June 25, 2017

Music Festival at Benicassim Spain

Calling all music festival lovers!  You might want to start planning to attend next years music festival in Benicassim Spain after reading this guest post brought to you by Richard Cabo!

 

Ask a person to name a music festival and, chances are, they’re likely to go with one of two – Glastonbury, the UK’s traditionally muddy three-day party in a field, or Coachella, a festival that slowly cooks both attendees and musicians in the heat of the American desert. However in the past few years, one European festival has really started to come into its own, garnering international recognition and not causing a bunch of raised eyebrows and a, “where’s that?” response: Benicassim, on Spain’s Costa del Azahar, not too far from the city of Valencia.

Benicassim beach Spain

Benicassim by luipermom, on Flickr

 

Increasingly popular with British festival goers, thanks to its sunny locale and the availability of cheap flights to Spain, Benicassim continues to become more and more popular and, in 2009, exceeded its capacity of fifty thousand revellers for the first time, and shows no sign of slowing down.

With a stellar line-up that includes some of the world’s best musicians, can you blame people from not being able to stay away?

Past festivals have seen performances from artists that cover the musical spectrum, from The Stone Roses, Scissor Sisters, Little Dragon and Portishead to Hot Chip, Oasis and Roisin Murphy. Benicassim really does have something for everyone, with rockers, ravers, pop lovers and those ever-present hipsters all having their musical preferences catered for.

Oasis at Benicassim Musical Festival Spain

Oasis @ FIB Heineken 2009 by Rafael Tovar, on Flickr

 

This year’s line-up was no less eclectic, with headliners including British rockers the Arctic Monkeys, veteran musicians Primal Scream, techno DJ supreme Benny Benassi and loud-mouthed rapper Azealia Banks taking to the stage to entertain the throngs of people descending on the small Spanish resort town. Check out 2013’s full line-up here.

Vampire Weekend at Benicassim Spain

One of my current favorite bands! Vampire Weekend - FIB (Benicassim) by feiticeira_org, on Flickr

 

Getting to the festival isn’t too much of a slog either! Rail Europe offers tickets to Benicassim with easy connections from Barcelona, Madrid and Alicante. Lots of budget airlines also serve the airports in both Barcelona and Valencia, the most convenient airports for those flying in to enjoy the festival from outside Spain. And if you wanted to combine Benicassim with a full-blown holiday, there are plenty of holiday providers offering cheap packages to Spain – First Choice has a few good deals at the moment.

Benicassim has been running for almost twenty years now, first starting in 1995, and has blossomed into one of the world’s most well-renowned music festivals. Festival goers tend to be young and eager to party, with bands often playing through until around eight o’clock in the morning, giving attendees time to rest until things kick off again in the early evening. The festivities kick off on the second Monday in July, usually going on for four days that are crammed with quality bands and the very best of the current music scene.

Beach at Benicassim Spain

Benicassim by savoir.faire, on Flickr

 

Festival goers also have the added benefit of being close to a beach, a far cry from the likes of Glastonbury. Attendees of Benicassim will likely be seen donning flip-flops and shorts rather than hoodies and wellington boots. The festival offers camping along with its four-day weekend pass, meaning that revellers wanting to really get close to the action need to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of comfort for their love of music. Of course, VIP passes are available for those who find sleeping in anything other than quilted luxury nothing short of abhorrent.

If you only make it to one music festival during the summer, make Benicassim the one as, in my opinion, it has the best line-up, the best location and, hopefully, the best weather out of the myriad of festivals taking place during the summer months. If you do end up heading to Benicassim to party, make sure you pack a big smile, some clean clothes, your drinking hat and your snazziest pair of dancing shoes!

 

What do you think, is Benicassim a music festival you’d enjoy attending?

Discovering the Cultural Heritage of Benidorm

Beaches seem to be king in Benidorm Spain but the lovely seaside city has a cultural side too! This guest post by Jeni of Co-op travel introduces some of the cultural spots to explore in Benidrom!

There’s a lot more to Benidorm than what the average tourist might think. A small village as little as fifty years ago, the Spanish town has grown to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, and with good reason.

Some might wrongly believe that it only caters to sunbathers and night life seekers, but there’s another side of Benidorm that visitors can take full advantage of, including a rich cultural heritage, excellent scenic spots and a vast range of events. Below are some of the best parts of the town that are often overlooked.

