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January is generally a dull month after all the Christmas excesses. However a Vegan jaunt across to Cadiz brightened up the last days of the month.

Restaurante Patria located in the heart of the Andalusian countryside is an oasis of calm. Set in the hills above the Cadiz coastline, the chef accepted this veggie challenge. Using Tio Pepe Wines to create an innovative Vegan menu with local produce and seasonal vegetables.

Local Produce in Cadiz

Run by Thomas Donso y Ose Donso, this relaxing little place in Vejer de la Frontera harnesses the richness of local fruits and vegetables. Showcasing the seasonal produce of Cadiz and achieving the best with zero mile food.


Not only did I discover that Tio Pepe Wines are Vegan Friendly, I also discovered a new vegetable too. I had never heard of Tagarninas before this Vegan Lunch.

The tagarnina is the Spanish name for Golden Thistle. These wild thistles were eaten years ago by families that couldn’t make ends meet, particularly around the 1940s. Found across most of central and Southern Spain´s countryside, this food is now a delicacy. With a short season in late April to June. Only a few producers grow this commercially.  Good for omelettes and stews, I tried Paté de Picarninas by Conservas Cantizano. This is a tagarnina spread which was peppy and delicious on a crispbread as an aperitif.

The stalks are the best part of the plant although roots and leaves can also be eaten too. Thistles are known for their powerful medicinal properties. Great to combat water retention, to aid digestion and the liver, these vegetables only have 27 calories in 100 grams so they are great if you are watching your waistline too.

Is Sherry Wine suitable for Vegans?

Traditionally in Sherry Wine production egg white was used in the clarification process. This is makes the wine completely clear and free from sediment. Tio Pepe now use Pea protein in this part of the elaboration. Tío Pepe, Tío Pepe en Rama & Tío Pepe Finos Palmas are all suitable for Vegans, only vegetable protein is used in these wines.

The R&D team continue to investigate in other ranges of wine to increase the use of vegan friendly processes.

Vegan Food Pairing

So what did the chef create for this Vegan Banquet?

The creations were pretty impressive. With diverse use of different vegetables, fruits and herbs the dishes looked very different. Lots of creativity in the presentation too. Each dish was very colourful.

Fennel Artichokes & Sweet Potato
  • Baked Fennel with Oloroso, orange, garlic, Rosemary & Spinach
  • Artichokes & Thistles with Amontillado, peas and homemade garlic mayo  (photo above)
  • Onions stuffed with sweet potato, garlic & Tio Pepe teriyaki

Cabbage Cauliflower & Mushrooms
  • Spring Onion with potato wafers & apple puree served with Amontillado Viña AB.  (photo above)
  • Cauliflower and potatoes with Funnel Chanterelle Mushrooms & Truffles paired with Palo Cortado Leonor
  • Baked Cabbage with fresh thyme, raisins & almond paired with Oloroso Alfonso
Food Pairing for Vegans

Artichokes and Asparagus are some of the more difficult vegetables to pair with wine, due to their complex flavours. A Palo Cortado is a great choice for these dishes. Vegetarians dont have limitations with their wine choices whereas Vegans have to be careful to select their Vegan Friendly wine such as Tio Pepe.

Of course to end our meal the dessert was a showstopper too:

  • Homemade cashew ice cream and almond milk with Pedro Ximenez, chocolate, strawberries & caramel – Served with Oloroso dulce Solera 1847

See more of this Vegan Food Pairing in the video (Spanish language)


The post Vegan Food Pairing – Zero Mile Produce Tagarninas & Sherry Wine in Spain appeared first on Piccavey.

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Madrid on Business

I lost count of how many times I have visited Madrid over the years.
This time I was in the Spanish capital on business.

FITUR is the annual Trade Fair for the Tourism sector. Held each January the Spanish Tourism community reunite at IFEMA to see whats on offer the season ahead. For me it was a good time to meet up with Travel and Tourism colleagues in Spain and catch up with other travel bloggers too.

If you are travelling to Madrid on a business trip, read on to see how you can plan a productive visit but make it fun too.

Transport in Madrid

Like any capital city, it is busy. Distances between meetings can take longer than you may expect.

From Barajas airport to my hotel I got a transfer with Limos 4 net 

This was perfect as I had a meeting as soon as I arrived at my hotel. That morning my plane was delayed by 30 mins.

On this trip before I had even landed I was already running late.

Madrid Airport Transfer

So to have the driver waiting for me at the airport was a bonus. Inside the car had a bottle of water for me too.

(Another bonus as I had tried to buy water in the airport as I passed through arrivals. The vending machine took the 2€ coin without giving me the overpriced bottle of water. grrrr.)

With a speedy transfer from Barajas T4 to my hotel in the centre of Madrid I could forget about maps, apps and dealing with stairs on the metro.

I made the meeting as they were OK waiting 30 minutes for me.

Limos 4 is a great service for corporate customers and people on a tight schedule.

No need to join the long taxi queue you head straight to your car in the terminal itself. Also if you dont speak Spanish as the driver already has the destination address no need to worry about that either.

I would use this again as it made such a difference to a stressful morning.

Staying at Paseo del Prado

My hotel for this trip was Radisson Blu Prado. This is located off Paseo del Prado and is directly opposite the entrance to the Art Museum.

A comfortable 4 star hotel the Radisson Blu Prado is very close to Atocha station and located in the Barrio de las Letras.

I choose it as the FITUR bus came directly along that road and I could pick up the transfer each morning to go to IFEMA with the other companies attending the tourism fair.

