Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Tourism is one of the industries that brings the largest profit to economic and cultural sectors in cities all over the world. In Spain alone, tourism generate more than 145 billion Euro in 2019, a figure that has not stopped increasing despite the economic crisis. However it is important to ask ourselves to what extent it has been profitable to maintain and increase these figures considering the impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems.

The need for sustainable/responsible planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole so, in this post, we would like to focus on the importance and benefits of practicing sustainable tourism. We know Tourism will never be completely sustainable, as every industry has impacts, but it can work towards this goal. So, let’s see how we can change our habits so as to approach sustainability within the industry.

According to World Tourism Organization,: Sustainable tourism is tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”. With the aim to reach the highest possible levels within sustainability, we should first understand the principles and good practices that we should embrace to reduce the impacts of tourism on the world’s environment.

Direct Environmental Impacts of Tourism

  • Water Quality
  • Air Quality
  • Noise Pollution
  • Solid Waste and Littering
  • Habitat/Ecosystem Alteration and Fragmentation
  • Impacts on Wildlife
  • Cultural Impacts & Architectural and Visual Pollution
  • Natural Landscapes and Gateway Communities
  • Loss of biological diversity
  • Climate change

How to reduce the impact: Good Environmental Practices

An easy guideline all tourists should keep in mind and try to follow so as to be part of a positive change on the impact caused when we travel:

Travel with care towards the environment: take care of it, respect it

One of the negative impacts of an increasing tourist industry is the damage to the natural environment. Naturally, we all want to see the world and travel, but at the same time, we don’t want to have a negative impact on the communities or the environment that you visit. We all want to be conscious travelers and we wish to give some tips to achieve this goal. If we all follow a few easy steps, we will see the results of practicing sustainability when travelling:

  • Lowers ecological impact
  • Animals can keep being wild
  • Keeps environment clean
  • Supports local communities
  • Allows travellers to be more conscious about their choices

The principles of sustainability

Sustainability principles refer to four distinct areas: human, social, environmental, politic and economic.

  • Economic: Focus on Economic Performance, Investment and Competitiveness
  • Environmental: Focus on Sustainability of the Natural and Cultural Environment
  • Human: Focus on Employment, Decent Work and Human Capital
  • Social: Focus on Poverty Reduction and Social Inclusion
  • Politic: Focus on tourism policy and government actions

A further elaboration of sustainable tourism by UNWTO refers to the need for it to:

 • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.

• Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.

• Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

More specifically UNWTO and UNEP identified 12 Aims for sustainable tourism:

Source: http://whc.unesco.org/sustainabletourismtoolkit/sites/default/files/13.%20UNWTO%20%282013%29%20Sustainable%20Tourism%20for%20Development%20Guidebook.pdf

Now that you know the benefits of practicing sustainable tourism, plan your next holiday and look into what you can do so as to minimise your ecological footprint. If we all practice sustainable tourism, we will benefit local communities and our planet’s natural environment.

Read Full Post »

The Jacobean Holy Year was established by Pope Callixtus II in 1126. The Catholic Church promised to pardon the sins of everyone who took the pilgrimage to the Apostle’s tomb during the Holy Year, what is known as “earning the Jubilee”. To earn the Jubilee, 3 steps may be completed: Visit the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain; say a prayer and pray for the Pope’s intentions; confess and receive communion. It is only during the Holy year that the Cathedral’s Holy Door will be opened so pilgrims can experience the privilege of entering through it.

2021-22: 120th edition and a special 2-year Xacobeo

The Xacobeo, also known as Jacobean Year, Holy Year or Jubilee Year, is celebrated when the festival of James the Apostle or Santiago (25th July) falls on a Sunday. This happens usually every 5 or 6 years, occasionally have to wait up to 11 years to celebrate the next Holy Year. Now, for the first time, the celebration of the Xacobeo Holy Year will be extended over two consecutive years (2021 and 2022) because of the pandemic.

Return the the Camino after a pandemic year

For the first time in its history, 2020 was a year when the Jacobean routes where empty of pilgrims. Covid-19 did not make it possible for pilgrims to step on the Camino for months but, now, with the increasing vaccination rates and the wished stabilization of the epidemic, it is time for a greater opportunity to share the experience of the Jacobean Routes once again. With the aim to welcome back visitors, an extensive program of activities with exhibitions, concerts, congresses has been designed to make the Camino de Santiago even more attractive. Everything is designed and planned with the maximum security & health measures so as to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.

