Category Archives: Adventures in Spain

Take In The Real Spain With These 6 Exclusive Hot Spots

Take In The Real Spain With These 6 Exclusive Hot Spots

Bask In The Sun’s Glory In Sitges, Spain

You really cant go wrong with sunny Mediterranean coastal towns, but traveling Sitges, Spain offers more than just brilliant beaches. Sitges boasts of one of the most pleasant, temperate climates in Europe making a day on the pristine beaches even more enjoyable. The charming town that overlooks the Mediterranean has a vibrant night and cultural life as well as four museums, quaint shops and amazing architecture. Its no wonder Sitges is also one of the largest tourist travel destinations for the gay community in all of Europe. This is a perfect place to hide away from it all, but if you want to really experience Sitges, there is plenty to keep you busy for a few days.

  • Day 1

    You can begin your first day in Sitges, Spain with a stroll down the Passeig Maritim. This seaside boardwalk has been compared to similar areas in Malibu, California. The boardwalk is dotted with shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes and a colorful collection of locals and tourists enjoying the perfect weather. With perfect views of the sea photo opportunities abound.

    sant-bartomeu-i-santa-tecla-xThe Church Of Saint Bartomeu

    If you want to continue your morning stroll you can find your way to the Church of Saint Bartomeu. This lovely piece of architecture rises high above surrounding buildings giving it some great photo opportunities from within. Many locals and tourists alike find this to be a calm and peaceful destination in this exciting town. Beautiful paintings incorporated into the walls and ceilings will have you wandering through this church for hours.When the sunsets in Sitges, you can enjoy a drink along with a little history at the Pub Voramar. The Pub Voramar was once a boat shop and now boasts a strong nautical history.

Day 2

Begin your second day in Sitges, Spain with a visit to one several local art museums. The Museu Cau Ferrat is a quaint little art museum overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. This destination provides a low key, peaceful morning of sightseeing. Not only is the art a joy to behold, but even this building holding this collection is a work of art in itself. Guided tours are provided in English and Spanish.

segway-sitgesSegway Tours Anyone?

If you get tired of walking, there are several Segway rentals that can make your explorations of Sitges, Spain not only historical but thrilling as well. The Segway is a common mode of transportation along the narrow, cobblestone streets of Sitges, Spain. The Segway is easier than walking, but way more fun than bicycling.

(Read More)

Stop In For A Drink At Trinity Bar

Your evening in Sitges will be made warm and enjoyable at the Trinity Bar. This cozy nighttime hotspot sports couches and a relaxed communal atmosphere. Have a drink and get to know the locals. This is a favorite destination and the establishment is owned and operated by members of the gay community. The owner Ian often entertains bar patrons by serving drinks as Princess Disgrace. The locals and tourists alike find this a great home away from home.

  • Day 3

    cache_2414674557Day three of Sitges, Spain can begin with a sunny morning spent at Club De Golf Terramar. Beautiful pristine golf courses make a few rounds of golf in the Mediterranean sun a memorable event. Some areas of the course even overlook the sea combining the best of both worlds for visitors.

    More Than Just A Golf Course

    Once you have worn yourself out on the course you can kick back for a drink or some lunch at the club dinner. After a rough day on the golf course, your body will be ready for some pampering at the Sainam Thai Massage spa. This elite, state of the art facility offers a supreme massage experience in the heart of Sitges, Spain. Few people have ever experienced the exquisite pleasure of Thai massage therapy. With affordable prices, this is one luxury you can definitely fit into your trip budget.

    • Day 4

      201205212013180.IMG_6109-gaFor a change of pace, spent your fourth morning in Sitges, Spain touring the Niso Wine Tour. This unique tourist agency offers visitors a variety of winery or vineyard tours to choose from. Pre-packaged wine tours will offer you transportation to one of the leading wine regions of the area where you will be guided along to visit the vineyards, winery and other local attractions of the area.

      Hot Air Balloon Rides!?

      Activities that can also be arranged in conjunction with the wine tour includes hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, shopping and fine dining. If you want a truly one of a kind experience, Niso Wine Tours also allows you the option to design your own wine tour combining different regions, activities and destinations. This is one of the best ways to truly experience a wide range of local history, sight seeing as well as some great local wine. For those wishing to extend the fun, Niso Wine Tours also offers two and three day tours. These extended tours give you the opportunity to experience even more of the area. Niso Wine Tours will also make accommodations available for those on the extended tours. Accommodations are available at some of the most lovely local hotels and inns.

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    This Parade In Spain Celebrates Sheep In All Their Fluffy, Adorable Glory.

    As cities develop around traditionally rural environments, those who made their living on farms and in the fields tend to get pushed aside or forced into industrial jobs in order to survive. In Madrid, Spain, however, shepherds are holding firm to their roots and to their rights.

    Each year, herders parade their flocks down 78,000 miles of legal paths for livestock migrations. The journey takes the animals from the cooler highland pastures where they spend summer to the warmer, and safer, lowland for grazing in winter.

    Children walk alongside the flocks dressed in traditional outfits.

    Children walk alongside the flocks dressed in traditional outfits.

    The trek is known as “transhumance” and in previous years was used to transport nearly a million animals a year.

    The trek is known as

    The festivity begins when the herders pay city hall the traditional 25 maravedis, a coin that was used in the 11th century.

    The festivity begins when the herders pay city hall the traditional 25 maravedis, a coin that was used in the 11th century.

    Locals embrace the day of blending old world traditions with new world surroundings.

    Locals embrace the day of blending old world traditions with new world surroundings.

    Who needs fancy floats when you have fluffy flocks?

    Who needs fancy floats when you have fluffy flocks?

    Everyone tries their best to get the perfect view.

    Everyone tries their best to get the perfect view.

    It”s a great way to remember how modern life has evolved, yet we do still rely on the past.

    It

    Could you imagine this happening in New York City?

    Could you imagine this happening in New York City?

    Youngsters get an exciting and up close lesson in cultural history.

    Youngsters get an exciting and up close lesson in cultural history.

