Spain Travel Guide

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Travel to Spain
 

Spain is more than bullfights, flamenco dancers and crowded beaches. It's a spectacular and diverse country, the north resembling the rolling, green hills of Ireland and the south giving you a taste of Moroccan landscapes and architecture. Its tremendous history is reflected in its prehistoric cave paintings, Moorish palaces, crumbling castles, Roman ruins, Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals as well as some very distinctive modern architecture. The uniqueness of Spain lies in the separate kingdoms which made up the original Spanish nation. These regions remain diverse in their language, culture, cuisine and art. They include: Andalucía, Aragon, Asturias, Basque Country, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla León, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra and Valencia. Areas of interest are not limited to each region.

Beaches
Excellent and quiet beaches can be found near Malaga, Huelva and Almería in the south as well as near the coasts of La Manga, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Euskadi. If you do enjoy extremely developed resort towns, there are plenty of crowded beaches on the Costa de la Luz and the Costa del Sol. Interesting is the harbour of Almerimar with cosy bars, just south of El Ejido (Almeria).

Very unique architecture can be found in Córdoba, Salamanca, Granada, Toledo, Madrid... The visionary architecture of Antoni Gaudí and the Picasso museum are in Barcelona while Madrid is home to Spain’s top three art museums.

Countrysides
If you would rather get some fresh air, Spain is filled with opportunities to visit wildlife parks as well as trekking. The Pyrenees, especially around the Aragón area, are the best areas for trekking. Andalucía has its Sierra Nevada mountain chain with luxurious skiing resorts near Granada. Ski-sports are possible from November up to May. Between Guadix and Baza (famous horsemarket) one can find cave-dwellings, cave hotels, and beautiful natural parks. North and between these towns still are unexplored desert sceneries, with hamlets not even found on maps! The highway infrastructure in this "wild" part of Andalucia is excellent.

Social culture
Spanish people are very open-hearted and comunicative. You won't have any problems to get to know someone, especially in the big cities like Madrid or Barcelona. It's often said that the Spanish living room is the bar where the people usually spend a lot of time in the mornings and in the evenings.

Spaniards in general are very patriotic about both their country and the region in which they live. Try to avoid arguments about whether people from Catalonia or the Basque Country are Spaniards or not.
It is customary to kiss friends, family, and acquaintances on both cheeks (without the lips actually making contact with the cheek) upon seeing each other and saying goodbye. Male-to-male kisses of this sort are limited to family members.
During lunch or dinner, Spaniards do not begin eating until everyone is seated and ready to eat. Likewise, they do not leave the table until everyone is finished eating.
  • When Spaniards receive a gift or are offered a drink or a meal, they usually refuse for a bit, so as not to seem greedy. This sometimes sparks arguments among especially reluctant people, but it is seen as polite. Remember to offer more than once (on the third try it must be fairly clear if they will accept it or not). On the other hand, if you are interested in the offer, politely smile and decline it, saying that you don't want to be a nuisance, etc. but relent and accept when they insist.
  • When in a car, the elderly and pregnant always ride in the passenger's seat, unless they request not to.
  • Appearing drunk in public is generally frowned upon.
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