Staff were really friendly and professional. Breakfast was amazing but sadly I was always in a hurry and didnt get to have one of those lazy breakfasts while I was there.

Travelling alone for business often I appreciate the difference between a hotel for leisure and one more oriented to executives. The wifi here was excellent. I watched live streaming TV with no glitches and downloaded podcasts in super quick time.

The only downside for me was not having time to enjoy the Prado and Retiro Park which I had on my doorstep.

I will be returning to this hotel for a Madrid weekend as soon as I can.

Madrid Hacks

Knowing when to take the Metro, when to grab a cab and when to walk makes a huge difference to your planning.

  • Rush hour in Madrid weekdays in the morning is generally from 8am to 9.30am or so. Friday midday and early afternoon is always hectic. If you need to go anywhere on Friday best to do it before 1pm or after 5pm.
  • Some routes crossing the city South to North the cercanias train are quicker than the metro across the city.
  • Plan your meetings to be in the same area of town or even in the same office if possible. Should you need to move from one area , do leave more time than you may think. For a 30 minute trip plan 40 minutes just in case.
  • Lunchtime in Madrid is generally from 1.30pm until 3.30pm.
  • Airport and Feria de Madrid metro stops have an extra supplement. So you have to pay a little more for the ride to these stops (towards the end of the line)

Mobile Wifi in Spain

Another trick of mine is to take Wifi with me.

Although the Radisson hotel wifi was strong and included in the room. In IFEMA (the exhibition center) there is no wifi at all.

So for 3 days at FITUR I had Internet on the go with Portable Wifi Spain

This was great for last minute changes to my meetings and keeping track with my emails while I was on the go.

Of course I could also work while I was on the bus to FITUR (around 1 hour) each morning.

So I had a lot done in that time even before I reached the event each day.

Shopping in Madrid

For me the best reason to go is for the shopping. I don´t always get much time to window shop though.

My favourite area for shopping is around Serrano Metro stop. A wonderful mix of smart tree lined streets and high end boutiques. Shopping Heaven.

My last visit was a quick spree along Calle Claudio Coello.

Buying Spanish Brands

I bought Spanish shoes from Gioseppo and drooled over the wonderful accesories in Teria Yabar´s store. (photo above)

When shopping in Spain as well as shoes and handbags, Cosmetics are a huge weakness of mine.

Spanish brands such as Natura Bissé, Paquita Ors and Alqvima all have their own stores in Madrid.

The Corte Ingles is also a good department store if you are time poor as you have everything under one roof.

Head to the one at Callao (just below Gran Via) as they have a top floor gourmet area with different food stands and an open air terrace.

Afterwork in Madrid

After all those business appointments and meetings you will be looking forward to some downtime.

Here are a few of the things I do when I´m in Madrid.

  • Take a run in the Retiro Park just off Paseo del Prado or around the Templo de Debod
  • Head up to the roof of Circulo de Bellas Artes to catch a sunset view of Madrid. It costs 4 euros to go up there and drinks arent cheap but the views are VERY worth it.  Calle de Alcalá 42
  • Head to the Lush Spa on Calle del Carmen, 24. The British Natural cosmetics company have their only Spa in Spain in Madrid. If you need to unwind booking a treatment here is guaranteed to destress your day.
  • Pop over to Gluten free bakery Celicioso and choose something yummy from their cake selection. Eat in or takeaway.  Find it on Calle de Hortaleza, 3, 

The post Business Trip to Madrid – 2 days in the Spanish Capital appeared first on Piccavey.

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Spanish Cosmetic brands may not be the first thing that springs to mind when shopping in Spain. Shoes and Handbags are probably the first things you think of. The Spanish Leather industry is one of the most important exports together with Spanish High street fashion and Bridalwear.

However Spanish Cosmetics have some interesting products worth tracking down on your next trip to Spain.

After living in Spain since 1998 I´m sharing some of the Spanish cosmetics that I use regularly. Hopefully you might like them too.

Spanish Cosmetic Brands Pharmamel

This relatively new company Pharmamel produces active cosmetics in Southern Spain. Their range of MEL13 skincare has been created by Scientists investigating medical applications of melatonin.

Melatonin is the main active ingredient in MEL13. As we age our Melatonin levels in the skin decrease. Melatonin helps the skin to regenerate damaged skin cells. It also has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Stress, artifical light and lack of sleep can affect our natural melatonin which in turn can alter the skin.

The body produces between 5 and 25 mcg of melatonin each night

Source: Book Melatonin by Russel J. Reiter + Jo Robinson

After 25 years of scientific investigation in melatonin and skin cell ageing. These scientist also have 200 publications in this field. Germain Escames and Dario Acuña Castroviejo created MEL13. Combining these active ingredients into a product. The launch was 4 years ago in 2014.

In the past few months they have added two new products to their range and are now stocking MEL13 in Portugal too.

The range of cosmetics includes

  • MEL13 Serum Increases radiance and luminosity in the skin. Boosts MEL13 treatment
  • MEL13 Eyes Reduces fine lines around the eyes and hydrates.
  • MEL13 Plus Regeneration of damaged skin cells & mature skins.
  • MEL13 For all skin types. Mixed and combination skin.

With a Worldwide patent this cream actually penetrates the skin, increasing oxygen, blood circulation and nutrients. In a clinical trial, it was tested on volunteers aged between 40 and 70 years old. Applied to one side of the face for 28 days. The results showed increased hydration, less wrinkles and some repair of damaged skin cells.

I have been using this for several months now and despite having sensitive skin have had no problems at all. Despite all the science behind this product the cost isnt as high as you may think.