Benidorm Spain

Benidorm 060 by leumas_1974, on Flickr

The museums of Benidorm are frequently neglected by visiting holidaymakers, but there are several that provide a fascinating insight into its history. The first to consider is the House Museum, or Casa Museo de Benidorm – the principal art gallery of the coastal town. Admission is free, and in it you will find numerous collections of sculptures and paintings. Different exhibitions are also frequently held, so be sure to find out what visiting exhibitions are available when you visit.

Other museums to look into include the Agricultural Museum, or Museo de Agricola. Open every day, it has on display a wide range of farming equipment that would have been used in Benidorm before it became the holiday resort that it is today. Lastly, the Maritime Cultural Centre, or Centro Cultural Maritimo, can be found in a charming small house that boasts a great exhibition of nautical pieces. Boats, fishing equipment and photos make up just some of what it has on display and give visitors an idea of what would have once been the main source of income for locals. To find the best located places to stay to see Benidorm’s museums, going to Co-op travel’s website can prove extremely useful. In doing so, you’ll also be sure to find a good discounted price.

Beautiful Coastline of Benidorm Spain

Benidorm Spain from Wikimedia

As well as its museums, there are also numerous cultural spots you can visit to get a feel of Benidorm’s history. One of the best is located in the Sierra Helada Mountains, a mountain range that can be found right next to Benidorm and separates it from the neighboring town of Albir. It’s there that you can find the watchtowers of Seguro. The towers were used during the 16th Century to scan the seas for raiding pirates, and visitors can now climb them to gain a unique view over the ocean and the land surrounding Benidorm.

 

Would you visit Benidorm for its beaches or cultural attractions?

Wheeling Through Catalonia

This type of cycling holiday is something I’m very interested in, so I am very excited to bring this guest post to you today!  Elizabeth Banks is a freelance travel journalist and food lover.  She has a passion for discovering off the beaten track holiday destinations.

As a cycling novice, I was eager to see what my first cycling holiday would be like.  For my first trip I chose Inntravel a company specializing in walking and cycling holidays.  One of the reasons I opted for Inntravel was their rating system of the cycling trips.  Level 1 is mainly flat routes where a level 2 or 3 involves frequent ascents and descents. It was not a difficult choice for me to decide on an easy grade 1 cycling holiday in Catalonia.   Another huge benefit of Inntravel cycling holidays is they transport luggage between hotels!

Now I’m off on my cycling holiday!

On arrival in the rural hamlet of Joanetes, the starting point for our holiday, we were introduced to our bikes.  We were given a city trekking bike and helmet which has to be worn by law on all highways in Spain.  We also received a handy waterproof map case (which could be attached to the handlebars), saddlebags, a pump and puncture repair kit.  But don’t worry, with Inntravel also included is emergency assistance from the bike supplier should you run into any major problems with your bike during the trip. With this added reassurance we were ready to set off!

Day 1 started at El Ferres in a tranquil valley which was a gentle introductory route so we could get used to our bikes and get a first glimpse of this beautiful corner of Catalonia.  We cycled through pretty villages on flat quiet roads and made a picnic stop where we grabbed a delicious home-made lunch of crusty bread, olives, a selection of local cured meats and cheeses. After lunch we continued onwards to the larger provincial capital of Olot before taking a leisurely route along the former railway back to our hotel.  Our family-run hotel, Mas El Ferres was a charming farmhouse in a beautiful rustic style. We curled up in the lounge by the large inglenook fireplace to admire the amazing views.  After a delicious home-cooked evening meal, it was time for bed.

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Cycling Along Narrow Gauge Railway Route Olot Girona Spain

Day 2 we headed towards the charming hamlet of Els Hostalets d´en Bas.  Our route was flat and took us along pretty, winding lanes.  The route notes were easy to follow and at times I almost forgot I was cycling since I was so busy taking in the spectacular scenery and array of beautiful flowers lining the road.  The hamlet sits in the colourful Vall d´en Bass known as ‘Little Switzerland’.  The charming traditional houses with wooden balconies added to the fairy-tale appearance of the area.  We had fantastic views of the Pyrenees and decided it was the perfect spot for a picnic.  After a leisurely lunch and a wander around it was back on the bikes for the final stretch of the days cycling – which was slightly downhill and made for a very pleasant afternoon’s ride.

