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spanish people love to celebrate and christmas is no exception in that regard! the festive period that proceeds christmas covers a large part of the december month and is build up by many national bank holidays. if you come to barcelona during the month of december, you should definitely have the following special dates in mind in order to fully experience the catalonian christmas vibe:

• 6 December – constitution day (bank holiday)
• 8 December – day of the immaculate conception (bank holiday)
• 25 December – christmas day (bank holiday)
• 26 December – boxing day (bank holiday in catalonia)
• 1 January – new year’s day (bank holiday)
• 5 January – parade of the three kings
• 6 January – three wise kings’ day (bank holiday)

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christmas lights in barcelona

christmas celebrations in spain basically implies many colourful christmas lights spread out over the city´s main streets and boulevards, extensively decorated nativity scenes and many food stalls selling sweet almonds or roasted chestnuts. all of this creates a lovely festive atmosphere that forms a warm welcome for all the tourists visiting spain at this time. for spanish people this time is characterized by many family gatherings and local customs as spain is a country with comprehensive cultural roots. below we will discuss the some of the most important events, main traditions and must-see sights in barcelona.

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hotel majestic 5* fully decorated for christmas

the real christmas holiday season in spain kicks off on december 8th with dia de la inmaculada concepcion (day of the immaculate cnception). this is a religious celebration and catholics around the country rejoice the magical “conception” of virgin mary in the local churches, but it’s also the time when the proper christmas preparations can start and all the stores in barcelona come to life with all kind of perky holiday decorations and music to cheer up the shoppers.

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el corte ingles, all lit up for christmas

to continue on the shopping note, christmas markets are probably the most common feature that pops to mind when talking about the christmas time for many people. barcelona is a city that upholds a strong christmas market tradition and every year both inhabitants and tourists can enjoy the beauty of the lit up stalls and the many special decorations and attributes that can be found there. the two most famous markets are the fira de santa llúcia christmas market and the fira de nadal at the sagrada familia.

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fira de santa llúcia

the fira de santa llúcia was first set up in 1786 and has since been one of the most important christmas fairs in town. its location, in front of the cathedral, and the fact is it is one of the oldest fairs in town contribute its importance as well. as is deeply rooted into the catalan christmas traditions, the market brings many stall that sell candles, scarves, sweets and of course nativity scenes, do not expect mulled wine here but enjoy over 270 stalls and live music instead. a very popular and traditional figure is “el caganer” (the pooper), to be found hidden in catalan nativity scenes and to be bought at all christmas markets. another special creature is the christmas “caga tio” (a smiley face log) from which the children receive their presents.

the market is open every day from the 28th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h30 until 20h30.

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many “caga tio” atributes are sold at the christmas markets in barcelona

the christmas market fira de nadal which is takes place in front of the sagrada familia every year and even tough it is much smaller than the fira de santa llucia yet very impressive due to its magical setting. It also focusses more on attributes that can be used to create a nice nativity scene. among others, one can find a wide selection of honey, sweets and candles.

this market is open every day from the 29th of november till the 23rd of december from 10h00 until 22h00.

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torre agbar during the month of december

when talking about christmas, the real city decorations can of course not be overlooked! here in barcelona the emblematic christmas lights were switched on by the mayor of barcelona, last friday and can be enjoyed in more than 300 locations and streets of the city. in catalan they are called “els llums de nadal”. the famous magic fountain of montjuic is part of the christmas lights as well and a special christmas water and music show can be enjoyed here in the december month. this show is always free and can be watched on fridays and saturdays in december and on 25th december and 1st january between 19:00 to 21:00. please keep in mind to dress warmly! another part of barcelona’s christmas lights is the torre agbar tower in the sant marti district, which lights up and shows a special christmas lights show displaying animated designs including christmas tree decorations.

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the montjuic fountain christmas-style

the three wise men parade on the 5th january is called the night of the three kings and marks more or less the end of the holiday season. here in spain, the christmas tradition is that the three kings bring the presents for the children instead of santa claus like in many other countries around the world. this night there is a big parade celebrating that the three kings have arrived and then, the day after the parade, on the 6th january, the children get their presents.

enjoy the most wonderful time of the year in barcelona!