Being distributed in Phamacies and Drugstores across Spain and Portugal you can find a local point of sale on the website. Andalusia Barcelona and Madrid have many locations so it will be easy to find.

Paquita Ors

A Pharmacist called Paquita Ors, created this company which now has 700 products. Made in Spain since 1987 this company has grown over the years and now has shops in 8 Spanish cities:

  • Zaragoza
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Jerez de la Frontera
  • Fuengirola
  • Gran Canaria
  • Salou
  • Valencia.

With cutesy vintage style packaging, the range of treatments and products is huge. From perfumes, to make-up, skincare and sun creams.

Not only do they have a womens range they also have a specific line for men and for children too.

This Spanish Cosmetic producer has its lab in Zaragoza. The person leading the operation is Paquita´s son, Jerónimo Ors. Now over 80 years old the female founder still insists that her products are only sold in her stores. Each customer gets a free skin consultation before buying the products to ensure that the correct cosmetics are used for each skin type.

More information: Cosmeticos Ors

Natura Bissé

Probably the most well known outside of Spain. Natura Bissé is Spanish Cosmetic company with International reach. Known for ´Spa Results at home´

These high end creams are Made in Barcelona. Used by many famous clients over the years you often see it in Luxury Spa´s or High End Beauty Salons. I have used the Diamond collection at home and also enjoyed a Spa Treatment with their products in a few different locations.

The Health Club at One Aldwych has Natura Bissé at their Spa. Favourites such as Invigorating Vitamin C Body Scrub or the Radiance Booster facial maximise the Natura Bissé products at this Covent Garden location.

The Stablising Cleansing Mask and Rosa Mosqueta Oil are two of the brands bestsellers.

Find Natura Bissé outside Spain in Neimann Marcus, Barneys in New York and at Bergdorf Goodman. In the UK Harrods and Fenwick stock Nature Bissé. Even find their range in far flung locations such as Saks and Faces in Qatar. Harvey Nichols in Saudi Arabia or Lane Crawford in Hong Kong.

Space NK also distributes their products.

Natura Bissé: investing in retail in the UK - YouTube


Travelling around Spain I am always looking out for brands in the Hotel Amenities. When I stayed at Melia Sky Barcelona I noticed their Loewe amenities. Loewe is one of the most well known Spanish fashion brands, especially for designer handbags. With a Madrid Headquarters this brand has been around since 1846 and continues to innovate in Spanish design.

Part of the LMVH group and currently headed up by British Creative Director Johnathan Anderson the range of Loewe´s products increases.

Its fragrance range is a great way to have an easily affordable Loewe item in your travel kit. Fresh and crisp, since my stay at Melia in Barcelona & Madrid I have been using the Shower Gel, Body Cream and Fragrance Agua de Loewe in my a daily routine. It is Unisex and has Bergamot and Yuzu notes.

Perfect in Spring Summer months or in warmer climates the fragrance is clean and refreshing rather than too heavy.

Look out for in in any good perfume store or duty free section across Spain.


This Girona based company has a range of products that are free from Parabens, not tested on Animals and no synthetic fragrances. A luxury organic brand, this catalan company have been in business for since 1984.

With a philosophy of uniting mind body and soul. Alqvima has an holistic approach to beauty.

They pride themselves on using recyclable packaging, supporting local economy and respecting organic processes to obtain their main natural ingredients.

There are several best selling products such as Body Sculptor Oil. Made with Thistle, Grapefruit and Lemongrass this is an authentic, natural and caffeine-free toning effect on the body. Mainly I use the Body Oils.

One of my favourite purchases is this Alqvimia Travel Kit. (it is limited edition) with Anti-Stress Body Oil, Gel & Elixir in 30ml bottles. Basically anything travel size or mini gets me everytime!

They have a spa/store on Rambla Cataluña in Barcelona which I where I first came across Alqvima many years ago.  Another popular store is on Lagasca, in Madrid.

You can find Spa treatments in different locations in Spain which use Alqvimia products. An example is In Cabo de Gata, Almeria, at the spa at Cala Grande Hotel. You can also purcharse online.

Zara perfume

You will all be familiar with High street giant Zara.

But may not know about its Zara Rose perfume. A steal at 9.99 euros (8.75 gbp 12.40 usd)

This everyday fragrance is difficult to find due to its popularity. It smells similar to J´adore by Christian Dior.

The individual bottle is sold but also you can find it in a double pack with White or Black perfumes. (this seems easier to find)

They also have 30ml vial formats, perfect for handbag size or travel.

Flor del Eden

Having sensitive skin finding products that actually work can be a minefield. I use this soap in winter when skin is dry and irritated, but mostly in summertime. When temperatures get too hot to bear prickly heat and sunburn make my skin suffer. This Donkey Milk soap calms down the irritatio. It´s the only shower product I use on the hottest days of the year.

If Donkey Milk baths were good enough for Cleopatra in Eygpt…

Made with Donkey Milk and 100% natural ingredients, its a basalm for all skin types. Also containing Royal Jelly it helps to repair the skin. Coconut oil has antiinflamatory properties and gives it a very light fragrance.

The soap by Flor del Eden is made in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Andalusian donkey is under threat of extinction yet this donkey milk soap helps to maintain the donkeys in Andalusia.

I buy this on street markets when I see it in Granada and some local pharmacies stock it too. It costs 7 euros but the soap lasts for a really long time. Its called in Spanish Jabon de Leche de Burra.

They do have an online store Flor del Eden  where information about other Spanish cosmetic products.