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

Cycling Europes Traffic Free Routes

We arrived in the pretty town of Les Planes our destination for the night.  We stayed at Can Garay a truly stunning Art Deco family home, lovingly restored by our hosts Lluis Garay and his wife Sophie.  Lluis is the great-grandson of the original owner and has preserved many of the original features including stained glass windows.  With just six bedrooms, this hotel was a real find and the cozy lounge was the ideal place to curl up with a glass of wine after dinner.  The large gardens were another plus as they were shaded by centuries-old trees and scattered with fountains. Luckily, we arrived in time for an evening stroll around the gardens before our meal.

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Cycling Spains Disused Railway Line

Day 3 we sadly left Les Planes for our final day’s cycle to Girona.  Our route was nearly all along a disused railway line.  The mostly flat terrain gave us some welcome easy pedaling.  We stopped off at the delightful village of Amer, an unspoiled (yet bustling) town with arcaded buildings set around the main square.  We continued parallel to the Ter River, past lush fields and woodland right into the heart of Girona.  There is plenty to explore in this medieval walled city, the striking gothic cathedral, hidden courtyards and a labyrinth of narrow streets.  The pastel-coloured houses that line the river give the city an enchanting element that was like no other city I have visited.  We stayed at the Hotel Peninsular, a family-run hotel on the site of an old convent, just a few minutes from the cathedral.

Girona Spain

Girona Spain

 

Would you consider a cycling holiday?

 
All pictures are the property of and used with permission of Inntravel.

Three European Festivals during June

Now that we are mid-way through Spring, its time to look forward to Summer! With summer comes warmer and longer days which brings people outside. While everyone is enjoying leisurely bike rides, picnics and the wonderful fruit and vegetables that only summer brings, Festivals start happening too!

And in Europe there are an abundance of Festivals.

Today I’ll introduce you to 3 Unique Festivals taking place during June.

 

First we’ll head to the Czech Republic where we’ll get to experience history over the Summer Solstice weekend.

Royal grandstand at Five Petalled Rose Celebration Cesky KrumlovCrowds at Cesky Krumlov's Five Petalled Rose Celebration

Cesky Krumlov, known as one of the Czech Republic’s prettiest towns, is full of Renaissance era buildings, cafes, pubs and a wonderful castle. This Bohemian village is also home to the Five-Petalled Rose Celebration which takes place each year over the Summer Solstice. This festival will take you back to the Renaissance when the town was ruled by the Lords of Rosenberg. Enjoy taking a step back in time as you watch Knight’s tournaments, enjoy medieval music, wander craft fairs and meet the famous people from Cesky Krumlov’s history! The Five-Petalled Rose Celebration takes place June 21-13, 2013.

Welcoming Royalty at Royal Silvering of Kutna Hora Czech RepublicKnights on horseback Royal Silvering of Kutna Hora Czech Republic

Medieval Kutna Hora relives its history every year during June. You’ll be whisked back 600 years during the Gothic Royal Silvering in Kutna Hora. Welcome King Wenceslas IV and Queen Sophia of Bavaria while watching Knights ride into town, jousting tournaments and dancing to Gothic music. Later take part in the Silver Mass at the lovely Cathedral of St. Barbara. The Royal Silvering in Kutna Hora will bring history alive to all those in attendance and takes place June 22-23, 2013.

Battle of Wine in Haro La Rioja SpainCelebrating the Spanish Wine Battle Haro Spain

For the last festival we’ll head to Spain for the La Batalla del Vino or the Spanish Wine Battle! In northern Spain is the Rioja wine region and the town of Haro where every June 29th there is a battle.This isn’t a normal battle but you will want to be armed! Attire for the battle is white adorned with a traditional red scarf tied around your neck. Your morning will start with a group climb up the Cliffs of Bilibio for mass and then all kinds of crazy gets going. Armed with squirt guns, super soakers or bottles filled with wine, attendees start squirting everyone! Then around noon, the wine soaked group makes its way to the center of town for more celebrating and maybe a Bull fight, if you’re so inclined!  Make sure you bring a change of clothes!

 

Would you attend one of these Festivals?