New Routes

2010 was the last Holy year and, since then, 3 new routes joined the Holy Pilgrimage: the Winter Way, the Portuguese Coastal Way and the Ruta do Mar. This implies that Holy Year 2021 will be the Jacobean with more official kilometres of routes through Galicia. In total 1600km including, besides above mentioned routes, the French Way, the English Way or, the Northern Way. During the last 4 years, Camino de Santiago has improved signage with over 1.300 ceramic and bronze shells and 3.752 cairns to guide pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Enjoy the restored Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has been under restoration for a few years for the Xacobeo 2021. Pilgrims will be able to contemplate it without scaffolding and with all its façades and its interior renovated. The temple will also reopen the Pórtico de la Gloria, which can be now enjoyed in its original colours.

The return of the Botafumeiro

This meter and a half high and 50 kg censer has been quiet last years since the restoration works prevented from making its traditional flight through the central nave of the Cathedral. From January, the eight “tiraboleiros” will once again set the Botafumeiro to 68 km / hour in less than 1 minute in front a the faithful crowds.

We hope above reasons are enough to consider a new experience but, if you cannot make it in 2021 and 2022, don’t worry: you will have a new opportunity in 2027, 2032 and 2038.

Need more information? Let us know, we will be glad to plan your pilgrim experience.

info@across-spain.es

Read Full Post »

Welcome to one of Europe’s last unspoiled ecosystems. Welcome to the place the Romans dubbed Monsfragorum: the fractured mountain

In our last post about Cáceres we introduced you to Extremadura, a beautiful region that border with Portugal. Here we find one of the world meccas for birdwatching, the Monfragüe National Park, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2003.

Source – Turismo de Monfragüe

Crossed by two rivers – Tagus and Tiétar, Las Dehesas de Monfragüe is the largest and best preserved stretch of Mediterranean mountain landscape in the world. Its wild mountains of oak and Mediterranean forest and streams provide a home for the park’s diverse flora and fauna.

Source – Turismo de Extremadura

Extremadura and conservation of bird species

The importance of Extremadura region for conservation of bird species in Europe is worth noting. With the aim to ensure conservation, the Autonomous Government of Extremadura has designated 71 Special Protection Zones for birds (SPA). These areas form the most extensive network of the Iberian Peninsula and currently represents over 26% of the region’s territory.

El Salto del Gitano – the perfect birding spot

Many of Extremadura’s mountain ranges are topped by quartzite inaccessible rocks.  The security these rocks provide and the barrier created by the dense vegetation of the mountain slopes lead certain bird species to choose them for nesting purposes. Among the typical nesting birds are many threatened species of birds of prey.

Source – Turismo de Extremaduraa

The black vulture is one of the stars of the show at Monfragüe but there is also a significant population of Spanish Imperial eagles. The best place to see them is from the park’s most famous rocky viewpoint: Mirador del Salto del Gitano.  From this 300m high cliff over Tagus River, birders can spot the Spanish Imperial eagle, the Egyptian vulture, the Griffon vulture and the black stork, among other birds.

Source – Turismo de Extremaduraa

When to come to Monfragüe N.P. for birding

Extremadura enjoys a continental weather with damp winters and hot summer.  In summer time, temperature during the day does not go down even after the sun sets, so it is normally hot. Winters are mild and only a small portion of the region freezes.

To see black kite, booted eagle, white-rumped swift, roller, subalpine warbler, black Stork, and red-rumped swallow, you should come in summer. Keep in mind July and August) could be very very hot, so best day time for birding are the hours near the sunrise or sunset.

On the other hand, if you wish to see the Spanish Imperial Eagle, as well as most bird species, we suggest you come in spring, from March to May months. Spring and autumn months are also fantastic periods to enjoy the beautiful colours of Monfragüe Park landscapes and surrounding areas.

Source – Turismo de Extremadura

Routes around the park

  • You can explore Monfragüe using its good self-guided hiking routes (Yellow, Green and Red). This is the option most visitors choose.
  • If you prefer to go by car, there are two routes with stops at main viewpoints.
  • More into organised guided tours? The park offers them.
  • Looking for a more special route? Upon prior permission, you can take bike routes or horse riding routes along the edges of the park.
Source – Turismo de Monfragüe

However you decide to visit it, you will enjoy discovering one of Europe’s best birding paradises.  Would you like to know more? Contact us, we will be glad to assist you.

info@across-spain.es

Read Full Post »

CÁCERES – MICE DESTINATION

Meetings – Incentives – Conferences – Exhibitions. Spain has a handful number of popular MICE destinations: Barcelona, Madrid, Palma, Sevilla … but, what about less internationally known spots but that could be ideal for most type of events?

