Politics & paella; A sunny Autumn weekend in beautiful Barcelona

It’s a cold, dark day in Amsterdam… the Christmas lights have been put up on our street, the clocks have gone back, the rain is lashing against the windows as I write.  Hard to imagine that three days ago I was bathed in the warm Autumn sunshine of Barcelona, strolling down the Passeig de Gracia, popping into shops and stopping for delicious tapas!

There’s always something going on in Barcelona, and of course, you can’t look at the news without hearing about the Catalonia “crisis”, and the current political turmoil in this beautiful city.  On Sunday, the streets were full of pro-Spanish unity supporters, draped in flags, peacefully (at least to my eyes) having their say.  We walked among them, quietly observing, acutely aware that an important and decisive part of this country’s history was unfolding around us, whatever happens next.

All in all, it was an interesting time to be visiting one of my favourite cities!  I recommend October as a great time to visit – the weather is still glorious, but the city is a lot less crowded.  The daytime temperature is in the early 20’s (c) – a lot more comfortable than it can be in the height of summer, with cooler evenings.

Read on to discover my hotel and dining highlights and recommendations from this trip…  

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Wild & beautiful Agaete: a hidden gem in the Canary Islands

In my last post about this stunning island, here, I wrote about the luxurious Sheraton Salobre resort in the South of Gran Canaria.  If you want to try somewhere completely different (but still with a dose of luxury!) – this is it!  It’s a 4* resort in the Northwestern part of Gran Canaria, in Agaete.  Close to the fishing town of Puerto de Las Nieves, with stunning views across the Northern coastline of the island.

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Bring me sunshine! Total relaxation in Gran Canaria

When I was 19, around £200 each bought us a week, self catering, including flights (!) to the island of Fuerteventura in the Canaries.  We were met at the airport by a tour operator, crammed onto a coach with mostly retired couples, and dumped outside the resort, which was located basically in the middle of no-where, surrounded by sand dunes.   I remember the weather veering between hot and windy to very cool and overcast.  The island was pretty much a building site.  It didn’t matter, as it was still an incredible adventure for a teenager, 1000’s of miles away from home.

Most British people will also have memories of holidays to the Canaries in your teens, excitedly looking through travel brochures (yes, actual brochures!) in Thomas Cook on your local High Street.  Or your first thoughts may be the tourist trap resorts of Playa de las Américas or Playa des Ingles, choc full of British tourists and their kids grabbing a cheap package holiday in the sun.

Fast forward a few years (maybe more than a few 😆), and I have returned to the Island of Gran Canaria several times over the past two years.  I was pleasantly surprised to find how much the island has developed and matured, and it’s now one of my go to places for a luxury poolside holiday.  We steer clear of the crowded beach resorts, and head further into the hills, finding beautiful and luxurious resorts to enjoy spectacular food, decadent relaxation and – if you can tear yourself away from the pool – incredible hiking trails.  This is Gran Canaria for grown ups!  Read on for my recommendations and reviews of this beautiful island paradise (unfortunately you’ll need a bit more than £200 these days 😉)

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