    (via Design You Trust.)

    The charming tradition dates back to the 1200s when herders were first granted the rights to guide their flocks along the route. What an incredible way to pay respect to their cultural heritage and current herders at the same time.

    Source

    http://www.viralnova.com/madrid-sheep/

    Travel Insurance

    7 reasons to buy Travel Insurance for your holidays

    World Nomads Travel Insurance* can cover you this holiday season if:

    1. You plan to hit the slopes or brush up your dog sledding skills.

      World Nomads travel insurance aims to keep you traveling safely. Our travel insurance is designed for adventurous travelers and covers most adventure sports worldwide including skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and dog sledding.

    2. Your snowboard arrives in two pieces instead of one.

      If you are planning an active holiday, you’ll probably need to bring your gear. If your sporting equipment is lost, damaged or stolen while travelling, World Nomads can cover the costs to replace or repair it.

    3. Your skiing adventure ends in a sprained ankle (or all of that holiday family bonding leads to a coronary).

      Accidents happen when you least expect them to. With World Nomads, you can be covered abroad for medical treatment of any sudden and unexpected injuries or illnesses during your trip.

    4. The Grinch steals your iPod.

      Make sure your new holiday gadgets return home with you. High value items such as jewelry, cameras, computers and other electronic equipment can be covered if lost, stolen or broken while traveling.

    5. Your suitcase filled with reindeer sweaters for the whole family goes missing.

      During the holiday travel rush, baggage is more susceptible to getting lost, stolen or damaged en route to your destination. If your holiday gifts don’t quite make the journey, we can reimburse you for your luggage value.

    6. Another volcano with an unpronounceable name prevents you from attending your 10 year ‘Hikers are Hellcats’ Reunion.

      If your trip is canceled before you leave, or is interrupted after you’ve left, we can reimburse your cancellation costs (this can be for health, death, quarantine, transport and accommodation, legal, environment, canceled services, politics and violence, terrorism, work and U.S Armed Forces).

    7. You met someone special under the mistletoe.

      Had a change in plans? Continue the holiday merriment by extending your World Nomads policy easily online 27/4 from anywhere in the world.

    Take it easy on the eggnog this holiday season. World Nomads does not cover you for anything that happens while under the influence of alcohol.

    World Nomads Travel Insurance is available to residents of 150 countries. You can buy, exten and claim online, even while travelling.

    *World Nomads policies differ depending on your country of residence. Please read your policy wording carefully for the full terms and conditions of your policy to make sure it is right for your holiday. Make sure you read the sections on what’s not covered to make sure you understand the exclusions, conditions and limitations to cover.

    Is it safe where you are going?

    Get the latest professional travel advice on hundreds of destinations.

    Join World Nomads Travel Safety Hub

    Travel safety hub:

    1. 6 tips for Travel Health – before you go
    2. Do I need Travel Insurance?
    3. Your personal medical kit
    4. 8 tips for staying healthy on the road
    5. Travel scam 101
    6. Scams – the advanced course

    Travel Tips from World Nomads

    Here are a few things to consider when choosing your insurance to make sure that you will be covered on your adventure:

    • Cancellation: It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can not go on your trip. To claim though, you have to buy your insurance policy when you buy your trip. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.
    • Lost or Stolen Gear: most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit – make sure its high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.
    • Medical expenses over and above evacuation: check that your cover includes emergency treatment while away and transport to bring you home – remembering that insurance providers will usually insist on getting you home as soon as you are fit enough to travel.
    • Adventurous Activities: look carefully at what your policy covers – you may find that you are not covered to do all of the adventurous activities that you are planning while you’re away.
    • Personal Liability: Accidents happen. If it’s found to be your fault and someone decides to sue you, you want to be covered.
    • Is it safe to go there? Make sure you check the your Government’s Travel Warnings and keep up to date with the latest travel safety advice on the road. You may not be covered if you choose to go to a place affected by war, terrorism, civil unrest or environmental disasters (like volcanoes, earthquakes, floods) and other major events where you may be at risk.

    Free Trial: Learn Spanish Online With Rocket Spanish for free

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    Rocket Spanish is a “learn Spanish” course that…
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    Travel Spain Holidays – Trip and Vacation Guide

    Travel Spain Holidays –  Trip and Vacation Guide

    Travel Spain Holidays Advisor includes valuable travel preparation tips plus info on theme holidays: adventure, family adventure, bird watching, walking, fishing, horse riding, snorkelling, diving, mountaineering, super romantic vacations, special events … In other words not just another vacation experience,  but THE travel Spain holidays experience of a lifetime.

    Spain-Flamenco-Dancer

    Spain-Flamenco-Dancer

    Spain as you never thought of it before: imagine a country where you can wander through the mighty hallways of ancient castles, listen to the chanting of monks in old monasteries, stroll along vast fjords and explore small fisherman’s villages where you will be welcomed with the fresh harvest of the last nights catch.  A country where you can run with the bulls, and fiestas and festivals are always in season. Where you can find your tropical islands, hidden hill towns and Roman cities and where mountains have snow way past Spring…

    Spain can cater to all your travel needs, whether you are a daredevil and thrill seeker or whether you prefer a calm, tropical and leisurely beach vacation. As you can see links are provided to bring you directly to the place of your choice.

    And maybe deep down inside you want to get away from it all and find a little piece of heaven for yourself and your family, a place where you can go to for some much needed rest and recreation now and then. Or maybe you are looking for a more permanent residence in the Mediterranean, be it to retire to or make a clean break and start all over with a new life in this Land of costa’s and sierra’s, where little places of paradise are scattered all over the blue and green landscape, waiting for you to be discovered.

    Please subscribe to my newsletter, Travel Spain Holidays Advisor. It tells you each month about the new information that I have added to the site and it reveals some nice little traveller tidbits as well …

     

    Family Adventures

    Family Adventures Vacations In The Unspoiled Spanish Countryside

    Whether you want to live your family adventures travel meandering over the semi-tropical southern flank of the Sierra Nevada, where you can explore the ancient Moorish traditions that are still upheld by the local villages or taking a short break in the rugged and isolated region of Asturias in the green lung of the Mediterranean, Spain has many places of interest for family adventures.