Let us introduce you to Cáceres, situated in Extremadura region, 320km south-east Madrid, half way from Spain’s capital and Lisbon. With a privileged enclave, the city and its region are rich in landscapes, leisure, historical heritage, cultural legacy and excellent quality gastronomy.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/index.html

The city

With a population of 96.000 inhabitants, Cáceres will make you feel like a time traveller as you walk along any of its narrow cobbled streets. Its monumental ensemble was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1986 and it is considered one of the prettiest historic town centres of Spain.
Its Moorish walls enclose and preserve the second biggest water cistern in the world, a Jewish quarter, Roman remains and mansions, Renaissance palaces and churches crowned by stork nests.

Cáceres counts with 4-5 hotels with a total of 665 rooms and conference facilities for up to 1200 delegates, a congress centre and a few special venues to host any event.

Interested in reading more about it? Check:
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Caceres-00002/

What to do & see

A MICE experience in this region will allow you to discover birds in natural habitats of great beauty, practice water sports at an inlands freshwater beach, admire pasturelands of oaks or get introduced to stargazing. Of course, nobody should leave Extremadura without enjoying its fantastic gastronomy: best Iberian ham, with 10 designations, is produced there but also excellent local cheese, olive oil, wine and honey will remain as great memories.

Culture & History

Extremadura is history and legend, a region with a well-preserved heritage and with corners of great beauty. Three sites are declared World Heritage by UNESCO: the monumental ensemble of Cáceres, the archaeological ensemble of Mérida, and the Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe. Magical enclaves of unusual beauty such as the Via de la Plata (Silver Route), the Alcántara Bridge or the city of Trujillo complete its rich heritage.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Merida-00001/

Nature & Sports

Extremadura has over 60 protected natural spaces and 1,500km2 of fresh water resources where to enjoy nature and practice sports. Birdwatching, stargazing, geotourism, trekking … and more can be practiced in one region.

Birdwatching: one hour drive north-east Cáceres, the Monfragüe National Park is the place to discover ornithology and Mediterranean flora.
Declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, it is the largest and best preserved stretch of Mediterranean mountain landscape in the world. Its wild mountains of oak and Mediterranean forest and streams provide a home for the park’s diverse flora and fauna.
Salto del Gitano offers the chance to admire storks, vultures and imperial eagles. Deer, lynx, wildcats, snakes, tortoises … are just some other spices living in this area.
This 300m cliff rearing up over Tagus river it is a must among park routes.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura – https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/explora/Monfraguee-National-Park/

Stargazing: Monfragüe, Algueva and Southern mountain range have been certified as Starlight Destinations. Low level of pollution, good weather, cloudless days and spectacular locations make the region a paradise for stargazers. The offer of accommodation, activity companies and professionals that provide stargaze-related services makes it possible to organise unforgettable astrotourism programs.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Astrotourism/

Sports: Extremadura is a paradise for outdoor sports. Trekking, biking, horse-riding, river sports, kayaking, sailing, fishing in lake reservoirs … Extremely beautiful hiking tracks and routes among oak and chestnut tree forests, mountain bike trails, protected nature areas along Tagus river … offer the perfect and unique scenario that will take you long to forget.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Live-out-the-nature-experience/

Gastronomy & Flavours

Iberian ham is perhaps one of the most famous products of Spain and it is in Extremadura where one of the best cured ham is produced. Iberian pigs are used to running kilometres a day across the vast pasture lands (dehesas) in search of acorns, which gives their meat a singular texture, fragrance and fragrance.
Goat and sheep cheeses are also famous and important, actually used as currency in Middle Ages. When it comes to desserts, Extremadura is the first producer of cherries in Spain and the holder of “Cereza del Jerte” D.O. Plums and special sweet pastries and desserts are also worth a try.

Source: Turismo de Extremadura –
https://www.turismoextremadura.com/en/ven-a-extremadura/Extremadura-Gourmet-Gastronomia/

And, of course, we shall not forget wines and olive oil. Mostly produced in the area of Badajoz, a wide range of red, white, rosé and cava wines will be the perfect complement to any meal. You will be able to enjoy these products at any of the excellent restaurants of the area – why not at 2 Michelin-starred Atrio Restaurant?

Would you like to receive more detailed information about this inspiring destination? Let us know, we will be glad to assist you.

info@across-spain.es

Read Full Post »

Not even 2 hour motorway drive south Barcelona airport, on the Mediterranean coast, we find Ebro’s Delta, one of the most famous river deltas in Europe, a wetland location containing 320 sq. km. of Natural Park. The delta hosts a wide variety of aquatic environments and a wide range of different habitats that provide micro habitats for a huge abundance and variety of birdlife, and it is key breeding site for many rare species of birds. Most recent survey has revealed over 300 species of birds that are either resident or migratory to the Ebro Delta.

