All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Spain's Best

Simple...a series of lists declaring Spain's "best" in anything and everything...they may be lists compiled by independent reviewers or by myself....whichever, I hope you find them useful :-)

Contemplating Landscapes
07 April 2021

Spain has one of the most varied landscapes in Europe, if not the most. It is peppered with spectacular geological wonders, many of which have been included in the UNESCO European Geopark Network. All landscapes included in this register must be of scientific, esthetic or educational significance. Of course, there are many more geological 'maravillas' but here are a few that need to be contemplated...

 

 

1. Sobrarbe, in the Aragonese province of Huesca, is home to some of the most striking landscapes in the entire Pyrenees, from the calcareous summits of Treserols to the canyons of Ordesa and Añisclo (pictured), the valleys of Pineta and Escuaín, the Posets massif, the valley of Chistau and the Sierra de Guara mountains. http://www.geoparquepirineos.com 

 

2. Dating from 10 million years ago, the formations at Cabo de Gata on the Almería coast are one of the largest magma-derived mountains in Europe. Old lava flows, volcanic domes, craters and fossilized beaches make up a landscape that, despite looking like a semi-desert, is home to a variety of ecosystems, including more than 1,000 endemic plant species and some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches. http://www.degata.com

 

3. Around 36 million years ago, Catalonia’s interior was covered by a sea that disappeared as a result of the great folding process that gave birth to the Pyrenees. Among the products of that geological process are the Toll and Salnitre caves, the serrated peaks of Montserrat and the Catalan potassium basin. http://www.geoparc.cat/es

 

4. The collection of limestone massifs extending southeast of Córdoba province, along the border with Jaén and Granada, show the effect of water over the course of aeons. This is a chaotic landscape filled with pits and sinkholes, karst formations such as the limestone pavement of Los Lanchares, the Bailón River Canyon and the Bat Cave, near Zuheros. The area is also known for its ammonite fossils – the remains of cephalopods that ruled the seas during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. http://www.andalucia.org

 

5. Fossils trapped for over 50 million years in the pastry-puff rock formation – technically known as flysch – along a 13-kilometre stretch of land on the western coast of Gipuzkoa have earned this place a spot in the European Geoparks Networks. Like a book written in stone, each stratum of flysch contains a 60-million-year-old chapter in the history of the Earth, from the Upper Cretaceous period (around 100 million years ago) to the Eocene (40 million years ago). http://www.geoparkea.com

 

6. Extremadura conceals unexpected landscapes, such as the one to be found at the Villuercas-Ibores-Jara geopark in Cáceres, where deciduous forests sit alongside olive groves, holm oak and fields of rockroses. It is a rocky place of jagged-peaked mountains that rise above the oak forests like dinosaur backbones. And beneath it lies a striking world of karst formations inside the cave of Castañar de Ibor, which was declared a natural monument in 1997 thanks to its eccentric calcite stalactites, arboreal shapes and delicate aragonite “flowers.”  http://www.geoparquevilluercas.es

 

7. The eruption of an underwater volcano off the Canary island of El Hierro in 2011 is just the latest chapter of an epic geological journey that began 100 million years ago when the seabed opened up and released the magma that formed the isle. The smallest and wildest island in the archipelago, its 278 square kilometres contain over 500 volcanic cones and nearly 70 lava-made caves such as Don Justo, whose galleries span over six kilometres.  http://geoparqueelhierro.es

 

8. From the heights of Gúdar down to the border with Lower Aragón, the Guadalope River crosses a network of mountains, peaks and canyons that were once home to the Sea of Tethys and monsters such as the Elasmosaurus. Its tracks, and those of other dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras, are on display at nearly 70 paleontology sites inside the El Maestrazgo geopark. http://www.geoparquemaestrazgo.com



Like 2        Published at 13:56   Comments (0)


Tiny villages in Spain that must be visited!
16 March 2021

In recent months we have learned to enjoy the beauty of the innumerable gems of the historical and natural heritage that we have in this country. The small towns of Spain have become one of the best options to escape the hustle and bustle of big cities in these turbulent times that force us to keep our distance and be more cautious with protection.

Perhaps, the most unknown places are those that have begun to gain greater importance, and we have realized that we must take care of these little treasures to continue enjoying their beauty. Because travelling to one of these places is synonymous with feeling at home. The number of inhabitants, in some of them, does not surpass twenty, but they make you feel part of the village straight away.

In autumn, winter, spring or summer. Each season is different, but any of them is a good time to escape to a small town lost in the middle of nowhere.

 

Isoba (León) and its legendary lakes

Located in the municipality of Puebla de Lillo, only 12 houses and a church make up this small hamlet of 14 inhabitants in the mountains of León. This municipality is known for its two lakes of glacial origin: Lake Ausente and Lake Isoba, two places surrounded by legends about revenge and impossible love affairs. Less than a kilometre from Lake Isoba, following the riverbed with the same name, we find a haven of peace of unequalled beauty, a small pool of crystalline waters, protected from the wind by the mountain walls and crowned by a waterfall over which a bridge crosses.

These lakes have a peculiarity in winter, and that is that, due to the low temperatures in the area, their waters sometimes freeze and become covered with snow making it difficult to distinguish the lakes from the environment, but this is really their natural state.

 

Beget (Girona), the hidden gem

This medieval town is one of the most beautiful in Catalonia. Perhaps, the fact that access to the town is not easy, has made it go quite unnoticed to tourists. Its main attraction is the church of Sant Cristòfol, a Romanesque temple that has been declared a cultural asset of national interest. Some parts of the church date from the 10th century, although the main part was built entirely between the 12th and 13th centuries, and its interior can only be visited on Saturdays and Sundays.

The rest of the town is like a journey back in time, a set of stone houses that have maintained their original appearance over time and two medieval bridges crossing the river that divide the three neighbourhoods of the town. The surroundings of Beget are also worth a visit. In summer, its gorges are the ideal place for a refreshing swim surrounded by nature, and in autumn and spring, nothing better than a walk through its forests.

