Europe off the Beaten Path!!

Viability Note: 

The good news is that Spain is not very expensive relative to other European countries. Barcelona is amongst the more expensive cities but even here it is entirely plausible to have good 4-star accommodations for lesser than Euro 100 per night for 2. Madrid, Seville, Granada are all cheaper. Even the islands of Mallorca, Tenerife and Ibiza may not startle any traveler for accommodion.


Spain has excellent travel infrastructure. The Spanish national railways - “Renfe” cuts through the country at high speed. It takes less than 3 hours to cover the 600 km distance between Barcelona to Madrid. Spain also has a dense bus network, though it takes much longer.


​What could however, surprise any traveler is internal travel costs by Renfe (train). It takes Euro 120 per person for the less than 3 hour journey between Barcelona and Madrid. A bus on the other hand would take 6 hours but would cost one-fourth of what it would by train. 


Safety: 
While in Spain, one needs to be on the guard. Barcelona is the pick-pocketing capital of Europe. And these guys would follow you for miles, if they find you easy prey. This trend has been seen in other cities as well as the deep recession in Spain is taking its toll. Have no money in your pockets – however deep they may be and always have an eye on your luggage. Just a few basic precautions and all else is fine. Spain is one of the most banked countries in the world - An ATM cannot be more than half a kilometre away!! Language is a barrier across much of Spain – even in cities sometimes. Learn a few Spanish words and things should improve significantly.


Our ratings:
What to expect:
World class beaches and resorts, unbeatable architecture in Barcelona, Granada and Madrid, culture history, sports
​Travel infrastructure: 4/5
Tourist friendliness : 3/5
English spoken : 2.5/5
Money's worth : 4/5


Suggested Itinerary:

Conventional:

Minimum 3 days: Barcelona - for cheaches, architecture of Antoni Gaudi and much more

5-6 days: Add Ibiza / Mallorca / Tenerife - for the best beaches, excellent resorts and vibrant nightlife


Off the Beaten Path:

7-9 days: Add Granada - for the mountains, confluence of Islamic and Roman architecture

10-12 days: Add Costa Brava - for a different perspective of beaches

12-14 days: Add Madrid - the Capital known as an architectural marvel

16-18 days: Add Seville - centre of arts and culture


Spain

Fantastic beaches, amazing night life, great food and bull fighting are the first things that come to the mind of any traveler when considering touring Spain. However, like many other myths have to be busted, so does this. Spain has the third-most number of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world and the second in Europe after Italy. No one needs to go much farther than Barcelona to be dazzled by the distinctive architecture all over Barcelona by Antoni Gaudi, a famous architect. One only needs to visit Granada or Cordoba to check on the distinctive Islamic influence. As one moves across the country, the cultural diversity is in full display. Spain has lush meadows to mountains to even a desert. Spain has a long history – imperial history as much as a few centuries back as well as civil war, fascism – all of which are only a few decades old. This is a football fanatic country – just experience the electrifying environment in any game in the La Liga. Spain is diverse in all respects and cannot be typecasted!


Spain can broadly be divided into two areas – Catalonia and Andalucia. The Catalonia region houses Barcelona – a city full of energy. Barcelona has a beautiful beach and its associated night life but most importantly it is where Gaudi made his magnum opus – Familia Sagrada,a church with the most amazing architecture. Move further west and in the middle of the country lies Madrid – the capital which also has a cultural and artistic heritage and the capital of the Spanish empire. Want something different – fly into Mallorca or Ibiza or Tenerife, small islands of the coast of Spain for white sands, turquoise blue waters and fantastic resorts. If you want night life – choose Ibiza, else Mallorca or Tenerife. Want something completely different – head south to Granada, a city controlled at different times by different rulers – Romans, Muslims and Christians, and different looks of these different cultures very much visible – testimony the Alhambra - Palace of the rulers, a fantastic monument sitting atop Granada has traces of Islamic architecture. The proximity to Morocco – just across the strait of Gibralter has ensured a strong Islamic influence across much of Southern Spain. Have some more time – how about a visit right at the bottom of Spain to Malaga in the Costa Brava region, also the birthplace of Picasso. This city has beaches as well as art. Move further west and head into Seville for music and cultural festivals. In fact, one can have multiple itineraries on what to do in Spain itself depending on orientations. Spain is for all!