A Quick Tour of Spain.

By: Linda Plummer

With over fifty million tourists visiting Spain each year, this
popular West European country must have something special which
attracts the visitor. What exactly is it ...?

The main beauty of this lovely land can be summed up in just one
word - variety - and, as you all well know, variety is the spice
of life!

Whether you are referring to its climate, geography, history,
culture or cuisine ... there is something to appeal to all tastes,
ages and pockets.

The tourist explosion which took place in the 60s was originally
due to its marvellous beaches. And, with good reason, for the
Foundation for Environmental Education states that "Spanish
beaches are the most environmentally healthy in Europe" and has
awarded the much-coveted Blue Flag to 450 of the country?s
beaches - more than any other participating country.

But maybe lolling about on the beach all day is not your thing
and you prefer more action ... a touch of sophistication?

Should this be the case then Spain?s major cities are ideal for
you ... jam-packed full of history, and an art-lover?s dream.
Yet, with their abundance of parks and wide open spaces, good
shops and pulsating night-life, they are a joy for everyone -
children included.

So ... mooch around the truly marvellous museums and monuments
of Madrid. Enjoy the bustle of stylish Barcelona bursting with
vibrant Gaudí influence. Savor the delights of romantic
Mediterranean cities such as Valencia and Alicante. Or journey
further south to the exotic cities of Granada, Seville and Málaga.

Immerse yourself in their haunting Islamic palaces, the brilliant
colors and sounds of flamenco, and in the birth-place and works
of Picasso.

Maybe you hunger for the peace and quiet of a hideaway hotel in
an unspoiled village? Then rural Spain is for you: full of
forgotten villages, bursting at the seams with medieval castles,
and offering prolific flora and fauna, it is ideal for walking
holidays, painting, photography or just plain "get away from it
all" holidays. Not to mention ski-ing opportunities for the more
active amongst Spain?s snow-capped peaks.

Should you fancy a mix of all three - beach, city and rural -
then that is also easy to arrange. Although Spain is the largest
country in Western Europe after France, it is certainly no
problem to get around. Littered with airports - both national
and international - it also offers a good train service, though
the cheapest and most convenient method of internal travel is by
using the national bus/coach system.

For those who are a little tired of the stereo-typed hotel chains,
Spain has a unique alternative on offer in its state-established
"paradores". In these, you will find accommodation in converted
castles, palaces, fortresses, monasteries, convents ...

The aim of the "paradores" is to offer high standards at reasonable
prices in a noteworthy building or location and to help preserve
the traditions of regional cooking by serving the best of local
cuisine in the "parador" restaurants.

Which brings us on to yet another delight that Spain has to offer -
its rich and varied cuisine. Whichever region of Spain you decide
to visit, you will surely encounter scrumptious Spanish food!

What?s more, the traditional Spanish diet, with the liquid gold of
its olive oil, its rich supply of wine (in moderation!), its wide
variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, plus an abundance of seafood,
all mean that it is extremely good for the heart. On top of that,
it is affordable!

Even their "caviar" of cured hams - "jamón Ibérico" - has fat
unusually high in oleic acid which is known to lower cholesterol
levels! Now I ask you, where else can you get something pleasurable,
that is cheap, and also good for you?!

Even if you fancy picking between meals you can opt for their
tempting "tapas" - much healthier for you than a packet of crisps or
a donut!

Tapas originate from the largeScience Articles, southerly region of Andalucia and it
is this region that we also have to thank for flamenco and the
Spanish guitar. Which holiday would be complete without visiting an
authentic flamenco show or dancing the night away to the beat of
romantic Spanish music?

So ... come visit this land where the warmth of its climate is only
surpassed by the warmth of its people. You are bound to have a great

Spain Guide

» More on Spain Guide