 


Photos of both festivals in Czech Republic are used courtesy of Czech Tourism.
Photos of Spanish Wine Battle by bigSus on wikipedia

Albarino Wine Led Me To Galicia Spain

Exploring Europe through its wines can lead you to some wonderful adventures. That is why I love trying different European wines even while home.  I recently had the opportunity to try a wine made from a grape I’d never heard of, Albarino.  Once I discovered it was from Spain I had to learn more about the region producing Albarino wine!

This led me to the rugged Northern coast of Spain, Galacia.

Galacia is not on the normal tourist track and since it is separated from the rest of Spain by a mountain range, it has a very different feel to it.  In Galacia you’ll experience a different language and a strong Celtic influence especially in its music which still uses bagpipes.  Set along the Atlantic coast, the region also boasts a very strong seafaring tradition.  Inland the region is full of rugged and wonderful mountains.

Here are 5 reasons you might want to explore Galicia!

1. Albarino Wine
One of the wine worlds best kept secrets is the Rías Baixas area, home to Spain’s Albarino grape.  The grape has been growing in the area for 900 years and produces a crisp white wine that pairs well with seafood.  The wine region is mainly centered on Cambados where you’ll find a bodega in an old castle and an annual wine festival.

Vineyards in Spanish Wine Region of Galicia Spain

Vineyards in Spanish Wine Region of Galicia by Enrique Dans

2. Santiago de Compestelo
The most well known city in the Galicia region is also one of Spain’s most beloved.  In the center of town you’ll find Plaza de Espana which is bordered by the Baroque cathedral, a Romanesque college and Neoclassical city hall. The cathedral has been the goal of pilgrims for hundreds of years and is known for its Baroque façade, a Romanesque sculpture and the crypt of St. James.

Santiago de Composteleo Cathedral Galicia Spain

Santiago Cathedral by Luis Miguel Bugallo Sanchez

3. Beaches
The coastal area of Galicia is full of scenic, windy and sometime treacherous shoreline.  Take time to explore some of the estuaries and enjoy the beaches.  The many resorts are full of wonderful streets with Gothic arches and churches as well as miles of sandy beaches and beautiful clear water.   The beaches are so inviting you’ll want to grab some bread, cheese and wine for a wonderful seaside picnic!

Beach along coast of Galicia Spain

Playa de Catedrales, Galicia Spain by AndyRobertsPhotos, on Flickr

4. Quaint Villages
The quaint fishing villages, gorgeous scenery and sandy beaches of Galicia are the heart and sole of the region.  The list of villages include La Coruna which is Franco’s hometown, Lugo is known for its Roman wall, preserved ramparts and shellfish festival while Baiona is a chic resort known as the first town to know of Columbus’ discovery and its medieval architecture.

Plaza do Ferro in Ourense Galicia Spain

Praza do Ferro in Ourense by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias

5. Varied outdoor activities
Galicia is also known for its outdoor adventures.  While the coastline adventures revolve around water sports including sailing and surfing, the rugged hills entice the hikers and walkers.  Other adventures include hot air ballooning, golf and horseback riding.

Inland scenery Galicia Spain

Galicia Inland by OndasDeRuido, on Flickr

 

Is Galicia calling you?

Tenerife A Climate to Suit all Holidays

This guest post is brought to you by Jenni from Jet2holidays.

If you are one of those people who like to go on a summer holiday every year, you will know all about the excitement that overcomes us as the warmer months approach. There is something magical about the anticipation of a vacation in a sun-kissed paradise, especially if the preceding few months has been particularly difficult. In many ways, this annual ritual represents a far cheaper and significantly more convenient form of therapy!

Tenerife Canary Island Spain

One issue that seems to be a little contentious in many households is the choice of destination. Each individual member of the family may have their own opinions about which resort would tick all the necessary boxes, so it could be some time before a firm decision is made. There are some holiday locations, however, which have something to suit everyone, and many seasoned travelers would agree that Tenerife falls into this rather select category.


An Enigmatic Island

This enigmatic island is one of the Canaries and is located off the west coast of Africa. Despite its location, however, it remains resolutely Spanish in atmosphere. Tenerife has a number of highly impressive sandy beaches which are simply perfect for families with young children, and in the town centers there is plenty of fun-packed nightlife which will appeal to anyone who’s looking to have some fun after the sun has gone down.

Walking in Tenerife Canary Island Spain

The center of the island is home to a dense forest, and there are a number of hills and mountains. Because of these features, Tenerife has a special appeal for walkers and hikers. The fact that it’s a volcanic island and on the same line of latitude as the Sahara Desert means the temperatures can fluctuate greatly from one location to another. This microclimate is often a little unpredictable, but most visitors would agree it’s never boring.

