Spain, the best destination.

TODAY Spain is the fourth most visited country in the world, following on from France, United States and China.

More than 52.7 million visitors a year choose to visit Spain and sample some of the delights this country has to offer.

Spanish-born ANDREU ROCA looks at some of his personal favourite highlights.


TOURISTS like Spain for many reasons.

Not only to people flock to Spain because of the great warm weather and the beaches, but this wonderful and varied country also has picturesque mountains, superb food and a range of first class sports to enjoy.

And on top of that, it has many amazing places to visit.

Here are just a few of my personal highlights.

1)   Barcelona


Barcelona is the perfect city for everyone. Its modernist architecture attracts families and couples while young people come because of the weather, beach and parties.

It’s the most visited place in Spain and good transport links make it an easy city to explore.

Whether you want to shop, eat some local food and drink such as fuet, cava, calçots or tapas, or try out the nightclubs near the beach, there is plenty to choose from.

Popular places to visit include Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera o la Casa Batlló although these are always crowded.

This city also has a strong gay scene.


2)   Madrid


Madrid is Spain’s second most popular city for attracting tourists. It is the capital of Spain and is a city very important for business.

Is not as beautiful as Barcelona but has many museums you must visit like Prado’s Museum or el Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Madrid is also a fun city with many parks such as Retiro’s Park, Prado’s Park or Gran Vía, which is very popular for theatre, cinemas and music events.

La Puerta del Sol is a very popular place to celebrate New Year’s Eve.


3)   Sevilla


If you travel to the south of Spain you can’t miss out Sevilla, the capital of Andalucía.

It is one of the most beautiful and hottest cities of Spain.

Take the time to take a walk along the city’s narrow streets or visit the Santa Cruz neighbourhood by horse.

The locals are friendly and take the time to listen to their traditional Flamenco music at one of the many shows in the city.

As they say in a famous song, Sevilla has a special colour that no other city has.


4)   Granada


Granada is also located in the south of Spain. This city is every year visited by thousands of tourists, many who come to see the world famous La Alhambra.

One of the best things you can do in this city is going in the morning to Sierra Nevada, where you can practise your ski-ing before spending the afternoon on Motril’s beach.

Granada is a very good city for students and young people that just want to have some fun.

There are cheap visits for tourists organized by the town hall.


5)   Ibiza


Everybody knows Ibiza – the magical  island that has both the best beaches and  the best nightclubs in the world.

Rich people, students, families and couples all come together on this Spanish island.

Ibiza became famous as every summer the best Dj’s and artists play at clubs such as Privilege, Amnesia or Space, which brings in people from around the world.

During the day, you can enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches – it is very common to find important football players, singers or actors relaxing in these beaches.

Ibiza is part of the Balear’s Islands and you can also visit Mallorca, Menorca and Formentera, three beautiful places with the perfect weather.

If you like party, you must book a room in Platja D’en Bossa, in the center of the best parties.


6)   Toledo


Toledo is one of the closest cities to Madrid and often called the Imperial city.

Toledo is also called the city of the three cultures because of having being inhabited for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Many Spanish people visit Toledo, because it is very popular for the Greco’s monuments and paintings.

If you like history, you should visit this special place.

You can visit this city in just one day.


7)   Bilbao


Bilbao is situated in the Basque Country, in the North of Spain. It is an industrial city, but very attractive because of  its contemporary architecture.

The Guggenheim Museum has completely transformed the vision of the city and is the place most visited by tourists.

There are also other monuments and places to visit like Museo de las Bellas Artes, the Archaeological museum or a popular celebration called El Chupinazo.

Near Bilbao you can also visit Pamplona, famous for “San Fermín”, a typical Spanish celebration with bullfighting and partying during one week in July.


8)   Valencia


Valencia is Spain’s third most populated city after Madrid and Barcelona.

Is an interesting city, very popular because of the  Arts and Science and attracts tourists every year.

Valencia has hot weather with beautiful beaches to cool off on and there are lots of activities for young people.

They celebrate local parties like the Fallas and they have very typical Spanish and Mediterranean food like paella and shellfish.

There is a big park called Gulliver’s park, which is very nice and fun for kids.


9)   Santiago de Compostela


The capital of Galicia has been the most important pilgrimage city in Europe since the Middle Ages.

Santiago might not always have great weather, but it’s a great tourist place for families, religious people and sporty people alike. Many people ride along Camino de Santiago (Santiago’s main road) by bicycle.

In this city you can find beautiful churches and cathedrals, which are visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.

You can also travel to A Coruña, Pontevedra or Luego, very close to Santiago de Compostela.

