Monday, July 8, 2013

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Since we’ve been living in London, three of my friends have opened up their homes and invited us in.  There's just something about spending time with people on their home turf that shows you another side of them.  I’ve been thinking about the things that made those visits so special.

We stepped over the threshold and were immediately and completely embraced into their world. The conversation was easy and familiar. We were introduced to new experiences and new friends. The hours full of laughter and conversation, flew by. I snooped explored all of the things that make their house a home. The remembrances of people and places that they value are sprinkled along the shelves and walls. And I left each of those homes knowing more about my friends and wondering when I would get to return.

That is exactly how our short but sweet visit to Spain left me feeling: embraced by the familiar, charmed by the new, delighted with the company and eager to get back.  Spain has now jumped into the top three places I’ve visited so far and here are my...

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain
  

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain


Sunshine & Views


Dominating the Iberian Peninsula, Spain is the fifth largest country in Europe. It’s just a bit smaller than Texas.  At the crossroads of Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Spain is both geographically and culturally diverse.  The predominantly Mediterranean climate means that it’s often dry, sunny and warm (although we did experience an afternoon shower on several of the days).  Surrounded by 5,000 miles of coastline it’s known for its beaches. But the interior of the country is just as gorgeous with mountain ranges, vast plateaus, lakes, and orchards.

Culture & Heritage

 

Spain was one of the first countries to colonize the New World.  I’m from San Antonio which was one of the first and largest Spanish Colonial cities in what is now Texas.  After being surrounded by the Spanish influenced culture, language, missions, and architecture of South Texas, Spain felt like coming home.   Spain is the home of Flamenco, Picasso, Cervantes, world famous festivals and so much more.  Did you know that Spain is one of only three countries with over 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites?  The various regions such as Andalucia, Basque Country and La Rioja have so much to offer.   Visit major cities like Barcelona or Madrid or head to the sparkling beaches of Costa Brava.  So much to do, so little time.

Comfortable & Convenient


There are over 40 airports just waiting for your arrival in Spain.  With a massive, modern motorway system and a high speed rail that rivals any in Europe getting around is easy. We took a quick 3 hour flight to Malaga direct from Gatwick.  We traveled by taxi, bus and train in the 72 hours we were there and had no problems at all.   (Well, except for a little panic attack on a bus in the mountains, but that’s a story for another day.)  Spain is part of the European Union.  We were able to use our Euros and passport control was a breeze.  Another plus for me, is that smoking is banned in public areas.  Obviously, Spanish is the main language, but like most places we’ve visited in Europe, English is widely spoken.  (Just don’t let that be an excuse to not even learn the basics.)  Tourism is one of Spain’s largest industries and they know what they are doing.

Food & Drink


I could go on for days about this one.  I love the Spanish attitude towards food and drink.  They appreciate the good stuff.  You’re encouraged to relax and take the time to savor.  Instead of throwing in a lot of spices and sauces, they let really high-quality food speak for itself.  Light dishes with plenty of vegetables.  Fresh seafood caught just this morning.  High quality free range meats. Cheeses. Olives. Citrus.  Chorizo (pork sausage).  Gazpacho (chilled soup). Paella (rice dish).  Jamón (dry cured ham).  My mouth is watering. Is yours?

Have you ever enjoyed Spanish Tapas? You must visit a Spanish Tapas Bar.  With your drink, you order one or two small plates or snacks.  Tapas comes from the Spanish word for “to cover.”   One explanation says this originated as a slice of bread or sausage that you would put over your glass of wine to keep the flies from taking a swim.  And since we all know that a deep red wine and a spicy sausage are pretty much made for each other the idea took off.  I just love a long, leisurely, social evening of tapas and wonderful Spanish wine, or maybe an ice cold pilsner style beer.  Here’s a sample tapas menu to give you an idea.  You’ll leave the bar feeling revived, relaxed and ready for more instead of stuffed, tipsy and ready for bed.  I must stop here even though I haven’t even mentioned cava, sangria, coffee... 

Conversation & Laughter


I've mentioned that visiting Spain felt like coming home.  Sitting quietly at a patio café eavesdropping on that smooth Castilian Spanish with its soft lisp was relaxing.  Gracias becomes “grathias” instead of the “grasias” that I’m used to, but it was still so familiar.  I just love how Spain feels.  It was so comfortable and relaxed.  The people of Spain are known for their joyous love of celebration and every day is a reason to celebrate.  Yes, like most of Europe they have been hit hard by the economic crisis.  You will read about austerity, unemployment and a severe recession.  And I know that many people have been deeply affected by these events.   But what I saw was a friendly, passionate, sophisticated group of people trying to live a really good life.  They were nice enough to invite me over the threshold, so that I could get a taste of that good life.  And I can not wait to get back!