Neusc Skin Repair Bar

Neusc-P-Rosa is an amazing product for extremely dry skin or broken skin. A lifesaver in cold weather to repair sore hands. Sold in pharmacies across Spain, it looks like a soap bar and smells like talcum powder or roses. It costs 4.35 euros you can also get it in stick format too.

You can use it to soften cuticles and apply as a lip balm too.  Made with Lanolin as the main ingredient, this Barcelona based laboratory have 25 years experience in creating dermatological solutions.

Perfumeria Gal

Talking about Lip balm, the most well known Spanish one is by Gal. A Madrid based company the packaging of this is stunning. Small vintage style tins with beautiful art nouveau designs. You will actually want to buy one of each.

This is the best selling Spanish cosmetic of all time. The company began in 1899 created by  Salvador Echeandía Gal who also founded Heno de Pravia.

1929 ad for Gal Perfumes

Used on chapped lips and also to condition eyelashes, this is a true favourite across Spain.

Although this company began in Calle Arenal in Madrid, the factory was moved to Alcala de Henares in 1960  Now owned by Puig the products are sold across Spain still today. Find them in different pharmacies or in El Corte Inglés. Priced from 2 euros they are perfect to pop in your handbag or travel kit.

With many other Spanish Cosmetic products coming out the and all the latest innovations I am sure there are some I have missed.

Do let me know which Spanish Cosmetic products you look out for?

The post Nine Spanish Cosmetic Secrets You Never Knew appeared first on Piccavey.

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The noche en blanco in Granada has been growing in popularity over the last few years. Now an important event in the city´s calendar this takes place one night each year.

You may have heard of the Noche en Blanco in Madrid or other European cities. On these special dates Museums and monuments are open all night for visiting on a special Cultural evening. Many of the organised activities are free.

Noche en Blanco Granada

The activities begin at sunset on and run until the early hours. This years noche en blanco is on Saturday 14th April 2018.

There will be over 100 activities on that day, Flamenco concerts, poetry recitals, guided walks and events at the Alhambra palace.

Squares in the city centre will have outdoor activities going on and there will be street artists, flashmobs in the street, art exhibitions and even magic tricks at midnight.

Granada Cathedral will open up its doors as well as other monuments such as the Casa de los Tiros in the Realejo.

Granada White Night Programme

Shops and businesses will also extend their normal opening times for the noche en blanco granada. Most of them will be open until Midnight.

Childrens activities will be held in Parque Federico Garcia Lorca. Some of the activities promised are Storytellers and Sport activities.

The full programme is here. Granada White Night

Highlights include

  • Granada Market at Plaza Bib Rambla
  • Organic Market at Plaza de la Romanilla
  • Illustrators drawing for Charity at Calle Cruz 19. Participate and support the local food bank from just 1 euro.  Creadores a sueldo at ErranT CoWorking
  • DJ and Catwalk show at PuroEgo on Calle Darillo de la Magdalena.
  • Free entry to lots of museums and monuments around the city

Noche en Blanco Granada 2015 - YouTube

More information at:

Official website: La Noche en Blanco Granada

Facebook page: Noche en Blanco de Granada Facebook

They also have a Twitter account too: @NocheenBlancoGR

The post Granada Noche en Blanco – White Night of Culture March 2018 appeared first on Piccavey.

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Shipping a Vehicle from USA

Nearly 6% of all residents of Spain are expats from the UK , US and other countries. Due to the wonderful climate, it is quite a popular place to start anew with a life that is laid back and stress free.

It is also an ideal country to be a habitual tourist and have a little fun in a relaxed atmosphere. Whatever your reason for being in Spain, there is always a chance you may need to have your car shipped in from the USA, so you won’t need to rely on public transport or renting a car during your time abroad.

Vacationing in Spain is always great, but there are so many reasons to pack up and move to this beautiful country. First, it’s not difficult to find a decent place to live at an affordable rental cost. Sure, there are many extravagant, and expensive homes, but you can still locate less expensive places in nice areas. Another thing is, whether you speak Spanish fluently or you’re a novice with the language, you’re going to find it much easier to pick up new words and learn the language when you hear it spoken every day. Another great thing is you’re bound to have a fun social life when you get to Spain.

Yes, it will take a little time to learn where things are and to meet new people, but even when you know no one at all, you’re going to find the country charming and filled with exciting things to do. From historical art and buildings to modern internet café’s and even quite a few street parties and other fiestas, you’re going to love living in Spain if you have the chance to do so!

So, if you’re planning an extended vacation or or you want to make a more permanent move, chances are you’re going to want to find a way to get around to the places you need to be such as shopping or just wandering around checking out the scenery. A personal car will come in handy, especially if you want to travel outside of the local area. For local travel, walking, bicycling or a bus or the metros (an underground railway) system work just fine.

Importing a Car to Spain

The bottom line to simple transportation abroad is this: Import your car to Spain and you can go where you want to go without the worry of relying on someone else. Importing a motor vehicle to another country may seem like a daunting task, and in some instances, it can definitely be a little stressful. Yet when you take the time to learn about the things you must do in order to successfully bring a car to Spain and be able to drive it once it arrives, you’ll find that it is not only not that difficult to do, but with the right auto transport company, it can be handled seamlessly so you have no worries.

First, an established transport company like a1autotransport.com is going to be beneficial as you need to have someone with vast experience working with overseas shipments work with you to ship the car.

Call A-1 Auto Transport for personal assistance with your shipping questions at: 1-800-518-8708.

Get Prepared!

You’ll want to gather some important information on importing a car to Spain before you get the shipping process started however, so here are some important things to know so you can start getting everything ready and have it set to go when the time arrives.