You can find cheap hostels near the centre.


10)    Canary Islands


The Canary Islands are one of the best places to visit to just relax and switch off from the routine of life.

You can go any month of the year because  the islands are so close to Africa, they enjoy good weather and temperatures all year round.

There are seven different islands you can visit though Lanzarote, Tenerife and Gran Canaria are the most popular.

Worth a visit are the popular volcanoes found here, such as el Teide, in Tenerife.

Carnival is the best time to travel to the Canary Islands.


All in all, Spain is a beautiful country with plenty of interesting places to visit.

By using this guide, you can choose to travel to what I think are some of its best destinations and learn a little bit about them.

If you plan to travel around Spain in summer, I recommend you start by visiting Barcelona and then continue to the South, calling in at Valencia, Córdoba and Sevilla.

If you prefer to come in winter, I would suggest starting in the north, visiting Santiago, Bilbao and Madrid.

And the best time to book cheap flights and hostels is seven weeks before coming.

from Tside

Guest Artist: Tess Chaytor: Post from Perform@tees

Tess Chaytor from Tinarts delivered a session for our second years as part of their Dance Facilitation module.

Focusing on dance delivery for those with learning disabilities, the company was established 15 years ago and is now hoping to share its practice internationally as well as within the UK.

In her session, Tess unpicked her teaching structure, use of music and adaptation of dance movements into a relatable and fun method for ages 4-7. The prevailing message was ‘the dance content is the same, the packaging is different’!

from perform@tees

Neknominate: Causing a New Level of Peer Pressure?

PEER pressure often hits when you least expect it.

It usually starts in the schoolyard, with fairly innocent dares such as shouting “bogies” as loud as you can without getting caught.

Often people go along with these dares as they find them funny, but there are other times when the joke wears thin and peer pressure kicks in to make sure the dare is still carried out.


MEGHAN: Neknominate is not in the US… yet!

Over time, the scale of the dare can grow and by the time you reach university, friends start “Neknominating” you to down a pint of Fosters and bleach?Features writer LEONIE ANN GARLICK logs onto Facebook to explore the extremities of the hashtag drinking sensation “Neknominate” and looks into whether it’s still “just a game” that people are playing!


WITH its roots in Melbourne, Australia, Neknominate is now possibly one of the most talked about topics at the moment.

The trend has grown massively since the start of this year, with individuals from all corners of the country forwarding the game to their friends list every 24 hours as requested.

What seemed like a harmless concept at first, Neknominate started out as nothing more than its game play rules suggested: “Neck your drink. Nominate another. Don’t break the chain, don’t be a d**k. The social drinking game for social media! #neknominate. Drink Responsibly.”

Down a pint, pass it on; similar to an adult version of pass the parcel!

Simple harmless fun?

Chances are your personal timeline is packed out with exactly what the game promises- an undefeatable chain of friends bound by beer.

But a swift navigation to Google shows something a little more sinister- a gruesome carnival of videos and articles all in the name of Neknominate. Young males downing fake tan and Listerine, viral photographs of a teenager doused in sherry and sick; and news reports of a 32 year old man jumping off a 90 foot bridge in Cornwall are all flashing away on the screen.

Is this a little more than we bargained for?

Meghan Dondzila, who lives in New York but has many friends in Britain, said: “It all seemed quite harmless at the start, with people just recording themselves drinking one beer quickly.

“But then it started to get really competitive for guys to come up with more crazy ways to do this.

“I’m glad it hasn’t become popular in the US… yet.”


NEKNOMINATE: To Nek, or not to Nek?

Since its grand debut, Neknominate has caused a wealth of concern among participating nations.

These concerns do not just come from the media, but from families, health authorities and legal authorities, too.  Police are even investigating cases of drink-driving, which have been linked to the game.

Meghan, who is an aspiring teacher, adds: “I don’t think chugging one beer is awful.

“But jumping off a bridge afterward?

“Yes, that’s a bit too much.”

So, has anything positive been come out of this social media storm?

Queue “#Raknominate.”

RAK, or “Random Act of Kindness” works in very much the same way as Neknominate.

Although instead of drinking, Raknominations can include anything from buying a stranger’s daughter a magazine, to giving a homeless man lunch, to making your flu-ridden flatmate a surprise hot chocolate.

Meghan said: “I saw a video of a South African man driving to this parking lot and giving another man some food.

“I thought it was a good idea and a better way of competitively outdoing the previous (nominate) without being unsafe.

“I think it could really catch on- perhaps peer pressure can have a positive spin-off and actually help people.”




from Tside

Holiday Out Of Term Time? Forget It!