    Canyoning in Spain

    Canyoning in Spain

    A few examples:

    0 Canyoning in the Pyrenees

    0 ULM in Cuenca

    0 Trek the Picos de Europa

    0 Tramuntana in Mallorca

    0 Surf in Basque Country

    0 Dive the Canary Islands

    Pueblos Blancos

    Pueblos Blancos

    0 Guadix caves

    0 Pueblos Blancos

    Canyoning in the Pyrenees

    The Sierra de Guara, is a region placed around 80 Km. south of the Spanish Pyrenees mountain range, in the province of Huesca. This place has a great variety of geological formations. The difficulty of access and the rough trails allows the “Parque de los Cañones y Sierra de Guara” to preserve the richness of its fauna and flora.

    Inhabited and abandoned several times, the Sierra de Guara has human traces from the last glaciations. This human presence shows itself through the existence of cave paintings, dolmens, Roman and Arabic bridges where you can still find useful terraces, vestiges of a type of agriculture which used to work a little plot of land.

    You will undoubtedly be attracted to the permanent contrast between natures majestic creativity and its harmonious races of humanity, especially the one held by the magnificent landscape with its wonderful fragrances of rosemary and thyme. In short ideal for your family adventures.

    You will be introduced to the magic within this “Sierra”, where more than 70 canyons arise over a range of 20 Km. Due to this fact the Sierra has been placed  as the European reference for the practice of canyoning at all levels. All levels meaning you can come here as a first timer with your young children as well as a seasoned expert.

    ULM in Cuenca (Villalba de la Sierra)

    Talking about serious family adventures: two of Spains best and most prudent experts in ULM, both winners of the Spanish league can acquaint you with this aerial transportation mode that lingers between sport and a certain way of life.

    In total security and without any vertigo you fly with an average speed of 70 km/hour with a delta wing and a small engine (all of aeronautical quality), and you feel just like a bird does: wind in your hair, total visibility all around you.

    You can admire the vastness of the fields below, follow the whimsical course of a river and taste the silence as the pilot cuts the engine for the relaxing descent to the landing zone.

    The ULM’s are up to modern standards and equipped with all the necessary security measures. They are constructed by the French firm Cosmos, which is the most prestigious ULM construction company in the world, just to make sure that your family adventures don’t turn into family disaster.



    Trek the Picos de Europa

    Picos De Europa was the first national park in Spain and contains some of the finest mountain scenery and walking on the Peninsula. The high, jagged limestone peaks are interspersed with green valleys, where a traditional way of life lives on.

    Located south of the Bay of Biscay and swept by its humid winds, the valleys of the Picos de Europa teem with trippers in summer. Crowds are slimmer in the upland reaches, but there’s no question that this is the place to trek.

    Of its three massifs, you’ll find the Macizo Occidental and Macizo Central the most exhilarating. Stretch your legs with demanding day walks, or take on a challenging circuit such as a four-day route from the base of the cabin lift at Fuente Di or a nine-day trip starting and finishing at Lago de la Ercina.

    Unmissable highlights include the seven-and-a-half-mile Garganta del Cares gorge and the Vega de Liordes valley, hemmed in by sawtooth peaks. Refugios (mountain huts) are well spaced. Otherwise, drop down to find accommodations in the villages sprinkling the valley bottoms.

    Tramuntana in Mallorca

    When you think of Mallorca the first things that come to your mind are overcrowded beaches and drunken tourists, not much in the field of family adventures I can hear you think.

    But the north western part of this largest of the Balearic Islands is covered by the Sierra de Tramuntana with heights of 1445 m ( Puig  Major) and 1349 m (Massanella).

    One can travel on foot on ancient pathways, along the coast then up and through the backbone of this beautiful island. Scenery aside, there are ancient towns and villages to explore along with monasteries .

    You say you are more of rugged rock climber, well If you are prepared to take your time, the small roads on the East of the island will lead you to one of the most beautiful rock climbing spots in Europe.

    The routes here offer all kinds of difficulty, from easy rock climbing to really hard routes.

    Beware though: during the summer it can be too hot for rock climbing and the recommended periods are during the autumn and spring.

    Surfing

    Spain has 4,964 km of coastline so there is no shortage of good places to surf. Since this is a family adventures activity I don’t know very much about I am going to direct you to a specialist site on this subject:   Family adventures Wannasurf

    And for the still adventurous ( hé this is a page about family adventures isn’t it?) but maybe a little bit more at ease here are two activities that can be done with much less effort 😉

    Guadix Caves

    Thousands of years ago people were drawing fish and deer on the walls of caves in the South of Spain. Traces of these early caveman are still being found. However even today more than 30.000 people are living underground in Andalucía. That is not because they missed the civilization but rather a deliberate choice on the part of these “modern” caveman.

    They prefer their subterranean homes to the coldness of today’s concrete housing blocks. Family adventures walking in a cave district may be walking inadvertently on someone’s rooftop.

    Most of these caves are equipped with all the amenities of a modern home anyway. One can find modern caveman in the valleys of the rivers Andarax en Almazora in de province of Almería, but the greatest number of them can be found in  and around Guadix in the province of Granada.

    There are houses, bars, discotheques, shops and churches all partially or totally underground… now how is that for family adventures?

    People who live in these houses praise in the first place the silence of their homes, the isolation of noise is perfect. A constant room temperature of around 18° C ,be it winter or summer is another benefit.

    Ancient Caves

    The exploration of cave can be another part of family adventures. Many caves are open to the public and in some places there are speleological expeditions for the more expert adventurers

    On the border of the provinces Málaga and Granada remains were found of a Neanderthaler man, probably dating from 85.000 years ago…Near Maro, in the province Málaga you can find the Cueva ( Spanish for cave)de Nerja, a series of subterranean spaces with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. They were opened to the public in 1960 and are illuminated.

    Adventurers who want to visit the La Pileta cave however must find their own way over mile long galleries with the only light coming from an oil lamp. The walls are ornated with many mysterious symbols and the famous painting of a pregnant black mare indicating there once was a sort of fertility cult going on.

    This cave was found in 1905 by a local farmer José Bullón Lobato. His family today still owns the land on which the cave is situated.

    Pueblos Blancos

    Of all the people who visit the province of Málaga only a few venture out more than a couple of miles away from the beaches. And that is a shame because Málaga, like the rest of Spain has much more to offer than beaches alone.

    For instance take the Pueblos Blancos, large agricultural villages with white plastered houses. They are found in the lower part of Andalucía.

    There is even an official Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos. Don’t be mislead by the pueblos on the Atlantic coast. They need tourism for their survival and are by no means representative for the real thing.

    A few miles away from the coastal line things change because the effects of tourism are no longer there. Even so that it is very hard to find accommodation unless you are a real backpacker…

    Regular tourists will have to find accommodation in  Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera or maybe Olvera.

    The best route for family adventures to explore the Pueblos Blancos runs from Ronda to Algeciras. On it you will find mostly small villages; 1000 – 2500 habitants, the village of Alpandeire only counts about 200. A lot of the people moved to the big cities: Madrid, Barcelona or the coastal regions.

    The king of the Pueblos Blancos is Olvera with its Moorish tower and Christian basilica. The streets are clean, albeit a bit sombre. The local fiesta exceeds everything in the surroundings: in the second half of august all the stalls, fair attractions and bars stay open until 5 o’clock in the morning for 5 days in a row…

    Those are only a handful of examples of family adventures possible in the beautiful country that is Spain: fishing, charter fishing, hiking, biking, hot air ballooning, canoeing, kayaking, golf, horseback riding, houseboat rental, hunting, rafting, white water rafting, scuba diving, snorkelling, skiing, snowmobiling and so many more outdoor activities wait for you to live, enjoy and explore.

    Walking and Hiking In Spain

    Some of the finest walking routes can be found in Spain, follow Caesar’s legions in their quest for Spain’s Silver or choose trekking along routes in Andalucía, the Pyrenees or Catalunya.

    walking in spain

    Walking in Spain

    • ROUTES IN ANDALUCÍA

      Escape from the pressures of modern life, slow down and step back in history. Witness how the culture of Europe and Africa melted together in Andalucía.

      If you like nature walks in countryside filled with deer and wild boar your best starting point is the town of Arcos de la Frontera, one of the Pueblos Blancos only 90 minutes by car or bus south from Seville.

      Arcos sits along a ridgeline above the impressive cliff, Peña Nueva, overlooking the winding Guadelete River and its broad valley. It is a typical defensive hill village with cobbled streets leading up to a castle which was built in the fifteenth century on Moorish foundations.

      Walking the area you will find it abounds in Roe and Red Deer, ancient oak trees, wild rhododendrons, strawberry trees and cascading streams.

    • SILVER ROUTE

      The Romans came to Spain not for pleasure but to get the silver out of the Sierra de Gata located in the north of the province of Extremadura. They left behind roads, aqueducts, temples and bridges.

      This unspoiled province is the least populated of all of Spain’s provinces and therefore the wildlife is plentiful and nature still in its most pristine form.

      Ideal hiking grounds are everywhere. More than 27 routes are marked out in the region. It has granite mountains and lush, peaceful valleys with plenty of olive trees and fruit trees.

      The Iglesia del Buen Varón in Hoyos with its baroque retable is simply a must to visit, without forgetting the villages like San Martín de Trevejo, Gata, Torrecilla de los Ángeles, Cilleros, Robledillo, Hernán Pérez, Villasbuenas de Gata…

      More info on walking routes in Extremadura: http://www.turismoextremadura.com/ingles/senderos/home.html

    • ROUTES IN CATALUNYA

      Here are some examples of walking routes in Catalunya. A good starting point is the city of Barcelona. All routes are easily accessible from there.There is a great variety to choose from so novices as well as experienced walkers can find something to their liking. You can have an easy walking route which takes about 2 hours to complete as well as a more serious trekking experience of 8 or 9 hours!

    • Cadí – Moixeró National Park
    • Parc Natural del Montseny
    • Prades
    • Capafonts

    Some tips and tricks
    Blisters: to avoid blisters you can wear nylons under your socks. This way there is much less friction and less friction means less risk for blisters. Other people swear by the use of Vaseline for the same reason: less friction

    Mosquito’s: make sure your clothes are light in colour, insects are attracted to dark colours like black or dark blue, because they feel camouflaged by these colours.

    Blisters II: once you do have blisters on your feet a good way to get some relief is to take a sticking plaster and fold it double with the sticking parts toward each other. Put this doubled tape on the blister and put another sticking tape across it. This way the pressure is of the blister.

    Plan a route

    As always a good preparation is everything. You need to consider length and duration of the walking route, places of special interest and of course the participants.

    Everyone will agree that a too long or lengthy walking route is not pleasant, but the same thing applies to a walking route that is too short. Consider also that miles and miles on a sandy dusty road is not good for the moral of a walking group either.

    Places of special interest: for instance ridges where the stunning views will be appreciated by the participants or the visit of caves.

    Timing

    The following scheme is a good help to estimate the duration of a walk in mountainous area’s:

    • horizontal movement: 4000 meters per hour
    • vertical movement up: 300 meters per hour
    • vertical movement down: 400 meters per hour
    • every hour and a halve a break is scheduled of about 15 minutes
    • Navigation

      Purpose of navigating is to arrive at a certain chosen point via a chosen route. In order to accomplish that several things must be considered: your present position, your target position and the walking route to follow.

      Navigational aids are the compass, the GPS ( Global Positioning System), the stars, a watch and other navigational aids.Compass, stars and GPS are well known and documented but here are some of the alternative navigational aids:

      • Watch

        A watch is a fairly easy way to get your direction: there are only two conditions: the watch must show the correct time ( Yes I know how this sounds, but as you will see an incorrect time can mean a lot of difference in course), and the sun must be shining.

        Take the watch, hold it nice and flat and point the little indicator ( hour indicator) straight at the sun. Now take the exact middle point between the little indicator and the “12” on the dial ( 11 in the summer due to Daylight Saving Time). This middle point gives you the direction of the SOUTH.

        Attention: this is the way you do it in the northern hemisphere, if you are in the southern hemisphere you point the “12” at the sun and take the exact middle between the “12” and the little indicator. This middle point gives you the direction of the NORTH.I don’t have to tell you you need an analog watch for this exercise 🙂

      • Sun

        East and west is easily found if you take a stick of minimum 75 cm ( 30 inches) and put it upright in the ground. Mark the place where the shadow of the stick stops. Now wait about half an hour and mark the place where the shadow stops again. The imaginary line between the two points runs from east to west.ATTENTION: this method does not work early in the morning or late in the afternoon since at those times the position of sun is too much in the east or west.

        A little word of warning about GPS

        It is a bad idea to rely solely on a GPS. First of all a GPS only gives you your present position but it cannot plot a route between two points, you’ll still need a good walking map for that and work out the best walking route from it.

        Another consideration is what happens if the batteries run flat, or you accidentally drop it and it breaks? If you don’t have the necessary skills to navigate on your own you might get into a lot of trouble…

        This being said a GPS is a great additional tool for those walking routes where there are not much markings to set out the walking trail.

    Ski Vacation In Spain

    Spend a winter vacation in the Sierra Nevada, where Europe’s most southern ski venue is located. Less than 35 km away from Granada and only two hours drive form the coast lies Solynieve. (Sun and snow in Spanish).

    ski vacation in spain

    Ski vacation in Spain

    For a good choice of hotels in the Sierra Nevada with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In the Sierra Nevada  for more information.

    Here the 1997 world championships alpine skiing were held. On an altitude of about 2100 meters one can find a sufficient quantity of snow from the beginning of December right trough the end of march/beginning of may.

    From the top of the ski lift on the Veleta mountain (3398 m)one can see the Mediterranean Sea and on a clear day one can even spot the distant shores of North-Africa. But that Is not why most winter vacation tourists come here.

    They come for the total length of the slopes which is 48 km, and the 18 ski lifts that can bring hem to any “blue”, “red” or “black” piste.Langlaufen over the Sierra Nevada mountains is possible in most winters.Solynieve is located above the tree line and surrounding countryside is open and panoramic with occasional small lagoons.

    There is one big difference between the winter vacation place Solynieve and most other ski resorts: it lies on a very short distance from other touristic attractions all of which are easily accessible and are not “spoiled” by winter conditions. Granada is very close and a visit to the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens makes a nice alternative.

    The proximity of the Mediterranean Sea makes it possible to go skiing, sailing and swimming all in the same day! And another important point: it is only about two hours driving away from Málaga Airport: a beautiful drive through exquisite mountainous landscape and without any of the traffic jams that can ruin a short ski break in the other European ski resorts…



    SkiWinter Vacation

    For a good choice of hotels in the Sierra Nevada with discount prices, visit this website on hotels, apartments and Villas In the Sierra Nevada  for more information.

    Living in Spain

    Living in Spain: Legally any foreigner can stay in Spain up to 90 days as a tourist. If you wish to stay longer then 90 days you would have to apply for a “permanencia”, however you can only get one per year. When you want to be living in Spain for 6 months or longer per year  you should apply for a “residencia”.

    If you are a non EU citizen and you wish to apply for a “residencia” you should apply for a “visado de residencia” from the Spanish consulate in your country. This will be your first step towards living in Spain.

    European Union citizens living in Spain

    Even European Union citizens need to obtain Spanish documentation when they reside or do business in Spain, especially that relating to Spanish Social Security medical care, for retired EU citizens and for all those working in Spain.

    Under European Union regulations, Spain can no longer call this document a “permit” for EU citizens, but a foreigner’s card is still necessary. Non-EU citizens must apply for a permit and they face stricter requirements, such as obtaining a special residence visa from the Spanish Consulate in their home country even before they apply for residence and work permits in Spain.

    An EU citizen who intends living in Spain as a retiree should obtain EU form E-121 before he comes to Spain . This form entitles persons who are paid up in the Social Security system of their home country to obtain medical care from the Spanish Social Security system.

    These “E” for “European” forms are readily available in all EU countries. You must obtain it, however, in your home country before you come to Spain.

    EU citizens who are not entitled to receive pensions as a result of working in their home countries will have to show that they receive regular income from some other source. They will also be required to obtain medical insurance from a company operating in Spain.All in all Spain does not make it very difficult for EU citizens to start living in Spain

    Non-European Union citizens living in Spain

    First step in order to be to living in Spain is go to the Spanish consulate in your home country. Being from a non-EU country, you will need to obtain the visado de residencia, a visa you must present when you apply for a residence permit after you have arrived in Spain.

    The visa can only be obtained from the Spanish Consulate in your home country before you leave for Spain.

    There are, in fact, seven different types of visa, depending on whether you are a retired pensioner living in Spain, an investor, an executive of a multinational company, or carrying out a cultural or sporting activity while living in Spain. Make sure you request the right one for your circumstances.

    A second step on your way to living in Spain is to go to your bank and make sure they understand exactly how your money is to be sent to you. Make absolutely sure they know a corresponding bank in the area of Spain where you will be living.

    Transfers of money can take weeks when not properly handled.There are bank branches which simply do not understand international transactions. There are others that do not have corresponding banks in your home country.

    You will need to establish that the bank you choose in Spain has a working relationship with your bank at home and can readily receive funds from them.

    Transfers have been known to get stuck in a main office in Madrid and not reach their destination until weeks, even months later, after heated telephone calls and faxes.Once you have a bank account in Spain, you can deposit your foreign cheques, or make direct transfers, and then write euro cheques for payments on your new property, or rent, making money matters much easier.

    Holding a Spanish bank account will work in your favour when you apply for your visa at the consulate in your country. It is not, however, strictly necessary.

