Learning Spanish, Planning a Visit to Spain

by Chief Spanish Learner on December 1, 2011

I promised in my post about Speaking Spanish while traveling that I would tell you the source of my info. It is Laura, who writes The Spanish Blog and lives in Spain.

So I asked Laura, if I were to visit Spain and had at most 1-2 weeks there, what should I see. Here is her reply:

I have to recognise that I am slightly biased, coming from Bilbao in the Basque Country, but I absolutely love the north coast of Spain and would highly recommend a visit to the four provinces of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and The Basque Country. This is not the typical Spanish tourist destination and the Spain you will experience there is not the typical Spain of sun-baked beaches, white-walled villages, sangria, flamenco dresses and paella, but I am completely sure that there is something for everyone along this beautiful coastline.

The only issue might be the weather as it definitely rains a lot in northern Spain and temperatures do not reach the giddy heights of the Costas. However, with the rain comes lush green rolling hills, vast dense forests and an abundance of natural plants and flowers that have led Northern Spain to be called “Green Spain”. Personally I find it a struggle to deal with the summer temperatures of central and southern Spain. I am a fan of temperatures in the region of 25ºC (77ºF) and 30ºC (86ºF) and that is exactly what you are likely to find in northern Spain between April and October.
picture from northern Spain
Green Spain
Photo by Habladorcito
click here for more information on this photo.

Spain’s north coast ticks off pretty much every holiday checkbox. The beaches are beautiful and offer a wide range of water sport possibilities, there are challenging mountains to scale or ski, and crystal clear rivers to fish or canoe. There are big modern cities to marvel at and quaint little villages to take you back in time.

The Guggenheim Museum
Photo by MANovillo

There are famous tourist attractions aplenty as well; from the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, to Los Picos de Europa in Asturias and Cantabria, La Concha beach in San Sebastián to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela and the termination of the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

San Sebastian sea mar beach playa
Cielo Azul!!! (blue sky)
San Sebastian Photo by jlastras
click here for more information on this photo.

Spain is famous for its food and drink. There are wonderful original dishes to be enjoyed anywhere you may find yourself in Spain and fine locally produced wines to rival any other wine producing country of the world. The cuisines of the provinces of northern Spain offer everything from Michelin Star fine dining to rustic country food and traditional recipes passed down through the generations. Some of the most famous and time-honoured classics include: “Fabada Asturiana” (Asturian style sausage and bean casserole), “Pulpo Gallego” (Galician style octopus) and “Marmitako” (Basque style fish stew) and these are great washed down with a glass or two of Asturian Cider, Basque Txakoli or Galician Albariño.

For me the ideal scenario would be to hire a car and explore the four provinces at one’s leisure. Car hire is very reasonably priced in Spain and it is the best way to personalise your trip. There are airports in San Sebastián, Bilbao, Santander, Gijón and La Coruña, though the vast majority of flights will land in Madrid. Thanks to the fantastic new Spanish autopistas, Madrid is only a few hours away. Once you have picked up your hire car you can set your own course. Keen walkers might want to head to Los Picos de Europa or the craggy coastline of Galicia, city enthusiasts to Bilbao or San Sebastián, and beach lovers to Santander or Gijón. Keep an eye out for any festivals that may be on at the time as these are usually well worth planning your route around.

Being from Bilbao myself, I couldn’t leave without plugging our fine August festival: “La semana grande” (The Big Week). This is wonderful entertainment for people of all ages and the friendly atmosphere is a delight. People travel from far and wide to enjoy the festivities and the streets are lined with marquees of food and drink, party music, street theatre, concerts and traditional Basque sports. Music is central to the fiestas and there are all sorts of weird and wonderful free performances going on throughout the city, day and night.

Every evening there is an important international firework competition which sees both banks of the River Nervión lined with spectators watching in awe at some of the most impressive displays you will see anywhere in the world.

1 comments
Dalyamethew
Dalyamethew

I think,Spain is the better option for me where i can go or think to spend my vacation with my family..Amazing list on these places that you share here....I like your awesome ideas....

http://www.locationvillaespagne.com/

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