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Spain - Far more than a Beach

fiestasI think one of the problems with Spain is that it still retains the rather tacky image (from the 1970s) of a country capable of delivering little more than ‘sun, sea and sangria’.  Indeed, trying to get rid of the accompanying images of straw donkeys and drunken North European louts must have been exercising the minds of Spain’s frustrated tourist board for years!

In fact, having lived here for the past nine years, I have yet to see a straw donkey and it was only three or four years ago that I first tasted sangria – our local summer drink being tinto verano (effectively red wine with ‘lemonade’).  Meanwhile, leave the high intensity, foreign tourist resorts and you will see little loutish behaviour and encounter a country that is far from tacky and that offers any traveller a rich and varied experience.

Certainly, if you are planning a holiday in Spain then you can do a great deal more than just get a great tan and lie on a beach day after day.  Even during the height of the summer holidays in Spain you can gain a fascinating (and very enjoyable!) insight into the culture of Spain through going to one of the many fiestas in Spain that occur in August.  They are terrific, real ‘eye openers’ and joyful occasions that last a week (with one invariably occurring close to where you are)!

Of course, you may like to see some of the cultural heritage of Spain – a country that has had a very mixed and complicated history, not least after having had a Moorish presence in the country for over 700 years.  You may be under the impression that this was entirely negative but have a look at ‘What did the Moors do for us’ and you may see how profoundly influential (largely for the good!) that the Moors were for the whole of Europe!

tomatinaIn any event, Spain is second only to Italy for the number of World Heritage sites that it has and this means that you can target a visit to some astonishing places - that are along with the best the world has to offer.  A small deviation from your holiday resort can therefore bring you to somewhere that you are unlikely to ever forget.

That said, the most popular tourist attractions in Spain may surprise you.  Can you guess what they are?

Needless to say, the big fiestas in Spain are ever-popular and well worth attending.  They happen every year, normally on the same dates, and can provide an excellent anchor for an out of season holiday in Spain.  Las Fallas in Valencia is a must-see and quite unbelievable and now ranks alongside La Tomatina (the crazy tomato fight in Bunyol) as an occasion to see at least once in a lifetime.  And then there is the beautiful sight of the Capuchins during the Easter parades (particularly in Seville and other Andalusia towns) and the ‘lunacy’ of running with the bulls at Pamplona…

Spain is not just about fiestas and has an incredibly varied countryside from deserts and mountains through to endless plains and areas that are almost as verdant as those found in the UK.  This was well illustrated by a project undertaken by the Royal Geographical Society in London last year, when they produced a fascinating look at the landscape of Spain in a way that I had not seen before.

lescolsSpain, of course, has a bewildering array of places to stay and having the right accommodation in Spain can certainly be the difference between a really stunning holiday and one that only just ‘works’.  I think that is where QuirkyAccom ‘come into its own’ and are able to provide you with options that you would normally not find – or even think of!   After all, what could be more fun than staying in a cave house in Guadix or a urban art hotel in Madrid or a glass pavilion outside Girona…click here for more interesting options in Spain.

Well, the options are endless and mean that not only does Spain offer numerous notable places to see and activities to do but fun places to stay, in and out of season.  Indeed, as someone living here, I would say that the best time to see virtually any part of Spain is when you are not surrounded by a sea of tourists.
So, take advantage of Spain!  With surprising ease and great pleasure you will see that the country is far from just ‘sun, sea and sangria’ and can offer you quality experiences that will provide memories to last you a lifetime.

Nick Snelling – Culture Spain