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Saturday, January 18, 2014
20 reasons to drop everything and go to Spain!
1.) Mediterranean Paradise
Spain's long, sandy Atlantic beaches and cozy Mediterranean coves are rightly famous throughout Europe. That most get over 300 days of sun a year doesn't hurt either.
2.) ...and the mountains are just around the corner.
Trivia: Spain is Europe's second most mountainous country, after Switzerland. In Switzerland, though, you can't have a cocktail by the sea an hour away from the slopes. (Photo by Adria V. Fernandez)
3.) It has the best restaurant in the world
Ferran Adria's legendary elBulli was number one in its day, and now another Catalan eatery, El Celler de Can Roca, has taken the reins as 2013's best restaurant in the world.
4.) ...and the oldest restaurant in the world
Casa Botín is the world's oldest continuously-running restaurant and the painter Goya even worked there as a waiter. Plus, it serves a pretty mean roast pig.
5.) There are Egyptian temples
Yup, there's actually an Egyptian temple smack in the center of Madrid. The Egyptians, of course, didn't live in Spain; the Temple of Debod was actually a gift from Egypt in 1968.
6.) ...lots of Roman ruins...
Italy takes the cake on this one, but ancient Hispania has some fine Roman ruins of its own. Plus some, like the Roman theatre in Mérida, are still often used for performances.
7.)...and Moorish palaces.
The Moors ruled
for nearly 800 years and their influence is seen on everything from the language to some of Spain's most famous sights, like the Alhambra in Granada.
8.) The parties are legendary
Few local parties make international news, but few places throw a party like Spain. The Tomatina is an annual fave and Pamplona's Running of the Bulls drew nearly 100,000 people in 2013.
9.) ...and there are dozens you still haven't discovered.
Most Spanish villages have their own summer
, ranging from folk dances to 5-story human statues, flaming effigies, and battles involving paint, meringue, grapes, or oranges.
10.) There are amazing cathedrals...
Spain has cathedrals of every stripe, from Gaudi's modern masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, a place of international pilgrimage.
Check out some apartments in Barcelona :
Sure, Europe is full of cathedrals, but how about 1000-year-old mosques? The
in Cordoba is unique in Europe and has been a World Heritage Site since 1984.
12.) ...and mind-blowing water parks!
Lago Martianez, an oasis of sea water, palms, and volcanic rock in Tenerife, brings waterparks to the level of art. Plus, you can spend all day there for less than the price of your sunscreen.
13.) The whole place is riddled with hidden beaches
(coves) are a Spanish classic. Skip the city beaches and head for the Balearic Islands and find endless gems hidden between pine forests and crystal-blue water.
14.) It produces the best wine in the world...
The La Rioja region makes some of the world's best
, including Wine Spectator's Best Wine of 2013. Since most of it is consumed internally, it's still deliciously affordable.
15.) ...and you get free food when you order a drink.
Serving something tasty with your drink is a time-honored Spanish tradition. In some cities, especially smaller ones, it's entirely possible to have a full dinner just by ordering drinks.
16.) You can visit Salvador Dalí's house...
Come for the priceless works of art, stay for the Cadillac in the patio and giant eggs on the roof.
See more photos of the
Salvador Dalí House-Museum
17.) ...and eat chicken grilled on an active volcano.
You read that right. On the volcanic island of Lanzarote, you can spend the morning hiking the volcano at
Timanfaya National Park
then enjoy a lunch cooked over an open volcanic vent. (Photo by Naxos)
See more photos of
18.) People decorate their houses like this
Andalucía is full of sunny bougainvillea-draped villages, and Cordoba even holds an annual competition for the most flowery courtyards which draws thousands of visitors.
See more photos of
19.) There are countless varieties of paella
From rabbit and snails to mussels and prawns, paella comes in dozens of local varieties which are a matter of regional pride in many provinces. Lucky for us, they're all mouth-watering.
20.) Mediterranean lifestyle, anyone?
While many stereotypes (daily
, achem) are more myth than fact, the culture of long family meals, Sunday snoozes, and summers on the coast certainly has its appeal.
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