You’re going to need some important paperwork for customs, so be prepared to have the following ready for presentation when the time comes to ship your car:

  • Car title and registration
  • Proof of vehicle ownership
  • Passport
  • Driver’s License or other Legal Identification
  • Proof of residency in Spain
  • Duty Tax payment proof
  • Road Tax payment proof
  • Certificate of Conformity (This is a paper you can get from the manufacturer showing the car conforms to EU standards)
  • Bill of Lading

Driving in Spain

You can drive for up to six months on a US Driver’s License, but you will need to obtain a Driver’s License from Spain before your time limit is up. You also need an International Driving Permit for the EU while you are using your US license. This permit certifies the validity of your current license. In Spain, you can obtain a permit from the Automobile Club de Suisse (ACS) and you can get one from other countries including the USA from local auto clubs such as AAA.  As a U.S. citizen, you will also need to take a driving class as well as an exam to obtain a license in Spain.

You can find information on the class and exam through the Direccion General de Traffico website.

You need to familiarize yourself with the traffic laws in Spain and before attempting to drive, it is best to head out a few times in a cab or with a friend from the area who can show you how traffic flows, average speeds and things such as that. You can find information on driving regulations ranging from child restraint laws to checking road conditions and more this link: Driving in Spain.

Cost and Shipping Times

The cost to ship a motor vehicle to Spain can range between $1500 and $3800 depending on the size of the car and which ports it will ship to or from. The method of shipping also factors into the overall cost depending on whether you ship with RORO or container.

RORO is where cars are driven onto the ship, secured for voyage and then shipped while they are secured on deck. They are fully exposed to the elements around them including sea water which can cause rust.

Container shipping is usually the least expensive way to ship a car to Spain and the most secure since the car will be sealed inside a shipping container for the overseas trip.

To make sure you are up to date on vehicle regulations as well as driving privileges in Spain, you can contact the Embassy of Spain in Washington, DC in the United States. They can also alert you to local laws and ordinances as well as other information you may need as you make your move to Spain.

The post How to Ship a Car to Spain from the USA – A Handy Guide appeared first on Piccavey.

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Each Summer the Dance Festival is held at the Alhambra Palace. The prestigious Granada festival is know by locals and as soon as the tickets go on sale they sell out pretty fast.

The curtain goes up on 22nd June 2018 for the 67th Festival Internacional de Música y Danza.

The festival lasts up until 8th July 2018

With artists, musicians and dancers coming from different countries to perform, this special event happens every summer within the grounds of the Alhambra palace.

Enjoy music and culture on Summer evenings in Granada.

2018 Music & Dance Festival in Granada
Useful Information
  • Dates: From 22rd of June until 8th July 2018
  • Venue: Alhambra Palace, Granada – Different locations around the grounds.
  • Ticket sales will be Online from Mid April 2018 at> Granada Festival Tickets 
  • Ticket office at Corral del Carbon (off Calle Reyes Católicos)
  • The full programme will be confirmed for 2018 at the end of January 2018

Below are some of the conecerts from last years 66th Edition

Béjart Ballet Lausanne

Genre: Ballet

Location: Teatro de Generalife, Alhambra Palace

Description: The show is a celebration of it´s creator Maurice Béjart, dancing some of his best choreographies. This performance has not been to Spain yet. So it´s an exclusive for the Alhambra Palace and Granada.
Maria Pages

Genre:  Dance & Flamenco

Location: Teatro del Generalife, Alhambra palace

Description: This Sevillan dancer present an elegant show called ¨Yo Carmen¨ where dance and flamenco are blended in an interesting artistic interpretation. Pure Andalusian Flamenco in the gardens of the Generalife.

Het Nationale Ballet

Genre: Ballet

Location: Teatro del Generalife, Alhambra palace

Description:  The Het Nationale Ballet is the most prestigious dance company from the Netherlands. In this show they present a varied repertoire, with a section of their new production Don Quixote. A great Spanish story in a stunning setting. The Teatro del Generalife is an outdoor theatre set in the heart of the Alhambra grounds.

The post Summer Concerts at the Alhambra – 67th International Music & Dance Festival in Granada appeared first on Piccavey.

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Aboard a Spanish Cruise

Enjoying a Spanish Cruise in off peak season can be a good travel opportunity. Prices are lower than in the busy summer holidays. Also the destinations are quieter and make for great photos too. Early in the year (February to April) is a good time to get away from it all before the busy Spring/Summer period is upon us.

Destinations such as the Canary Islands are an ideal spot for catching some  Spanish winter sun. Opt for Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Madeira for great food and a warm climate throughout the winter months.

Wine tasting in Lanzarote

Although not well known for its wine making, if you’re a winelover, spend a day on a Lanzarote wine tasting tour. Home to Bodegas El Grifo, the oldest winery in the Canary Islands, winemakers in the region dig through the dense volcanic ash to reach fertile soil for planting grapes. Famed for its Malvasia grapes, with a sweet, honey flavour.

Take a tour of the museum and learn about this unique practice whilst enjoying some of the regions finest wines.

Cruise to the Canary Islands

A cruise around the Canaries is a great way to blow winter cobwebs away. Islands like Lanzarote are perfect, as it is home to at least 300 volcanoes, which make for a beautiful backdrop.

Spend a day exploring Las Palmas, the capital of the Canaries. Short excursions such as a visit to the hills of Barranco de Guiniguada are fun. Enjoy spectacular views oat 1850 metres above sea level. A fabulous panoramic place to see Gran Canaria.

