Apr 25, 2016

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11 shockingly delicious tapas to try before you die...

11 shockingly delicious tapas to try before you die

Multi-hued, many-flavoured, dangerously moreish (and sometimes Moorish), and magnificent with a glass of Rioja or a chilled caña de cerveza (beer), tapas are the humblest and finest expression of Spanish gastronomy, writes Chris Moss. Every country has finger food, but few take it quite as seriously as Spain does. Tapas are the way talented chefs explore the extraordinary variety of the Spanish kitchen – and as a diner you can do the same, without ever having to leave the bar. “Tapas” means “tops”. In many bars and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, they were usually served on plates placed on top of drinks. They also used to be free of charge, and still are in some bars. To “tapear” – to go on a bar-crawl sampling different bites – is as vital a Spanish ritual as attending mass or watching a bullfight. The following is a quick-fix guide to the essentials, with tips on where to try them. Tapas are lovely to share. The code is: if you want to, ask for a media-ración (half portion) or a larger ración; a plato is a meal-sized portion. But the smallest portion is a tapa and that’s just for you… 1. Jamón iberico Spanish dry-cured jamón ibérico is the ultimate cold tapa. Where your ordinary jamón serrano – meaning simply “ham from the hills” – is typically delivered on a chewy baguette with a slice of cheese, the finer, redder jamón ibérico de bellota, produced using acorn-fed free-range pigs, needs no adornment whatsoever. Like wine, jamón ibérico is strictly regulated through four Denomination of Origin (DO) regions: Extremadura, Salamanca, the Valle de Los Pedroches and Huelva. In the latter province, the town of Jabugo makes the most famous ham of all – try it at the legendary Bodega Cinco Jotas (Carretera Huelva-Badajoz s/n; +34 603 599 061). Another fine pork butchers or charcuterías is Mostazo (Calle San Antón; 6, + 34 927 242 881) in Cáceres, Extremadura, where the local aficionados get their superlative ham slices. If you’re on the Costa del Sol, then find a table outside the Taberna Pasaje Chinitas (Pasaje Chinitas, 5; +34 952 222 064) in Old Málaga and tuck in. 2. Patatas bravas Fried potato chunks with lashings of tomato sauce enlivened by sherry vinegar, saffron, tomatoes, hot, sweet pimentón, garlic, sugar and perhaps...

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Apr 19, 2016

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Why Ljubljana should be on your city break wish list...

Why Ljubljana should be on your city break wish list

A little-known capital, nestled at the heart of one of Europe’s most underrated countries, Ljubljana is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. However, after earning the title of European Green Capital 2016 for its meticulous environmental standards and forward thinking approach to sustainability, Slovenia’s biggest city is starting to turn heads; and not just for its approach to recycling. Tourists are now discovering Ljubljana as a destination in its own right, finding an affordable city, full of local charm and a thriving culinary scene. Perfect as a weekend city break or a jumping-off point into the rest of Slovenia, here’s why Ljubljana should be high up on your city break wish list this summer. The city is easy to get around – you can walk, ride or paddle Linked by a constellation of pretty squares, Ljubljana’s charming old town curves gently around the castle, which stands as the perfect reference point over the city. Starting off in Gornji Square, one of the oldest in the city, walking north along the banks of the Ljubljanica, you can be in the city’s busiest square, Preseren Square (dedicated to poet France Preseren who wrote “A Toast”, which was later adapted to become Slovenia’s national anthem) in 15 minutes. In keeping with the city’s green credentials, walking is the best way to explore the centre of Ljubljana and you’ll find that most of its tourist areas have been completely closed off to traffic. For those who need some help getting around, the city’s Kavalirs are on hand to help. These small, electrical golf-cart like buggies are free and are used exclusively within the pedestrianised zone – and they are yet another nod to the city’s green credentials. For those who want to explore the areas outside of the city centre, Tourism Slovenia offers specialist bicycle tours which take in Tivoli Park, the city’s oldest suburbs of Trnovo and Krakovo, the botanical garden and Metelkova mesto – a former Yugoslav army barracks which is now the heart of the city’s alternative scene. The city is incredibly cycle friendly, with specialist paths and pedestrian areas throughout. If those two options just seem a little bit, well, pedestrian for you, then there’s another, slightly more unique way to see the city: by paddle board. The calm waters of the Ljubljanica and the city’s approach...