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catalonia as a region is famous for many things, its beautiful beaches, is great modernista architecture, its passionate football mentality  and also for its delicious cava. the latter is  called the ´´champagne of spain´´ and is produced in one of the oldest viticultural regions in europe. this region, the penedès, is located a little south-west of barcelona and definitely worth a trip if you are visiting the capital of catalonia. its bubbles and culinary traditions have been attracting tourists and sparkling wine-lovers for decades and that is not for nothing!

a small historical recap shows us that this wine producing region finds its origin back in the days of the roman empire. the specific attributes that we were used by the romans then can now be found in the wine museum of vilafranca del penedes, one of the area´s most important wine towns. then, during the time of the moorish occupation, the wine produced here was exported to countries all over europe and even beyond, to south america (we are talking about the 18th century here!).

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endless vineyards in el penedés

then, things took a very interesting turn as the phylloxera plague occurred. this plague changed the course of growth and the type of the grapes as they were now slowly changed into white ones instead of red ones. the latter resulted in the start of the production of cava around the 1870s. the white grapes are currently the most dominant ones in the region as the red wine production only plays a small role in the landscape of the vineyards in the penedès region.

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white grapes now prevail in the region

the penedès area is currently seen as one of the most modern and innovative spanish wine regions. their grapes have been widely researched by wine pioneer miguel torres and he is the one who provided the region the fame it enjoys today. 95 % of all the cava produced in spain finds in origin in the penedès region and in 1991 the region got recognized as a DO region, in catalan: a denominació d’origen region. this means that the wine produced here is officially recognized and it is even seen as one of the best of spain after the rioja area.

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the famous codorniu caves in the penedes area

cava is produced using grapes from different regions and blending them into a perfect mix of delicious bubbles. if you get bored by just drinking the ´´normal´´ plain cava, you should definitely try the rosé version that consists of 3 different types of grapes, the xarel.lo, macabeo and parellada. moreover, there are many young wines produced in this region, white ones that are very fruity and crisp whereas the red one are more full-bodied and aromatic, characterized by an intense red color. although, the is apparently some choice in other wines, cava stays our favorite!

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cava label

we recommend to visit the penedès as it is the centre of one of the most fascinating wine regions in spain, full of history and culture. the spanish rail system is a very handy way to travel down the penedès and from barcelona, it’s just 90 minutes to tarragona. this trip takes you along the a catalonian coast where you will find some beautiful small towns such as cadaqués, a colourful fishing village was the birthplace of salvador dali. you can stop at several wine cellars along the trip and do a winetasting while your at it! another options is to stop in the beautiful beach town sitges (check our earlier post about this famous town) and enjoy a day at the beach and a night full of partying. all in all, we can state that this regions has an overwhelming amount of choice when it comes to leisure combined with the typical catalonian culture.

please contact us for more information or requests!

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the stunning landscape of the penedian vineyards

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is there a spot where you can enjoy the wide variety of spanish architecture all in one place? the answer is yes, at the poble espanyol in barcelona. this emblematic village houses 117 buildings reflecting the typical spanish architecture coming from all fifteen autonomous communities in spain. this special town was built in 1929 by the modernist architect puig I cadafalch for that year´s Barcelona international exposition (as was the national palace of montjuïc that was mentioned in one of our earlier posts). the poble is located close to the fontana magica on the montjuïc mountain.

hearing a conversation that goes like ´´pardon me but how do I get to andalucia?´´ and ´´that is easy, you just go to mallorca and that it is the first street on the left!´´ is not unusual when visiting el poble espanyol. entertainment is key in the 5th most popular tourist attraction in barcelona because there is something to do for everybody.

