Posts on Spain by Kyle the Vagabond:
It’s no secret the Spanish are a very proud people. Many Castellanos firmly believe that their homeland is the best country in the entire world–and with such a festive, scenic, and diverse nation to call home, they have good reason to brag. In a word, Spain has it all.
Those in tune with big city life can live under the bright lights in Madrid and Barcelona, while those wanting nothing more than to bask on golden Mediterranean shores have the incomparable Costa Brava and Costa del Sol at their disposal. Winter sports enthusiasts can tackle the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada, island lovers can take off to either the Balearics or Canaries, while lovers of art and architecture have found their heaven in virtually every Spanish town, not to mention the massive Prado and Guggenheim museums and soaring cathedrals of Seville and Salamanca. On top of it all exists a vibrant, festive, sexy atmosphere that this life is for living and we are here to enjoy. So enjoy a hot plate of paella, take a long siesta, sip a cafe con leche under the glow of an ancient cathedral, and immerse yourself in the proud cultural heritage of one of Europe’s spiciest zones.
Euro; Exchange Rate: 1 Euro = $1.34 (December 1, 2011). For currency conversion info visit xe.com
Looking for some last minute breaks to Spain?
When to Go:
With such a varied climate on the edge of the Mediterranean, there is hardly a bad time to go to Spain–depending on where you go. Seville, Granada, and Madrid can be unbearably hot in the summer months of June and August, and it is better to escape to the beaches on Spain’s northern border such as San Sebastian, or to the Mediterranean beach towns such as Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona, or the Balearic Islands, where the ocean tempers the heat to more comfortable levels.
In the winter months, the central plateau can be well below freezing and take on an atmosphere of a high desert. Towns such as Madrid, Salamanca, Toledo, and Vallodolid hunker down under the brunt of a dry, cold winter, while the northern coast gets the rains and cold of North Atlantic storms. Luckily, the southern Andalucian region is still bathed in sunshine, although the water temperature in the Med dips to chilly, unswimable temperatures. The mountains of the Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada outside of Granada can get snow as early as October and last until midsummer.
The Vagabond’s Personal Top Picks:
1. Sip a cafe con leche in the Plaza Mayor, Salamanca
One of Europe’s most impressive central squares, the entire University packed city is oriented around this architectural wonder.
2. Stroll down Las Ramblas, Barcelona
One of Barcelona’s main pedestrian thoroughfares, cafes and tiny shops line this tree-lined boulevard bisecting the Mediterranean jewel
3. Hit the beaches and bars in the Balearic Islands
While Ibiza is world-renowned for its massive club scene, the beaches are a pristine place to spend a day recovering and grabbing some sun. Explore the hidden coves of Mallorca and Menorca to find your own secluded beach destination.
4. Botellon at the Castle, Alicante
This illuminated ancient structure towers over the coastal city, and is a popular meeting point for young people to meet and have some litros of beer or vino before heading out on the town. Best view in the city.
5. Buy a sword in Toledo
World-famous for their swordsmanship, all of the swords featured in The Lord of the Rings movies were handcrafted in this Cathedral-happy town.
6. Tour the Alhambra, Granada
Admire the Moorish architecture in Andalucia’s most notable ancient palace.
7. Walk the boardwalk in Marbella
Pretend you’re a celebrity for a day and hang out in this hip (and pricey) retreat on the Costa del Sol.
8. People watch in Parc Guell, Barcelona
Gawk at all the people mesmerized by Gaudi’s unique artwork from a comfy perch on the world’s longest park bench.
9. Stand atop the Cathedral in Seville
One of Europe’s largest, the Seville Cathedral is a major tourist draw in this sweltering Andalucian city.
10. Embrace the siesta
Let the efficient capitalist inside of you rest for a while, and indulge in eating a huge lunch followed by a two hour nap.
11. Hang on the Costa Brava in Tossa de Mar
A lazy fishing village with a 12th century fort, it’s all paella and sangria in this coastal resort haven.