And because I couldn't possibly have a post without the visuals,   here are some photos of the beautiful city center in Malaga.  We were only there for one evening but it was the perfect start to our tour.  

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

Top Five Reasons to Visit Spain

 Do you have anything to add to the list?  What do you love about Spain?






This was a personal holiday.  All photos, writing and opinions are my own.
This post is not in partnership with any business or organization.
As always, I promise to be open, honest and transparent with my readers.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.  


This article has been written to recognise the author's contribution to travel and tourism by Avis Car Hire on the A-List Awards 2013.


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44 comments:

  1. We felt exactly the same way about Spain. It was definitely a comfort zone, since I know some Spanish. The food was excellent and the people were friendly. I highly recommend La Alhambra in Granada. I hope to go to Barcelona this year. http://txtanya.blogspot.co.uk/p/travel.html

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  2. I went to Spain last year and also fell in love with the food, history, architecture, views, people...so much to love. We went to Barcelona, Seville, Ronda, Grenada, Madrid, Segovia and Toledo. Here are some of my favorites http://familyvacationplanning.net/tag/spain/

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  3. Olives. Yes olives. I hated them my whole life, but I vowed I would try anything I could while in Spain. I tried some real Spanish olives and I was in love. I eat them heartily now - but only the ones imported from Spain or Portugal. None of those grocery store ones for me!!

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  4. Sarah @ Chantille FleurJuly 8, 2013 at 8:05 PM

    I would like to travel one day...France is top of my list although Spain looks and sounds lovely too!


    Thanks for stopping by my blog recently!


    Sarah xox

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  5. Wow! How beautiful! Would love to visit Spain one day. Thanks for further enticing my travel (obsession?) with your gorgeous photos! x

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  6. Selena,
    I knew you were from Texas but I didn't know it was San Antonio! I lived there right before moving to Austin. I've never considered Spain as a place I wanted to visit but you always enlighten me with your posts and make me want to explore new territory. Thank you for that Selena, you're a great writer!
    Tammy

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  7. Oh wow...now I REALLY want to visit Spain! Sounds like my kind of culture! Your evening pictures are just stunning!

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  8. We lived just outside of Madrid in the suburb of Alcobendas, home of Penelope Cruz. Ha! We loved living there!! And you hit the culture right on!! We miss it so much and can't wait to go for another visit!

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  9. It is sad...but true...I have never been to Spain. Not something I want to continue saying for the rest of my life either. The Sun Also Rises is one of my favourite books and since I read it I have wanted to go. I'm pretty much won over by your photos with all the amazing details in the architecture and the food. I need to just book my flight! Thank you for linking up Selena! x

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  10. I've really enjoyed reading this post, it's brought so many good memories to me! And I had no idea that Spain hosted more than 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
    Even though I'm originally from the Canary Islands, my mother comes from Malaga and my father from a small town in the interior of Spain so I've spent most holidays in the mainland. These photos of Málaga are so beautiful!

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  11. The first time I went to spain was eight years ago for a wedding. I had been living in Ireland for two years at that point and I'll never forget getting off of the plan and feeling the heat greet me, it felt like I was back in Texas and I loved it! So far I've only been to Mallorca and Madrid but I absolutely adore Spain and can't wait to go back :)

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  12. It really surprised me how much it felt like home. It was such a comfortable place to be. I could imagine living there someday. Which city was your favorite, Mallorca or Madrid. I can't wait to get back. xoxo
    Selena

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  13. Lucky girl! What a beautiful country to call home. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Any recommendations on where we should visit next? xoxo
    Selena

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  14. Thanks for stopping by, Bonnie Rose. And thanks to you & Belinda for the #TravelTuesday link up! So many great blogs to explore. xoxo
    Selena

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  15. I'm so glad you said I hit the culture right on, since we were only there for three days. How wonderful to have lived there! Any recommendations on where to visit next time? xoxo
    Selena

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  16. Thanks so much, Sarah!! You have to put Spain on the list. My travel wish list just gets bigger every day! xoxo
    Selena

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  17. No worries! I cannot wait to see what you post next week. x

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  18. Thanks so much, Tammy! Your comments always make my day. San Antonio is a great city! Hope to get home for a visit soon. xoxo
    Selena

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  19. Okay, I might have to try one now. I've always turned my nose to olives, but I need to be more adventurous.
    xoxo
    Selena

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  20. Tamara, your posts on Spain are fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing. Lots of ideas for new places to visit. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting.
    xoxo
    Selena

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  21. I so want to visit Barcelona. I'm glad you agree about Spain. Everyone I've talked to who has visited has just loved it. As always, Tanya, thanks for stopping by & commenting! I've been reading your blog for so long now, I feel like we're just friends... like in real life. :) xoxo
    Selena

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  22. Wow. Gorgeous photos. You have me dying to get back there. I just loved the vibe of Spain. Our first stop off in Spain was San Sebastian. I loved the party vibe and the gorgeous seaside area. I could also never forget Bunol for giving us the best time at La Tomatina. So many great memories. Ahh ...

