Carol's Blog

Is Spain the new Italy?

Is Spain the new Italy?

Italy, and Tuscany in particular, holds a special place in my heart. But after 3 visits to Spain in the last year (twice to visit my daughter who was studying overseas, and for a “girls” trip), I’ve decided that Spain deserves more attention from travelers who are looking for culture, charm, narrow cobblestone streets, culinary adventures, and friendly locals. Here’s why I think so.

Spain has a fascinating history that spans millennia.  If you’re a history buff, there’s way more to digest than can be handled on a single trip. Spain’s history includes domination by Roman emperors, Muslim sultans, Catholic monarchs, and Fascist dictators. Each has left their mark on the Spain’s culture, architecture and personality, region by region.

La Mezquita in Cordoba Spain

Spain has fabulous cuisine. Having visited most of the major regions of Spain, my personal favorites for great cuisine are in the Basque region (San Sebastian and vicinity, including the Rioja wine region) and Barcelona. Southern Spain also has some wonderful Moroccan dishes that I love. Take a cooking class to learn authentic techniques and recipes!

Cooking Class San Sebastian
Cooking class in San Sebastian Spain
San Sebastian cheese market
San Sebastian cheese market

There are charming, unspoiled hill towns. This is true in the north (check out the sleepy town of Elciego, or the nearby Laguardia) and in the south (don’t miss the White Hill towns, including Ronda, Grazalema and Zahara).You can go wine tasting or take cooking classes with the locals. The Rioja wine district produces stellar wines, but you do need to plan ahead to get a tour or tasting. And cooking classes can also be arranged, along with a trip to the local markets.

If you like big cities with art, culture and nightlife, no problem. Madrid and Barcelona each have unique personalities, cuisine and nightlife, so city-lovers won’t want to miss these two destinations. Barcelona, in particular, is so heavily influenced by the architecture of Antoni Gaudi, you have to see it to believe it (don’t miss Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, and the Casa Batllo).

Gaudi Example
Barcelona Spain sample of Gaudi architecture

Viva España!

Carol's Travel Blog

The perfect remedy for jet lag experienced on arrival to Auckland, New Zealand involves following five simple steps. Step 1: Take a nonstop flight to Auckland arriving early morning, and head straight to the ferry to Waiheke Island.  You might have the ferry to yourself.   Step 2: Check into a boutique hotel that captures…>> Read More

It’s time to update your Italy bucket list to include Puglia (particularly the towns of Lecce, Ostuni, Alberobello and Polignano a Mare) and the town of Matera in the region of Basilicata (Matera is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its historical center called “Sassi”). Puglia is in southern Italy on the Adriatic Coast,…>> Read More

Dubrovnik is the most famous of the destinations in Croatia, in part because it has been a location for filming of the popular HBO series Game of Thrones. Dubrovnik is not to be missed, but there is so much more to the Dalmatian Coast that can be considered essential Croatia. If you like active trips,…>> Read More