SPAIN BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The truth is, there is not a country of “Spain”, there is “Spains” plural which capture people’s hearts and minds for many diverse reasons. Spain is the busy Atlantic ports, the factories and fogy green countryside of Galicia, where pilgrims have come for centuries to the shrine of Santiago. But Spain is also the rice fields and orange groves of Valencia, and the sun bleached mosques and minarets of Granada and Seville. Spain is the gypsy music and flashing colours of dancers, and the guitars of romantic Andalusia, as well as the walls and towers of Moorish culture. Spain is gothic cathedrals with alters clad in gold, and also the shy smile of a barefoot child. Architecture soars here on a grand scale like Gaudi’s enigmatic Cathedral ‘La Sagrada Familia’ in Barcelona, but the gypsy caves in the south are just as authentically Spanish. In discovering “Spain, one discovers something about oneself. Enjoy the play-grounds of Malaga and Torremolinos, but don’t forget the “real” Spain; Madrid and the Escorial, and the nearby Toledo and Avila, and Segovia, Aranjuez, and the Guadarrama Sierra Mountains. Let us show you the other Spain, so that your holiday is also a voyage of discovery. Like a conquistador bring home happy memories of fun in the sun, but also some new experiences and insights, today’s “Spanish Gold.”
Madrid is a monumental city famous for her palaces, museums and art galleries of which the Prado Museum and the Royal Palace are only two examples. Besides , El Ecorial Monastery, just 40 kilometers away, is a repository of art and history, a “must see”, and the Valley of the Fallen is also a short drive from the Capital.Other famous historical cities like Toledo , a museum in itself, and Avila and Segovia with their wealth of monuments are easily reached from Madrid .Madrid also features modern districts, wide avenues, gourmet restaurants, impressing shopping centers, parks and gardens, thrilling sport events and exciting night life.
Introduction to Barcelona
Barcelona, the second largest Spanish City, is a glorious combination of different architectural styles, wide avenues and historical “plazas”, splendid monuments and buildings, namely Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Casa Batllo and La Pedrera; gourmet restaurants, smart shops, pleasant side walk cafes, and welcoming people.Barcelona is a city to be explored on foot to appreciate her unique features.For those who do not have much time we recommend the “hop on and hop off” sightseeing bus that allows stops at most of the cities tourist sights: the Olympic Village, Poble Hispanyol (Spanish Hamlet) and the Montjic District, with commentaries in 10 different language. Admission fees are not included. But a visit to Catalunya will not be complete without a visit to Montserrat , a Benedictine Monk retreat built on the top of a mountain with magnificent and dramatic scenery. Visitations here by the Virgin Mary have been reported. The Sanctuary is located about one hour’s drive from the city.
Introduction to Costa del Sol
Torremolinos: The Costa del Sol is Spain ’s sun drenched playground, and Torremolinos is its very heart and soul. For golden sandy beaches, for magnificently landscaped golf courses, Torremolinos is for you!
The gracious cities of Andalusia – historic Cordoba , Moorish Granada, and colorful Seville -, offer fine accommodations, superb dining, and flamboyant entertainment, shopping centers and open air sports, horseback riding and fishing.
Golf and tennis are available everywhere.
Benalmadena is very popular with its large amusement park. Children especially love Playa Santana – a beach that is better for them than the adult Delfin Verde beach. The different shows (dancing “Wild West”, and popular singing stars), and the weekly street fair are nearby, and there are also good restaurants, hotels, snack bars and a casino.
This seaside resort lies between Marbella and Torremolinos, and visitors can enjoy each of those, as well as Fuengirola’s own beach, mountains and colorful surroundings. Mijas village with its typical Old Spain atmosphere is a few miles away.
Tennis, water sports and golf are all available nearby.
Picturesque and colorful Marbella is the favorite resort of the rich and famous…and with good reason. The city is guarded by mountain ranges, ensuring a wonderful climate year round, which has made Marbella a popular place to live since Roman times.
Impressive monuments and institutions are the legacy of many religious orders, and Holy Week is an annual spectacle .But the everyday world of gourmet restaurants, sophisticated shops, and superb entertainment, is not neglected.
Marbella features a large selection of excellent hotels. Its golf courses and sports facilities equal the best anywhere.
Come to Marbella and rub shoulders with the rich and famous, but at a price you can afford!
Introduction to Costa Blanca
Costa Blanca is one of the most sought after and best-loved holyday destinations.
Benidorm, an old Moorish town, has become a favorite place for those who wish to enjoy a mild climate and friendly atmosphere.
In this area there are two beautiful broad sandy beaches: the Levante and the Poniente.
Benidorm features both popular and gourmet restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping centers and modern banking facilities.
Sightseeing here is a delight: the spectacular Moorish fortress village of Guadalest , and Elche with its palm groves, make a glorious day’s outing; the typical seaside towns of Altea and Calpe are well worth a visit.
The capital city, Alicante , is “the place” to buy leather goods and excellent wines.
If this is your first time in Costa Blanca you are in for a very pleasant surprise!
Introduction to The Canary Islands
These lovely sundrenched islands lie about 90 miles off North Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, and offer an astonishing variety of gorgeous scenery, superb beaches, excellent accommodations, and every kind of activity, or relaxation, you can imagine.
Tenerife has age-old forests alongside today’s banana plantations, delightful old towns, impressive mountains up to 12000 feet high and the ancient Guanche culture which still survives amid the modern day Spain .