Tenerife sea front Canary Island Spain

If you are yet to discover just why the Canary Islands provide the perfect vacation for all ages, it’s high time you made the trip. There are so many good reasons to visit, and with Jet2holidays offering cheap holidays to Tenerife there has surely never been a better time to go. All you need to do to find the ultra-low fares is log on to the web and make a booking. In these days of financial hardship, it’s good to know there are still some great deals that are just waiting to be found.

 

Would you spend your holiday in Tenerife?

All photos are property of Jet2holidays

Epicurean’s Guide to Europe: Delicious Dishes You Have To Try!

As I mentioned in German Food Traditional & Tasty, food may not be a reason I visit a city but it is definitely something I look forward to!  Here is a guest post exploring more of Europe’s cuisine.  Enjoy!

 

Epicureans will travel the world to experience masterfully created flavors. When visiting Europe, epicureans simply must put these countries at the top of their lists.

 

Spain 

Tapas in Spain

Tapas by Ben Sutherland, on Flickr

Spain has many wonderful regions that foodies will want to explore. If you have to focus on one area, though, make it Basque Country where you will find a lot of variety to satisfy all of your cravings!

The Basque Country has earned a reputation for serving some of the best tapas in Spain. In this region, though, they usually serve tapas on bread with a “spike” through the ingredients so it all holds together. They call it pinxto, which takes its name from the word for “spike.” Expect to find pinxtos containing olives, cured meats, cod, stuffed peppers and regional cheeses.

Turkey

Turkish cuisine can vary significantly depending on where you travel. The region near the Black Sea, for instance, uses a local anchovy that offers a distinctive flavor. No matter where you go, though, you will find homemade recipes that have been in families for generations.

When in Turkey, look for dishes carefully built around grilled meats, dates, pistachios, lentils and eggplant.

If you have recently been in other parts of Europe when you visit Turkey, you will immediately notice that Turkish cooks use spices more sparingly than those in other countries. As an epicurean, you need to experience how wonderful this simplicity can taste. It will show you that amazing food doesn’t necessarily need a complex recipe.

France 

Pot de Creme Dessert France

Pot de Creme by arnold | inuyaki, on Flickr

One could argue that excellent European cuisine began in France. The country’s chefs maintain a long tradition of technical skill and innovative flavors that should put it right at the top of your list.

When visiting France, pay careful attention to two things – dessert and wine. Some desserts to include are:

  • Tart tatin (an upside-down tart with apples)
  • Flaugnarde (a large pancake filled with various fruits)
  • Pot de crème (a potted custard)
  • Koign-amann (a kind of puffed pastry)

If you find a really good restaurant (which is easy considering that Paris alone has about 100 Michelin-rated restaurants), then a sommelier can pair your dessert with the perfect wine.

Italy 

Branzino all'acqua pazza Cuisine Italy

Branzino all'acqua pazza by 10Rosso, on Flickr

You probably think of pasta when you think of Italy. You can certainly find plenty of pasta dishes throughout Italy, but the country really excels when it comes to seafood. Only an Alaskan cruise excursion could give you access to fresher seafood!

Some dishes to look for include:

  • Cappon magro (a large seafood salad with a thick sauce)
  • Acqua pazza (poached white fish)
  • Cacciucco (a fish stew)
  • Scampi in the shell

To really get a thrill, visit an open-air market in the morning. You will see gigantic fish that still have their heads attached but don’t let this have a ruin your afternoon meal! In Italy, every part of the fish gets used to make some of the most delicious soups and sauces you will ever taste.

Germany

Germany’s epicurean fame typically comes from its commitment to excellent beers and processed meats. It has that reputation for some very good reasons. In fact, breweries around the world still use the Bavarian Purity Law from 1487 to make high-quality beer with only the most essential ingredients.

When you venture into Germany expect to find plenty of meat dishes including those made of: lamb, goat, duck, turkey, pork and beef.

You’ll swear that you can live off sausage alone once you’ve toured through Germany.


Europe has diverse cuisine that not only varies from country to country, but city to city. For the true epicurean, every European destination lies somewhere on the list of must-visit places.

 

What is your favorite European cuisine or food?