A Taste of Tenerife

Soak up the sun and taste a little of the local cuisine. Tenerife is home to some of the best restaurants in the Canaries. For authentic Spanish food with a hint of the French and North African influence, visit Tasca el Granero, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Each of the menus are set, and guests can choose according to their individual budget or taste. Be sure to try the tuna tartare and the dried duck stuffed with foie gras for something extra special.

Before you head off on your winter break, be sure to shop around to determine the best deals. Sometimes it is best (and the attractions are less crowded) to avoid periods during school holidays, as prices can increase around these times

Culture in Malaga
Stopping off at Malaga port allows you to enjoy local gastronomy in Andalusia or visit one of the fabulous Museums in the city. The Picasso Museum, Thyssen or Pompidou are all worth seeing especially for art enthusiasts.
Museums such as the Automobile Museum and Glass Museum are quirkier but great fun to visit too.
Other monuments in Malaga are the Alcazaba fortess or the stunning marina Muelle Uno which is great for sunset walks or a morning jog.
Whether you choose a Spanish cruise to Gibraltar, Cadiz, Malaga or the Balearics the sunshine and great food is guaranteed.

The post Spanish Cruise – An Out of Season visit to Spain & Canary Islands appeared first on Piccavey.

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Spain shoe brands are one of the countries main exports. (As well as Spanish food and wine)

Spanish shoes are made with soft leather, they are comfortable and usually long lasting.

As a confessed shoe addict I thought I´d share some of my latest finds with you.

For travelling your shoes must be good else your trip doesn´t go well.

The photo above is me in a pair a suede sandals by Bimba & Lola (super comfy) climbing up hills above Montefrio.

I didn´t realise that we were going hiking.

This poor shoe choice was even reported in local press.

Even when you are in the office all day it´s the same story.

I remember moving from Barcelona to Granada and realising that my footwear was wrong. Barcelona is a busy city with smooth walkways and city streets. Granada has marble pavements, cobbled roads and stepped steps. I would now be negotiating uneven streets in the old town. That certainly couldn´t be done in heels.

The furnace hot summers are also hard on your feet. It´s amazing what a difference your shoes can make.

So initially in Granada I had a few scrapes and blisters to deal with. I know the kinds of shoes that I need to wear around here.

I have stuck to the same Spain shoe brands over and over again.

Spain shoe brands I love

Here are twelve shoe brands that I have bought over and over again.

Many have online stores where they ship internationally.
Others have stockists in many different locations.

There are also factory shops and outlets that have these brands.

Or of course when you travel to Spain you can make the most of your trip and buy when you visit.

Panama Jack Boots – Made in Spain

Good for Hiking, Walking long distances and cold weather

 These blue beauties are my newest adquisition. I travelled to USA this Autumn on holiday and knew the walking each day was going to require good footwear.

The Panama Jack boots were comfortable to be on the go all day.

They kept my feet warm and dry. Even with the blustery Boston weather. The photo above is taken at Harvard University on a rainy October day.

Now I am back in Spain I will use these boots for my days in the Alpujarra and Lecrin Valley.

Also for cold Winter weekends in Granada with my jeans.

Panama Jack now have an extensive range of footwear for all year.

Light sandals for summertime and lots of great boots in colourful designs for winter.

Located in Alicante they have been running since 1989.

Their online store delivers to many different countries and they have good social media channels too.

UNISA – Made in Spain

Good for looking smart in hot or cold weather

I have UNISA winter boots and sandals too.  The summer sandals I have are long lasting and great value.

I do have quite a few pairs now.  (UNISA summer sandals seen in photo above)

I´m already coveting these slingbacks in soft balck suede for next season.

SS2018 Black Suede Slingbacks

My Black winter boots have a black fur cuff (like a leg warmer) around the top, you can fold this down over the calf or leave up. The boot can be an ankle boot with fur trim or a tall plain leather boot with the fur on the inside for extra warmth.

The mid heel height makes them a good looking design but comfortable too. The non slip soles are also great for winter days.

I remember wearing them walking around Camden Lock in cold December day. A good test for these boots. The soles are quite rugged good even in icy conditions.
I got these 2 years ago and get a lot of wear out of them still.

Lodi Shoes – Made in Spain

Good for medium heel height, comfort yet elegant.

Whenever I am invited to a Spanish wedding I know that I need a shoe strategy. Spanish weddings usually are 24 hour affairs. The last one I went to I left my house around 11.30am and didn’t get home until 5am the next day. Of my group I was the first to leave…

So I always go to weddings, special events or parties in my Lodi shoes. I like them as they have sparkly dressy shoes with medium heel heights and sometimes with a hidden platform.

They look elegant but don´t hurt at all.

I also have some plain black ones for work too.

Lodi is one of the more popular Spain shoe brands they are made in Alicante.

Find them in specialist shoe shops and in the corte ingles.

Chie Mihara

Good for anything and everything.

Chie Mihara, this Japanese-Brasilian designer has her factory is based Alicante, Spain. Her shoes remind me of little girls shoes decades ago. They have a vintage feel to them and her designs are clearly distinctive.
Many of her shoes are Mary Jane style but I also have court shoes and ankle boots too.

In Elda, Alicante they have a small factory shop. You can find her stock there with generous reductions, if you are ever around that area.

When I visited Elda in Alicante it was like a child in a sweet shop. Basically a whole town dedicated to producing fabulous Spanish shoes.

I currently have 5 or 6 pairs of Chie Mihara shoes. They are so comfortable and I love that you don’t see too many people in them.

This is one of my favourite Spain shoe makers as they are ergonomically designed to be comfortable yet also use good quality leather and have great designs.

This is one of the most innovative Spain shoe brands, a new line has just been introduced called ChiE which are high heels with incorporated padding for extra comfort.

