What are you counting for?

We prepared a list with the most important events in Barcelona in January for you. Have a look at all these nice things, and book your trip to the city!

As I already told you in the article December in Barcelona, Christmas is not over yet. The Christmas season in Spain finishes on December 6 with the Day of the Three Kings.

los reyes magos

Los reyes magos, Sagrada Familia

What is the history behind this tradition?

The legend tells that the three kings Melchor, Gaspar and Balthasar came to Bethlehem on January 5 after following a heavenly star. When they arrived, they gave gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the new born Jesus. On their return journey they handed out gifts to every child. So in Spain, children write letters to the Three Kings who are going to bring the presents on January 6.

What is going on on this day?

Three Kings parade
This parade takes place every year on January 5. It is the biggest Christmas parade and celebration day in Spain, and it's called "La Cabalgata de Reyes Magos". 
16:30: Before the three kings arrive at Barcelona port – In front of the Colombus monument at la Rambla del Mar, people are waiting for the arrival of the three kings. There will be family entertainment for the waiting children.
17:00: The three kings arrive onboard of the Barcelona maritime museum's schooner called "Santa Eulàlia". After that, they go by car to the start point of the parade at Parc de Ciutadella.
18:00: Start of the parade – The parade starts and goes up Via Laietana, it will cross Plaza Catalunya (19:45) and will end close to Plaza España at Avinguida de la Reina Maria Christina in front of the Magic Fountain (21:30).

During the whole day, there will be sold "Tortell de Reis" which are typical sweetbread cakes only eaten on the Three kings day. Read more about Christmas traditions on December in  Barcelona.

Come to Barcelona in Januray, and do not miss this fantastic event! Your children will love it, and so will you!

There is also another interesting Christmas event on the agenda in January. It is called the Orfeó Català choir Christmas concert. The choir performs a capella traditional christmas songs and carols at the medieval square Plaça del Rei. With 80 singers and founded in 1891, the Orfeó Català choir is one of the biggest and oldest symphonic choirs. If you are in the city on January 2, don't miss this event! It starts at 7pm and the entrance is for free!  

In January, it is also time for dancing! The Tango Festival Barcelona is on the agenda again!

This is the right event for everyone: for Tango-lover, for dancers as well as for people who have always wanted to learn Tango. From December 31 until January 3, all of them will dance and dance. Read more information about the Tango Festival programm and prices. 

As in every season of the year, there are a lot of concerts coming to Barcelona in January. A whole list with alle the concerts in January can you find here! We recommend you the following event: 

David Bustamante
The Spanish pop singer and songwriter is doing a Spain tour, and passing Barcelona on January 9. The third place winner on Operación Triunfo performs pop and Latin music. Pop ballards are his strong point. If you love this kind of music, this is the perfect event for you! Buy your ticket for David Bustamante here!

And now, for everyone who loves shopping and everyone who loves to go shopping for less money, listen to me carefully: The winter sale is coming to Barcelona soon! It starts during the second week of January and lasts until the end of February. There will be discounts of 20-50%, and in the end up to 70%! This is like a dream comes true! Don't miss it! 

As you see, the holy season has just started. It doesn't matter if you are looking forward to seeing the three kings, to some concerts or dancing Tango, even if you are just counting the days until the winter sale starts, January is the perfect month for you in Barcelona!

Did this article convince you? Book your stay in Barcelona with Habitat Apartments. We offer several nice apartments such as the beautiful Liceu Duplex Apartment below.

liceu duplex apartment

Liceu Duplex Apartment, bedroom

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and give us a like on Facebook. :)

 

© image Los reyes magos: Anna Rüb

 

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Dec 18 2014

January in Madrid – enjoy it like a royal

Madrid – this is the royal capital of Spain. Once, even the royal family lived here in the Royal Palace. Today, they live a little bit outside of the city. But Madrid has not lost its royal touch!

The Spanish capital has a lot to offer in January. You are looking for a nice destination to relax and to live from day to day? Madrid is the perfect choice for you! Have a look at our recommendations and book your trip to the city soon!

porta de alcala

Puerta de Alcalá, Madrid

Madrid does not live from its amount of sights. This city convinces with its charm and atmosphere. You can discover all the sights of Madrid in one or two days. But to get to know the city, it takes so much longer. There are so many nice places, cafés and restaurants to see. So, we recommend you take at least five days to experience the charm of the city.

