Consider Cadiz – an alternative option for Spain holidays

Cadiz Consider Cadiz – an alternative option for Spain holidays   The warm Mediterranean sun has done something special to southern Spain, or Andalusia as the autonomous region is called. This region is home to some of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Spain, such as the city of Seville and the fortress of the Alhambra in Granada. That said, travelling the region in the summer can be overwhelming and tiring if you stay to the tourist trail. If the tourist sites are not on the agenda for your Spain holidays this summer and the focus of the trip is the culture, food and the scenery of the region, there are numerous options to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

Rather than starting the trip in Seville, consider flying into Cadiz. Somehow the tourist hordes usually overlook this beautiful and ancient port city. This is both unfortunate and a blessing. When food is on the mind, Cadiz should come to the forefront. While in the city, everyone should ensure that they at least try the tapa of Cazon en Adobo, which is a small shark marinated in spice, or consider an order of the shrimp fritters, called Tortillitas de Camarones. Being a port city, almost all of the seafood options will usually be good.

For those looking for a beach to relax on where the scene is a little more laid back and less packed with tourists from around the world, consider Los Canos de Meca, which is less than an hour from Cadiz. This beach and adjacent small town are slowly gaining prominence, but they still retain that small town Spanish vibe and lightly tourist-packed sand.

The alternative vibe of Barbate-small and lonely beaches blending with their tuna-based gastronomy, with Mojama, the seafood equivalent to Spanish cured ham, as the highlight, would satisfy the tastes of all travellers and be an even further flung destination for most tourists. Once you are wandering around Barbate, you could also try and visit other spots such as Zahara de los Atunes.

When in the area around Cadiz, a wonderful option for taking in a bit of nature is the Bahia de Cadiz Natural Park. The park has numerous walks or hikes ranging from easy to challenging. A moderately challenging walk that is worth the work is the Sendero Pinar de Algaida. This 12km walk begins at the University of Cadiz and follows along the river. It is a truly peaceful walk that provides a glimpse of the southern Spanish natural bounty while also allowing for some quiet reflection.

And if you are interested in trekking, remember to take a look at Los Alcornocales Natural Park, one of the most unique natural parks in Europe. From the “canuto” forests to its strange animal life, Cadiz Natural Park per excellence is the ideal place to escape from the city while we learn more about the Tardigrada or waterbears

Often when people are thinking of Spain, holidays are focused on seeing the big sites, however a more relaxed trip focused on the area around Cadiz can be more memorable and rewarding, particularly when it comes to food and scenery.

 

About the Author: Samuel Stokes is a British travel writer. He spends most of his time planning or writing about finding the best budget and backpacking holidays in the Mediterranean coast, after spending most his youth living in different parts of Spain.

 

Photo Credit: Image by Michael Osmenda used under creative commons license.

 

A Dream or is it Just a Night in Barcelona?

Groggily stepping off the plane in the middle of the night, I was shocked to find Barcelona awake.  So awake in fact that when I checked in to my accommodations, the desk clerk asked me if I wanted to have my luggage stored behind the desk until I came back from dinner.  Where am I? I thought as I checked my cell phone and saw that it was already well into the next day.  Needless to say, I never forgo a local travel tip and I headed out with my travel partners.

 

2525901376 0289f2132d A Dream or is it Just a Night in Barcelona?

If you’ve never been out in Barcelona you need to be prepared for the joie de vivre that is Barcelona at night.  Every café we went to was packed, literally to the brim with people that seemed to be enjoying a happy hour like atmosphere at midnight.   Musicians strolled the boulevards, stopping at tables of unsuspecting tourists and lovers, serenading the entire café with music before moving off into the darkness to the next café.  A large extended family sat next to us at a café, their joy and laughter was infectious and even with my very limited Spanish and even less Catalan we soon found ourselves sharing mystery liquor from a clear bottle.  I was exhausted and yet enthralled by the scene.  It was like a dream you never wanted to wake up from.

Like dreams, there are some places and some experiences that you just can’t recreate.  The next time I search out the dream hopefully it will be from the interior of one of the terrific Barcelona apartments dotted across the city.  That way when I wake up and look out across the city, I’ll still feel like I’m in a dream.

Photo Credit: Flickr user dweekly via a creative commons license.

adventure travel A Dream or is it Just a Night in Barcelona?

My First Solo Trip Abroad

I needed to study Spanish and I figured there was no better place to do that than the Costa del Sol in Spain.1277126504 bd0a4c235a My First Solo Trip Abroad

That was after my parents strongly objected to studying in Central America.

As part of my undergrad degree I had to learn a language. Spanish was a natural choice because I was from South Florida and already understood a good bit of the language. Naturally, I wanted to go and study in the jungles of Central America but my parents didn’t feel so good about sending their 18 year old into the jungle to learn Spanish.   Instead, they paid the airfare to Malaga, Spain and so I was off.

My first morning of Spanish school I woke at 2 a.m. Not because of the excitement of class.  A newbie to travel, I had plugged my alarm clock in without a converter and the different electrical currant wrecked havoc on the timepiece.  Welcome to life abroad!

