The British love affair with the Spanish resorts is decades old now – I may be too young to remember how it began, but I can clearly remember my first trip to Spain, and why I’m crazy about this land of sun, sand and sangria (I might have given away the answer there).
Here are my 10 things that no Spanish trip would feel complete without – but I know there’s a lot more to love. Share your favourite bits of Spain in the facebook comments below.
Yeah, so what if I’m stating the obvious? No matter how beautiful the Spanish beaches, or lovely those cobbled old town squares are, Spain wouldn’t get even a 10th of its visitors if it was set somewhere north of Ireland. The southern coast of Spain can get as much as 2,900 hours of sunshine each year, and I’d like to be basking in every single one.
Spain is a country that takes lunch seriously. So seriously that you get several hours to eat, and then it’s traditional to take even more time to nap it off afterwards. If you can find a shady hammock then siesta time is pure bliss – and possibly should be adopted into the British working week.
The traditional tourist variation of the siesta is the afternoon nap on the beach. This can only be approved of providing you’re being sensible with sunscreen and beach umbrellas. That Spanish sunshine (see above) sure is hot.
There’s a lot of Spanish food to love; Olives, squid, paella, chorizo. Nom. But the brilliantest thing about Spanish cuisine is that they perfected tapas, an entire meal of little snack-sized dishes – which means you get to have a taste of it all.
You’ll be relived to know that Sangria isn’t one of the things I took to on my first trip to Spain, I was only 11 then. However these days I find it makes an excellent alternative to the poolside gin and tonic. Recipes vary, but I’d recommend heaps of fresh fruit and not adding a lot of orange juice (makes the sangria too acidic). Dilute with ginger ale or lemonade if you want to make it weaker.
If you just can’t go a week without shopping Spain has some fantastic hippy markets where you can browse hand-made jewellery and fine lace work, sip a freshly squeezed juice in the sunshine and pick up unique pieces of leather and pottery. It’s less screaming kids in Tesco, more Nigella on holiday. Haggling is allowed so perfect your bargaining skills for the biggest savings.
I’m no ace with languages – but it’s impossible not to pick up a few words of Español. You could say gracias to your amigo, and head off in search of a cerveza gratis – learning a little will go a long way. And some phrases just sound so much better in Spanish. Vamos chicos!
Marinas are a staple feature of Spanish resorts, and are usually a great place for a posh lunch and some people watching. Don’t forget that you don’t have to own your own yacht to get out on the water, taking a boat trip is a great way to see the stunning coastline, visit that nearby island and even spot dolphins!
New Ice-Cream Flavours
At first glance the Wall’s ice-cream selection might seem familiar, but then you notice some slight differences – We don’t have that flavour Calippo in the UK! And just a moment… is that a cheesecake Magnum?!? There’s a whole new set of ice-cream to discover, and you’ve only got a week to do it.
Now here’s a dance style to get behind: you stamp your feet, you wave your skirts, you pout. I’m not saying it’s easy. I am saying it’s a lot of fun to have a go at. Make sure you catch a dance by the professionals too – they make the castanets look easy and the speed their feet move at is truly jaw-dropping!
Wacky street festivals
The UK’s idea of a festival is cheese-rolling, or perhaps five days squelching through the mud. In Spain they release raging bulls into thronging crowds in Pamplona, or throw the world’s biggest tomato fight, La Tomatina, near Valencia. Not to mention the massive music festivals like Benicassim or Primavera, where heaven forbid anyone should need to wear Wellingtons.