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Spain is an intoxicating land of sunshine and sangria, nestled on the Iberian peninsula in south western Europe. Our journey continues as we discovered how this country brims with historically and culturally significant sites, over 40 of which have been recognized as World Heritage material by UNESCO. The following itinerary takes in the highlights of these sites such as the Sagrada Familia, the Prado Museum, the Alhambra, the Mezquita and the “City of Three Cultures,” Toledo. You can tour around Spain independently, or make your way with the help of the Centro de Turismo in Madrid, who can help you arrange everything required, including recommend reliable tour guides.

Day 1

Land in Madrid, Spain’s vibrant, cosmopolitan capital city. On your first day, acclimatize to the time difference and weather by taking a walk around your hotel or hostel. You can also immerse yourself in the grand art contained within the four walls of the El Prado, Madrid’s crown jewel of museums. El Prado is Madrid’s top cultural site and houses a dazzling display of European painters from Velazquez, Goya, Raphael, and Rubens, among other greats. Later, take a stroll along the Gran Via to soak in the glorious architecture, and end your day at the Plaza del Mayor, Madrid’s historical heart.

Day 2

The Castile region is more than just Madrid, fascinating as it may be, so it’s time to take the train out to Toledo for a daytrip. You can either organize a daytrip yourself or go with a recommended tour agent; it’s an easy journey by train from Madrid’s main station. Toledo is a melting pot of Christian, Jewish and Muslim influences and this is apparent in the city’s art, architecture and culture. The Alcazar, which overlooks the entire city, is a must-see, as is the Cathedral and the monastery of San Juan.

Day 3

Another day, another train trip, this time to the north, to medieval Segovia, a UNESCO World Heritage listed city. The main attraction here is the Roman built aqueduct which was raised in the 1st century without the use of mortar and still stands, a graceful reminder of the might of Rome. Nearby is the fairy tale-like Alcazar, with its steel grey turrets piercing the Castillan sky. Rumour has it that Walt Disney copied Sleeping Beauty’s castle from the Sevillan example.

Day 4

Board yet another train from Atocha, Madrid’s main station – this time all the way south to Granada, where the main attraction is the graceful, air-filled Alhambra, a Moorish palace rising from the hills like a ship anchored to the land. Inside, the Nazaries Palace houses lavish rooms which look out onto gardens filled with dancing fountains and perfectly landscaped hedges, but the most famous sight within the Alhambra is the Palacio de Leons – the Palace of the Lions, with its intricate carvings.

Day 5

From Granada, a short bus ride takes you to Cordoba, another Spanish city with Moorish influences. Your first stop here should be the Mezquita, originally a mosque, then turned into a cathedral during the Reconquista of Cordoba in the 13th century. The red and white forest of pillars are an icon of the city and the highlight of many photographs here. From here, board an overnight sleeper train to Barcelona.

Day 6

Here in the city that Gaudi sculpted, the towers of the Sagrada Familia continue to rise above the skyline. Work on this monumental cathedral is due to be completed in 2026, more than 140 years since it began. The Sagrada Familia a symbol of Barcelona – some would even say, of Spain. Gaudi’s genius is evident in every detail from the entry motifs to the soaring pillars supporting a flower encrusted ceiling.

Day 7

On your last day in Barcelona, visit the Picasso Museum, which holds the largest collection of works by the artist outside of Paris. The well known painter was also an accomplished graphic designer, sculptor and engraver. Many of the works displayed in the Picasso Museum have never been shown anywhere else, and represent Picasso’s earlier days as a fledging artist. From here, hop on a short flight to Madrid, homeward bound.

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Take Care of Your Skin and Your Body – How Baking Soda Can Help You Be Happier and Healthier

Baking Soda Beauty Tips

by beconrad

Whether you are looking for a way to make your skin firmer and younger looking or the secret to a healthier lifestyle, the answer may be as close as your pantry or refrigerator. Baking soda is a staple of most households, but this miracle powder can do far more than keep odors out of your fridge and round out your favorite recipes.

Many people do not realize that baking soda has some important benefits for your body and your skin, and once you learn about its powers you will want to pick up a couple of extra boxes on your next trip to the grocery store. Baking soda costs far less than cosmetics and other healthy solutions, but it is just as effective. Here are some great ways to utilize baking soda beauty as part of your everyday health and skincare regimen.

Clean Your Teeth the Natural Way

Commercial toothpastes are full of artificial and potentially dangerous chemicals, from sweeteners to thickeners to dyes. If you prefer to take a more natural approach to caring for your teeth, just reach for the baking soda.

Mix baking soda and warm water until it forms a thick paste, then apply it to your toothbrush and brush your teeth as you normally would. The tingle you feel is the baking soda doing its good work, and your teeth will feel clean and fresh for hours.

Keep Your Fingernails Clean and Well Manicured

Farmgirls all too often have farmgirl hands. Dirt under your nails? Grimy hands? Just reach for some baking soda beauty to keep your fingernails clean and beautiful. Add a small amount of water to a dish of baking soda, dip a small nail brush in the solution, and gently scrub around your cuticles and under your fingernails.

When you are done scrubbing your fingernails, you can use the same solution to gently exfoliate the skin on your hands. Gently rub the solution on your skin in a circular motion to remove dead skin and leave your hands looking and feeling better than ever.

Scrub Your Skin Clean

Baking soda is the perfect base for an all-over scrub, and your skin will feel fresh and re-energized when you use it. Simply mix one part plain ground oatmeal, three parts baking soda and one part water to make the exfoliating scrub, then rub it gently over your body in a circular motion.

Let the scrub on your skin for 10-15 minutes until it dries, then wash it off with warm water. This inexpensive and easy to make body scrub will leave you feeling like you just got back from the spa.

Remove Your Makeup with Ease

Removing makeup and other facial products is not always easy, but you do not have to buy expensive preparations to get the job done. Just mix up a paste of baking soda and water and use a soft brush to apply it to your face.

Allow the paste to dry, and then wash your face thoroughly with warm water. You will feel your pores opening up right away, and your face will feel better than ever.

Remove Hair Product Build-Up

Even the mildest shampoos and conditioners can leave a harmful buildup behind, but removing it is as simple as adding baking soda. Just sprinkle a quarter-sized dollop of baking soda into your palm the next time you wash your hair, add your favorite shampoo and mix it all together.

From there you can simply wash your hair as you normally would. The baking soda will help remove any existing buildup from your hair while preventing additional residue from taking root. Your hair will feel fresh and clean, all without spending money on expensive hair treatments.

From making your hair shinier and healthier to giving your face a radiant glow, baking soda can do it all. Just pick up a few extra boxes of this all-around cleanser and explore all the great things baking soda can do.


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