 

Trevejo (Cáceres), place of the Templars

The ruins of its Templar castle crown this small village of just 23 inhabitants. It is worth stopping at the Trevejo viewpoint to observe the romantic silhouette of the remains of its fortification. Although it is of Arab origin, since it was raised by the Muslims to defend themselves against Christian attacks during the reconquest, the remains that are still visible today are three or four centuries later. Alfonso VII of León conquered the fortress and gave it to the order of the Temple. Later, his successor Fernando II de León handed it over to the order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and two years later it passed to the order of Santiago.

The views from the castle are unbeatable and from them, you can see the entire valley of the town of Villamiel. Beneath its walls, you can see the church of San Juan Bautista, declared a site of cultural interest, with its belfry tower and anthropomorphic tombs. These perfectly preserved tombs are believed to have been dedicated to the monks who inhabited the castle, although it is most likely a Visigoth necropolis.

 

Urueña (Valladolid), the Villa of the Book

A medieval-style farmhouse and a 13th-century walled complex have given the municipality the status of a historical-artistic complex. Urueña Castle, one of the best-preserved in the province of Valladolid, was the residence of one of the most important characters in the history of Spain: Doña Urraca. It is a town to enjoy the peace and it is worth visiting the fortification at dusk, with the sunset staining the horizon in coppery colours, on which the silhouette of the hermitage of La Anunciada stands out. This temple is the only one that is preserved in Castilla y León in the Romanesque-Lombard style and it is the place that houses the patron saint of Urueña, La Anunciada.

Urueña is the only town with the category of "Villa del Libro", with more bookstores than bars ready to surprise lovers of cinema, photojournalism and ethnography. This category is held by towns such as Wigtown (United Kingdom), Tuedrestand (Norway) or Fontenoy-la-Joûte (France). As an anecdote, for more than 15 years, it was the smallest town in Spain with a bookstore.

 

Alquézar (Huesca), the Muslim fortress

Another place that invites us to disconnect and go back in time is the medieval town of Alquézar, in the Somontano region. The place invites you to lose yourself in its cobbled streets, which form a crescent, in search of its hidden treasures. Alquézar means fortress, and it was one of the main strengths of Barbitania. Jalaf ibn Rasid built this construction at the beginning of the 9th century as a defensive enclave against the Christians.

A curiosity that draws the attention of those who visit the place is the facades of the houses with hanging wild boar legs, as a symbol of protection for the homes. Originally, this villa had three access doors, but today only one of them remains. The collegiate church of Santa María la Mayor is one of the places you must visit. Although its origin is Romanesque, the temple is a 16th-century construction and, inside, it preserves part of the Arab tiles that the primitive Muslim fortress that stood on the site had.

 

Siurana (Tarragona), the castle on the ravine

One of the most beautiful viewpoints in Spain is in Siurana. Today it is a place to breathe peace and merge with the beauty of the landscape. The ruins of the castle located 730 meters above the sea, along with cliffs of 250 meters in height, are remnants of the passage of the Arabs through the place and every year attract climbing lovers from all over Europe. The fortress was erected in the 9th century as part of the defensive belt to defend Al-Andalus from the attacks of the Christians from the north.

During autumn and winter, it is difficult for the 27 inhabitants of the municipality to meet tourists on its streets, so it is the ideal place for those who seek to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. As an anecdote, legend has it that when the Christians surrounded the fortress, the Moorish queen Abdelazia mounted on the back of her steed to flee from her enemies by jumping off the precipice and that the horseshoe of her horse was marked on the rock from which it jumped. If you visit the place, you should look for it.

 

Bagergue (Lleida), the town of flowers

Away from the hustle and bustle, between mountains and green meadows, Bagergue is one of the jewels of Catalonia. The visit to this fairytale town has an obligatory stop at the church of Sant Fèlix and the hermitage of Santa Margarita. It is a town that is worth visiting in the different seasons of the year because in each one of them you will find a different picture. The winters are covered by a white blanket and it is ideal to see the snowfall through the window with a fireplace in the background.

In spring, the place becomes an explosion of colours, which has served to obtain the recognition of "Viles Florides", a distinction that is awarded to villages with the aim of highlighting the natural and scenic wealth of the environment thanks to its gardens, floral ornamentation, homes and recreational spaces. The peculiarity of Bagergue is that it has the same number of hours of sunshine in both winter and summer, making it the perfect place to get away, turn off your mobile and enjoy the silence.



Like 5        Published at 20:10   Comments (1)


Spain's Best Campsites
10 March 2021

With the return to nature that tourism is experiencing, the campsites have experienced a small rebirth. Now they are as cool as ever. There are also those that offer innovative tree houses, waterfront cabins and even luxury safari tents.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to choose, but the Best Campsite in Spain awards make it a little easier. These awards given by the Spanish Campsite Federation (FEEC) are granted to certain establishments taking into account both their characteristics and the evaluation of the campers themselves.

The winners reveal spectacular landscapes and luxurious facilities, both aimed at the whole family and focused on enjoying peace and silence. Here they are the main prize winners:

 

1. BEST MOUNTAIN CAMPSITE: PINETA (BIELSA, HUESCA)

https://campingpineta.com/

The location of this campsite is truly spectacular. It sits at the entrance to the extraordinary Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in the Pineta Valley.

It is surrounded by majestic mountains, pine, beech and fir forests and next to the source of the River Cinca and is located in the spot where the majority of walking routes in the area begin. It has bungalows, double rooms and plots for rent.

 

2. BEST BEACH CAMPSITE: PINAR SAN JOSÉ (ZAHORA, CÁDIZ)

https://www.campingpinarsanjose.com/

In the beautiful Natural Park of La Breña y Marismas de Barbate, a large dune populated by pines, wild olive trees and mastic trees and located next to magnificent cliffs, is the Pinar San José. There, time is spent surfing or hiking, riding bicycles, spotting dolphins or strolling under the sun on mythical beaches like those of Bolonia.

