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Archive for spain

The Spanish Tuscany

By Linda Tancs

Matarranya (Matarraña) is a Spanish gem bordering Catalonia and Valencia. Dubbed the Spanish Tuscany for its natural and cultural highlights, each part of the region boasts its own delights, like vineyards, olive groves, cheese and black truffles. Named after the Matarraña River, its most rugged terrain is the Puertos de Beceite range, a scenic area with a significant forest mass. Historically, the earliest civilization is evidenced by prehistoric rock art of the Iberian Mediterranean Basin (known as Levantine art), a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing over 700 locations. If you’ve never heard of this locale, it wouldn’t be surprising given that it is relatively unknown outside the immediate area. It’s reachable from Barcelona or Valencia by bus or train, and Reus airport is an hour or so away.

Shopping in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

As any traveler knows, a walking tour is a great way to learn about a locale, typically strolling through unique neighborhoods offering a glimpse into its architecture and past and present residents. In Barcelona, Spain, you can shop your way through one such tour with the Barcelona Genuine Shops guided walking tour. The three-hour expedition introduces visitors to the city’s culture through its shop windows. That means you’ll get behind-the-scenes access to some shops and a discount card together with the usual historical and architectural commentary. The meeting point is at Plaça Sant Jaume in front of the Tourist Office.

Wetlands in Spain’s Heartland

By Linda Tancs

Castilla-La Mancha is a region in central Spain particularly known as the setting of the 17th-century novel “Don Quixote.” But it’s also a bird watcher’s paradise, especially amid the wetlands in Tablas de Daimiel National Park on the La Mancha plain. Formed by the overflowing in the confluence of the Guadiana and Cigüela rivers, the wetlands are strategically situated on the migration routes of many bird species, including those that winter in the park. Its water birds are primary ambassadors, including the great crested grebe, little grebe and black-necked grebe, heron and cattle egret. The main access road to the park departs from the N-420 road from Ciudad Real to Puerto Lapice, which leads to the visitor center.

Birthplace of Paella

By Linda Tancs

Just a short drive from Valencia, Spain, is Albufera Natural Park, home to some of the country’s most scenic wetlands and lagoons. The area is also touted as the birthplace of paella. You can enjoy both facets of the area with a traditional boat tour through the lagoon and then partake in some paella prepared with ingredients from the vegetable gardens that surround the wetlands.

The Pit of Bones

By Linda Tancs

Considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe, Atapuerca comprises several limestone caves near the medieval city of Burgos in northern Spain. It contains a rich fossil record of the earliest human beings in Europe from a million years ago. With colorful names such as Pit of the Elephant and Pit of Bones, the findings there include the earliest evidence of humans in western Europe and a stunning array of over 1,600 human fossils and intact skulls. The locale was designed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

Seaside Splendor in Spain

By Linda Tancs

Widely regarded as one of Spain’s most beautiful villages, Cudillero is a picturesque fishing port on the Atlantic Coast, far from the madding crowd. One of its most distinctive features is its brightly colored houses nestled in horseshoe fashion among the cliffs. Take in the views from the lighthouse or the lookout point at Mirador de la Garita.

Purple Majesty in Brihuega

By Linda Tancs

Move over, Provence. There’s a majestic cloak of lavender in the unassuming town of Brihuega, Spain. About an hour’s drive from Madrid, the hamlet celebrates its purple prize every July (harvest season) with a two-day event featuring sunset concerts amidst the lavender fields. Festival de la Lavanda takes place this year on the 19th and 20th.

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