No tourist buses here: Siena – via Florence and Pisa

I would always prefer visiting a city where there aren’t any tourist buses polluting the city – visually. hordes of tourists are the worst thing you should have to bear while visiting a foreign city.

Siena is a wonderful city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena. The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year. The city is more or less closed to cars, you wont see any tourist buses and the tourist here are mostly Italians, unless word has got around about this historic medieval city.

Proposed Itinerary:

Italian Break fast – a croissant and a cappuccino..

  • Day2: Drive to see the tower of Pisa
  • Day2: Park over here: Via Fazio degli Uberti, Pisa

  • Day2: MAKE SURE YOU DONT ENTER THE ZTL ZONES with your car, this will cost you.
  • Day2: Morning to at most 1300hrs – walk to the Piazza del Duomo, take the typical picture holding up the tower of Pisa – the piazza is a very touristic spot and can be quite crowded depending on the season.
  • Day2: Try to leave Pisa before lunch aiming for Lunch in Florence.
  • Day2: Arrive in Florence and once again avoid ZTL and park here: Piazza Francesco Ferrucci, DO NOT cross the river thats an easy guideline to avoid ZTL
  • Day2: Here is a guideline for the trip: and my recommended order to visit, drive until Piazza Francesco Ferrucci, park there and walk from there.
  • Day2: Leave the hordes of tourist behind in Florence and drive to Siena
  • Day2: Park here and as always avoid ZTL

  • Day3-4: Enjoy the sights, sounds, food, cafes, and if luck the horse races of this beautiful city and its medieval feel,
  • Day5: Leave Siena for the Airport at Pisa – give your self 2 hours to reach there.

BONUS: Have lunch on the way to Pisa at Dario Cecchini – Butcher of Panzano.


Visiting Cordoba and Granada

Easter is coming and it is a great time to visit and experience the Holy Week in Spain which is the annual commemoration of the Passion of Jesus Christ celebrated by Catholic religious brotherhoods and fraternities that perform penance processions on the streets of almost every Spanish city and town during the last week of Lent, the week immediately before Easter.

In 2011 we decided to visit Granada and Cordoba to experience Easter in Spain and here is the itinerary that would be something we would highly recommend.

Proposed Itinerary

  • Day1: Fly into Madrid and depending if you wish plan a stay over in Madrid but ideally  would recommend departing staright for Granada which is in the south in  Andalusia, Spain
  • Day1: Take the subway from the airport to Madrid-Puerta De Atocha (Railway station)
  • Day1: Pre-book your train journey from Madrid to Cordoba possibly on first class coaches on these are really good trains which are fast and super comfortable, the Cordoba-Granada-Madrid leg might be on more regular trains, the round trip costed us 68 euro for two people.
  • Day1: Arrive in Cordoba and plan your stay at the: AC Hotel Córdoba by Marriott this is right next to the railway station, since you are staying in Cordoba for just one night this is quite a good place to be staying at.
  • Day2: Wake up, check out from the hotel and  ask the front desk to keep your luggage in the baggage room at the hotel until you pick it up in the evening.
  • Day2: Be ready for a nice walk through another historic city, It has been estimated that in the 10th century Córdoba was the most populous city in the world, and under the rule of Caliph Al Hakam II it had also become a centre for education under its Islamic rulers. Al Hakam IIopened many libraries on top of the many medical schools and universities which existed at this time. Such universities contributed towards developments in mathematics and astronomy. During these centuries Córdoba had become the intellectual centre of Europe and was also noted for its predominantly Muslim society that was tolerant toward its minorities. Today it is a moderately sized modern city; its population in 2011 was about 330,000. The historic centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Day2: Walk through the narrow winding streets of Cordoba to the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba. Even now there is an area dedicated for people to offer prayers in the mosque.
  • Day2: Plan to depart from Cordoba to Granada using you would already have had the booking from day one so you just grab your baggage from the hotel and board the train from the railway station to Granada.
  • Day 2: In Granada, you must book this hotel: this hotel is in the Alhambra and is really an ideal place to be staying at, Since this place is on the hill where the Alhmabra is located so you might need to consider taking a taxi from the railway station or a bus which goes straight up to the Alhambra
  • Day3: The most important think in Granada to visit is the Alhambra and you must buy tickets in advance from here – you will plan to spend a full there here.

You will not regret spending your money here for all the palaces and sites.

  • Day3: After spending the whole day in the Alhambra you will need a good meal for which you can walk down or take the bus to the city at the foot of the hill where Alhambra lies, if you have the energy its not a long walk just a bit steep.
  • Day4: Since you are actually staying at the Alhmabra you will feel quite lucky to be waking up to this historical site, spend some time enjoying the Alhambra from outside and then take a walk down the hill and explore the city.
  • Day4: The second must see are the caves of Sacromonte, which for centuries have been the home of gypsies, bohemians and Flemish artists. It is a must to visit one of the Sacromonte’s zambras, see a flamenco show in the Albaicin, or enjoy a meal and a real live flamenco show in one of the flamenco restaurants in Granada. Although the performances of flamenco in Sacromonte are now commercial and directed primarily at groups of foreign tourists, it is a must to spend at least one night in a cave of the Sacromonte to watch a flamenco show. Ask at the reception for recommendations, the one we visited was at Camino de sacromonte 9

  •  Day4: Will be also a lot of walking on the hilly roads of Granada, for dinner and lunch i would recommend that you walk to the city and explore the restaurants in the narrow streets of the old city. Just about every plaza in town holds at least one outdoor restaurant, but the usual trend for the locals is to go for tapas for lunch and a late dinner.
  • Day5: Relax take the bus or taxi down to the railway station, and then the train from Granada to Madrid-Puerta De Atocha (Railway station) in the evening.
  • Day5: Stay the night and explore Madrid in the evening, and depart in the morning to your next destination – possibly home..
  • Day5: We decided to stay overnight at Hotel Paseo Del Arte right across the station..
  • Day6: take the subway and depart from Madrid Airport..