Spanish Primera Division News and Notes

There has been a great deal of action and excitement over the past couple of weeks in the Spanish Primera Division, and the news and results have been coming in fast and furious since the season ended just two weeks ago. Let’s take a look at everything that has transpired over the course of the past few days to get an early look at what the Primera Division will look like next year.

Barcelona Retains Crown

Barcelona was able to win the Primera Division again this year by beating Valladolid 4-0 in the final game of the season. Barcelona was also able to set a Primera Division record this season by accruing 99 total points over the course of 38 games played. Lionel Messi led all scorers this season on Barcelona with 34 goals in league play and 47 goals in all competitions, which tied the club record set by Ronaldo in the 1996-1997 season. Real Madrid, despite having one of the highest payrolls in Primera Division history, was only able to garner second place. Finishing three points behind Barcelona, Real Madrid finished runner-up for the second straight season despite having one of the greatest collections of players ever assembled on one team.

Team Movements

Next season, the UEFA Champions League will be the homes of Valencia and Sevilla, as both teams qualified through their finishes of third and fourth, respectively, within the Spanish Primera Division. 5th-place Mallorca and 6th-place Getafe have secured spots in next season’s UEFA Europa League while Valladolid, Tenerife, and Xenex have all been placed in the second division.

Summer Transfers

Ricardo Costa has been transferred to Valencia on four-year free deal. Costa had been playing for Lille, but Valencia’s inclusion into the UEFA Champions League forced them to have to make this deal. Costa joins Mehmet Topal, a midfielder from Turkey, who also was signed just a few weeks ago to strengthen the Vallencia team going into next season’s play.

Barcelona continues to get stronger, as they worked out a deal with rival Vallencia to transfer David Villa to the Barcelona squad. Villa has passed his physical examination and is now a member of the powerful Barcelona championship team. In his last five seasons, Villa has averaged 22 goals scored per season, which ranks him near the top of that category in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid, who were able to clinch the inaugural UEFA Europa League title, has gained a transfer in the likes of Arsenal’s Fran Merida. Merida comes to Atletico Madrid on a free transfer for a four-year deal. Merida hasn’t seen a great amount of big-game action since joining the Arsenal squad in 2005.

Sevilla has gotten Mouhamadou Dabo from AS Saint-Etienne on a free transfer. Dabo’s agreement with Sevilla extends the length of four seasons. Part of Dabo’s contract will include a 25 million euro buyout clause. Dabo, a fullback is able to play on either side of the field, with most of his time from this past season spent on the left side of the field.

Coaching Change

Real Madrid parted ways with coach Manuel Pelligrini to bring Jose Mourinho as their new coach for next season’s play. Pellegrini departs at the midpoint of the new two-year deal that he signed before the beginning of this past season. Mourinho, who is currently under contract with Inter Milan until 2012, will need to work out a plan with that squad before he can make settle in to his new home with Real Madrid.

Contract Extension

A one-year contract extension has been given to Atletico Madrid’s coach Quique Sanchez Flores. After winning the inaugural UEFA Europa League title, Flores led Atletico Madrid to a 9th-place finish in the Spanish Primera Division this past season.

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Explore More of London For Less

Benefits of a London audio downloadable walking tour

With an audio downloadable city guide you’re in charge. A good audio downloadable walking tour of London will provide listeners with interesting information about the characters and construction of London’s well and lesser known landmarks. Listeners to a good London city guide need not feel too much like a tourist with a guidebook in their hand. In the unlikely event that the heavens should open, you can stop your tour, head inside to one of London’s numerous attractions, coffee shops or eateries and re-emerge once the rain has stopped – and your appetite has been sated and your enthusiasm rekindled.

London’s Free Attractions

Many of London’s main museums and art galleries are admission free like the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank, the British Museum, the National Portrait and National Galleries. Some temporary exhibitions may charge an entrance fee and, in some cases, booking ahead via telephone or the internet may be necessary.

Plan your Sightseeing

Many of the ceremonial events most closely associated with London, like Mounting the Guard at Horse Guards and Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace only occur at certain times of day. To avoid disappointment check before you set out for the day and be mindful of the weather. In the event of torrential rain even the stoical Guards outside Buckingham Palace will retreat indoors. Certain key events in London’s calendar only take place once or twice a year. The Trooping of the Colour (sometimes called the Queen’s Birthday Parade), marking the British Monarch’s Official Birthday takes place each June, the Lord Mayor’s Parade takes place in November and so does the State Opening of Parliament. Tickets for the aforementioned Trooping the Colour sell out fast, book well in advance if you want to enjoy the pomp and pageantry in the flesh, while you’re in town.

Minimize your carbon footprint

When sightseeing it’s nice to be able to just soak up the atmosphere of a city. By walking you will be able to see more of London in its natural light, than you would be able to from the top of sightseeing bus, and reduce your carbon footprint into the bargain (and burn a calorie or two in the process). Enjoy the street entertainers in Covent Garden, people spot in Trafalgar Square, follow in the footsteps of the stars in Leicester Square, walk across to the South Bank via the Millennium Bridge or Tower Bridge and admire the City of London’s modern architecture.

