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Thursday, June 02, 2016
12 Reasons to Add Spain to Your Bucket List
If you follow us on Instagram you know we just returned from a trip to Spain. Spain was loosely on our radar, but never at the top until I had a friend live there and keep reminding us we had a free place to stay in Europe. When the flights, timing, and budget worked out we couldn't deny Spain was the next place to visit and we booked our trip. We were shocked what an underrated country it is and how much fun we had visiting! If you don't have this on your travel radar, here are 12 reasons why you need to add Spain to your bucket list.
1. The History
I felt sheepish as I read more about Spain's history, it's quite an amazing one! From Roman rule with many Roman ruins, to dictators, to royal families and battles for the throne, to be the wealthiest country for decades, to recessions, to WWII neutrality and keeping most building in tact, to religious varieties, it's quite the place to visit! Everywhere we went there was something to learn about, and quite literally every city has something ancient and historical in it. You can go anywhere and experience something amazing in this country!
2. The Castles
There are so many castles. Apparently conquering South and Central America and all the wealth afforded some pretty amazing places throughout the country. There's so many to see, and the one in Madrid that is the 3rd largest in Europe alone makes it worth the trip. We have to admit our personal favorite was the Alhambra- the last Moorish temple. There's a lot of beauty and the castles that are still standing make it one amazing place to see.
3. The Cathedrals
For years the Christians, Jews, and Moors lived in peace. There are a lot of religious sights to see, but the cathedrals when the Catholic faith was declared by the royals to rule and reign are quite the sight! Not to mention La Sagrada Familia is in Barcelona, and that alone makes the trip to Spain worthwhile for many visitors.
4. The Easy Travel
The trains are fast, they are easy to use, and they are easy to book. We've been to several countries in Europe now and we haven't found one quite as easy to book online (if you use Paypal), to figure out in person, and to get around as quickly as we did in Spain. You can cover a lot of ground in very little time thanks to amazing transportation. Oh, and the metro is fantastic too- so easy to navigate!
5. The Price
We were shocked to see that even with the Euro being slightly higher than the dollar, we were still finding several products and food items quite a bit less than what we'd pay in the U.S. Unfortunately for Spain the recession has hit hard and they are still overcoming a lot of financial hardships. One way they are doing this is tourism, so people really are happy to have you, and travel is extremely affordable compared to most European countries. When all was said and done we spent quite a bit less on this trip than our others.
6. The Safety
Let me start by saying yes there was crime and pickpockets, but nothing like Italy or France. Not even a little bit close. You do have to watch your back certain places, but even with a baby and a lot more to carry we felt so much safer in Spain. Police were in areas that could be of concern, the people seem to watch out for one another, and being in places with fewer crowds than many tourist attractions helped too!
7. The Food
I won't lie and say it's Italy, but guess what, you can get a lot of great Italian food there! They had a lot of variety of foods, and because it was more affordable we ate pretty well! Paella is great, the fish is fantastic, and churros con chocolate I definitely can't argue with! We found so many great restaurants while there and even the street markets had some truly good food.
8. The Variety
There is something for everyone here! History buff? Cathedrals, castles, palaces, etc. are plentiful. Sports fan? Soccer matches are a second religion, and bullfighting is close behind in many places. Beach bum? Don't worry, they have many of those you can relax at. Art history fan? They have the best I've seen- not as much the works but the actual history behind them, it's remarkable! Shopping fanatic? The lower cost makes it really fun to shop at, and the fashion is incredible. I couldn't get over how well people dressed and how much was available. There really is something for everyone in one place.
9. The People
I've never had so many people warmly strike up conversation, smile, be helpful, hold doors, and win me over so quickly in Europe. People were incredibly honest- laws make cabs and other areas that are often sketchy totally trustworthy and safe. It's a story for another day, but Jacob had his phone lost and returned- miraculous! The people are really warm and friendly. Many know tourism helps their economy so they even thank you for coming. Everyone helped with directions, people stopped to smile at the baby, and everyone offered seats on the metro when they saw we had a child. I fell in love with their kindness, class, and culture so quickly.
10. Tourism is Championed
They are striving to continue to grow tourism, and share their country, and they are grateful to have visitors. Almost everyone speaks English, it's quite impressive. We had to ask them to speak Spanish with us often. If you aren't as lucky as we've been to learn Spanish you can go there and know confidently that pretty much every tour guide, every restaurant owner, and every hotel will know enough to help you and communicate clearly with you. I've never seen a country where so many are so fluent and so patient with travelers.
11. The Climate
Spain doesn't get as cold as many countries, in fact, summers can get hot. But from what we read there are few weeks that are hot and humid, most are temperate and nice year-round. You won't freeze to death going in the off season. Trust us, a cold spell came in and it rained most of our trip, and it was still very pleasant.
12. The Accessibility
Right next to France, easy rides to Portugal, and all the major cities are only a few hours on a high speed train from one another. If you're planning a Europe trip it's pretty easy to add in an extra couple days and cover a lot of ground due to the easy access.