Want to see a Spain that is different from touristic clichés? There are many tourists who would like to step out from the herd and do their own thing. And if you are one of them Spain is a great place to do so, the country being so picturesque and variegated.
Spaniards are, in general, very warm and hospitable. They take immense pride in their village, suburb or locality and are likely to take the time to show off local beauty spots. Being passionate and expressive by nature, Spaniards also happen to be notoriously loud! Be it a football match or a Spanish fiesta the decibels can be quite disconcerting. You may draw comfort from the fact that you get accustomed to the noise level pretty fast and sometimes even participate in it.
If you have to go shopping do bear in mind that most shops – indeed most offices – close down during the afternoons and open after 4.30 pm usually. People in Spain like to take long siestas, perhaps that explains why they are so relaxed and easy. If you are invited to dinner don’t be surprised if you’re served late, say after 10 pm. Spaniards like to chat well past midnight.
While traveling through villages the sight of cattle moving about freely may unsettle you. Should you decide to stay overnight at an inn or hotel you’ll be overwhelmed by Spanish hospitality for sure. Don’t scream, though, if you find a gecko or lizard staring at you unblinkingly when you turn in for the night- these reptiles are considered sacred particularly in the backwaters of Spain.
Tipping is not a common feature in most Spanish eateries so don’t do it. Also beware of beggars who move about in groups as they are known to rob vulnerable tourists. Change your currency into euros as some shops don’t accept travelers’ checks and credit cards. Don’t put your wallet in the back pocket of your jeans as this is the first spot to be targeted by robbers.
Given below are some spots that are not typically ‘packaged tour’ material but definitely eye-catching and, thus, visit-worthy.
The verdant splendor of Ciraqui in the Navrre province of northern Spain has to be seen to be believed. Astride over a hill-top this quaint medieval town, its cobbled streets, winding lanes and houses built from stone make it absolutely fetching and picturesque.
Pretty as a picture the town of Astorga too, is in northern Spain, not far from Leon. Don’t miss its Gaudi-designed Episcopal Palace and its 15th century Catedral de Santa Maria. Equally fetching is the old Town Hall with its grand façade.
Look out to some spectacular view of the Catalunya mountains from the Benedictine Monk retreat in Montserrat, some 50 kilometers from Barcelona. Listen to the divine sound church bells reverberating through the mountains.
This historical small town boasts an unusually magnificent castle, the Castillo de los Templarios. Dating back to the 12th century this stunning edifice was built over an area of 16,000 square meters. Other places of interest include the renaissance-styled Basilica de Encina noted for its gorgeous Baroque tower, the church of Santiago de Peñalba, and the Hermitage of Santo Tomás de las Ollas.
Both the old and new towns of Sarria are appealing in their own ways. One of the most artistic and eye-catching small towns its old churches including the 13th century Church of El Salvador are positively worth a visit. Sarria is also known for its gastronomical delights, especially its local stew known as cocido.
One last piece of advice: Don’t forget to take a Spanish phrase book along as people living in these out of the way places do not speak much English. Have a great time!
Naved is a travel author who has written many articles that keeps on guiding the travelers throughout the world. Angelina herself is an avid traveler who has traveled more than 22 countries. She also talks about travel options like cheap tickets to accra and flight to nairobi that explains how tourists can minimize the cost of their travel fares.
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