Not too long ago I had endless boxes of shoes and boots. I have now changed slightly. I prefer to have less pairs of shoes but better quality. They tend to last longer too. I also look after them with regular trips to the cobbler.

In Granada with the cobbled streets the cobblers have a healthy business.

(The heel caps are often damaged between the cobbles)


My most recent purchase has been a pair of Leather Pikolinos Mary Jane style heels.

Since 1984 this Spanish brand have been designing great shoes and can be easily found on the Spanish high street.

My Pikolinos are great for wearing with dresses yet have a solid heel than doesny get caught in cobbles.

These are this years 2018 collection and cost around 100 euros.

Another brand in the Pikolinos family is Martinelli. I have a beautiful pair of burgandy ankle boots by this brand.


Summer sandals that I bought this year were super comfortable. As I got them in a neutral blush colour they also matched everything.

I bought them online from Yokono. Delivered direct to me from Alicante.

They do stock them in the Corte Inglés but they didnt have my size. Buying online was actually the same price.

Love the logo, it a bright red ladybird.

This company have been going since 1981.


My gioseppo suede boots are really comfortable and I love the sparkle detail on the heel.

I found these in the Gioseppo store in Madrid in January 2017. On Calle Claudio Coello 38

With a good price vs quality these are only Gioseppo shoes I have so but I will look at their summer collection this season.

In business since 1991, this is now an international brand even though it begin in Spain.


Spanish brand Camper is well known both in Spain and Internationally. Created in Inca, Mallorca in 1975 this traditional brand has a modern line in its designs.

I have at least three pairs of their summer sandals.

See above is a pair of black leather heeled sandals which I wore all summer.

Find Camper in most Spanish high street stores.

I bought these for a great price at La Roca Village (a short drive from Barcelona)


Long lasting slippers. I have lost count of how many pairs of these I have bought over the years.

Nordikas have been a great Christmas and birthday present for many of my family and friends.

I usually by the leather ones for men as they are smart and hard wearing. They last for several years.

For warmer climates they also have summer versions of their slippers which are worth looking out for.

Munich Trainers

Munich Barcelona trainers are colourful yet understated. Love them for casual wear and wandering around Barcelona too.

Mine are navy blue and bright orange. I´ve had them for a few years now but they are still going strong.

They have an outlet store at La Roca but I purchased my trainers in a small store in Almeria.

As they are light and thin, these are perfect for spring and summer weather.

Spain shoe brands tend to specialise in Wedding and everyday wear but this is the only trainer brand I know of so far.

Bimba & Lola

A known name now on many high streets Bimba & Lola can be found in most Spanish cities and some international ones too.

Although they are mainly stocking clothes, their footwear lines can bring up some goodies too.

I have bought sandals from their stores a few summers. It´s worth checking out their sales for good deals.

Shown in the photo above are my beige sandals that were so good I bought two exact same pairs.

I have worn them until they are completely worn out. So comfortable and easy to match with summer colours.

Manolo Blahnik

Its impossible to write about Spain shoe brands without mentioning Manolo Blahnik.

Although I havent got a pair of these myself yet. They are on my wishlist.

These Spanish designer shoes are stocked at Harrods, Nordstrom and many other prestigious locations around the world.

The Art of Shoes

Becoming more well known as they were used in Sex and the City these beautiful shoes have been crafted since  the 1970s.

Born in Santa Cruz de la Palma, the Spanish designer is now a UK resident. The flaghip store of this iconic Spain shoemaker is in London.

There is also a store in Barcelona at Paseo de Gracia 38-40.

In Madrid you can visit the Art of shoes exhibtion on until March 12th 2018.

In collaboration with Vogue this is at the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas

Entrance to the exhibition is free . The exbition is a retrospective of Manolo Blahniks career spanning 45 years in shoe design.

Organised by different rooms, venture into the Botanical designs or the shoes inspired by Geography.

This is my own personal experience in shoes and travel.

Shoes.. One of my passions.

I could write for days..

Why not Pin this to save for later?

Spain Shoe Brands to Seek Out – Infographic

The post Spain shoe brands – Shopping Spanish Footwear – Made in Spain appeared first on Piccavey.

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Expat life in Spain can be an adventure and a new start.

After the settling and the novelty of life abroad has waned. The daily routine can sometimes be a little more challenging.

Here are some of my tips after living abroad for 20 years.

Hopefully some of them make you feel at home in your new location.

Evern though I have adjusted well to life in Spain, I still like to enjoy a few home comforts every now and then.

Everyday Expat life Podcasts and Radio

Enjoy radio programmes on podcasts. I listen to different shows on BBC and other shows. Downloading onto your smartphone,  tablet or computer for free.

Some are even daily shows. Two of my favourites are Vanessa Feltz on Radio London & Scott Mills Daily on BBC Radio 1 which I listen to every afternoon. As I do housework or travel I listen to hours of UK radio each week.

Keep in touch with Parcels

Another way to keep contact with friends and family in the UK is by sending a parcel to Spain. Whether it be a birthday gift or just some letters and a few of your favourite things. It certainly cheers you up to receive things from home.

Expat life doesnt have to be isolated. You just need to find ways to keep in touch with family back home.

Photo credit: Harry_nl Charleville-Mézières: Volkswagen Crafter “TNT Express” via photopin (license) English Food

As the food in Spain is so fabulous I don´t miss UK supermarkets that much. If you do there are a few ways to get British Food in Spain. In busy expat communities like Costa del Sol, Alicante and the Islands you will find Iceland shops and English supermarkets. Some large chains stocks UK brands. Weetabix, British jams, teas and other items are easy to find. It is also worth checking the supermarket at El Corte Ingles and their Club del Gourmet for British items.