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Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the U.S

How do you make a top-ten list of something subjective like honeymoon locations? Systematically, that’s how.

Highly Scientific Ranking

To create this list, I started with general Internet searches for top honeymoon spots in the U.S. I tried to weed out the advertisers and focused instead on the news and information websites, such as About.com, MSNBC and USA Today.

Next, I began putting the various lists into a spreadsheet, and then cross-referenced the data to find the ten locations that occurred most often on the most lists. When that proved to be way too complicated, I just picked the ten locations I liked the most! Voila … a top-ten romantic getaway list (in no particular order).

Top 10 Romantic Getaways in the United States

1. Mountain Cabin – Part One

If you’re the kind of person that equates «romantic getaway» with «mountain seclusion,» then a cabin in the Rockies might be just the thing. The popular ski towns of Aspen and Vail, Colorado are popular for another reason – cabin retreats. Imagine the snow falling around your warm and cozy cabin. Imagine the smell of hot chocolate and the bubbling sound of a hot tub. And just imagine being there with the one you love!

2. Mountain Cabin – Part Two

The Smokey Mountains come up on a lot of romantic getaway lists. For instance, each year approximately 10,000 people get married in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a popular vacation spot in the Smokey Mountains. Because of this, the mountain town has become known as the unofficial wedding and honeymoon capital of the South. With its wooded seclusion, small-town charm, and breathtaking mountain views, it’s no wonder so many people equate «Gatlinburg» with «romantic retreat.»

3. Bed & Breakfast in Vermont

Manchester, Vermont offers all the ingredients of a classic New England getaway — white-steepled churches, bed and breakfast accommodations, romantic dining and great skiing.

In more recent times, shopping has also taken root in Manchester. The city’s website, ManchesterVermont.com, says: «Today, visitors to our community come to enjoy Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren and J. Crew, as well as the more traditional recreational activities.»

4. Cape Cod, Massachusetts

There’s a reason the Kennedy family owned vacation homes in Cape Cod. This New England seascape is the essence of «small beach town» tranquility. Don’t expect an action-packed beach-resort experience – Cape Cod is not that kind of vacation spot. But if your idea of relaxation is a seaside stroll along historic harbors, biking and boating, and visiting an antique shop or two, then this is your place.

5. San Francisco, California

San Francisco is a picturesque city with a diverse mix of cultures and populations. It’s also a popular destination for couples in search of a romantic getaway. Between the Golden Gate Bridge and their world-famous trolleys, San Francisco offers something for everyone.

As an alternative, you might also consider adjacent Sausalito, California, a Mediterranean-style village that marks the gateway to California Wine Country. And speaking of California wine…

6. California Wine Country

If your idea of romance involves good wine and good scenery, you can’t go wrong with California Wine Country as your destination. Napa Valley and Sonoma County are about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, and they have long been an attraction for honeymooners, wine lovers, and wine-loving honeymooners. Add in the scenery and the availability of bed-and-breakfast-style lodging, and you have all the makings of a great romantic getaway.

7. Big Island, Hawaii

Sure, some parts of Hawaii are quite touristy. (Waikiki comes to mind.) But there are plenty of locations on the volcano-formed island that offer beauty, seclusion and a nature-rich experience you can’t find anywhere else.

On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kona Village Resort is famous for providing comfort and luxury in an otherwise remote tropical region. The resort is also a popular spot for honeymooners, and it comes up on quite a few «top ten» lists like this one.

8. Charleston, South Carolina

I grew up in Virginia and have traveled all throughout the Carolinas. But when I think of «Southern hospitality,» one place comes to mind above all others. Charleston, South Carolina. Marjabelle Young Stewart, one of America’s well-known etiquette experts, once called Charleston the «most mannerly» city in the U.S., and I think she was right.

Founded in 1670, Charleston held significance during both the American Revolution and the Civil War. To this day, it retains much of its old-world charm and gentility. Conde Nast Traveler has named it a top-ten domestic destination for nine consecutive years.

There’s one other thing I love about Charleston. I’m a southerner by birth, and I vote for Charleston as having the most delightful of all the southern dialects.

9. Niagara Falls

Okay, so this one’s a bit cliche. But the reason Niagara Falls has been in so many movies, songs and water-cooler conversations is because so many people flock to it with romantic notions in mind. Straddling the border between the U.S. (New York) and Canada, Niagara Falls has attracted honeymooners and getaway-ers for 200 years.

In fact, if you played word-association and said «Niagara Falls,» most people would probably say one of two things – waterfall or honeymoon. For that reason alone, Niagara Falls has earned its place on this list.

10. Home Sweet Home

If you consider your home a cozy refuge from the world, it is in a sense a getaway. After all, home is a place to get away from lots of things — work, school, crowds, relatives, noise, traffic and hassle. It’s also a place where you’re the most comfortable. So there’s certainly nothing unromantic about a crackling fire, a bottle of champagne, and a table for two in home sweet home.

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