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Archive for March, 2017

Get on board!

Culture, customs, food – things that make Spain unique. However, we often forget one of the main factor why Spain differs to other European countries: geographically, Madrid is centrally located while most of the regional capitals such as Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla and Bilbao are spread along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. This unique shape would have made it rather easy for air traffic to replace rail traffic. However, planes have not achieved to do so, as train provider have not only managed to offer high speed trains that run up to 220 mph but also realized the idea of luxury trains designed to spend exciting holidays on board.

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traveling through Spain with EL Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, (source: luxury train club)

With El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo, El Transcantabrico Clasico and Al Andalus trains Spain offers an unmatched luxury train experience to discover the country with its colorful cities, cultural curiosities, breathtaking beaches and delicious cuisine. By joining the rail adventure from Sierra Nevada in Andalusia to the secret beaches of Costa Brava, you will get the chance to be sent through a time tunnel. While el Transcantabrico Gran Lujo creates a unique flair by redecorating four original 1923 Pullman lounge cars, Al Andalus takes you back in history to the glamour of the Belle Époque. Its 1929 in France built suites were formerly used by the British royal family on their journeys from Calais to the Cote d’Azur and have been enriched with all cutting-edge technical features.

While El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo is known as one of the most luxurious trains in the world by ensuring its guests excellent and personalized service panoramic views of sceneries and comfort at the highest level, El Transcantabrico Clasico is with 27 years of experience the oldest luxury train of Spain. Both luxury trains cruises through the North of Spain with its gorgeous green landscape and beautiful lively city. El Transcantabrico Gran Lujo discovers the beauty of the Basque county by traveling from Santiago de Compostela to San Sebastian with a maximum of 28 guests on board. The team of El Transcantabrico Clasico guarantees an unforgettable experience by making you fall in love with Northern Spain and Castile y Leon and offering cruises such as Leon to Santiago, Santander to Leon and Santiago to Santander.

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traveling with El Transcantabrico Clasico, (source: luxury train club)

The largest tourist train in the world Al Andalus train allows you to enter into another world while traveling Andalusia and its unique landscape. By joining rail adventures such as Sevilla to Granada, Sevilla to Madrid and Sevilla to Sevilla, you will find out more about Andalusia’s exciting history and delicious cuisine.

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room service, (source: renfe)

Every train and each journey are unique but the idea is always the same: simplifying the way of experiencing Spain by offering a diverse landscape passing by the window and unlimited luxury on rail! Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience and book unforgettable holidays on rails with us!

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Tapas take over the world! While a few years ago tapas were only offered in Spain, they are becoming a trend in bars all over the world: Greek tapas, Cajun tapas, Thai tapas or the traditional Spanish tapas – everybody loves them!

Commonly, you can refer to the name “tapas” when it’s a small portions to accompany a drink. Throughout the time, most restaurants started to charge money for serving tapas which used to be for free when ordering a glass of wine or beer.

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tapas, (source: Instituto Mediterraneo Sol)

There are many speculations and legends about the origin of tapas and several regions such as Andalusia and Castile claiming for its invention. While some stories involve King Alfonso XIII’s illness to have small portions of food and a glass of wine in between meals, other legends mention King Fernando XVII who got served wine with cheese over top to protect the wine from bugs and dust. Some people believe it was the working class who needed a glass of wine and small snacks to endure the long working days.

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wine with tapas, (source: Instituto Mediterraneo Sol)

Wherever tapas are from, over the time it has established a form of national identification and it seems like you need to experience tapas to understand the hype and discover the Spanish way of life – socializing with others while savouring delicious tapas and a glass of wine.

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experiencing tapas, (source: Independent)

Although simple slices of cheese and bread might have started it, there is a huge variety of tapas nowadays. Each region has develop its own tapas attributable to its taste and traditions. However, some tapas are well-known and loved all over Spain.

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variety of tapas, (source: el telegraph)

A lot of bars love to serve olives as it is simple and loved by everybody. Fried balls are called coquetas and Spaniard can’t get enough of them whether filled with meat, fish or vegetables.

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coquetas, (source: hogarmania)

Additionally, calamares a la romana (fried squid rings) belongs to the favourites of Spaniards. Tortilla de patatas (omelette made with potatoes) is probably the most famous tapa and an absolute must try when in Spain! What we love the most about tapas is the ability to discover more than one of these tasty dishes without feeling stuffed afterwards.

