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YOUR Fam Trip Report Could Win You €1,000!

YOUR Fam Trip Report Could Win You €1,000!

Have you been on a fam or prize trip in the past 18 months, i.e. since 1st January 2013? If so, your 500-word report could win you €1,000 in ITTN’s Budding Travel Writer competition. Our June winner is Irene McCaffrey of Travel Department, Dublin.

Fam group in Antequera, with Irene McCaffrey far right

Fam group in Antequera, with Irene McCaffrey far right

This year’s competition will have seven monthly winners – so get writing your 500 words without delay and send them to neil@belgravegroup.ie. The competition rules can be read at:

http://www.ittn.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BTW-Competition-Rules-2014-1.pdf

Each monthly winner receives a €100 One4all gift voucher and an invitation to the 23rd Irish Travel Trade ‘Golden Globe’ Awards at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road, on Friday 28th November 2014.

At the gala dinner event, one of the seven monthly winners will be announced as the overall winner of the 2014 Budding Travel Writer of the Year Award and will receive a cheque for €1,000 from Travel Counsellors Ireland.

Irene’s winning entry was for her report on the Spanish Tourism Office fam trip to the Costa del Sol in April this year:

Andalucia: Much More than Sandy Beaches and Blue Seas

Day 1: Malaga

After checking into our rooms at Hotel Tryp Alameda, we set off for lunch at Strachan Restaurant off Larios Street in the city centre. The city was busy setting up for the annual Easter festival, which sees people from all over Spain and abroad come to watch the processions and colourful floats parade through the streets.

After a delicious lunch, which included paella, octopus and a variety of desserts, we had a guided visit of the Cathedral, Alcazaba, Roman Theatre and Gibralfaro Castle, from where we had the best panoramic views of the city and port.

Later that evening we dined at Bodegas El Pimpi, where we sampled a combination of traditional, local and modern cuisine. Malaga’s terraces and streets are home to numerous restaurants that offer fish, tapas and a selection of local wines and beers.

Meeting Picasso in Malaga

Meeting Picasso in Malaga

Day 2: Malaga

Our first stop today was to the city’s markets, which included a colourful display of fruit and vegetables, olives and fish.

After sampling some fresh strawberries, we had an interesting guided tour of Picasso’s Museum and the Carmen Thyssen Museum. Afterwards a stroll along the port of Malaga brought into view huge cruise ships, luxury yachts and old war ships.

Later in the afternoon, we made our coach transfer to Ronda, which was to prove to be my favourite destination on this trip.

New bridge at Ronda

New bridge at Ronda

Day 3: Ronda

After breakfast, we had a guided tour of the city, visiting the most important museums and monuments. These included the House of Saint John Bosco, which provided great views of the city due to the unique location of this little palace.

We stopped for refreshments at the House of the Morrish King, and admired the views of the New Bridge and the gorge. There is so much to see in Ronda – including the Gate of Philip V, San Sebastian Minaret, Arab Baths and, of course, the Plaza De Toros, which is the oldest bullring in existence for modern bullfighting.

In the afternoon, we drove out to the countryside to visit a local winery, Bodega Joaquin Fernandez, where we were treated to a country-style showcooking and wine tasting experience – a must-do experience for every visitor to Andalusia.

We continued our journey on to Antequera where, on checking-in at the Coso Viejo Hotel, we had some free time to check out the sights, shops and bars in this beautiful ancient city.

Antequera from the castle

Antequera from the castle

Day 4: Antequera

It is essential for any visitor to Antequera to get to the upper part of the city where they will be dazzled by the overwhelming monumental site of the Alcazaba.

We walked through the ruins of the ancient Moor castle and admired the views of the vast and varied landscape, which included Lovers Mountain, shaped like a face, and the city below – with its 27 cathedrals!

That afternoon, we travelled outside the city to El Torcal Natural Park, which is the most important karst park in Europe – a must-see for those interested in archaeology, flora and fauna.

We stopped for a visit to the dolmens of Antequera archeological site, which is one of the finest and best-known examples of European megalithic architecture.

Later that evening, we dined at Arte de Cozina restaurant, where we had a delicious last supper consisting of several typical Andalucian dishes washed down with plenty of local wines.

As it was our last night, a few of us decided to go to the local 1980s disco in the town centre, which was, surprisingly, a brilliant night!

Lovers Mountain, Antequera

Lovers Mountain, Antequera

Day 5: Malaga

After throwing everything into my suitcase at 8.00am, I headed straight for the coffee machine and downed a few espressos before our coach arrived to bring us to Malaga Airport. I was sad to be leaving such an amazing place and vowed to come back some day.

I would definitely recommend Andalucia for everyone: people sometimes forget that there is much more to the destination than sandy beaches and blue seas. The Costa del Sol also offers the beautiful countryside, cities and culture of Andalucia. Go and see what I have seen, it‘s an unforgettable experience!

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

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