    For non-EU persons, this application for the visa is your first legal step towards acquiring residency in Spain. It gives the Spanish authorities a chance to examine your financial situation before they decide whether you will make a useful resident. Once you have the visa, you are practically assured of obtaining the residence permit.

    Information sheets issued by Spanish consulates in various countries will show how much income you need in order to get this visa.

    The Spanish consulate in Washington, DC, requires US citizens to show an income of at least $10,000 a year per person if they wish to retire in Spain. An American wishing to start a business or invest in Spain has to demonstrate capital of about $100,000.

    If you have this income, you are all right. If you haven’t, do not assume that you will be denied the visa. Many other details also come into the picture. You may have capital which is not at the moment producing income, for example, or your income may not start until some future date.

    The consular officials will judge each case on its merits. But they do want to be sure that you have sufficient means to support yourself in Spain. If you intend to start a business, for example, you will need to show that you are bringing into Spain enough money to do so, unless you are from an EU country.

    From YOU & THE LAW IN SPAIN,published by Santana Books.For details contact Santana on: www.santanabooks.com or email them on [email protected]

    BirdWatching In Spain

    BirdWatching In Spain

    Birdwatching comes natural in Spain. No less than 1226 square kms of its surface is covered with national parks. Some of Europe’s rarest birds are to be found in Spain.

     WHERE TO GO?

    Spain’s geographical location, forming almost a natural bridge between Africa and Europe on the one hand and the enormous diversity of climates and landscapes on the other hand explain the vast numbers of birds that can be found here.

    No less than 456 different species are quoted, some of the species having their last European sites in Spain (Purple Gallinule, Marble Teal and White Headed Duck to name just a few)

      • Aigües Tortes and Lago de Sant Maurici National Park has a surface area of 10,230 hectares and isolated in the Lleida Pyrenees.
      • Surrounded by mountain peaks that are 3,000 meters high, it contains cascades and high mountain lakes set in valleys and formed by ancient glaciers. Birdwatching at its best.

     

    • Caldera de Taburiente National Park occupies 4,690 hectares and is located on the island of La Palma. It consists of a giant caldera formed by erosion, with a depth of between 600 and 900 meters and rims that rise up to some 2,400 metres.
    • Cañadas del Teide National Park consists of 13,500 hectares and is located on the island of Tenerife. Teide Mountain, of volcanic origin, is 3,717 meters high and snowcapped in contrast to the subtropical climate of the island. 

      Among the rich flora are 50 autonomous species, some of which grow exclusively in this park. Geographically part of Africa, the Canary Islands offer far more than just beaches and winter sunshine.It is a paradise for naturelovers and birdwatching. In fact, a closer look at this volcanic group of islands reveals unexpected variety. 

    • Doñana National Park is located in the provinces of Seville and Huelva at the mouth of the Guadalquivir river. It occupies some 50,720 hectares of land and contains three complementary ecosystems: Marsh, or wetlands; the coastal dunes; and the Atlantic beaches. 

      These characteristics and its warm climate – the low temperature in winter is 8ºC – make this an ideal place for birds migrating south to Africa in winter as well as the wintering place for other species that spend the summer in northern Europe. 

      It’s a good thing that Doñana is Spain’s largest national park. After all, it needs to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of birds that are resident, seasonal, or just making a stopover on the long-haul flight between northern Europe and Africa.Flat, open horizons like a watery Montana embrace a landscape of salt marshes, shallow lagoons, and shifting sand dunes, while colonies of herons, spoonbills, and storks make the cork oak trees their second home. 

      As for birdwatching: the park hosts around 250 bird species-including, at the last count, 15 pairs of imperial eagles (about 15 percent of the world population), and an additional 100 occasional alighters

     

    • Garajonay National Park occupies 3,974 hectares and is located on the island of Gomera. It has the most important laurisylvan forests remaining on the Canary Archipelago.

    • Maritimo-Terrestre National Park of the Cabrera Archipelago, with 1,836 hectares, has recently become part of the National Park network.Cabrera is the largest non-populated island in the Mediterranean. Regarding fauna, the Eleonor falcon is abundant, and there are autoctonous wall lizards and flocks of sea birds.
    • Montaña de Covadonga National Park occupies 17,000 hectares and is located on the western peak of the Picos de Europa Mountain Range between the Cares and Dobra rivers.It is the natural habitat of several animal and plant species threatened with extinction, such as the holly, the royal eagle and the capercaille, a kind of woodcock.
    • Ordesa National Park has 16,000 hectares and is located in the Huesca Pyrenees near the National Park of the French Pyrenees. It constitutes a perfectly preserved natural enclave and is home to the only herd of Pyrenees mountain goats in existence.

    • Tablas de Daimiel National Park occupies 1,982 hectares and is located in the region known as “La Mancha Humeda”, or wet La Mancha. It is formed by large plains with a large number of wetlands and areas in which over 200 different bird species can be observed. Birdwatching made easy!

    • Timanfaya National Park occupies 5,170 hectares and is located on the island of Lanzarote. It consists of relatively recently formed volcanic formations from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are also some autoctonous plant species among its sparse flora. Among its animal species is the Haria lizard.