 

This guest post was brought to you by Miles Young,  a freelance travel writer who specializes in all things outdoors. Whether it’s biking, vacations, cruising or just exploring the city, Miles has done it all. When he’s not out conquering the world he’s geeking out on tech or attempting to play the piano. You can reach Miles at mrmilesyoung@gmail.com.

Picturesque Costa Brava

Marc Chagall called it “Blue Paradise” and Dali called it home.  No matter what you call it, both were inspired by the north western corner of Spain we know as the Costa Brava.

Picturesque Tossa de Mar Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Picturesque Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869

This portion of Catalonia is famous for many things but none more exceptional than the picturesque resorts, sandy beaches and rugged beauty that stretches from Barcelona north to the border with France.

Cadaques Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Cadaqués by clurr, on Flickr

Costa Brava, also known as the “Wild Coast”, is the name given to the coastline of the Catalonia region.  This coast alternates between cliffs and beaches which contrast with a Mediterranean Sea that is clear and deep blue. Today it is filled with small resorts that are sprinkled along a coast that is still as wild and beautiful as it ever was.

Scenic Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Costa Brava by Albert T M, on Flickr

Fishing ports, scenic bays, sandy beaches, artist colonies, jagged cliffs and coves dot the landscape. The Costa Brava is full of picturesque resort and fishing villages which are nestled between craggy cliffs.  These cliffs make scenic drives impressive and a great way to enjoy the views of the Mediterranean. After driving the breathtaking and dramatic roads, you will know why this region is known as the Wild Coast!

Llafranc Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Llafranc by Nanami Turambar, on Flickr

But the beauty of the area should be seen both from the coast and the water!  With the many rugged cliffs, a boat tour of the coast is one of the best ways to enjoy the dramatic views.

Scenic Costa Brava Coast Catalonia Spain

Costa Brava Coast by Gabriele Delhey

Among the scenic towns that litter the shoreline of the Costa Brava are Tossa del Mar, Loret del Mar and Blanes, which are known for their sandy beaches.  Roses is a beautiful city resting on the shores of a bay with the same name.  The coves of Aiguablava offer peace and serenity while the dramatic coast of Palafrugell enchant all visitors of this fishing port.

Calella de Palafrugell Costa Brava Catalonia Spain

Calella de Palafrugell by Jorge Franganillo, on Flickr

The Costa Brava is full of picture perfect villages which makes it hard to label one as the “most picturesque”.

What is your favorite spot along the Costa Brava?

Catalonia – Spain’s Best Kept Secret?

Sitting in the north east corner of Spain is Catalonia. Home to a varied landscape that offers many surprises, Catalonia is a well kept secret that is waiting to enthrall you with all its charm.

Barcelona is the capital and most well known city of the region but there is so much more to be found.  A land of contrasts, Catalonia offers a rugged coastline, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, forests, and surprises around every corner.  The villages are as lovely as the natural environment. Sights range from Romanesque architecture to Arab remnants and from prehistoric relics to avant-garde art.

San Mauricio Lake Catalonia Spain

San Mauricio Lake by Gligan


Here are 5 reasons to visit Catalonia!


Natural Wonders

You are surrounded by nature in Catalonia. The countryside varies from coastline to mountains and includes wetlands, rivers, valleys, lakes, plateau, forests and even volcanoes.  All of this beauty combines to offer a multitude of options for outdoor activities.  You can find something to do whether your time is spent on the snow-capped peaks or on one of the majestic beaches. In one trip you can enjoy the Pyrenees and then find yourself lounging by the Mediterranean!

Boi Valley Catalonia Spain

Vall de Boi: Boi and the valley by David Domingo, on Flickr

Outdoor Activities

The options for outdoor activities are as vast as the landscape.  Ranging from gentle easy hikes to canyoning or enjoy an easy glide down a river or the intensity of white water rafting!  Your days can be spent on horseback or quads.  You may choose to explore the region from the heights of a hot air balloon or from a seat on a horse-drawn carriage.  You could even visit a Natural Park made of salt to feast your eyes on salt stalagmites and stalactites!