Nearby are some popular towns like Vejer and Conil. The facilities also cater for sports, a children's club, swimming pools and a dog area.

 

3. BEST FAMILY CAMPSITE: RIBADESELLA (RIBADESELLA, ASTURIAS)

https://camping-ribadesella.es/

Spa, gym, playgrounds, entertainment activities for children, miniature golf, sports courts, outdoor and heated swimming pools ... The Ribadesella campsite is certainly an Eden for the whole family, located just one kilometre from the beach.

In fact, the little ones will dream of sleeping in their safari tent in the glamping area, although the enclosure also has bungalows and a camping area. It is, of course, a destination to remember only when the sun rises, since it only opens from the end of April to the end of September.


4. BEST CAMPSITE OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND: MOLINO DE CABUÉRNIGA (CABUÉRNIGA, CANTABRIA)

https://www.campingcabuerniga.com/

This family business, which pampers every aspect of its accommodation, prides itself on the beauty of its protected natural environment, the Cabuérniga Valley. Its greatest asset is its tranquillity.

Open since 1991 and named Best European campsite open all year round in 2017, Cabuérniga offers pitches, as well as cabins and apartments with a rural air, lined with stone from the area.


5. MOST ORIGINAL ACCOMMODATION CAMPSITE:  SON BOU (ALAIOR, MENORCA)

https://www.campingsonbou.com/es/inicio

70,000 square meters of pine forests and large green areas and the most charming architecture based on wooden chalets make up this beautiful Mallorcan campsite with a swimming pool, restaurant, sports courts, mini-club and children's playground.

Nearby, the Son Bou beach, the Cavalleria lighthouse and the Sanitja port are wonderful excursions for the whole family.


6. SPECIAL MENTION: CAMPSITE BAYONA PLAYA (BAIONA, PONTEVEDRA)

https://www.campingbayona.com/

The wonderful renovation carried out at this campsite, which now has a series of modern glazed bungalows with a terrace practically on the seashore, has earned it a special mention from the FEEC. They also have a glamping area made up of two-level raised wooden tents with a dining room, storage area and bedroom, as well as traditional pitches.

The accommodation offer is complemented with all kinds of attractions for children -animation, trampolines, zip line, water slides ... as well as a privileged environment, formed by wide beaches and very close to the interesting old town of Baiona.



Like 1        Published at 12:07   Comments (0)


Most Visited Rural Destinations of 2020
22 February 2021

Spain could be considered one of those countries that lacks unattractive places since practically every province has a town that attracts the eyes of tourists. Although most of them have an element that makes them unique, every year there is one in particular that becomes the capital of rural tourism. That is why, Club Rural have made a selection of the inland, beach or mountain towns that have welcomed more travellers. If you are lacking inspiration, it is time to grab a notebook to write down the seven rural destinations that have received the most visits during the year 2020.

1. Cazorla (Andalusia)

Located in the interior of the Sierra de Cazorla, this municipality is considered the most important in the region, due to remains and excavations of Iberian, Roman and Arab origin that have become historical heritage.

 

2. Jaca (Aragón)

Located in the Aragón Valley, it is the ideal place to discover the Aragonese Pyrenees and its ski resorts. In addition, Jaca is a place that has witnessed the Roman, Arab and Catholic eras throughout history, and has buildings belonging to Modernism.

 

3. Cangas de Onís (Asturias)

Cangas de Onís is one of the towns in Asturias that attracts the most tourists due to its proximity to the Sanctuary of Covadonga and the Lakes of Covadonga.

 

4. Santillana del Mar (Cantabria)

The town of Santillana del Mar is located on the Costa de Cantabria and attracts attention thanks to the cobbled streets, the facades of old houses and the balconies full of flowers.

 

5. Yeste (Castilla-La Mancha)

Yeste belongs to the Sierra de Segura and has an important historical heritage of which the castle and the Church of Yeste stand out, in addition to the many medieval watchtowers.

 

6. Navaluenga (Castilla y León)

Navaluenga is located in the Vega del Valle del Alberche, not far from the Sierra de Gredos. It is precisely the Alberche River that leaves the so-called Gorges, causing natural pools in its path.


7. Sant Pere de Vilamajor (Catalonia) 

The town of Sant Pere de Vilamajor is famous for its Iberian and Roman remains, where the Counts of Barcelona later lived in the Condal Palace. In addition, it has several modernist buildings.



Like 1        Published at 12:28   Comments (1)


The 10 most spectacular viewpoints in Spain
01 February 2021

Spain has landscapes as varied as they are beautiful that invite tourists to explore them on foot, by bicycle or by car. One of the places where you can stop time and disconnect from the world are the viewpoints, perfect spots to take a breath of fresh air while enjoying nature to the fullest. Here are ten spectacular viewpoints arranged in strategic places in Spain to enjoy panoramic views difficult to forget.

 

1. Mirador La Antigua - Is a viewpoint in the Melero meander (Cáceres) - The Melero meander is a whim of nature formed by the Alagón river, on the border between Extremadura and Castilla y León. Despite the fact that both autonomous communities share this natural treasure, the best place to admire it in all its splendour is from the part of Cáceres, specifically from the viewpoint of La Antigua, a few kilometres from the town of Riomalo de Abajo.

 

2. Mirador del Cable de Fuente (Cantabria) - This splendid viewpoint can be accessed by taking the famous Fuente Dé cable car, as it is located at its upper station. From a height of 1,850 meters, there is a dreamlike view of the central part of the Picos de Europa and the Cantabrian Mountains. A natural paradise in Cantabria that deserves to be on the list of the most spectacular viewpoints in Spain.

 

3. Mirador del Fitu (Asturias) - From this curious concrete platform that rises above the Alto de la Cruz de Llames you get a magnificent 360º panoramic view of some of the most unique landscapes in Asturias: the Picos de Europa National Park, the Ponga park or even the coastal town of Ribadesella. It is a real sin to leave the Asturian region without stopping at the spectacular Mirador del Fitu, which is easily accessible by car.