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el poble espanyol from a bird´s-eye view

lovers of modern art & nature can enjoy the fundación fran daurel, which is a permanent collection of over 300 artefacts from spain´s most famous artists among which picasso, dalí, miró and barceló. moreover, visitors can see the famous sculpture Entorn-Contorn from josep guinovart and the beautiful sculptural gardens that offer stunning views over barcelona. this green oasis on the high up the hill is large enough (5000m2) to spend a whole afternoon strolling around and enjoying nature.

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the sculpture gardens on the montjuïc mountain

shopping & craft lovers can enjoy themselves in el poble espanyol as well since there are 22 shops that are open every day, some of them offer workshops while others sell ceramics, paintings or jewellery. other activities include, music instrument building, espadrille making and glass crafts. consequently, you can spend a whole day strolling around the village visiting all the different shops and trying out different typical spanish activities.

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traditional shopping street in el poble

families can spend the day doing a treasure hunt, which is available in english, spanish, french and catalan. this activity is perfect for kids that are between 3 and 12 who are in for a little game. while unveiling the mysteries of el poble espanyol kids can walk around the ´´town´´ and get to know the most significant spanish monuments in one afternoon. additionally, on sunday a special programme for families is offered and even though it is in catelan, the experience is supposed to be nice due to the many visual aspects, including puppets, music and even magic.

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activities for kids at the main square of the village

flamenco lovers can eat their heart out at tablao de carmen which is located in the andaluz area of the village because this type of dancing originally comes from the south of spain, from andalucia. some say that the best flamenco show in town is performed here so that would be another reason to make the trip uphill to enjoy music, dance and spanish songs. shows are performed two times a night, there is one show at 19.30pm and other one at 21.30pm. there is a possibility to enjoy some tapas while watching the show. finally, a ticket for this show includes a short visit to el poble espanyol so visitors can experience both attractions.

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a tablao del carmen show

as stated before there is something for everybody this statement also relates to the many options visitors have to eat out in the ´´village´´ because there are plenty of restaurants and bars.  all restaurants offer a range of regional specialties in a very rustic admosphere. in summer visitors can sit outside on one terraces on plazas while eating a delicious paella accompanied by a glas of nice catalunian wine.

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terrace on one of the plazas in el poble

then, to fully capture the spanish experience, there is a possibility to rent an audio guide, which is available in english, catalan, french, italian and german. walking around with the audio guide will make this visit a very informative one when walking around plaza mayor, the nerve center of poble espanyol, approaching a magical andalusian patio, visiting a typical spanish house, resting up in a “pazo gallego” (galician country house) or when discovering a catalan monastery.

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el poble´s church

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many people think that the summer is the best season to visit spain. however, as autumn just started it is time to explore other aspects that reach beyond the beaches that spain is so famous for. one can currently see that the weather is slowly changing and that the sun is less apparent but that does not mean that the beauty of the country disappears. fact is that coming to spain in autumn gives you the perfect opportunity to explore the magical forests and see the shades of the trees changing. the perfect palette of ochre, orange, red and gold colours appears and all these special shades give the spanish mountains a very unique appearance. they provide for the perfect outdoor experience in the beautiful spanish mountainside.

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picos de europa national park in autumn

coming to spain in fall provides you with the opportunity to see the second most mountainous country in europe and enjoy its stunning forests. the most famous woods of the country can be found in the north as these forests are characterized by rather specific shady, leafy and moist trees. there are so many possibilities for those who enjoy hikes in the forest or mountain biking up in the hills since the list of national parks and big forests where this can be done is endless. examples of spectacular forests include the beautiful picos de europa national park and the ordesa monte perdido national park.

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ordesa monte perdido national park

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this was the first park in spain that was awarded the title of a ´´national park´´ and the area received the unesco biosphere reserve designation in 2002. the climate in the area of the park is humid and rainy due to its proximity to the sea (solely 20 kilometres away). in winter time it will definitely snow here but there is a possibility to see snow during the rest of the year as well. this special mountain side stands out because of its high peaks, deep ravines and long canyons. moreover, the diversity of the park becomes even more apparent due to the fact that there are four rivers that flow through the park and many different viewpoints where visitors can enjoy the beauty of nature. to make the most out of a trip to this park one should definitely use the fuentedé cable car which can take you up to 1,800 metres above sea level and provides for stunning views.

