If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’m quite a big Spain fan. And even that’s an understatement. I absolutely adore the country. How could you not, when it’s given us some delicious food, spectacular scenery and Enrique Iglesias?! Just me on that last one then…
My Spanish love affair started in 2011 when I first arrived in Madrid on a holiday with my husband. I immediately felt at home and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face until it was time to fly back to Blighty. Since then, I’ve visited a lot more of the country, and I’m sure it won’t be too long before I’ve seen it all.
Part of its charm might be that I feel sorry for it… Spain has a really bad rap for being “England by the sea” – full of lobster faced Brits drinking too much and showing too much skin on the beach. Granted, there are some cities where this is quite true *cough*Marbella*cough*, but if you go to the right places and avoid the Brits abroad, it’s a wonderful country with a lot to love.
Here are the reasons why I love Spain, and why I think you’ll love it too:
I’ve always been fascinated by the Spanish language – just how musical it sounds, how the words flow and how incomprehensible it can be when you speak to the wrong person. I’ve been learning Spanish for nearly 5 years now and am determined to become fluent one day. And where’s the best place to practise the language? Spain of course!
Stereotypically, you may assume the only food to come out of Spain is gazpacho and paella. But what about empanadas, calamari sandwiches(!), churros…? Some of my favourite dishes come from Spain, and tapas is the perfect way to try them all out at La Boqueria Food Market in Barcelona, or one of the many tapas restaurants across the city.
Similarly, you might think Spain is only good for sangria. You’d be wrong! What about all those fantastic wines it produces? And have you heard of Agua de Valencia? What about horchata? Tinto de Verano? Freshly squeezed Seville orange juice? All delicious, and all Spanish.
Traditional Spanish music sounds even better live, as we found out when we watched a fantastic Flamenco show in Seville. Female voices are incredibly powerful, and the rapid flurries on Spanish guitars are so impressive to hear. Luckily, more recent Latino creations sound just as good. I’m going to set you a challenge. Watch the video below and try not to smile. It’s impossible. Spanish music is some of the best in the world – so upbeat, toe-tappy and incredibly catchy. I love it, and I bet you do too. Oh, and did I mention Enrique Iglesias?
From the beautiful coastline in the north to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the south, Spain is really really good-looking. You could drive for hours and find an endless supply of things to keep you (and your camera!) happy.
Of course I can’t talk architecture without mentioning Gaudi, whose buildings and artworks in Barcelona are some of the most recognisable – and rightly so! The Sagrada Familia is take-your-breath-away stunning and a place you have to see in the flesh. Aside from Gaudi, southern Spain is home to beautiful Moorish style cathedrals and palaces like the Alhambra, and more futuristic buildings such as the Ciudad de las Artes y Sciencias in Valencia. They’re all well worth a visit.
The nicest people
Every Spanish person I have ever met has been open, friendly and very welcoming. I love how straightforward they are, their energy and their zest for life. Plus, they’re all pretty attractive, which helps. I’m sure there are some nasty ones out there, but I’m yet to meet them. So for now, the people are another reason why I love Spain.
You must have heard the saying “The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains” which, to me, means it doesn’t rain in Spain, or at least you never see it. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been there while it’s raining. Think wall to wall sunshine, bright blue skies and temperatures to keep you warm and toasty. It can get super hot in summer, but that’s nothing an air-conditioned café and a glass of wine can’t fix. Just look at that blue sky in Valencia…!
Fascinating Spanish cities
Despite not actually liking Madrid all that much (shocking I know), I fell in love with absolutely every other city I visited in Spain: Barcelona, Grenada, Seville, Cordoba and Valencia. They each have so much to do, so much to see and so much to offer.
Have you ever been to Spain? What was your experience of it? Do you think its stereotypes are well-founded?