 

4. Mirador Es Colomer (Mallorca) - Also called Sa Creueta, but better known as Es Colomer, is one of the most spectacular viewpoints not only in Mallorca but in all of Spain. The stepped stone walk to the viewpoint is in itself an exceptional landscape. And once there, the sunset over Cape Formentor is an image that remains etched in the retina forever.

 

5. Miradores de Ordesa (Huesca) - The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is strewn with observation points from where you can contemplate the beauty of the Pyrenees of Huesca valley. There are several viewpoints, although the most famous is the Rey or Punta Acuta, which offer a unique view of the peaks and lush valleys of Ordesa. They are some of the most spectacular viewpoints in Spain.

 

6. Mirador del Puente Nuevo (Ronda) - To see the impressive city of Ronda, in the province of Malaga, there are several observation points, but the most beautiful are those offered by the road to the Puente Nuevo. It is a panoramic walk with several viewpoints from where you can contemplate the beautiful and well-known image of Ronda and its great 98-meter-high bridge. One of the most spectacular viewpoints with the best views in all of Andalusia!

 

7. Mirador de San Nicolás (Granada) - In the list of the most spectacular viewpoints in Spain, the one that opens to one of the wonders of Andalusia and the entire world could not be missed: the Alhambra in Granada. From the San Nicolás viewpoint, located in the Albaicín neighbourhood of Granada, you get the most beautiful view of this Nasrid palace with the Sierra Nevada in the background. An unbeatable view of the Alhambra, in a place where there are often musicians playing and that, transmits the best of Andalusian culture.

 

8. Salto del Gitano viewpoint (Cáceres) - Located in the Monfragüe National Park, in Cáceres, the curious name of this viewpoint is due to an Extremaduran legend. In it, a gipsy bandit was being pursued by the Benemérita until he reached the Falcón rock, the highest peak, and from there he jumped over the Tagus River to the other bank of the river to escape the civil guards. They would be so petrified by this feat that one of them was turned to stone. Fables aside, this place is also very frequented by lovers of bird watching. From there it is possible to observe several species of protected birds of the park such as the griffon vulture.

 

9. Mirador del Valle (Toledo) - The Mirador del Valle is a mandatory stop for all groups of tourists visiting Toledo. Why? Well, because it is without a doubt the best view of this city. The panoramic view of Toledo over the Tagus River from this point is breathtaking: the cathedral, the Alcázar, the walls ... It is located a few kilometres from the historic centre of Toledo, in the middle of a narrow stretch of road always full of cars and visitor buses eager to capture their beautiful views with their cameras.

 

10. Mirador del Río (Lanzarote) - Located on the Risco de Famara, from a 479-meter high cliff rises this impressive viewpoint built by the Canarian artist César Manrique. From this point in the north of Lanzarote you can enjoy a beautiful view of the small islands of the Chiijino archipelago (La Graciosa, Montaña Clara, Alegranza, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste), separated from Lanzarote by a strait.

 

 



Like 4        Published at 12:50   Comments (0)


10 Places you just have to visit in Andalucia - all outdoors!
25 January 2021

More than 1100 kilometres of coastline, two National Parks and cities such as Seville, Córdoba and Granada are the epitome of Andalusia, but there is so much more to this region. Roman ruins, villages that defy gravity, dizzying trails and rivers that appear to be from another planet. This too is Andalusia. Come discover these other destinations, those that aren't on the first page of the travel guides. They will make your jaw drop all the same. This is the ideal place for your next getaway. (In no particular order)

 

1. Archaeological Site of Baelo Claudia. Roman Andalusia

If you like archaeology, here are two places that cannot be missed. The first is in Santiponce (a mere 15 km from Seville), where the remains of the ancient Roman city of Italica (206 BCE.) are found. From here you can see its Roman amphitheatre and part of the outline of its streets. In Cádiz, only two and a half hours by car from here, you'll find the Archaeological Site of Baelo Claudia, one of the best known examples of Roman urban planning.

 

 

2. Caminito del Rey, Malaga

Leave your dizziness behind to enjoy the Gaitanes Gorge on this unique trail. It has a bridge hanging from the mountain's wall that in some stretches is barely a metre wide, and 100 meters tall. Although it has been closed to the public due to poor maintenance, after a long restoration process, it was reopened at Easter.

 

3. Río Tinto, Huelva.

It's as if you were on Mars; the landscape seems dyed red along the Río Tinto, a river running through the province of Huelva. The peculiar colour of this river is due to the high concentration of heavy metals in underground aquifers.  In addition to gazing at the river's extraordinary beauty, you can get closer to the Río Tinto with a visit to its Mining Park, where you will learn how the region was transformed thanks to mining.

 

4. Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz.

This is one of the white Andalusian towns where you'll run the risk of running out of memory on your camera, especially at its walled fortress which is perfectly preserved. Situated on a hill, Vejer shines almost to the point of making you squint. Nevertheless it is necessary to keep your eyes open to appreciate its incredible views that allow us to see the African coast

 

5. Casacada de la Cimbarra, Jaén

An impressive waterfall nearly 40 metres high is one of the best kept secrets in the province of Jaén. The town council of Aldeaquemada, the nearest village, recommends leaving your car at the foot of La Cimbarra and taking the path to the right in order to see the waterfall from its base, or taking the path on the left to see the waterfall head on.

 

6. Sierra de Grazalema. Grazalema, Cadiz

It's April year round in the Grazalema mountains. According to records it rains here more than anywhere else on the Iberian peninsula, something that makes this area one of the most ecologically valuable in Andalusia. The intense rainfall and the limestone terrain make this area a paradise for fans of rock climbing and caving as the landscapes are steep and there are many caves and grottos.

 

7. Cortegana, Huelva

At only 60 kilometres from the Portuguese border you'll encounter a small medieval village with a gem to be discovered, the Sanchocuanto castle, where every August the most important Medieval fair in Andalusia takes place. In addition to the village's historic and architectural value, Cortegana is worth a visit for its natural beauty. The town is located in the middle of the Aracena mountain range, surrounded by valleys full of cork oak and chestnut trees.

 

8. Pasarela sobre el río Castril, Castril, Granada

While the capital and the Sierra Nevada are the main tourist points in the province of Granada, there are other charming places in this area such as the Granada high plateau, a land of contrasts with nearly desert like terrain as well as high mountains. Here you'll find treasures such as the hanging footbridge over the Castril river, a spectacular 20 minute walk on the wooden footbridge through the river gorge. In addition to the village of Castril, it's also worth visiting Huéscar, the county's capital.

 

9. Vélez-Blanco. Castillo de Vélez-Blanco

This Renaissance fortress, one of Andalusia's best, impresses from afar with a perfectly maintained silhouette on a hillside. It is nearly 2500 square metres and has two main buildings joined by a drawbridge. The fortress's "Patio de Honor" [Courtyard of Honor] cannot be missed. Made of white marble, it is considered a gem of the Renaissance.

 

10. Setenil de las bodegas, Cádiz

One of the most spectacular destinations in Andalusia is this village set in stone. Adapting perfectly to the topography of the area, part of the old town has been built around rocks, with some buildings above them and some inside them. Wandering the narrow streets you may suddenly find yourself in the heart of a rock.



Like 2        Published at 22:23   Comments (2)


New Year's Eve Superstitions in Spain
31 December 2020

 

Spain is a generally a superstitious country and New Year's Eve is probably one of the most superstitious days of the year. Practically everyone participates in one or more superstitious rituals, whether it be eating the twelve grapes or toasting with a ring in your glass of champagne, everyone is wishing for better times or at least for things to not get any worse. Although it may seem silly for some, these little gestures do help many enter the new year with higher morale and greater hope for times to come... Will you join in with any this year? Here are the top 10 Spanish New Year's Eve superstitions...

 

 

1.EAT ALL OF THE 12 GRAPES

The eating of the grapes is one of the most ingrained rituals in Spanish culture on New Year’s Eve. So that the new incoming year will be a success you must chew and swallow all twelve grapes. If you are able, try to visualise how you would like your new year to be in between each grape. They say that this visualisation ensures good results…

 

2. SOMETHING RED...

Traditionally the colour red has always symbolised prosperity, especially in love, so it is no surprise that in Spain people choose to wear red underwear or a piece of red lingerie on New Year’s Eve, hoping that it will help bring them luck and prosperity for the following 365 days.

 

3. A RING IN A GLASS OF CAVA

Just before you toast the New Year you should place a gold ring in your cava / champagne glass. You need to be very careful with this tradition especially when it’s time to drink! On more than one occasion someone has swallowed the ring due to the emotion of the moment. It is said that this simple gesture will bring money throughout the following year, so it’s a popular custom all over the country.

 

4. WISH LIST

This tradition dictates that before dinner one must write a list with three wishes for the New Year. Fold up the list and place it somewhere on your body where it touches your skin throughout the dinner and once the clock strikes twelve, burn the list so that your wished come true during the year.

 

5. KISS SOMEONE OF THE OPPOSITE SEX

If you want to find a partner in the New Year this gesture may well help you. Tradition has it that the first person you kiss in the New Year should be of the opposite sex, that way it will help you find your other half even quicker.

 

6. RIGHT FOOT...

Many people use the phrase in Spain   “enter with your right foot” and many take it to the limits on New Year’s Eve. It means that the first foot to step and touch the floor as soon as the countdown has been completed must be your right foot. This way you will guarantee good luck throughout the year.

 

7. CANDLES

This tradition dictates that the colours of the candles invoke a certain fortune: Blue will bring peace and tranquillity, Red will bring passion, Yellow brings abundance, green will bring good health etc. So depending on what you are hoping for, decorate your house with coloured candles.

 

8. ALL THE LIGHTS TURNED ON

It is believed that with all the lights on in your house, no corner is left unlit. So when midnight is approaching have all the lights on in your house, this way the New Year will come with clarity and without lies or negative energy.

 

9. LENTILS

This tradition is imported from Italy where they say if you eat lentils during the last day of the year or immediately after midnight (even if it is just a spoon) you will guarantee prosperity for the following year.

 

10. A BUCKET OF WATER

For those who believe in energy, this will probably be your favourite. It involves filling a bucket with water throughout the morning of the last day of the year. When it reached midnight it is believed that the bucket has absorbed all of the bad energy in the household and consequently it is emptied down the toilet or down a drain never to be seen again.



Like 1        Published at 15:10   Comments (2)


In 2021 it's time to get out and discover the Spain
16 December 2020

I started out wanting to compile a list of Spain's top 10 most magical places but I have to be honest it was impossible to narrow it down to 10 and even harder to order from 1 to 10. So I gave up and decided to create a shortlist as follows. It is not in any particular order. Feel free to leave a comment on any place in the list you have visited or any place you think should have been included!

 

1. Natural Park of Forest Corona (Tenerife)


This predominantly forested area encircles the Teide National Park and is home to some of the best examples of pine and high-altitude vegetation on Tenerife. The heads of a large number of the ravines that form the drainage system of the north and south of Tenerife are located here, meaning that the area plays a vitally important role in capturing water and protecting the land against erosion.

The area boasts a host of geomorphic features, the most impressive being the immense La Orotava and Güímar valleys. Other fascinating and unique geographical structures include the lunar landscape above the town of Vilaflor and Cuevas Negras to the north of Pico Viejo.

A number of threatened species can be found in the high biodiversity of native flora and fauna of the area, as well as many other species protected by national laws and international agreements. It is a magnificent sanctuary for pine forest birds, of which there are a number of native species. Many of the geomorphic features (ravines, vents, recent lava flows, etc.) are representative of the geology of the island. The area is of exceptional beauty and value.

 

2. Ordesa National Park (Huesca)


The National Park is part of the Pyrenees and Monte Perdido National Park which was declared a World Heritage site in 1997 by the UNESCO. Since 1977, a part of the park has also been inside the Ordesa-Viñamala Biosphere Reserve.

It is an incredibly beautiful place with a landscape of towering summits. It has a wide variety of ecosystems with both an Atlantic and Mediterranean influence, which is what gives it such a rich and diverse flora and fauna. The scenery is dominated by the great massif of Monte Perdido (3,355 m), with the peaks of the Tres Sorores branching out into the valleys of Ordesa, Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín.

 

3. The Alhambra (Granada)

The Alhambra was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 and then largely ignored until its ruins were renovated and rebuilt in the mid-13th century by the Moorish emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada, who built its current palace and walls. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333 by Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. Alhambra's Islamic palaces, as we know them today, were built for the last Muslim emirs in Spain and the court of the Nasrid dynasty. After the conquest of Granada by the Reyes Católicos ("Catholic Monarchs") in 1492, some portions were used by Christian rulers

 

4. Pyramids of Güímar (Tenerife)

The Pyramids of Güímar refer to six rectangular pyramid-shaped, terraced structures, built from lava stone without the use of mortar. They are located in the district of Chacona, part of the town of Güímar on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands, Spain. The structures have been dated to the 19th century AD and their original function may well be explained as a byproduct of contemporary agricultural techniques.

Other pyramids employing the same methods and materials of construction can be found in various sites on Tenerife. In Güímar itself there were nine pyramids, only six of which survive.


5. Médulas (Leon)

The town of Las Médulas is located in the region of El Bierzo, Leon. This small mountain town marks the natural beginning of the ascent towards Las Médulas, a unique cultural landscape that was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO.

The serrated relieve of this landscape, marked by red clayey mountains and covered by chestnut trees, owes its appearance to the Romans, who altered the natural environment in this area when they established a gold mine in the 1st century AD.

For this purpose they came up with an ingenious system called "ruina montium", which used water force to crumble down the soil and expose the gold.

The two centuries that this type of mining went on, caused the formation of the peculiar relieve of Las Médulas. Red-clay erosion gullies, towers, and underground galleries, all surrounded by chestnut trees, make up this cultural landscape. Peaks higher than 100 metres lead to the centre of the gold mine, the Cueva Encantada (Enchanted Cave) and Cuevona (the Huge Cave).

Eight kilometres away from Las Médulas, the viewpoint of Orellán offers one of the best views of the whole place.

 


6. Ucanca Valley, Teide National Park (Tenerife)

The natural boundaries of Teide National Park are marked by a grandiose, spectacular caldera. The Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano formed inside this elliptical depression, which measures 16 x 11 km.

The name Las Cañadas comes from the plains at the foot of the caldera escarpment, which were used as a cattle route (known as "cañada" in Spanish). The biggest plain is called Llano de Ucanca. The water that descends the walls is trapped inside, and so the elements that are dragged along with it settle and accumulate in the base, forming these plains.

The origin of Las Cañadas caldera is a topic of debate, and there are two main hypotheses. The most likely theory is that it has been formed purely by erosion, with a valley that exits on the north face, in the municipality of Icod, which would now appear to be occupied by Teide lava flows. The other hypothesis is that there was a major collapse when a shallow magma chamber spewed out its contents at great speed.


7. Gaztelugatxe (Basque Country)

Gaztelugatxe is an islet on the coast of Biscay belonging to the municipality of Bermeo, Basque Country (Spain). It is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage (named Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque; San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish), dedicated to John the Baptist, that dates from the 10th century, although discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century. With another small neighboring island, Aketze, they form a protected biotope that extends from the town of Bakio until Cape Matxitxako, on the Bay of Biscay.

 

8. Irati (Navarra)

The Irati Forest is the second largest and best preserved beech and fir forest in Europe, an immense green mantle of some 17,000 hectares that is still in an almost unspoiled state. Standing among the western Pyrenees of Navarre, the Irati Forest is accessed from the picturesque villages of Ochagavía and Orbaitzeta and is a natural treasure in which you can find the protected areas of Mendilatz and Tristuibartea and the Lizardoia Integral Reserve. 

Sit down in the heart of the forest and enjoy communing with nature; let yourself be enveloped in a silence broken only by the wild rushing of water between beeches and firs. Admire the crystalline currents of the river Irati that turn turquoise in the Irabia reservoir and listen out for the elusive sounds of the fauna and stroll across the soft blanket of grass that covers the Irati Forest. The scent of the woods will impregnate itself in your skin.

 

9. Mosque and Roman bridge in Cordoba

The view over the Mosque-Cathedral, with the river, the Gate of the Bridge and the Roman Bridge of Cordoba itself, is one of the most wonderful sights of Cordoba, especially at dusk, when the last rays of the sun linger on and make the stone surfaces glow a deep golden red. The bridge was first built in the 1st century A.D., but has been rebuilt many times since then, and in its present form dates mainly from the Medieval period, with the latest changes being made in 1876. There are sixteen arches, four of which are pointed and the rest semi-circular. Halfway along the railing on one side is a 16th century statue of San Rafael by Bernabé Gómez del Río. 

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba (World Heritage Site since 1984) is arguably the most significant monument in the whole of the western Muslim World and one of the most amazing buildings in the world in its own right. The complete evolution of the Omeyan style in Spain can be seen in its different sections, as well as the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles of the Christian part.

 

10. Source of the Urederra, Urbasa Andía Natural Park (Navarre)

The burbling of crystalline water, the light filtering among the leaves of the trees, bathing the landscape in a lime green light and the aroma of nature has made this place, listed as a nature reserve since 1987, one of Navarre's most spectacular enclaves.

The Source of the Urederra is located north of Estella-Lizarra. It is the natural outlet of the aquifer lying under the karstic massif of Urbasa. Its first emergence takes place at an altitude of 700 metres, on the southern edge of the plateau, with an impressive 100 metre fall that, over millions of years, has modelled a rocky amphitheatre of breathtaking beauty. 