THE school holidays are the perfect opportunity for family time – trips to the park, to the seaside for fish and chips as well as paddling pools in the garden.

What the school holidays aren’t about however it seems, is taking the children away – because of the extortionate prices travel companies are charging for breaks that fall during school holidays.

It’s an issue that’s reached parliament, with MP’s set to debate the high prices charged by travel companies during school holidays after Paul Cookson, an aggrieved parent of one, from South Devon, set up an internet campaign claiming he was “sick to death” of being ripped off.

After initially posting a ‘rant’ on Facebook, Mr Cookson set up a petition to call for a stop on holiday firms charging more for people simply doing the right thing and trying to take their children away during school holidays. The petition gathered 160,000 signatures showing the strength of feeling on this.

FACEBOOK RANT: Paul Cookson with his post that sparked the debate.

FACEBOOK RANT: Paul Cookson with his post that sparked the debate.

As it stands, according to, parents face fines of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months, for taking their children on holiday during term time.

Recently, a couple from Telford in Shropshire hit the headlines after being fined £1,000 by magistrates for taking their two children on holiday during term time.

Stewart and Natasha Sutherland were initially fined £360 by the school, but after failing to pay this, the fine was doubled and the couple were taken to court. The court ruled that they had to pay a further £1,000 in costs and fines.

Mr Sutherland, 39, told the BBC: “The people who make these laws and policies don’t live in the real world.”

So what choice do parents have? Many parents believe it is simply too expensive to take a family holiday outside of term time, and parents feel as though they are in a catch 22 situation.

Olivia Clarke, 34, an office worker from Peterlee said: “I have two kids and me and my husband work full time but we still can’t afford to take our children on holiday during half term or the summer holidays. We try to do the right thing yet we seem to be penalised by holiday firms for sticking to the rules!”

Young dad Brian Jenning, 28, a call centre worker from Seaham added: “It’s not really fair is it. Last time we went on holiday we won a competition so it wasn’t a problem for us, but I definitely couldn’t afford to take the kids away in the six weeks holidays.”

So what is the solution? Travel companies defend themselves by saying they have to charge more, as school holidays are their peak times and incur more expense.

Managing Director of Hays Travel, John Hays, said: “Both school attendance and family holidays are hugely important to children, so I understand it can be difficult for people when the prices are hiked up around the school holidays.

“Here at Hays Travel we try to do everything we can to help families afford a break and that’s why we have worked with our local councils for more than 10 years now, offering discounts to families booking getaways within the official school holidays.”

RIP OFF: This shows the price changes holiday firms often charge.

RIP OFF: This shows the price changes holiday firms often charge.

One suggestion to overcome widespread price hikes is to stagger school holidays across the country so that not everyone is on holiday at the same time – and campaigners seem to welcome this.

John Hays agrees with this and added: “One thing I think would make a big difference is if the Government staggered school holidays the way France and other countries do, meaning we wouldn’t get such a steep peak.”

Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, who has raised this issue in Parliament, told Sky News: “Obviously parents are being charged a lot more for one part of the year compared to another part of the year … what matters is finding a way that people can go on holiday with their children and spend time with their children.”

According to the Facebook page set up by Paul Cookson, travel firms are generally charging three to five times more for holidays out of term time rather than in it.

It remains to be seen what will happen in parliament but if all goes well, that paddling pool in the back yard could well be swapped for a full-size pool in the sun coupled with a fight for a sunbed!

And that’s something we’d all welcome.

from Tside

How has immigration affected Middlesbrough?

CONCERNS were raised when it was claimed hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians would be heading for Britain after immigration controls were lifted.

But what has been the real impact since the restriction were lifted on January 1?

Tside reporter Xingchan Feng went to find out how Middlesbrough has been affected.

WITH the EU restriction on immigration lifted earlier this year Bulgarians and Romanians gained the same rights to work and live in the UK as other EU citizens.

Huge numbers of people from both countries had been expected to arrive in the UK causing concerns to be expressed in the media that the country would not be able to cope with so many people from the Eastern European countries turning up.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed in a recent newspaper article that the influx from Romania and Bulgaria has been ‘reasonable’.

So, is immigration from Bulgaria and Romania to the UK good or not?

Has the recent Romania and Bulgaria immigration affected Middlesbrough in any way?


Has Middlesbrough been innundated with immigrants?

And is immigration beneficial for Middlesbrough?

Tside spoke to Dr Pete Widlinski, Information and Communications Manager of the North of England Refugee Service.

Click on the video below to find out  how  immigration has affected  Middlesbrough.

from Tside