This nature reserve, declared Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and full of contrasts, is an ideal setting to get away from crowds and stress of big cities: wild beaches of large dune fields, spaces where there are plains and salt mirages and extensive rice fields. Photography lovers will also discover a spot where the beauty of a sunset with the stylized shadow of a group of flamingos is worthy of the most demanding camera objectives.

Why are there so many great birds in the Ebro delta?

The answer has a lot to do with the range of habitats available: ricefields, saltpans, muddy bays, sand dunes and spits, freshwater lagoons and reedbeds, riverside woodland and open sea.

The delta is the habitat of 7 species of gull and 9 species of tern. Here we find as well the world’s largest Audouin’s gull breeding colony, one of the essential concentrations of common reed bunting, and the Iberian Peninsula’s second largest colony of flamingos and glossy ibis.

In order to perform best possible experience, the park has bird-watching routes equipped with walkways, lookouts and information panels and expert guides to accompany you.

South Itinerary

A full day route starting in the village of Poblenou del Delta and that includes spots as Sant Antoni saltpans, Saltpans de la Trinitat, La Tancada, Erms de la Tancada and Gola del Migjorn.

First observation spot will be the tower with views over l’Encanyissada lagoon, from where species such as Little Bittern, Purple Gallinule, Red Crested Pochard, Caspian Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Marsh Harrier, Greater Flamingo, Fan-tailed Warbler and Great Reed Warbler can be spotted. Continue towards the coast, stopping at the Sant Antoni saltpans, a very interesting spot for gulls, terns and waders.  

Head now to the beach and follow the sandy track that leads down the Trabucador to the saltpans of la Trinitat. On the shores of the bay a good variety of waders, gulls and terns may be seen and in the winter months the waters of the bay are a prime site for divers, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-necked Grebe and the occasional Common or Velvet Scoter.

Back to La Tancada lagoon. This is an interesting site for ducks, including Red Crested Pochard and Garganey. Ospreys fly over on quite a regular basis.

Between here and L’Eucaliptus resort are the Erms de la Tancada, an area of saltings, rough pasture with bushes and channels which is ideal for migrant birds in the spring and autumn, with a huge potential for producing pleasant surprises.

Route continues the way to Illa de Buda and the Gola de Migjorn along a road that past vast extensions of rice fields. An observation tower offers views over the Illa de Buda with its ricefields, saltings, pools and lagoons and the reedbeds and marshy areas of the Alfacada, as well as the open sea. This area is one of the best in the whole of the delta for seeing a great diversity of birds in a short space of time.

Finally, make the short drive to the beach for a seawatch, at what is said to be the best spot in the delta for seeing Gannet, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Razorbill, Balearic and Levantine Shearwaters, sea duck, gulls (including Mediterranean Gull), terns and waders, depending on the time of year.

North Itinerary

A day long itinerary starts with an observation tower overlooking the southern tip of the Canal Vell lagoon. Among other birds, Night Herons can be seen here, as well as Greater Flamingo, Great White Egret, Bittern (on migration) and a variety of ducks.

Continue to Riumar, more precisely to Lo Garxal, a shallow lagoon with usually abundant terns and waders. Water Rails breed in the reedy areas along the southern edge while the inhabitants of the dune slacks include Lesser Short-toed Larks and Collared Pratincoles.

Platja de la Marquesa beach is the spot for conducting a seawatch in the hope of seeing skuas, shearwaters, seaduck and other seabirds according to the season. In the winter months Mediterranean Gulls pass by in their hundreds, as do Black Terns in late summer.

From here a track leads to the Fangar lighthouse. The huge, flat sandy area past the dunes is a major breeding area for terns and Kentish Plover, while on the bay side there will often be large numbers of waders, terns, gulls and ducks.

The last port of call is the southern shore of the bay, or port, of the Fangar. From the edge of the bay it is possible to follow the shoreline for approximately 4 kilometres. If possible avoid the time around high tide, when most of the birds, especially the waders, are forced elsewhere. Photography lovers should not miss this area: it can be excellent for close up views of waders, flamingos, terns and gulls, especially in the afternoon when the sun is behind you.

Would you like to know more about birdwatching options this nature reserve has to offer? Please, let us know, we will be glad to assist you! info@across-spain.es       

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »