Visiting Spain

Spain is a good sized country which changes alot as you go from city to city. It was under a brutal dictatorship until 1975, so is a little bit behind the rest of Western Europe and retains a unique untouched flavour. You may have heard of Franco, who sided with Mussolini and Hitler during WWll. He oppressed the people and stunted the growth of the country.

Some interesting places of note are:

Barcelona, with the proud Catalan population, who do have their own language and identity. The Northern Basque area, where they also want independence due to having their own language and identity.  There have been violent episodes from both of these places as radicals made their presence felt.

– The southern part of the country has a strong a Moorish flavour, and the people have a long thin face shape. In Granada you would think you were in the market places of Tunisia, and you can visit the Alhambra Palace, which was built by the Muslims and stands high on a hill top overlooking the city.

-Madrid, the capital city, is just plain mad, like trying to catch an excitable bird.  It is the capital city and contains many of the art treasures of Spain, including the Prado art gallery.  They still hold bull fights and keep strong ties to tradition.

– Some of the coastline has been relegated to building sunshine resorts for the Europeans who enjoy less sunny weather.  Over expansion and the rise of the value of the euro, has bankrupted many ex pats, and left the coast as an sea of condos and holiday homes.

-The southern coast and Andalucia is full of historic cites and small flavourful towns.  Malaga is a delight as a working city, great for tourists and full of locals.  From here, you can easily reach Seville, Cordoba and even Gibraltar if you want to slip into British territory for the day.  A day trip to Ronda, known as the prettiest town in Spain is well worth the effort if you want white washed Spain in a mountain village.

– There are some fantastic islands under Spanish jurisdiction, being Majorca, Ibiza and Minorca, and some other smaller islands; as well as the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.

In the larger cities, most people live in small, dark flats with very high rents, so life is lived on the street: in the cafes and bars, parks and beaches, and socialising with family.

At present, unemployment is high and petty thefts and break ins are very common. Poor people who make a living as pickpockets and thieves, are accepted as a part of life.  The police are pretty well powerless to them and as long as you are careful and prepared, you will not lose anything to them.  They are opportunists, not violent thieves.

 

Spain is one of those fantastic places, where you really feel like you are somewhere different. The people are lovely, the food exceptional, and a strong family spirit runs through the communities.  You can partake in unbelievably beautiful religious festivals, as well as touristy fests like the running of the bulls, or Tomatina; or walk the trails that pilgrims have walked for hundreds of years.

Spain truly has something for everyone.