When I travel to UK I occasionally bring back things that have a long use by date or that are light in weight such as soup sachets or drinks sachets. I always manage to find some amazing English tea to bring back. You can also find suppliers online that deliver to Spain.

British Bake Off

There is nothing like baking a batch of scones or a sponge cake. I have my BE-RO cookbook that we have passed down in my family. Every month or so I bake something from it. You can purchase Self Raising Flour in many places in Spain. If you go to large supermarkets such as Hipercor or Carrefour you can buy British brands of SR Flour. Mercadona also sell S.R Flour, called Harina de Trigo con Levadura.

You may also use plain flour and Royal baking powder which can be found easily in Spain to substitute SR Flour in a recipe.

Cornflour maybe required in some recipes. In Spain this is called Maizena.

My latest favourite bake is Carrot Cake with Lime Icing

Watch TV

I have never got used to watching Spanish Television even though I understand Spanish perfectly. To watch UK television in Spain you may have satellite service or a TV Box. I don´t have that I am using TV Catchup, an online site that has UK TV in realtime. I use it on my Smartphone and Ipad to keep up with my favourite programmes.

English Books

With the Kindle and ebooks available there now many alternatives for international readers. They are also lighter to carry too. In coastal areas there are International book shops and second hand bookshops. In Almuñecar 1818 books and in Nerja there is an International bookshop too. Online there is are some interesting specialist bookstores such like Cicerone Press with guidebooks in English about Spanish hiking and biking routes.

Holidays in UK

Each time I travel to the UK, I fit in time to do some tourism. I actually know Spain better than UK now. So I like to learn things about Britain when I´m there. Some of my trips have been to Leeds, York,  Bath and London. I also enjoyed a winter break in Chester

Its quite a contrast from Expat life in Spain when I return to the UK but I always have a great time catching up with friends and family.

Birthday cards

In Spain (and most other countries) it is almost impossible to purchase Greetings cards that are appropriate. Most of them seem to feature Garfield or Minnie Mouse ; ) My tip is to buy all the years greetings cards when you travel to UK. Spend an hour in the card shop and choose all the birthday cards and anniversary cards that you need for the year ahead. I also buy a couple of blank cards or generic congratulations or Thank You cards too.

This way it makes it a lot easier to send when the date comes around. Even in the age of Social Networks nothing beats a hand written card arriving with the postie.

You can also purchase greetings cards online, the only downside is that it is not so easy to handwrite the message.

Online Community

There is heaps of advice on line on blogs like this one. On Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter there are groups and hashtags worth following. You can find a huge support network in your new locations. Look for groups in the area where you live or are planning to live in. There´s sure to be someone not too far away with  interesting information to share.

Not all these tips may seem useful for a new life in Spain.

Some of them certainly have helped me ´Keep calm and carry on´

I´m based in Granada now, I have previously lived in Barcelona, most of these tips are relevant for Spain although some may help people in other countries too.

Do share these expat life tips with others if you find it handy.

The post Expat life in Spain – My Survival Guide & Everyday Tips appeared first on Piccavey.

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A travel giveaaway to cheer up January and welcome you into the new year.

If you have a holiday  or travel planned in 2018 this will get you organised ahead of time.

Lets have some fun with this Travel Pack prize draw.

January Travel Giveaway

The lucky winner will win the following travel pack including 4 prizes .

Bibelib Paris Limited Edition Suitcase Cover in Cube Green.

This fabulous suitcase accesory keeps your case clean and protects it from scratching. It also has a tracking feature than can be used if you luggage is lost in travel.

This cover fits suitcases from 24 to 33 inches.

More details: Bibelib

Lifeventure Silk Mummy Sleeper 

The silk sleeping liner is made from 100% silk keeping you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s warm. Each liner is been treated to be antibacterial, anti-mosquito & anti-bed bug. It also has a security pocket inside.

Great for a luxury-feel but compact size for travel.

More details: Lifeventure Travel Accesories

Instax Camera Mini 9

Instax Mini 9 Camera in Colbalt Blue

Also includes 1 pack of Fujifilm Instax 10 sheets

A fun camera for parties, get togethers and original instant photos

Includes a selfie mirror for on the go instant selfies while you travel.

Flashsticks Post it notes

Handy sticky notes to encourage language learning everyday

One pack of 100 French words

More details: Flashsticks

*delivery cost is included to European or UK address.

How to enter

It is really simple to enter the prize draw. There are six ways to enter the competition.

See the options in the panel below

No purchase is necessary.

Open to all participants with a UK or European address.

Winner will be selected at random on the Gleam website.

The travel goodie bag will be posted to the lucky winner 48 hours after the competition ends. (Anywhere in UK or Europe)

Deadline for entries at midnight on Sunday 14th January 2018 at Midnight.  (Madrid time CET)

Giveaway begins 3rd Jan 2018.

2018 Travel Goodie Giveaway *worth over 150 euros*

  • *Open to UK and European Entries only*
  • To be posted to the winner in 48 hours of competition closing
  • Open from 3rd January 2018 until Midnight on Sunday 14th January 2018 (CET Madrid)
  • Winner will be contacted by email.
  • 7 days to claim the prize and confirm delivery address after the draw closes.
  • On Sunday 21st January 2018 should no details be received from the winner there will be a re-draw.
  • This travel giveaway is not sponsored in anyway.

The post Travel Giveaway – January Prize Draw for intrepid travellers appeared first on Piccavey.

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