Spain is home to the one of the only deserts in Europe
The Tabernas Desert, which is located in the South Western province of Andalucía, is technically classified as a semi-desert because of the precipitation levels in southern Europe. However the spectacular landscape of the Tabernas Desert, which is located just a thirty-minute drive outside of local transport hub Almeria, might aswell be part of the Sahara Desert.
The Tabernas Desert landscape is so authentic that the chances are you have probably already seen it on the big screen before; Clint Eastwood’s For a Few Dollars More is just one of many spaghetti Westerns filmed in the desert. In addition to Westerns, the desert’s filmography also boasts such classics as Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Mad Max III.
There are several companies that offer tours of the Tabernas Desert and its attractions, such as the Hollywood Ranch, where Clint Eastwood recreated the Old West.
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia: an ongoing project of God
Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in Barcelona in 1883 and is due to be completed in 2041. Of all the architects to be have worked on the church’s construction, Gaudi was the most influential. Gaudi died in 1924 after being hit by a tram and is buried inside the basilica itself. He spent 40 years of his life working on the Temple of the Sagrada Familia, which literally means it was built purely on donations.
Upon completion of the basilica, there will be 18 towers: 12 for each of the disciples and 4 for each of the apostles and one for Mary and one for Jesus. Gaudi dictated that none of the towers should stand above 984ft above sea level, as Gaudi believed that the highest point in Barcelona should not be a man-made structure; Mount Montjuic is currently the highest point in Barcelona and stands at 985ft above sea level. When the basilica is completed, the highest tower will stand at 984ft tall and symbolise Jesus.
Spain is absolutely football mad
Football is the crown jewel in the Spanish sporting crown and the country is mad about it. Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two biggest clubs in Spain and the world. Their rivalry is one of the fiercest in the world, if not the fiercest, and stems back to the days of Franco’s dictatorship; Barcelona is Catalonia and openly opposed Franco and his regime. Real Madrid, on the other hand, was openly supported by Franco’s regime and represented Spanish nationalism.
Barcelona’s stadium, the Nou Camp, seats over 100,000 people, which makes it the largest privately owned stadium in the world. Real Madrid is the richest club in the world and boasts nearly a quarter of a billion supporters; making it the most popular club in the world, with Barcelona a close second. They play just 600km away from each other, which is about a 6 hour drive in a hire car. The opportunity to catch both of these teams play in one week is there throughout the Spanish League season and, considering they are two of the best sides in Europe, is becoming a popular Holiday adventure.
Rather bizarrely, the Catalan slang for a Barcelona fan is cule, which translates roughly to ass, and is what they call themselves. So god only knows what they call their Madrista rivals.
Food and drink in Spain – big exporters and consumers
Okay okay, so this may seem quite an obvious one: it’s not just football that the Spanish love; they also love food and drink. However, it might surprise you just how much they do enjoy it. As a nation, the Spanish produce a staggering 44% of the worlds’ olive oil and 75% of the worlds’ saffron supply.
The Spanish are famed for their tapas, but it may surprise you to know that the word tapas refer to a particular way to eat food and not a type of food itself. The word ‘Tapa’ means to cover, and original tapas was a slice of cheese laid over a drink in order to keep mosquitoes and flies away. The Spanish are also responsible for importing potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco into Europe initially.
Leaving a tip is not compulsory in Spain, however if you order a large meal and cannot eat it all, it can be considered rude. If you are invited to a local’s house in Spain and want to compliment them on their delicious culinary delights, the best way to do it is to accept the second serving. However, if you do so, you must be 100% sure that you can finish every mouthful, as leaving even the smallest part can be considered extremely rude.
In terms of drinking, Spain are second in the world for people per bar, behind only Cyprus. Spain is also the 5th largest exporter of red wine in the world (after Italy, Australia, France and Chile). Despite this, 15.5% of the world’s vineyards are in Spain, which, percentage-wise, is the most in the world. However, due to the arid qualities of the soil, the yield of grapes is significantly lower than in other places.
The Festivals are amazing
The weather during British summertime is notorious for its unpredictability, so it should come of little surprise to learn that festivals in Europe have been becoming increasingly popular for quite some time now. Main destinations for partygoers include Croatia, France, Holland and Spain. Cheap beer, cheap flights, holiday atmosphere and near-guaranteed sunshine make Spain the perfect summer festival destination. There are several Spanish festivals that have been pulling the crowds for quite some time now are going from strength to strength.
Benicassim is perhaps the most well known Spanish festival, and takes place in and around the town after which the festival is named. Benicassim is known for its rock and roll ambiance that pulls predominantly British crowds and headliners such as Oasis, Franz Ferdinand, Blur, Bob Dylan and The Killers. The festival was started in 1995 and runs annually from Thursday to Sunday during the second week of July.
Sonar is three-day electronic dance music and media arts festival held in Barcelona on the second weekend of June each year. The festival is divided in two parts: Sonar by day and Sonar by night, with each being held at separate venues in and around Barcelona. Recent performers of note include Jurassic 5, Seth Troxler and De La Soul. Sonar is a festival that thrives at being at the forefront of both music and art, which gives the festival an eclectic atmosphere.