"From Basques to beaches" Spain by etfromnc

Spain Travel Guide: 56,468 reviews and 150,922 photos

Spain occupies the bulk of Europe's Iberian Peninsula, and lies on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Once the most powerful empire in the world, today Spain is still the most densely populated country in Western Europe. The unbridled zest for life which Spaniards display is a celebrated part of the country?s global reputation.

From the Pyrenees Mountains in the north, the famous beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, the cosmopolitan urban centers of Barcelona and Madrid, and ancient towns throughout, Spain affords a colorful walk through history, art, and culture.

Spain's 40.3 million inhabitants come from a composite of Mediterranean and Nordic heritage, but centuries of immigration have created a unique ethnic group. Her ideal location has attracted many influences throughout history including the Romans (who ruled her for about 600 years), Phoenicians, Greeks, Visigoths, and Muslims from the Mideast and North Africa.

I am not trying to kick her while she is down but Spain's recent national financial difficulties are bringing back many of the bargains for which Spain was once famous and visitors spending money there cannot help but have a positive impact on her economy.

Spanish people are considered a passionate people and their relatively new constitution, which was passed in 1978, freed them to explore, create, express and flourish ? which they have with gusto! Their newfound freedom has released a modern culture with an appetite for life that is also very steeped in important and interesting traditions.

Spain?s contributions to the art world comprise a list which includes legendary artists Goya, El Greco, Picasso, Miro, Dali and the influential Modernist architect, Gaudi. The passion of Spain is expressed in music through the emotionally charged Flamenco dance and invigorating Spanish guitar music. (Andres Segovia is my favorite.) They also eat as heartily as they work and play. Meals tend to be celebrations as well as nourishment. Spain's cuisine has strong Mediterranean influences with specialties like roasted suckling pig and tappas. When in Spain, please devote at least one evening to "tasca-hopping." Spanish food can be rendered even more enjoyable with a robust Spanish wine or refined sherry.

Football, the game that Americans call soccer, is the national sport, but the dramatic challenge between matador and bull in the historic bullfight is the sport most likely to come to mind when one asks a non-Spaniard about sport in Spain. (Do we allow Hemingway too much play in forming our impressions of Spain?) Many festivals originated from somber religious beginnings and may include parades, colorful costumes, tossing tomatoes or even dangerous sport like the famous ?Running of the Bulls? in Pamplona.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The warmth of the people
  • Cons:Cannot think of any, but I was there before al-Qaeda
  • In a nutshell:Great people, delightful food
  • Last visit to Spain: Nov 1996
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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