To be known as the best place to have tapas is the aim of almost every Spanish city due to the culinary importance of tapas. Thus, the competition is extensive and fierce. There are countless tapas events happening in various cities to showcase the quality and originality of tapas. Many language schools and universities organize private “tapas evenings” for their students to familiarize them with the Spanish culture. Street food events such as Van Van Barcelona and MadridEat are often used to demonstrate superior quality of tapas and make tapas even more well-known. Moreover, tapas festivals such as “tapa a tapa” in Sitges, “TaPalma Tapas Festival” in Mallorca and “Palmarés de la Feria de Tapas” in La Roda offer the perfect occasion to find out more about the finest food the villages have to offer for often cheap prices. During these celebrations the best tapas of the year get awarded by either a jury or public.

Personally, we love to have our tapas in Andalucía, especially in Granada as it is one of the best places to get free tapas. Moreover, Alcala de Henares in Madrid and Valencia count to our top favourite places for having tapas. A real insider’s tip for those who like to have high quality tapas is the province of Castilla and León with cities such as Valladolid and León. However, we can truly say that almost every city has its own charm when it comes to experiencing tapas. When traveling through the Basque Country, don’t be surprised when you get pintxos served instead of tapas which are similar but generally speaking smaller. Pintxos are typical for this region and not less delicious than tapas!

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pintox, (source: groupalia)

Regardless where you have tapas (or pintxos), here are some tips for your first visit in a tapas bar: Change bar after having some tapas as the idea is to have a gastronomic bar crawl and make sure to combine the right tapas by asking the waiter for his help! Don’t confuse tapas (small portions) with “raciones” (meal sized servings) and keep in mind that instead of splitting bills, everybody pays for a round in Spain. These simple rules will help you to experience tapas to its fullest!

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tapas bar, (source: the culture trip)

We would love to help you understanding the hype about tapas! Get to know the Spanish tradition and experience tapas together with culture by booking your tapas tour through us!

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During the Holy week in Spain it feels like you can immerse yourself in another world. The most significant celebration of the year transforms the whole country into a life-time experience. Unique atmosphere, great food, public holidays all over Spain, hundreds of processions and family time – that’s the Holy Week for Spaniards.

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procession in Leon source: turespaña

Starting with the death of Jesus Christ, the Holy Week in Spain has been a work-in-progress for centuries. The tradition itself has remained the same, but has developed in various ways. To give an example: The Holy Week has not been celebrated with processions before Marqués de Tarifa, who institutionalized the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross), returned to Spain in 1521,. The result of the changes is an absolute incredible week celebrated everywhere in Spain!

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nazarenos source: turespaña

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floats in Logrono

The Holy Week starting on Palm Sunday and continuing for the rest of the week is dominated by incredible processions boasting floats of the Virgin and of a scene from Christ’s Passion carried by up to forty men called costaleros (members of brotherhoods). Along with the float, never-ending rows of nazarenos are walking. The nazarenos may be seen barefoot, although some processions last up to 14 hours. Even though their special hoods remind of the Ku Klux Klan, it has nothing in common with the American clan but symbolizes the people’s rise towards heaven.

The highlight of the procession is when the float exits and enters the church. While a lot of ceremonies are combined with colours and music, the so called “Procesion del Silencio” is recognizable by total silence and a lot of emotions. The processions are watched by nicely dressed women and men in suits, especially during the second half of the week. Although, Semana Santa is a spiritual week, it is not important to be religious to join and appreciate the Holy Week in Spain as it is also known as a fun-filled celebration.

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procession in Sevilla, source: turespaña

No matter how small a town is – you will find an Easter celebration there. Every region has their own traditions and each celebration is unique on its own. It is hard to compare them. However, some ceremonies deserve extra attention due to their individuality and magnificence. In Sevilla, the cofradías (religious brotherhoods) parade through the old town with an elaborately decorated statues of Virgin Mary. Malaga’s tradition to relieve a prisoner and the concerts of Cuenca taking place in the cathedral are definitively remarkable! Moreover, breathtaking parades are organized in Madrid, Valladolid, Elche and Logrono.

Traditionally, Catholics don’t consume meat during Semana Santa. A lot of people end up eating fish with vegetables or vegetarian dishes such as “garbanzos con espinacas” (chickpeas with spinach). When spending the Holy Week in Spain, you can expect a lot of special sweet treats for this occasion. Torrija, which is a fried bread dipped in egg and milk served with sugar or honey, and pestiños, which are fried, honey-glazed pastries, are just examples of what Spaniards love to eat for Semana Santa. Typical for Semana Santa in Valencia and Catalunia is a cake with a lot of decorations called “la Mona de Pascua”.

Experience Spain in a completely different atmosphere and get stunned by the breathtaking processions! Contact us and let us organize your trip to Spain during Semana Santa!

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