Think of Spain and you think of the sunshine and the sea – and maybe football, tapas, fiestas and sangria. Whilst these are all a huge part of what makes Spain’s national identity, its culture, landscapes and history go much deeper than the stereotypes.
Take the landscape for example. The Pyrenees, which stretch over 500km along the Spanish and French border, are strikingly beautiful- and it is little known to many visitors that you can get in some excellent skiing and hiking within a 2 hour drive from Barcelona. Add to that the contrast between the wild northern Atlantic coast and the gentle sun-baked Mediterranean coastline, providing visitors with surf and relaxation in equal measure, and you have yourself the perfect outdoors break.
Spain packs its artistic punches as well, and has honed the talents of the renowned Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudi. Antoni Gaudi’s artistic presence can be appreciated all over Barcelona – from the impressive Sagrada Familia basilica (a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been under construction since 1882!) to the peaceful Park Guell (also a UNESCO World Heritage Site) designed by Gaudi the early 1900s and featuring many of his famous mosaic works around every corner. Creativity and grandeur can be seen within the architecture all around the country too, from the imposingly grand buildings of Barcelona and Madrid to the atmospheric beauty of Seville, Granada and Cadiz.
You can’t talk about Spain without talking about food and wine. Spain is famed for its national cuisine which has been exported all across the world – the delicious tapas and the moreish paella. Wash that down with some sangria, or the delicious rioja that comes from the northern regions of the country, and you can’t go far wrong. For many visitors to Spain, their basic Spanish often stretches as “San Miguel, por favor”, but don’t forget about the delicious Estrella too. The Spanish love to eat well and eat late – with fiestas often going until the small hours.
And then there’s football, with the longstanding rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona and an exciting Spanish league boasting many talented teams. They live and breathe football in Spain, and this culture has attracted some of the best players in the world to come and play for its clubs, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
You can’t enjoy all that Spain has to offer in a weekend trip or a week’s coastal holiday, so why not go differently and fully immerse yourself in Spanish life as a volunteer. We guarantee you’ll see a different side to this wonderful country, and come away with a deeper appreciation of all that it has to offer.