School was simple and I found myself picking up Spanish easily.  More importantly I learned what Spain was like. We enjoyed our siestas and then went out for tapas. I tried sherry for the first time and at one restaurant I chose my fish for dinner from a bucket held by the fisherman himself. The beach was always packed and I had an awful lot of time to spend on it given that classes were part-time.

Malaga is something of a holiday town for all of Europe and lots of people flock south for holidays to Costa del Sol. 1276268631 3959886a1c My First Solo Trip AbroadI happened to choose the week of the annual Feria for my visit and a full 10 years later I can still remember the Flamenco in the street and the gypsies trying to pick the pockets of people as they passed along their way. The party literally lasted all night long and was simply unlike anything else I’d ever experienced back in the USA.

Without question, the most amazing part of my first solo trip abroad was the weekend I spent in Morocco. The weekend trip was $150 all inclusive without drinks.   As a student, I agonized over the decision to spend that much money over a weekend but somehow forced myself to take the plunge. Years later I still look back on that lesson as a turning point.1276344657 a2d305c1bb My First Solo Trip AbroadMoney is just money, but using it to create great experiences for ourselves, that’s what counts. That weekend in Morocco was like being in another world. Walking through the markets, seeing an actual snake charmer for the first time, felt to young—naive—me just like the start of Disney’s Aladdin.

I had a great time in Malaga and all along the coast of Andulcia, but I  had an even more amazing time stepping out of my comfort zone and into the great unknown. What I learned on this trip though, aside from some basic Spanish, was that it really was easy to travel to live a completely different life than the one I’d always expected to live.

On my refrigerator is a birthday card with an Abraham Lincoln quote: “It’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”adventure travel My First Solo Trip Abroad

Summertime in Spain

Quick, somebody get me a pitcher of Sangria!

It’s summertime, and that’s got me dreaming of Spain – sleeping in, lolling about by the ocean, tapas in the afternoon, and late-night revelry. Of course, there’s more to summertime in Spain than being a total lush, so don’t miss out on the good stuff.

Spanish Architecture

I know virtually nothing about architecture, but I know that when it comes to Spain – and Barcelona in particular – there’s one guy that stands out.

Antoni Gaudí.

Gaudi Park Summertime in Spain
If elves don’t live here, my whole life has been a lie.

The highlight of my stay in Barcelona was easily Gaudí Park, which showcases his fascinating architecture and the best panoramic view in town. And after all that sightseeing, you’ve definitely earned your evening sangria.

Spanish Beaches

For sunny, clean beaches, go to the port city of Alicante in the south of Spain. Look into Alicante airport transfers so you don’t waste any time getting there. There are multiple beaches to explore, with an abundance of white sand and shady promenades.

6648973617 069da66807 Summertime in Spain
If sand’s not your thing, lounge around on a boat instead. Image from Flickr by decar66.

Spanish Festivals

Arguably the most famous festival in Spain, San Fermín takes place every summer in Pamplona. More commonly known as the Running of the Bulls, it is nine full days of absolute madness. Attendees dress in matching white clothes accessorized with red bandannas, and wait anxiously for the morning, when the bulls thunder down the streets.

Running of the Bulls Summertime in Spain
When it all gets to be too much, make a hasty exit.

Now, seriously. Where’s that sangria?

adventure travel Summertime in Spain

Las Ramblas in Barcelona

Las Ramblas might be Barcelona’s most touristy street, packed with restaurants, shops, vendors, kiosks and street performers. The tree lined avenue runs from Plaza Catalyuna to the Christopher Columbus statue along the water.

When I arrived in Barcelona on a late night flight from Italy, I was surprised to see so many people in the streets at such a late (or early depending on your thinking) hour. The street cafe’s along Las Ramblas were packed with groups of friends enjoying the cool breeze and good company. We dove right in to a large order of tapas and spent a good few hours enjoying life along the pedestrian walk.

Of course the best part of a pedestrian only walk is the people watching. Although late night Barcelona is famous, you don’t have to stay out until 5am for good people watching. With such a large crowd and so many varied stores, it doesn’t take long to find someone or something of interest. Street performers juggle, act as statues and do stand up comedy along the walk as others busy themselves by doing their weekly market shopping. Throughout the world we loved going to these centers of commerce – outdoor market streets, indoor markets, tourist markets, anywhere that locals would congregate to meet, shop, and visit old friends we found ourselves at our happiest.

Las Ramblas Barcelona Las Ramblas in Barcelona

IF YOU GO: Barcelona is easily accessed from all over Europe and has become a favorite long weekend destination for those in Northern Europe looking for a bit of sun and fun. If you’re interested in enjoying the late night tapas bars and watering holes of Barcelona, which famously don’t get busy until an hour that most Northern European bars and restaurants are closing, some people like to book through Oh-Barcelona, so they don’t have to explain to the front door man of a hotel where they’re going at midnight!

Photo Credit: Flickr user Travelling_Artist via creative commons licensing.