Kayaking in Catalonia Spain

kayak by miuina, on Flickr

Culture

The historical and artistic heritage of Catalonia is also very diverse. Catalonia’s cultural treasures include cave paintings, ruins of great civilizations both Greek and Roman, Romanesque architecture, medieval castles, Gothic cathedrals, Jewish quarters, modern buildings and great art.  This is the land of great artists such as Dali, Miro, Picasso, Gaudi and Pau Casals.  A visit to the museums, houses and scenes that inspired their works can be enlightening!  If this isn’t enough, enjoy one of the many concerts, performances or local festivals the region offers.

Village of Cruïlles Catalonia Spain

Village of Cruïlles by Vincent van Zeijst

Cuisine

The world famous cuisine of Catalonia uses all the resources of the region from the mountain, sea and farm. In fact, people travel to this destination solely for the cuisine.  Traditional favorites include Pa amb Tomaquet (bread smeared with tomato and drizzled with olive oil), Escudella (a meat and vegetable stew) and Bacalla amb Samfaina (Cod with a ratatouille).  But also of importance is the modern cuisine found by renowned chefs and Michelin rated restaurants.  Learn about local cuisine by enjoying a cooking class, visiting a local fresh market, gastronomic museum or at one of the many festivals and fairs.  Catalonia also produces great wine and Cava.  The wine production in this area dates back to Roman times and has been growing since.  Visit museums related to the wine industry or enjoy tastings at the vineyard.

Barcelona Cuisine Catalonia Spain

Barcelona by George M. Groutas, on Flickr

Wellness

Spas seem to have grown in popularity lately but wellness has been important to Catalonia since the Roman era! In Catalonia there are 18 thermal baths found in natural surroundings including at least one Natural park.  The spa towns can be found spread throughout the region.  Other wellness centers can be found in resorts near the coast and other inland areas.  Each offers a variety of treatments including mud treatments, paraffin baths, massage as well as facial and beauty treatments.

Tossa de Mar Catalonia Spain

Tossa de Mar by Gordito1869

 

Whether you want to spend your time on a bike, at a spa, on the golf course, touring the historic sites of a city or on the sea, you’ll find an abundance of options in Catalonia!

 

Why would you visit Catalonia?

5 Guiding Lights of Europe!

For years Lighthouses have been protecting ships as they navigate our shorelines.  With lamps shining bright, they guide captains past treacherous rocks, reefs and coastlines offering safe passage or entry into port.

Let’s take a look at some of Europe’s many guiding lights!


Finisterre Lighthouse

This lighthouse is located on a rocky peninsula on the west coast of Spain.  The coast in this area is known as the “Death Coast” and has been the location of many shipwrecks making the lighthouse even more important!  The lighthouse was built in 1853 and sits 138 meters above sea level.  Finisterre is also a well known pilgrimage site.

Finisterre Lighthouse Spain

Finisterre Lighthouse by Yellow.Cat, on Flickr

Cordouan Lighthouse

This beautiful lighthouse located on the Atlantic coast of France, sits at the mouth of the Gironde River near the coast of Medoc. This still active lighthouse is the 10th tallest traditional lighthouse in the world and is located about 7 km from the coast.  Construction on the Cordouan Lighthouse began in 1584 and was completed in 1611.  The lighthouse can be seen for miles both day and night.  Next time you’re in the area, you might want to visit this amazing site!

Cordouan Lighthouse France

By Thibault Grouas

Lindau Lighthouse

Yes, even lakes need lighthouses!  This very photogenic lighthouse guards the entrance to Lindau Harbor on Lake Constance deep in Southern Germany.  Sitting on the border with Switzerland this magnificent lighthouse was built in 1853 where it still sits waiting for you to visit.

Lindau Lighthouse Lake Constance Germany

By Taxiarchos228

Dover Lighthouse

Nestled on the grounds of medieval Dover Castle in the English countryside is this beautiful Roman lighthouse.  The Romans actually built two lighthouses but this is the only one still standing and today it is the tallest Roman ruin in Britain.  In its heyday, there was an open flame on the top that guided ships into the harbor.

Dover Roman Lighthouse England

The Roman Lighthouse by Mark Abel, on Flickr

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse

Located on the North Sea in northern Denmark, the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse started lighting the way in 1900. Even though the lighthouse sits 60 meters above sea level, the shifting seas and winds have blown sand up the cliff until the light couldn’t be seen from the sea.  It was at this point on August 1, 1968 that the lighthouse ceased operation.

Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse Denmark

© Tester12345 de.wikipedia.org

 

What European Lighthouses have you seen?