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  23. If you ever find yourself around Madrid, which is a great city to explore, you must also visit the nearby towns of Cuenca, Toledo & Segovia. I blogged about each of them:
    http://www.girl-meets-globe.com/2011/04/cuenca-spain.html
    http://www.girl-meets-globe.com/2011/01/segovia-spain.html
    http://www.girl-meets-globe.com/2011/01/toledo-spain.html
    We never made it to the northern coast, but we here it is fabulous!

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  24. Thanks so much, Renee. Three days was just not long enough. I'm so ready to get back there! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!! xoxo
    Selena

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  25. Awesome! I'm going to fix a cup of coffee and have a good read. Thanks so much for sharing these links! xoxo
    Selena

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  26. You don't have to tell me twice, I'M SOLD!! We're doing a Spain & Canary Island cruise in October with stops in Barcelona, Malaga, Morocco, Arrecife, and Portugal...so I'm counting down the days till Sangria and beaches!! Oh and history and all that other touristy stuff, too. But mostly sangria. ;)

    Thanks for linking up with the Fresh Face Friday blog hop today!! Hope you have a lovely weekend, Selena!!

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  27. And, of course, just 'cos it's Spaaaaain! x

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  28. I adore Segovia -- strongly recommend it as a day trip from Madrid -- only 30 minutes on the train.

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  29. When the kids go back to school in the fall, we need to meet up in real life. :)

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  30. Hmmm... tough one! I loved them both but since I'm a big city girl at heart, I'll have to go with Madrid :)

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  31. I am SO sold. I am dying to get to Spain :)

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  32. Yay, Sangria!!! I can't wait to read about your Baltic Sea cruise as we'll be leaving in four weeks!! (no pressure!!) Enjoy your weekend, Lovely!!

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  33. london_unattachedAugust 5, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    I love spain too! But I haven't been to Malaga. And now I have destination envy!!! Thank you for linking up!!!

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  34. In all our travels, the closest we've gotten to Spain proper was a week's holiday in Majorca, which we adored. After your persuasive post, I see we really need to get to the mainland. Such beauty!

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  35. Majorca is on our list. So many places, so little time!! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I'm dreaming about those Mexican muffins now. xoxo
    Selena

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  36. I'm glad you enjoyed your (brief) visit - great photos! Maybe you'd consider Mérida and the rest of Extremadura for a future visit - We've got plenty of UNESCO sites to see and breathtaking scenery! :-)

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  37. Sue, thank you so much for commenting! Spain is fabulous! I'm going to add Merida to my Must See list! xoxo
    Selena

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  38. Please let me know if you do plan on coming to the region, Selena, I can give you the lowdown on the best places to see/stay/eat :-)

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  39. I love Spain its culture,people,food,architecture and beaches everything. These photos of Barcelona are look so incredible! Last time when I visit Barcelona with wife and stay in luxury villa near beach. We find every type of facility their like food,drink,travel,entertainment,spa,private pool etc. These photos are remind me some moments which i spend with my wife in streets of Spain. It's totally valuable blog for me!!

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  40. Hi Selena,
    We've read a few of the posts on your Barcelona trip (which are great) but just came across this one. We love your writing about Spain and your photos are pretty special too. This country is such an engaging, exciting and rewarding place to visit and your post captures it perfectly! @TotallySpain us with your Spanish trips so we don't miss out.

    Totally Spain

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  41. Thank you so much for that! Spain is just amazing and it's hard not to get some fantastic photos. I really appreciate you reading and commenting!!!

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  42. Food. That's one of the reasons why I want to visit Spain. Delicious food and beautiful beaches, beautiful combination for travel. And many more...

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  43. By the way, Spain is one of the top holiday destinations that is part of my bucket list. I want to visit this country since the first time I heard a conversation in Spanish. :)

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  44. You bring tears to my eyes. I so miss Spain, I'm from Madrid. I wish I could spend more time than the usual two-week vacation. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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Thanks for commenting. I love to hear from you!