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Apr 18, 2016

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Bargain breaks! How far could your budget take you this summer?...

Bargain breaks! How far could your budget take you this summer?

Recent research from TravelSupermarket revealed that it could actually be cheaper for families to travel to Thailand this summer than Ibiza or Menorca. “That can’t be right!” we hear you cry. But as Brits are turning their backs on previous firm favourites such as Turkey and Egypt, prices to ‘safe’ western Mediterranean destinations such as Spain are rising due to demand. So, it can pay to look for deals a little further afield to get more for your money. To show...

Apr 18, 2016

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9 things you probably didn’t know about Majorca...

9 things you probably didn’t know about Majorca

You might well book your holiday in Majorca dreaming of nothing more than white sand, the turquoise Mediterranean and a never-ending supply of ice-cold mojitos. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but the island has a lot more to offer if you can drag yourself off your sunbed. Hop on a bike and zoom around the mountains, mooch around honey-hued villages, take the train and get off wherever you fancy, go birdwatching in a nature reserve –...

Apr 18, 2016

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10 incredibly glamorous grand old world hotels...

10 incredibly glamorous grand old world hotels

Every day, somewhere, a boutique resort opens, or a swanky steel-and-glass tower for business travellers, or some hipster-friendly hostel. But some of us prefer that tiny elite of unique, stylish, time-honoured hotels that outlive fashions, trends and passing tastes. Why these glamorous old-timers survive is hard to pin down. It might be the building, VIPs who ate and slept there or a novel penned in the bar. For travellers after historical romance – or indeed the honeymoon variety...

Apr 11, 2016

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8 of the best record-breaking city attractions...

8 of the best record-breaking city attractions

If you’ve ever wanted to be lifted 450 feet into the air in a giant glass doughnut, your dreams could finally come true this summer. That’s because Brighton’s newest attraction, the British Airways i360 tower, will become the world’s first moving observation tower when it opens later this year. A what you ask? Well, the concept is simple. A lift-like platform, connected to a narrow metal tube, will shuttle thrill-seeking tourists up to jaw-dropping vistas of the south...

Apr 11, 2016

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QUIZ: Where in the world is this view?...

QUIZ: Where in the world is this view?

So, you fancy yourself as a bit of a traveller do you? Put your knowledge to the test with our inspiring picture quiz. Simply guess where these pictures were taken. How did you get on? Let us know in the comments section...

Apr 11, 2016

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Am I entitled to compensation for a delayed flight?...

Am I entitled to compensation for a delayed flight?

No-one wants their flight to be delayed and we receive regular questions from readers about how to tackle the claims process following travel disruption. So, to help you if your flight is delayed, our handy guide simplifies your legal rights and explains what compensation you might be entitled to, as well as how you would go about claiming it. My flight is delayed – does my airline have to look after me? If you are travelling from a European...

Apr 10, 2016

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Why I’m now a holiday park convert

Why I’m now a holiday park convert

When you’re on holiday with a toddler, the simple things in life suddenly become more important:  sleep, stress-free meal times, and activities that put a smile on everyone’s face. And that’s why, for the first time in my adult life, I decided that a holiday park was the place for our family summer holiday. We’d never been on a campsite with our one-year-old before, so I was slightly nervous – but here’s why I’d recommend it. We enjoyed...

Apr 10, 2016

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11 things you probably didn’t know about holiday parks...

11 things you probably didn’t know about holiday parks

Think holiday villages are all about cramped caravans, cabaret shows and freezing cold shower blocks? Think again! Thanks to a huge makeover in 2015, Butlins Minehead resort has more in common with a luxury hotel, and here are some others which are a world away from the holiday villages of yesteryear, writes Tamara Hinson. 1. They don’t all look the same Butlins Minehead, Somerset, UK Our favourite part of the Butlins Minehead makeover last year? The rainbow-hued chalets,...