Why We Love It: Spain

Here's the next in our Why We Love It series. In each of these blogs, we ask a Peregrine team member to tell you about their favourite place in the world. Today's blog has a focus Spain:

Spain moves to a different rhythm than the rest of Europe. ‘Africa begins at the Pyrenees’ was the old saying of Europeans to the east and north of Iberian Peninsula. As demeaning as that sentiment might be, there is something ‘other’ about Spain and the Spanish. And that’s why I love it.

Let your hair down
Above all, it’s Spain’s conviviality which I find such a pleasure. The pass-it-round approach to cuisine, lively late night family gatherings in village plazas, the love of festivals and communal events. Spain is a country that knows how to put on a good time, and how to let its hair down.

Higher ground

Catholicism goes hand-in-hand with earthier delights. Whether it’s Seville’s shockingly large cathedral or the age-old pilgrimage to Santiago, Gaudi’s gaudy Barcelona creations or the Semana Santa, the church is an important element in understanding – and enjoying – the country.

Celebrate in style
If you’re here around Easter, you’re in for a treat. Spanish celebrations have got to be some of the most exuberant and striking that you’ll enjoy anywhere. Some of my most memorable nights out have been in Spain. Lost hours in Asturian cider houses (the perfect post-Picos relaxant); exploring bars in Seville, and watching flamenco in Granada. Is there a more emotional dance to watch? Tango, some might argue, but that doesn’t get my heart racing the way watching a passionate flamenco dancer does, lost in the dance’s rhythm, bringing the feet down smack on the floor, full of expressive improvisation and soul. Give me an authentic little flamenco house, one dancer and a guitarist and I’m content.

A day in the hills

Even better if that night out comes after a day in the hills. Andalucia has got its lush pockets, perhaps surprisingly, and is great walking country, but the Picos de Europa to the north, for me, are arguably Europe’s most beautiful mountains. I’ve walked among them several times, and when I’m on the trail, never will an hour go by without a lengthy pause to take in the latest staggering vista. The green folds and snow-flecked pyramidal peaks are a world away from image of a parched country that many people hold. But that’s Spain, happy to confound expectations, but also to rejoice, and let visitors rejoice, in its iconic pleasures.

Have you been to this passionate, lively country? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Or head to twitter and Facebook to share your stories and images.

If you're ready to see Spain, take a look through all our trips. You're bound to find one that brings out the inner flamenco dancer!

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