     

    The absolute best birdwatching places however are located in Andalucía. It attracts birdwatchers all over the year. Since the province is closest to Africa ( Marocco is only 16 km from the closest point on the Andalusian coast), special birdwathing events can be observed during the migration season

    • Granada and AlmeriaThe badlands and dry planes here are excellent birdwatching locations. Best in November to June. Birdwatchers can spot: Dupont`s Lark, Great Spotted Cuckoo, European Roller, Red-necked Nightjar, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Thekla Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Trumpeter Finch, Spanish Sparrow, and recently, for the first ever time in Europe, a small breeding population of Cream-coloured Courser.The Hoya de Baza & Guadix (Granada) or Tabernas & Cabo de Gata are the best birdwatching spots.
    • Fuente De Piedra Salt LagoonThis salty lagoon in Spain is 6.5km long and 2.5km wide, and is situated in the geographic centre of Andalusia.The best birdwatching season is December to June.There is a large breeding colony of Greater Flamingo to be seen with a population variating of 8,000 – 12,000 pairs.It is also breeding spot for Gull-billed Tern, Slender-billed Gull, Kentish Plover & Montagu`s Harrier.
    • Marismas Del OdielThis wetland with pinewood forests and freshwater lagoons is a great birdwatching spot for breeding colonies of Spoonbill & Little Tern. Plovers, seabirds, cormorants and migrant passerines are to be found as well.
    • Tarifa AreaTarifa is and the shortest crossing to Africa (the European side of the Straits of Gibraltar).Many thousands of birds rest here before starting the last stretch on the way to Africa, before crossing the 16 km of water and reaching the Moroccan coastline.Raptors, Passerines, Swifts, Bustards, Plovers, Sandpipers among many other bird families arrive here from all over Europe. Best from August to November.

      From the entire province of Andalucía, Tarifa is the birdwatching place to be. Not only can you see the resident species and you can witness one of Europe’s most magnificent migration spectacles, but you can spot vagrant African species as well as they drift into this region.



    9 RULES FOR BIRDWATCHING WITH RESPECT

    1. Take care not to disturb either the birds or their habitat. Walk softly on the land.

    2. Stay on established pathways and keep motor vehicles on established roads and parking areas.

    3. Avoid harassment; don’t disturb birds that are nesting or their nesting areas. Do not handle eggs or young or tarry too long at a working nest.

    4. Don’t over-use playback tapes or screech owl recordings to call birds in.

    5. Don’t trespass on private property. Respect landowner’s rights to privacy. Always ask permission first.

    6. If looking to find endangered species, follow local rules and regulations.

    7. Avoid “tree-whacking” to arouse cavity dwellers. Undue disturbance may cause the bird to abandon its nest and young or even kill young inadvertently in an attempt to escape.

    8. Divide larger groups of people into smaller, more manageable numbers. Small groups cause less disturbance. When possible, car pool.

    9. Leave no litter or trash. Pack your garbage out of wilderness areas. Ingested items can kill: “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints”. 

     

    Bullfighting

    Bullfighting, sports spectacle involving conflict between a bull and one or more contestants, fought in an outdoor arena according to certain rules and procedures.

    Traditionally, the bullfight is a combination of ritual and mortal combat, with an attempt, at the risk of the principal contestant’s life, to manoeuvre a bull gracefully and kill it in a manner both courageous and aesthetically unrepugnant.

    Although the sport is confined largely to Spain and to the Spanish-speaking countries of the western hemisphere (especially Mexico), such contests take place also in southern France and in Portugal.

    In Spanish-speaking countries the bullfight is known as la fiesta brava (“the brave festival”) or la corrida de toros (“the running of the bulls”). The corrida, as it is popularly known, takes place before crowds of enthusiasts, often numbering many thousands. 

    Opening ceremony of a bullfight

    ©Photo Researchers, Inc./Susan McCartney

    In the opening ceremony of a bullfight, known as the paseo, the matadors march into the bullfighting ring in a grand procession. Usually, three matadors enter simultaneously, dressed ornately in silk jackets and monteras (bicorne hats). The cuadrilla (group of apprentices) follows the matadors into the ring, prepared to assist the matadors in the slaying of the bulls.



    . History

    Often termed “indefensible but irresistible,” the spectacle of bullfighting has existed in one form or another since ancient days.

    For example, a contest of some sort is depicted in a wall painting unearthed at Knossos (Knosós) in Crete (Kríti), dating from about 2000 BC. It shows male and female acrobats confronting a bull, grabbing its horns as it charges, and vaulting over its back.

    Bullfights were popular spectacles in ancient Rome, but it was in the Iberian Peninsula that these contests were fully developed.

    The Moors from North Africa who overran Andalucía in AD 711 changed bullfighting significantly from the brutish, formless spectacle practiced by the conquered Visigoths to a ritualistic occasion observed in connection with feast days, on which the conquering Moors, mounted on highly trained horses, confronted and killed the bulls.

    As bullfighting developed, the men on foot, who by their cape work aided the horsemen in positioning the bulls, began to draw more attention from the crowd, and the modern corrida began to take form.

    Today the bullfight is much the same as it has been since about 1726, when Francisco Romero of Ronda, Spain, introduced the estoque (the sword) and the muleta (the small, more easily wielded worsted cape used in the last part of the fight). 

    Banderillero©Photo Researchers, Inc./Gabriele Boiselle/Okapia

    Banderilleros drive banderillas, barbed sticks covered with brightly colored paper, behind the bull’s neck. The banderillas weaken the neck muscles and cause the bull to lower its head, making it easier for the matador to kill it.



    . The Spectacle and its Principals

    Six bulls, to be killed by three matadors, are usually required for one afternoon’s corrida, and each encounter lasts about 15 minutes.

    At the appointed time, generally five o’clock, the three matadors, each followed by their assistants, the banderilleros and the picadors, march into the ring to the accompaniment of traditional paso doble (“march rhythm”) music.

    The matadors (the term toreador, popularized by the French opera Carmen, is erroneous usage) are the stars of the show and can be paid as high as the equivalent of $25,000 per corrida.

    They wear a distinctive costume, consisting of a silk jacket heavily embroidered in gold, skin-tight pants, and a montera (a bicorne hat).

    A traje de luces (“suit of lights”), as it is known, can cost several thousand dollars; a top matador must have at least six of them a season.

    When a bull first comes into the arena out of the toril, or bull pen gate, the matador greets it with a series of manoeuvres, or passes, with a large cape; these passes are usually verónicas, the basic cape manoeuvre (named for the woman who held out a cloth to Christ on his way to the crucifixion).

    The amount of applause the matador receives is based on his proximity to the horns of the bull, his tranquillity in the face of danger, and his grace in swinging the cape in front of an infuriated animal weighing more than 460 kg (more than 1,000 lb).