Life on Gran Canaria island is easy and carefree, also with splendid beaches, mountain ranges and picturesque valleys, golf courses and featuring most of the water sports.
The capital, Las Palmas , is a very pleasant city with a wide choice of restaurants and exciting night life.
Apartment accommodation is available for long stays, both in Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Tenerife is the largest of the “ Fortunate Islands ”, as the archipelago is also known as.
It enjoys an enviable reputation as a tourist destination, the North for its splendid natural beauty and the south for its broad sandy beaches and sea resorts.
Santa Cruz is the capital city, but Puerto de La Cruz has long been a favorite for those who seek a combination of pleasant weather and spectacular scenery.
Puerto de La Cruz boasts El Teide, the highest mountain in all of Spain , with its volcano, still active, an excellent hotel offer, and gourmet restaurants serving international and the rich local cuisine.
Combine your stay in Puerto de La Cruz with a few days on the beach, in the South of the Island or in Gran Canary for a very special vacation..
Tenerife is linked to Gran Canary by air or ferry boat.
Lanzarote is a very special island with a unique landscape. Its Montanhas del Fuego ( Fire Mountains ) offer a moonlike scenery not seen anywhere else.
This island is only 125 kilometers from the African Coast and enjoys enviable weather that varies from 17.o Celsius in the winter to 24.o in the summer. The sea water temperature varies from 17 to 24.o Celsius.
Its many palm trees give Lanzarote a tropical atmosphere that invites the visitors to take full advantage of resorts’ facilities.
Puerto del Carmen Beach is, perhaps, the main tourist area of the island with broad beaches of golden sun, bays, excellent accommodations and gourmet restaurants.
Playa Blanca ( White Beach ), a small fishing village that became famous as a charming sea resort, also offers all the facilities for a memorable vacation.
Its proximity to Punta Papagayo and its famous beaches is an extra value for those who choose Lanzarote for their vacations.
Costa Teguise is another tourist center with ravishing beaches, a golf course, water park and larger tourist complexes, night clubs and first class restaurants.
Water sports like windsurfing, surfing and diving are available and very popular here.
Fuerteventura is the second largest island of the Canary archipelago. It is located just 84 kilometers from the Atlantic African coast and enjoys a mild climate with average temperatures from 13.o Celsius in the winter to 29 in the Summer.
The many fine beaches of the island attract the young folk who worship the sun, and the not so young who seek a friendly environment for a relaxing and quiet holiday.
Most of the water sports, beach soccer and horseback riding are very popular here.
If golf is your sport Fuerteventura features 4 good courses. Golf carts and equipment are available for rent.
Calleta del Fuste is a manmade beach with excellent accommodations
Corralejo is an old town built around its harbor that links Fuerteventura to Lanzarote Island and Lobos’ Islet by ferryboat.
This village is surrounded by a national park that features miles of beautiful beaches, some used by naturists and huge sand dunes.
Lobos’ Islet is a natural reserve that houses many bird and flora species.
Other great options for a vacation that one will long remember are Costa Calma, Jandia and Puerto Rico.
Introduction to The Balearic Islands
In the Mediterranean Sea, about 100 miles from Barcelona , lie the island paradise called the Balearics.
The capital city is Palma, on the island of Mallorca, where Chopin live and wrote, and where the influence and heritage of many civilizations – Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantine, Vandals, Moors – are still part of the modern daily life.
Other Balearic popular Islands are Menorca and Ibiza and they are also world known for their beauty and exciting night life, rather than for their history.
Their white sandy beaches, mild climate, and unpolluted waters are remarkable.
Magnificent urban developments and luxurious residential areas offer the visitor ideal conditions for a relaxing and revitalizing vacation.
For many years the word “parador” has meant a “resting place” or “inn” where hospitality and comfort are standard. And still today, this charming Spanish word represents accommodation of the highest excellence
Owned by the Government, the paradores occupy former royal palaces, historic buildings, old convents and monasteries, and cater superbly to the traveler’s every need in an atmosphere of old world elegance and scenic beauty, while unobtrusively providing completely modern facilities and comforts.
Not only is the finest tradition of Spanish hospitality, courtesy, comfort and service proudly maintained, but the locations have been carefully chosen for their magnificent panoramas and quiet serenity in the mountains or by the sea, or sometimes in small villages and towns where cultural richness, traditional folklore and the warm friendliness of country people abound.
To know the “real” Spain is to leave the cities and meet her people and her culture, her architecture and cuisine, her fine wines and rich diversity and unforgettable beauty face-to-face.
Paradores present Spain to you with style. All have fine restaurants where local specialties are succulently prepared. Most also have bars, and many boast gardens and terraces, swimming pools and other amenities.
Spain is one of the biggest wine producers in the world.
The country has about 40 recognized wine regions and a wide choice of quality and brands. But the most important are La Rioja (capital Logrono) and Ribera del Duero (near Valladolid), Jerez, home to the Jerez wine, Rias Bajas in Galicia, famous for its Albarino white wine, and Catalonia for its cava, champagne type wine and Penedes and Priorat for table wines.
The best wines in the country are divided in 3 major groups, according to their age and the time spent in casks :Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.
Some wineries have pleasant accommodations of their own, with an emphasis on viticulture and wine making. These accommodations can very well become your base for a gourmet tour and to explore the neighboring historical cities and charming little villages with their typical restaurants…an invaluable richness of “old” Spain.