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fuentedé cable car

ordesa and monte perdido national park

this national park is presided by the monte perdido and part of the pyrenees. moreover, it was declared a world heritage site in 1997 by unesco and falls within the scope of the ordesa-viñamala biosphere reserve. consequently, it is a very special place to visit. the landscape with its high summits and all the different eco systems present, both with an atlantic and mediterranean influence, provide for a rich and diverse flora and fauna. the park is characterized by the great massif of monte perdido with a height of 3,355 metres and by the peaks of the tres sorores.

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monte perdido in the winter season

other options for those who like to enjoy nature include the pedrosa beech forest in segovia (slightly north-west of madrid); the montejo forest, one of the southernmost forests in europe, situated in the sierra del rincón mountains close to madrid. The latter is also awarded with an unesco biosphere reserve status. moreover, one can visit the tejera negra nature reserve in guadalajara; the señorío de bértiz nature reserve in navarre (close to the pyrenees) and the beech forests in the volcanic area of la garrotxa in girona (in the vicinity of barcelona).

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la garrotxa

we recommend coming to spain to visit these beautiful natural areas and discover a different side of spain. the changing shades of the leaves and the contrast of mountains, forests and water to be found in 1 national park provides for an unique experience. the huge oaks, the special chestnut trees and the mist that is so characteristic for the forest will make this a trip with a very special touch. moreover, since most of the national parks are situated close to the bigger cities, one can combine a city trip in barcelona or madrid with some days to explore the spanish nature and enjoy the beautiful forests and their wildlife.

for extra information, routes and prices you can contact us: info@across-spain.es!

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it is very general that people choose to visit large famous cities of spain, such as madrid and barcelona.

but there are also a lot of other wonderful cities which are not that big but very cute, friendly, and romantic. one which includes all these characteristics would be – segovia. it is located only 92km from madrid, 1 hour driving distance.

here we will show you how to spend a wonderful, enjoyable day in segovia. after this virtual tour, we are sure you will reschedule your trip so that you can have at least a glance at the beautiful segovia!

let’s get the trip started!

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1. go left from the station and suddenly the glamorous, breath taking view of unesco world heritage “roman aqueduct of segovia” will appear in front of you. but, we kindly ask you, please do not forget to breath! height 30m, length 728m, made by piled huge stones – exactly like a lego game! but  in a giant size…

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2. try the typical “cochinillo” (segovian grilled pork) for lunch. the chef will surprise you in the way he will cut and serve this specialty. the yellow circle at the map shows the main shopping street with a lot of restaurants.

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3. for a dessert or a cup of café con leche, we recommend to you the perfect place – “granier”. you can find pans, cakes, donuts and so many other homemade baked products which are incredibly tasty and amazingly cheap! 3 big donuts for 2,50€, 5 sweet pan sticks for 1€!

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4. if the escape from the cafeteria was successful, you should continue to see “the cathedral of segovia”. the entrance is very cheap, so we suggest to take a look inside too. then, you will noticed something very interesting inside. there is a pig standing just next to the saint anton statue. the pork was the pet of the saint and it is interesting the coincidence with the traditional recipe of the city. 

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5. the next point is the “km 0” monument. it is not mentioned often neither on the internet nor in guidebooks. like the more famous one in madrid, all streets have been made from this point called “km 0”.

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6. the last, but perhaps one of the most famous place you will see in the very end of the city is, the “alcázar de segovia”. the exterior of the fortress makes quite an impact on the visitors, especially when they admire the panoramic view of the landscape from its marvelous vantage point. enjoy the views as if you were the main character of a fairy tale… does the sight look familiar? that is because this fortress is the real model of the famous disney movie of “snow white”

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we know you “like” segovia at the moment, but after visiting, everybody will fall in “love” with it.

just one small tip, because of its location, segovia is colder and windier than madrid in the autumn-winter, so be sure to wear suitable clothes.

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