    The bull instinctively goes for the cloth because it is a large, moving target, not because of its colour; bulls are colour-blind and charge just as readily at the inside of the cape, which is yellow.

    Fighting bulls charge instantly at anything that moves because of their natural instinct and centuries of special breeding.

    Unlike domestic bulls, they do not have to be trained to charge, nor are they starved or tortured to make them savage.

    Those animals selected for the corrida are allowed to live a year longer than those assigned to the slaughter house. Bulls to be fought by novilleros (“beginners”) are supposed to be three years old and those fought by full matadors are supposed to be at least four.

    The second part of the corrida consists of the work of the picadors, bearing lances and mounted on horses (padded in compliance with a ruling passed in 1930 and therefore rarely injured).

    The picadors wear flat-brimmed, beige felt hats called castoreños, silver-embroidered jackets, chamois trousers, and steel leg armour.

    After three lancings or less, depending on the judgment of the president of the corrida for that day, a trumpet blows, and the banderilleros, working on foot, advance to place their banderillas (brightly adorned, barbed sticks) in the bull’s shoulders in order to lower its head for the eventual kill.

    They wear costumes similar to those of their matadors but their jackets and pants are embroidered in silver.

    After the placing of the banderillas, a trumpet sounds signaling the last phase of the fight.

    Although the bull has been weakened and slowed, it has also become warier during the course of the fight, sensing that behind the cape is its true enemy; most gorings occur at this time.

    The serge cloth of the muleta is draped over the estoque, and the matador begins what is called the faena, the last act of the bullfight.

    The aficionados (ardent fans) study the matador’s every move, the ballet like passes practiced since childhood. (Most matadors come from bullfighting families and learn their art when very young.)

    As with every manoeuvre in the ring, the emphasis is on the ability to increase but control the personal danger, maintaining the balance between suicide and mere survival.

    In other words, the real contest is not between the matador and an animal; it is the matador’s internal struggle.

    The basic muleta passes are the trincherazo, generally done with one knee on the ground and at the beginning of the faena; the pase de la firma, simply moving the cloth in front of the bull’s nose while the fighter remains motionless; the manoletina, a pass invented by the great Spanish matador Manolete (Manuel Laureano Rodríguez Sánchez, 1917-47), where the muleta is held behind the body; and the natural, a pass in which danger to the matador is increased by taking the sword out of the muleta, thereby reducing the target size and tempting the bull to charge to larger object—the bullfighter.

    After several minutes spent in making these passes, wherein the matador tries to stimulate the excitement of the crowd by working closer and closer to the horns, the fighter takes the sword and lines up the bull for the kill.

    The blade must go between the shoulder blades; because the space between them is very small, it is imperative that the front feet of the bull be together as the matador hurtles over the horns.

    The kill, properly done by aiming straight over the bull’s horns and plunging the sword between its withers into the aorta region, requires discipline, training, and raw courage; for this reason it is known as the “moment of truth.” 

    . Realities Behind the Spectacle

    Bullfighting today is big business for the successful few who make it to the top. Such immortals as the Spanish fighters Juan Belmonte and El Cordobés (Manuel Benítez Pérez) were multimillionaires, but paid for their fame with many severe horn wounds; Joselito (José Gómez), Manolete, and dozens of others paid with their lives.

    Bullfighters generally expect to receive at least one goring a season. A star matador will fight as many as 100 corridas a year. The great Mexican matador Carlos Arruza (Carlos Ruiz Camino) once fought 33 times in a single month. 

    The Great Bullfighter El CordobesThe famous matador El Cordobés performs a basic bullfighting maneuver. A matador such as the multimillionaire El Cordobés is highly paid, but must perform in constant danger. 

    . The Great Matadors

    Ranking the great matadors is highly subjective. Most aficionados would agree, however, that the following names must be included in any list of the modern greats: Rodolfo Gaona, Armillita (Fermín Espinosa), and Arruza, of Mexico; and Belmonte, Manolete, and Antonio Ordoñez, of Spain.

    Few South Americans have made an impact on the international bullfighting world. Although several North Americans have attempted careers as matadors, only Sidney Franklin and John Fulton Short managed to “take the alternative,” that is, to pass the requirements for professional status and to be accepted as full matadors in a special ceremony.

    Many women also have been bullfighters, including the American Patricia McCormick; the greatest, however, was Conchita Cintrón, who fought in Spain and Latin America during the 1940s with great success. 

    . Bullfighting Outside Spain

    Although Spain’s bullfighting season is in the spring and summer, Mexico’s main season is in the winter, and Peru’s is in the fall. Bullfights can also be seen in Venezuela, Colombia, and southern France at various times of the year, usually on Sundays and feast days.

    In Portugal the costume and ceremony are the same as in Spain, with the important difference that the bull is not killed in the arena in front of the spectators but afterward, in the slaughterhouse. Another feature of the Portuguese version is the cavaleiro (in effect, a matador on horseback), a skilled rider astride a highly trained horse, who avoids the bull’s charges while placing the banderillas in the bull’s withers.

    This spectacle is appreciated by tourists because the horses are rarely injured. 

    Bullfighting Painting by Goya©Archivo Fotografico Oronoz/The Prado Museum, Madrid

    Painted by Spanish artist Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, Picar al Toro chronicles the dramatic third stage of a bullfight. In it, men on horseback known as picadors stab the bull as it repeatedly charges the horse. The painting hangs in Madrid’s Museo del Prado. 

    . The Corrida in Art and Literature

    Artists have always been attracted to la fiesta brava. The Spanish artist Francisco de Goya did dozens of etchings of bullfight scenes in his La tauromaquia series, and both the French painter Édouard Manet and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso were fascinated by the personages and ritual of the corrida.

    The descriptions of bullfighting in the novel Blood and Sand (1908; translated 1913) by Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, and the documentary study Death in the Afternoon (1932), by American novelist Ernest Hemingway, have had the greatest impact on the views of bullfighting in the non-Latin world.

    Contributed By: Barnaby Conrad, B.A.Writer, artist, and amateur bullfighter. Author of Matador and other books.

    “Bullfighting,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.