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Archive for spain

People Watching in Marbella

By Linda Tancs

A focal point for tourism in Spain’s Costa del Sol, Marbella is where ordinary folks go to watch the glitterati arrive in their yachts at Puerto Banús. When you tire of people watching, there’s plenty of shopping, dining and golfing. This time of year also offers concerts, dancing and plenty of flamenco fashion thanks to the fair celebrating the local patron saint, San Bernabé (Saint Bernard). Today is the saint’s feast day. The party continues through June 15.

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Beaches and Cheese

By Linda Tancs

Geographically closer to Africa (Morocco) than mainland Spain, Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands. Given its pristine coastline of endless white sand beaches (around 93 miles), you’d expect it to be a sea and sand destination. In fact, its landscape earned the whole isle UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve status in 2009. But that’s not the only reason it’s the big cheese, so to speak. The island also boasts Designation of Origin cheeses—namely, Majorero cheese, made with milk from Majorero goats, which number in the tens of thousands across the terrain.

A Royal Visit in Santander

By Linda Tancs

Widely recognized as an emblem of the city of Santander in northern Spain, Palacio de La Magdalena was the summer residence of King Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria Eugenia for 17 years. Situated on the highest point of the Península de La Magdalena (sandwiched between the historic quarter and El Sardinero, a famous beach), the English-style residence (evoking the Queen’s homeland) is surrounded by gardens and wooded areas, a popular place for relaxation among the 60,000 or so annual visitors. The palace also famously serves as the locale for summer courses of the International Menéndez Pelayo University presented by renowned faculty from around the world.

Sea and Desert in Almería

By Linda Tancs

Spain’s Almería province rivals any beach destination, with long, sandy beaches stretching from Pulpí in the east to Adra in the west bathed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the desert located north of the city of Almería (Tabernas), popularly cited as Europe’s only bona fide desert. A popular film location, the area is characterized by rugged badlands suitable for hiking. Go now before the temperatures climb.

Spain’s Geological Hotspot

By Linda Tancs

Some of Europe’s most original geological features are located in Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park in Spain’s Almería region. Nearly 94,000 acres strong, the reserve is Andalucía’s largest coastal protected area and a mecca for geologists. Formed during the Tertiary Period, it’s an extensive volcanic region dominated by lava domes. Other points of interest are the ancient volcanic chimneys at the iconic Mermaids Reef, fossilized tongues of lava at Mónsul Beach (the reserve’s most famous beach) and mountains formed entirely by volcanic material like El Cerro Negro in the village of Las Negras. To learn more about the volcanic origin of this area you can visit the exhibitions in the House of the Volcanoes in Rodalquilar or the Las Amoladeras Interpretation Center.

Giant-Sized Fun in Barcelona

By Linda Tancs

In Spain, Barcelona’s biggest street party of the year is La Mercè Festival. Held near the end of September each year in honor of La Mare de Déu de la Mercè (Our Lady of Mercy, the patron saint of Barcelona), the event heralds the advent of autumn. A major highlight is the giants parade, where oversized effigies of kings, queens and nobles march through the streets to the delight of children. You also won’t want to miss the fire run, the human towers (like a cheerleading squad on steroids), the cathedral illumination and the projection of images on buildings at Plaça Sant Jaume. This year’s festival runs from September 21 through September 24.

Spain’s Mighty Wine Fight

By Linda Tancs

What Tuscany is to Italy, so La Rioja is to Spain. Below the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards occupy the Ebro valley and surround the old town of Haro. The town residents are so proud of their wine-producing heritage that they host a Wine Fight each June 29 during a multi-day celebration of St. Peter. As you might suspect, the weapon of choice in this battle is wine—red, red wine. Combatants don white shirts and red scarfs, making their way to the highest hilltop in town where a blizzard of wine is aimed at each other from buckets, wineskin, sprayers and other useful tools. Drinking the spoils of war is highly encouraged. After the battle subsides, the warriors head back downtown for a feast and a bull run.

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