11. The Walls of Avila

The work was started in 1090 but most of the walls appear to have been rebuilt in the 12th century. The enclosed area is an irregular rectangle of 31 hectares with a perimeter of some 2,516 meters,including 88 semicircular towers. The walls have an average breadth of 3 metres and an average height of 12 metres. The nine gates were completed over several different periods. The Puerta de San Vicente (Gate of St Vincent) and Puerta del Alcazar (Gate of the Fortress) are flanked by twin towers, 20 metres high, linked by a semicircular arch. The apse of the cathedral also forms one of the towers. The fortifications are the most complete in Spain.


12. Bardenas (Navarra)

The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of some 42,000 hectares (100,000 acres) in southeast Navarre (Spain). The soils are made up of clay, chalk and sandstone and have been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, called cabezos. Bardenas lacks urban areas, vegetation is scarce and the many streams that cross the territory have a markedly seasonal flow, staying dry most of the year. This Natural Park of wild beauty was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. 


13. Ronda (Málaga)

Despite being Andalucía's fastest-growing town - it overtook Córdoba in the big three Andaluz tourist attractions, behind Sevilla and Granada, in the early 21st century - Ronda retains much of its historic charm, particularly its old town. It is famous worldwide for its dramatic escarpments and views, and for the deep El Tajo gorge that carries the rio Guadalevín through its centre. Visitors make a beeline for the 18th century Puente Nuevo 'new' bridge, which straddles the 100m chasm below, for its unparalleled views out over the Serranía de Ronda mountains.

 

14. Gulpiyuri Beach (Asturias)


This is probably the most surprising part of the Asturian coast, declared a natural monument. Shaped as a half circle separated from the sea by the shelvings, it is a place where one can bathe without seeing the sea. Although sometimes referred to as the ‘world’s smallest beach,’ Playa de Gulpiyuri is definitely one of the world’s strangest.

 

15. Albarracín (Aragon)

This sleepy little tourist village lies 3,878 feet above sea level, and is unspoilt by modernization. Driving towards the village perched high on the mountaintop evokes a sense of wonder. The Spanish newspaper, ABC.es, had a poll and Albarracín is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.



Like 6        Published at 19:42   Comments (5)


10 Beautiful Forests to Visit this season
22 October 2020

Here are 10 stunning forests to visit this season or this coming Spring. Although winter is around the corner there are still some beautiful colours to discover. Escape the city and breathe some fresh air and admire the picture-perfect landscapes...

 

1.  Forests of Ordesa (Huesca) 


The charm of the Pyrenees’ most spectacular valley lies in this explosion of colour that skirts these mountains covered in oak, ash, maple, hazel and rowan trees straddling the River Arazas.

 

2.  Fuentes de Narces (Asturias) 


The slopes that lead down to the River Narcea are home to one of the biggest and healthiest deciduous forests in Spain, providing rich, nutritious food for the brown bears that live in the vicinity.

 

3.  Fraga del Eume (A Coruña) 


This Atlantic forest, situated further west than any other in Europe, is hanging on by a thread as cement and tarmac encroach on its territory. It’s still a beautiful spot though, and the location for the famed novel 'The Enchanted Forest' by Wenceslao Fernandez Flórez.

 

4.  Montes de Redes (Asturias) 


The upper basin of the Nálon River, in the Asturian municipality of Caso, is covered with the wild forests of Redes, where brown bear and wolves roam amid the beech, oak and chestnut trees that are also home to chamois and grouse.

 

5. Dehesa del Moncayo (Zaragoza) 


Moncayo Mountain rises like an Atlantic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, offering shade and a splash of rich colour. Thick with beech trees and surrounded by holm oaks, olive trees and vineyards, this is a mystical corner of the peninsula where many seek spiritual solace amid the foliage.

 

6.  The Saja Forest (Cantabria) 


The Palombera pass is the crowning glory of the forests of the Saja River in the fall. The ancient woodlands hide a maze of paths traditionally used by mountain dwellers, who left their valleys to occupy the lands of Castile, retaken in the year 1,000 AD. The photo shows the waterfalls at the Pozo de la Arbencia inside Saja-Besaya Natural Park.


7 Tejera Negra (Guadalajara) 


Fall paints the landscape of the Ayllón massif between Segovia and Guadalajara, where beech trees mingle with yew trees. Against the odds, this forest has survived the hot dry Guadalajara climate as though a woodland spell is at work.


8.  Selva de Oza (Huesca) 


The high valley of Hecho in Aragón is crowned with an old untouched forest of beech and firs and black pines marching along the ridges. Below is the mountain gorge at the Boca del Infierno that twists upwards to the source of the River Aragón Subordán – the point where the mountains enclose this Pyrenean treasure whose very remoteness has saved it from the axe.


9.  Valle de Iregua (La Rioja) 


The Cameros hills conceal within their folds a beautiful beech wood, close to the source of the River Iregua. Surrounded by a semi-alpine pasture that has served nomadic cattle farmers for centuries, these beech trees account for the last native deciduous forest in the region.


10.  Monte de Santiago (Burgos) 


The source of the Nervión River is tucked away among the leafy beech forests of Santiago that begin at the cliffs of the Salvado mountains and advance down towards the meadows of the Arrastaria valley in Alava. The forests are constantly doused in moisture by the dense mists that also feed the river and ensure that the Salto de Nervión waterfall – considered the highest in Spain – remains a spectacular sight.

 


Like 3        Published at 18:30   Comments (0)


10 places to visit in Galicia
13 October 2020


Galicia is water, land, wind… Galicia is feeling, passion, joy… Galicia is art, history, legend… It’s everything that makes you dream and marvel…  Galicia is a land you’ll begin to discover little by little, step by step… Here are 10 places you mustn't miss, in no particular order:

 

1. Ribeira Sacra

The Ribeira Sacra, home to the largest concentration of Romanesque churches and monasteries in Europe. The Ribeira Sacra is a district marked by the River Miño and River Sil, which have shaped its spectacular landscape as they wind their way through the mountains. When this is combined with the faith and spirituality that can still be felt in the numerous monasteries dotted throughout the area, it means that this corner of Galicia cannot fail to appeal to all of your senses.

