Stopovers – Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide
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MADRID - SPAIN
Europe’s mega hub Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is the hub for Iberia Air. As such it is a major stop en route to Africa and South America. It is only 7 miles from the walkable Spanish capital which has food, history and art to match Rome or Paris. Begin in the gardens of Parque de Buen Retiro, a former royal retreat, before strolling to Museo del Prado to soak in the odd Goya masterpiece. A walk to the west takes you past Plaza de Santa Ana, the city’s tapas mecca where Ernest Hemingway was a regular at the Cervecería Alemana. Then on to the terraces of Plaza Mayor, one of the most welcoming squares in Europe. Continue on to Parque del Emir Mohamed I, where the city’s Moorish ancestry can be traced in what remains of its 9th century fortifications, while the grand palace of Madrid is just a short walk. Finish in Parque del Oeste by watching the sun drop over Casa de Campo, Madrid’s forested western edge. That’s what you can do in a single day if you can spare at least a couple of days then try the following suggestions. The Pedriza hills, surrounding 16th-century Manzanares el Real, offer a break from the city to just relax. The UNESCO listed walled city of Avila and aqueducts of Segovia can be combined in a day trip if you prefer culture. No visas are required for UK citizens. Travel from the airport to the central station is about £5 and trains take 15 minutes.
REYKJAVIK - ICELAND
Right in the middle of the Atlantic is the hub of Keflavik International Airport which is the home for Icelandair. This airline allows you to book stopovers of up to seven nights in Reykjavík at no extra cost on flights from the UK, the airline actively encourages you to stay longer and explore. Another big plus is that you even save paying APD tax which is around £55 per person if you do. Iceland’s capital is a stylish, informal city with one of the world’s most iconic and explosive landscapes on its doorstep. The only word of warning is do not do this on a Sunday, on this day of the week everywhere is close. We only found three places open and that was because a cruise ship had docked. Reykjavík was made to be unravelled on foot. Skirting the inland Lake Tjörninn draws you past the City Hall and National Gallery, then stop by Austurvöllur Square to see the stone built Parliament House and exquisitely restored Lutheran cathedral Dómkirkjan. If you are cold then warm up at geothermal swimming pool Laugardalur, or make for Nauthólsvík, a beach where even the ocean is heated. If you want a short adventure, take a whale watching trip or descend 120m into a magma chamber. Both are subject to the seasons, as are trips to seek out the northern lights, which are best spotted between September and March. If you do this Grótta lighthouse is a good spot to escape light pollution. At some time during your stay make sure to fill up at Icelandic Fish & Chips, the fresh fish makes all the difference. Stay longer is definitely worth planning as a day or two is not really enough. Many people use Reykjavík as a jump-off point for exploring the Golden Circle. This is a 300km loop around the island best driven over in a few days or you can take a tour. Top stop-offs include the stunning Thingvellir National Park, home to the oldest parliament building on Earth; the hot springs of the now dormant Great Geysir; and the dramatic Gullfoss waterfall. No visas are required for UK citizens for stays up to 3 months. Airport to the Reykjavík bus terminal is on shuttles which cost £15 and take around 45 minutes.
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