|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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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