In Spain, the Christmas season lasts until January 6, the day of the three kings. So, the Christmas markets and Christmas lights will be still there in the first week of January. For everyone who hasn't enough of Christmas can enjoy the atmosphere a little bit longer. There will be also the highlight of the Christmas season on January 5 when the three kings arrive in Madrid. Read more about the history of the three kings at January in Barcelona.

There will be the parade of the three kings which will be watched by thousands of children with their parents. The parade is based on elaborate floats whose riders are usually throwing sweets to the children. If you are travelling with your children, this event should be definitely on the top of your to-do-list!

parc-retiroIf you are coming to Madrid in January, it might be a little bit cold and sometimes rainy or cloudy, but isn't this the best excuse to visit one of the several cafés and enjoy a nice cup of coffee or chocolate? So, go for it! To taste the famous biscuits called "Churros" we recommend you the Chocolateria San Ginés. This place is supposed to sell the best churros in the city.Check it out!

El Cine Doré - This cinema is not only the oldest one in Madrid, it also shows several classical and recent movies in English. If you are looking for a nice activity in the evening or on a rainy day, this might be
Parc de Retiro, Madrid                                                     
      the perfect choice for you.

Another nice way to spend some hours is going to the theatre. There are multiple theatre in Spain's capital which offer a wide range of shows. If you are travelling with children, we recommend you "El lobo y las 7 cabritas" in the theatre Galileo or "El gran libro mágico" in the theatre La Latina. Otherwise, there are several other plays performing next month. Have a look at the whole theatre programme in January

There are also multiple musicals in the city. If you prefer to attend one of those singing plays, have a look at all musicals coming to Madrid in January.

palacio reial

 

Coming to Madrid means also that you should go for some shopping. Besides buying souvenirs for you and your family and friends, you should also make use of the amazing winter sale. There are two big discount periods every year. One in the end of summer and the other one in January and February. There will be discounts up to 70%. Don't miss this opportunity! 

                                                                  Palacio Reial, Madrid

If these activities haven't convinced you, the architecture and flair of the city definitely will. There are so many nice buildings in Madrid dominated by the architecture of the last millenium. Also beautiful places like the Royal Palace or the Parc Retiro are worth seeing. Regarding all these nice places, you begin to understand why Madrid is the capital of Spain, and not Barcelona or another city. Madrid is beautiful. Madrid is ancient. Madrid is royal.

But do not forget to rest during your stay and visit some of those nice cafés. As I mentioned before, you can not get to know the city by following a sightseeing list. You have to find your own way to the city's heart. Stroll through the city, enjoy the beautiful architecture and atmosphere, and feel like a local person – feel royal.

You want to come to Madrid in January, but you haven't found a place to stay yet? Have a look at #HabitatApartments. We offer several nice apartments such as the Alcalá Deluxe apartment.

alcala design deluxe apartment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alcalá Deluxe apartment, living area

If you liked reading this article, share it with your friends and give us a like on Facebook. :)

 

© image: Anna Rüb

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Nov 28 2014

Christmas Shopping in Barcelona

The Christmas season has already begun by switching on the Christmas lights throughout Barcelona on November 21. The city is lit up in Christmas lights and a wonderful atmosphere. This is the perfect spot to go for some Christmas shopping. And which city could offer more Christmas shopping possibilities than Barcelona does?

We prepared a list and an overview to make it easier for you. Go for it and spend your money! :)

the shopping night barcelona

The Shopping Night Barcelona, 2012

Right in time for the Christmas season, Barcelona surprises you with the 5th edition of the TSNB – The Shopping Night Barcelona. On December 4, most of the shops, stores as well as bars and restaurants on Passeig de Gracia will be open til late, from 8pm to 1am. Don't miss this nice opportunity to go for a Shopping trip at night! 

What do you think about historic shopping in Barcelona? There are several places where history meets modern designer shops and boutiques. In the following we present you some very interesting places.

El Raval
There is no area in Barcelona which is that vibrant and authentic as the district El Raval. Here you can find besides some very strange looking people also designer boutiquets and nice restaurants. We recommend you Carrer de Taller where you will find several vintage shops.

La Rambla
Walking along the most famous shopping street of Barcelona, you will meet tourists as well as local people. On this street, you will find everything the heart desires. But remember that this street is always crowded. So, if you are looking for a cosy shopping trip you should choose another spot.

Barri Gòtic
In this area, there are souvenir shops for tourists as well as designer shops and boutiques. Besides that, you will find multiple places for a break like restaurants or cafes and in between times you can enter one of the churches to rest awhile.

fira de santa llucia

Fira de Santa Llúcia, Barcelona

El Born
This area is getting more and more popular especially at night. There are a lot of cafes, bars and restaurants in this district. And you won't find any shop twice. There are a lot of small shops selling handmade products such as clothes and acessoires. If you are looking for a unique souvenir, go for it! 

What could be a better place to go for some Christmas shopping than a Christmas market. As every year, the biggest Christmas market in Barcelona takes place in front of the cathedrale in Barri Gòtic. The market called Fira de Santa Llúcia  starts on November 28. Go for a romantic shopping trip under the starry sky!

In December, it might be possible that the weather isn't that nice. On a rainy and cold day, Barcelona still offers several shopping centers where you can go shopping without freezing and getting wet.

In the city center at Plaza Catalunya, you will find El Triangle – a big shopping center with multiple shops, boutiques as well as cafes and restaurants. At the harbour, there is Maremagnum, another nice shopping center with sea view. And if you are looking for something unusual which you can not find anywhere, go to El Corte Inglés. There you can find everything you are looking for!

Did we convince you that there is no better place on Earth to go for Christmas shopping than Barcelona? Book your trip to the city, and spend your money!

You haven't find an apartment yet? Do not worry, Habitat Apartments offers several nice places to stay. Have a look at the beautiful Paseo de Gracia A apartment below. It is directly located on the major shopping avenue of Barcelona and offers an amazing view of Casa Battló on the other side of the street.

Paseo-de-Gracia-A-apartment-barcelona-sofa

Paseo de Gracia A apartment, living area

 

© image The shopping night Barcelona: Palau Robert. Generalitat de Catalunya (flickr)

© image Fira de Santa Llúcia: Valerie Hinojosa (flickr)

 

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Nov 27 2014

Christmas shopping in Madrid

Madrid is a fantastic city for shopping during any season but during the Christmas period it really comes alive. Its large selection of international brands mixed with local boutiques are usually open until very late (normally 10 am to 10 pm).  Whether it is large shopping centers or quaint little market stalls you are looking for, you will be able to find anything that you desire such as: clothing, shoes, food, wines, souvenirs… in all different styles and at a range of prices.

Madrid Christmas Market

Plaza Mayor Christmas Market

El Corte Inglés is Spain's biggest and most impressive department chain. There is no other store that can rival El Corte Inglés for its convenience and sheer volume of products with most stores occupying at least 3 or 4 floors of a building.This year El Corte Inglés plans to host a 7 floor Christmas market in their store in Sol. Each floor will have a different theme in order to suit everyones needs and it is sure to be an event that is well worth a visit! 

Madrid's El Corte Inglés stores are located within metres of these metro stops:

·         Sol

·         Arguelles

·         Goya

·         Nuevos Ministerio

 

The Gran Via in Madrid is one of the main roads and has some fantastic shopping opportunities, so much so that the Calle Preciados is the area with the highest rent prices in the whole of Spain due to the vast number of pedestrians. The nearest Subway stations are: Gran Vía (lines 1 & 5), Callao (lines 3 & 5) and Plaza de España (lines 2, 3 and 10).

 

If you are in Madrid to do some Christmas shopping you must visit the Christmas market in the Plaza Mayor. For many years it has been visited and loved by people of all ages who wander through the market browsing the huge variety of Christmas gifts and even Christmas trees! The hustle and bustle atmosphere and the Christmas spirit make this market truly special.

 

From December 5 to January 6 in Plaza de Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares there is a lovely Christmas market filled with roughly 30 wooden stalls surrounding an enormous Christmas tree. There is also a lovely Venetian carousel and an elevated train which gives this market a very warm and authentic Christmas atmosphere where one can browse a large selection of food and art products with a Christmas theme.

Furthermore, from December 21 to January 4 (except Christmas day and New years day) one can ride a touristic train which gives a tour of the old town and visits the university giving information about its history.

 

The famous flea market in El Rastro is known for its abundance of stalls that total more than 1000! The atmosphere of this magnificent place truly comes alive in the Christmas season when there is not a moment when it is not full of animation. Here you will be able to find almost anything that you can think of and it offers both new and second hand goods so is the perfect place to find gifts. El Rastro is near to the Ribera de Curtidores in a large block.

 

If any of these fantastic opportunities appeal to you then why not book a stay in Madrid and come and see them for yourself! If you plan to come and haven´t already sorted accomodation then take a look at Habitat Apartments which offers some lovely apartments at great prices. For example, below you can see the Castellana Deluxe Apartment which was desgined by a prestigious Spanish decorator and features a French billiards table.

Castellana Deluxe Madrid

Castellana Deluxe Apartment, Living Area

 

 

© image Plaza Mayor Christmas Market: daniel feher (flickr)

 

If you enjoyed reading the article then share it with your friends and give us a like on Facebook. :) 

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Nov 20 2014

December in Rome – write your own Christmas story

Christmas season is on the agenda again. The weather is getting colder, and you spend more time at home lying on the couch watching movies: Harry Potter Part 1-7 II; Love Actually; How the Grinch Stole Christmas and so on. The TV guide offers you the best. But wouldn't it be nice to create your own movie – your own story?

Think about it: You are in Rome on your own looking for the love of your life – You are in Rome with your bestfriend spending the best time of your life -  You are in Rome with your partner, loving each other, fighting, almost splitting up, and at the end falling in love with each other even deeper than before – Or you are in Rome with the whole family; everyone is driving you crazy; you are fighting and laughing with each other; but in the end it's Christmas and you recognize that you love all of them… 

christmas lights rome
Christmas lights, Rome

Whatever your story is, you will find out in Rome. So, come to the city in December, experience the unique atmosphere and write your own story! We prepared a list for you with all the events coming to the city.

For example, your story could start at the Christmas Market at Piazza Navona. You are strolling along the wooden stalls forcing your way through the crowd. You are drinking mulled wine or hot chocolate, tasting delicious food, buying some small handmade Christmas gifts, when suddenly…Well, this is your part!

You spend your time in Rome doing some Christmas shopping. There are so many shopping opportunities in Italy's capital. Where can Christmas shopping be more fun than here? At Via del Corso you will find everything the heart desires and at Via dei Condotti you will swim in luxory: Prada, Gucci and more.

A romantic place to spend the first date or just a nice afternoon could be for example the Ice skating rink near Castell Sant' Angelo. Gliding over the ice or tripping and stumbling – getting closer and closer to each other. Later you can warm your frozen hands with a hot chocolate or mulled wine.

However, the whole city of Rome will be lit up like a Christmas tree. There will be Christmas lights throughout the city. One of the nicest things to do in Rome in December is strolling around the streets and soaking up the fantastic atmosphere. 

Another great thing in winter is that there are not so many tourists. You will see almost only local people in the streets, and you will recongnize that Rome does even seem to be a different city. There are no long queues in front of museums and sights. Public places are not that crowded anymore, and the most spoken language you hear will be Italian. So, it's your time now to visit all those nice places: Vatican museum, St. Peter's Basilica or maybe a museum. At MACRO, a museum for contemporary art, you will find an exhibition called Big Bambû until December 31. Go for it!

As I have already told you, December in Rome is the local season. So what do you think about pretending to be one of the locals strolling through the festively decorated streets, visiting Nativity scenes in almost every church. There are also several holidays on the agenda in December. On December 8, 25 and 26, you will find several parades and processions in the streets. And the chance to see the pope is actually very high on those days. 

sant peter's square rome

The highlight of your Christmas story could take place at St.Peter's Square during the Pope's annual Christmas address at 12pm on December 25. The square will be crowded on this day, but you should definitely attend it if you are in Rome during Christmas. The tickets are always for free, but you have to reserve your tickets in advance. Even so, you should arrive early and maybe bring a hot cup of chocolate, tea or coffee to keep you warm St. Peter's Square, Rome                                                           during the waiting hours. 

Listening to the Pope's festive words about peace, Christmas and love, holding your dearest friends, person or family close to you and tell them how much you love them. Because this is what Christmas is about, isn't it? 
And after all, this might be also a nice end for your story…

Another end for you story could take place on New Year's eve, celebrating with your dearest people in the streets. There are multiple concerts and performances in the streets of Rome, all starting around 9.30pm. For example, the ponte Sant' Angelo is the perfect choice for classical music lovers. Listening to music by Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart ect. you can profess your love to your partner or just kiss your love tenderly at midnight. Or you are celebrating with your friends – having the best night of your life!

What do you think about this story? However, it's your turn now. Come to Rome in December, have a nice time in the city, and write your own Christmas story. It doesn't matter if it is going to be a drama, comedy or a romantic fairy tale. We are looking forward to hearing your story!

If you haven't found an apartment yet, have a look at Habitat Apartments. We offer several nice places to stay. Below, you see the Augustus apartment for up to 4 people.

augustus apartment

Augustus Apartment, bedroom

 

© image Christmas lights: Stefano Costantini (flickr)

© image St. Peter's Square: Chris Wary (flickr)

 

Did you enjoy reading this article? Share it with your friends and give us a like on Facebook. :)

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