To mention the Ribeira Sacra is of course to mention wine, something that becomes obvious as soon as you set foot in the district: one of the most characteristic features of its landscape is the famous “socalcos”, the steeply terraced vineyards that run down the hillsides. And whilst you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of the fantastic local wines, the product of one of the five Denomination of Origin wine-growing areas in Galicia, to which the district gives its name.


2. City walls of Lugo

The walls of Lugo are the best-preserved example of Roman military fortifications anywhere in the world. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the walls are an outstanding example of a way of building that exemplifies a variety of significant periods in the history of mankind.

From their Roman origins, through the tumultuous period of the Middle Ages and down to the ground-breaking and revolutionary 19th century, they constitute a unique monument that displays the different facets of the way in which the city of Lugo, in itself a conservation area of major importance, has evolved from the original Roman settlement of Lucus Augusti.

 

3.  Serra da Capelada

Serra da Capelada boasts some of the tallest cliffs in Europe.
Their highest point is Vixía Herbeira, 620 metres above sea level. From this vantage point, you can appreciate the full grandeur and size of these cliffs, second only in height to the sides of the Norwegian fjords, which plunge almost vertically down to the sea, at an angle of over 80º

The views from here are absolutely spectacular: a wonderful panorama of the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the rugged coastline on either side of Santo André are without a doubt some of the best to be found anywhere along the whole of the coast of Europe.

 

4. The Ferrol of the Age of Enlightenment

Although Ferrol was originally a town with a strong fishing tradition, during the 16th century its port started to become home to the ships of the Spanish Royal Navy. Subsequently, the monarchs Philip V, Ferdinand VI and Charles III were to be the driving force behind the construction of this magnificent complex, making the city the principal military base in Northwest Spain and the largest naval base of its day in Europe. On the inside, which can only be visited with prior permission, you will find the Sala de Armas (Armoury), until recently a training barracks and now residential quarters for Spanish Navy Marines deployed in Ferrol. You can also visit the Museo Naval (Shipbuilding Museum) and the Dique da Campá, one of the largest dry docks in the world. And you mustn’t forget Exponav, a permanent exhibition devoted to the world of shipbuilding.

 

5. The Tower of Hercules

In A Coruña, we can marvel at the Tower of Hercules, which dates back to Roman times and is the oldest working lighthouse in the world, the reason why it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Farum Brigantium was built by the Roman Empire at some time between the end of the 1st century AD and the beginning of the following one. Located at the entrance to the harbour of A Coruña, this magnificent lighthouse was designed as an aid to navigation along the rugged Galician coast, a strategic point on the sea route linking the Mediterranean to northeast Europe.

 

6. The Way of St James

You can’t leave Galicia without having walked at least part of the Way of St James. 
The pilgrims’ route to Santiago played a fundamental role in the exchange of cultures between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe in the Middle Ages. For this reason, the Way of St James was nominated as the First European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe. The so-called French Route, which has the longest tradition and is the best-known outside Spain, has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting in Roncesvalles (Navarre), it finally reaches Santiago de Compostela some 750 kilometres later. A route, therefore, which links Europe with northern Spain, passing secluded churches, bridges, cathedrals, monasteries and other such places of interest, accompanied by a permanent backcloth of greenery.

 

7. Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela has been the Christian pilgrims’ destination since the 9th century. From as far afield as the Baltic or the North Sea, thousands of pilgrims came on foot to the shrine of St James in Galicia, carrying their symbolic scallop shells along all the roads leading to Santiago, veritable paths of faith. To this we must add the fact that during the Romanesque and Baroque periods the shrine at Santiago de Compostela had a decisive influence on the evolution of architecture not just in Galicia, but throughout the whole of the north of the Iberian Peninsula

 

8. Cape Finisterre

Cape Finisterre, the destination of those pilgrims who, after visiting the St James’ tomb, continued their way along the route marked out for them overhead by the Milky Way until they could go no further. 

Finisterre was considered during the period of Classical Antiquity to be the end of the known world. In fact, its geographical location and impressive sunsets led Decimus Junius Brutus (the Roman general who conquered Galicia) to believe that this was indeed the place where the sun died at dusk. The area surrounding this headland has been considered a magical place since the earliest times, and legend has it that the Phoenicians set up an altar, the Ara Solis, at which they worshipped the sun. So why not take time to discover this corner of our coast, where the magic of the place will guide your footsteps.

 


9. The Cíes Islands

The Cíes Islands, one of the archipelagos that together with the islands of Ons, Sálvora and Cortegada make up the Galician Atlantic Islands Maritime-Terrestrial National Park.

Their wealth of plant and animal life, combined with spectacular landscapes, make these islands a major and valuable cultural and environmental asset.

Cíes Islands is nature in its purest state. The boat trip from either Vigo, Cangas or Baiona Baiona, all of which have scheduled catamaran sailings to the archipelago in high season, enables us to admire their imposing presence at the mouth of the Ría de Vigo. 

 


10. Santa Tegra

A Guarda is home to the Celtic hill fort and village of Santa Tegra, from where you’ll be able to enjoy “the best panoramic view of a Celtic hill fort in two countries“. Naturally enough, the views from here are unrivalled: your horizon is bounded only by Galicia, with the fishing town of A Guarda at its head, the mighty Atlantic Ocean and the neighbouring Portuguese coastline.

The view is even more impressive if we travel backwards in time: the inhabitants of this hill fort and village could enjoy it from their very dwellings. However, the site of this settlement wasn’t chosen for its views, but for more mundane reasons such as strategy and security, because from here they could monitor and control the sea traffic and the whole of the mouth of the River Miño.

 



Like 0        Published at 19:57   Comments (2)


Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know




This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x