Category: Spain

Seville: Discover the Secrets of Southern Spain

From Bizet’s Carmen to Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, the lure of Spain’s Andalucía region has captivated travelers from around the world for centuries.  There is something captivating about the dry, arid region, where grandiose centuries-old cathedrals in Seville are surpassed in beauty only by the even older Islamic palaces.  Southern Spain, despite the seemingly relentless heat, has a romance to it, a mysterious exoticism that is difficult to experience anywhere else in …

Bolshy Barcelona

A view over Barcelona harbor

Thirteen minutes. That’s all it took from arriving in Barcelona to encounter one of its greatest claims to fame – the slickest pickpockets in Europe.

If you’re going to hit, best get hit by a professional, I always say. And they’re at their slickest and quickest on the underground trains at Barcelona Sants railway station. Barcelona treats its notoriety as a pickpocketer’s playground with a zesty inverted snobbery, with the …

A city of swords and sieges

Spain’s ancient city of Toledo

Spaniards may take a relaxed mañana attitude to things like completing half-built cathedrals and scoring World Cup goals.
But when they say that access to a train closes two minutes before the departure time, they actually mean it.

“The train has gone,” a square-shaped security guard told me with an indifferent shrug.

“Not it hasn’t,” I panted, “I can see it.” I pointed it out, large and definitely present, as …

Mainlining on Madrid

The ornate Palacio de Cibeles

It’s difficult to keep your mouth closed in Madrid.

Every corner reveals a building more jaw-droppingly gorgeous than the last. You admire one ridiculously ornate building in front, then turn to see an even more over-the-top edifice behind.
Madrid is one of the most architecturally stunning cities in the world, although it’s not the grandeur of its buildings that intoxicates. It’s the vibe on its streets as they bubble with …

Speaking for your Supper

The monastery at Rascafria, Spain

My new walking companion Maria sniffed apologetically and told me she was suffering from bad constipation.

I was a little perturbed. I know the Spaniards are outgoing and flamboyant, but I hadn’t expected her to share this much information. Then she sniffed again and told me the constipation was also making her sneeze. Ahh, she has a cold, I realized, and this is one of those linguistic twists where a …

Wake Up to Wine in the La Rioja Region of Spain

I’m not advocating necessarily waking up with a glass of “vino tinto” (red wine) with your scrambled eggs and jamon…Although that isn’t out of the question in this area where wine flows often more freely than water.

La Rioja is in Spain’s far north, just below the sunny shores of San Sebastian and nestled between the popular towns of Bilbao and Pamplona. The towns and villages in this area are quiet and sleepy, with the …

Organic Wine Tours in Penedès, Spain

Albet i Noya Organic Vineyard

Almost everyone agrees: some very tasty wine comes from Spain. As a Barcelona resident with “localvore” tendencies, I mostly buy bottles from nearby Emporda, Priorat and Penedès. Of the three, Penedès is the most established and also closest to the city, making it an effortless option for a wine-tasting day-trip.

When locals think Penedès, they think “cava.” Cava, if you haven’t been lucky enough to sip it yet, is like …

Gaga for Gaudí

The psychedelic works of Antoni Gaudí draw thousands of visitors to Barcelona, Spain, each year. While the eccentric architect completed projects outside of the city as well, his most impressive buildings are clustered in the Catalan capital. In fact, there are so many Gaudí buildings in Barcelona that it can be hard to choose which ones to visit if you’ve got limited time. Here’s the scoop on his top creations, plus a few more to …

Romantic Honeymoon Escapes in Spain

Romantic Boutique Hotels in Spain

When I think romance, I think boutique hotel. Give me something intimate and unique any day over some sprawling resort! Here are a few top seductive stays for honeymooners looking for R&R in Spain.

****Wine Country Escapes – Can Bonastre Resort:

Newlyweds will adore this exceptional boutique hotel, just an hour away from Barcelona, Spain, by car. Can Bonastre Wine Resort’s twelve rooms are set within an ancient Catalan masia, …

Rioja Road-Trip: Visiting Spanish Wine Country

La Rioja, Spain

Where’s all the hype? Where are all the people? Where’s the best-selling expat memoir called ‘My Rioja Year’ or ‘A Casa in Rioja’? While La Rioja’s wines are acclaimed around the Iberian Peninsula and internationally, there isn’t much shaking in La Rioja, the region. This was brought to my attention by two sun-kissed Swedes who I was tasting with at the extravagant bodega Eguren Ugarte in Páganos, just a couple miles from …

Winding down in Andalucía

A monastery near Cazorla, Andalucia

The sun was still asleep behind some distant peaks when I clomped out of the tiny town heading for the mountains. Soon it would be a blazing 35 degrees Celsius, and I didn’t want to be halfway up a mountain in that heat. Halfway down a mountain would be fine — but we were still on the upward trajectory.

The cunning plan was to complete the ascent in the shade, …

Spain Celebrates – Summer Festivals and Parties

La Mercè

As the summertime approaches, the Spanish find reason to celebrate. Mark these festive dates for the best bashes on the Iberian Peninsula:

Sant Joan – Barcelona’s Beaches Fill

June – Welcome Summer in Mediterranean Spain

June 21, or thereabouts, is generally considered to be the summer solstice in the western world. In Spain, the official spring-to-summer jump is the 23rd of June on Sant Joan’s Day (San Juan in Spanish). The change of …

The Most Romantic Day in Spain? A Book and a Rose for April

According to the legend, brave Saint George slayed the dragon and saved the village from its wrath. The dragon’s blood spilled out onto the cold dirt, and from this blood, a rosebush magically grew. From this bush, Saint George plucked the finest blossom for the princess in an attempt to win her over (just in case slaying the dragon was not enough).

Sant Jordi’s Day – red roses!

Saint George is, of course, Sant Jordi

Winter Onion Festival in Catalonia


1. Secure bib.

2. Strip off charred skin revealing white meat.

3.Dunk generously in romesco sauce.

4. Tilt head back and bite sweet onion in half.

5. Savor.

6. Repeat 19 more times.

These are the basic steps to eating calçots, a seasonal Catalan food that is something between a sweet onion and a leek. Millions of these toothsome winter treats are served sizzling off the barbecue from January to April in Catalonia, …