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Posts Tagged ‘atmosphere’

while spain’s modern cities usually tend to attract all the attention of visiting tourists, its villages offer a beauty that many will find hard to deny. most rural towns make you go back in time to get a glimpse of our medieval ancestors or sport a gorgeous natural beauty in the mountains or by the sea. for the ones willing to discover this stunning old and rural side of spain, we have compiled  list of towns that we consider worth visiting. be sure to check out the old communities attached to the villages as well – here one can get a peek of the old spain and its traditional cuture.

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olvera, in the vicinity of cadiz

below we will show you 6 villages that we consider worth visiting because of their stunning beauty or gorgeous location. let´s get started!

in the province of andalucia:

mojacar  -is located in the south-east of the iberian peninsula in almeria. the old quarter, called mojacar pueblo, is 175 meters above sea level, next to a spring. its beautiful whitewashed houses are stunningly set in the lower hills of the beautiful sierra cabrera, overlooking a canyon carved out by the aguas river. due to the river market gardens can be irrigated and olive and orange groves can be grown. this charming town is located solely 17 km from the mediterranean see making it a perfect spot for a romantic getaway in summer.

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the beauty of mojacar

ronda – this town in the málaga region sits on either side of the tajo del ronda, a narrow gorge more than 150 metres deep. its old town has been declared property of cultural interest. the city of ronda has been inhabited by celts, phoenicians, romans and arabs after which it was finally conquered by the catholic monarchs. several bridges unite the two halves of one of the most interesting towns on the route of the whitewashed villages, in the heart of the the ronda hills, only a few kilometres from the costa del sol.

Brücke Puente Nuevo über der Schlucht des Rio Guadalevin, Ronda, Malaga...

the famous bridge in ronda

in the province of aragón:

cantavieja  – is a village full of history. it was recaptured from the moors by the king of aragón, alfonso ii in 1169.the strong city walls of the village protected the rulers of the temple since they were able to resist the attack ordered by king. due to its strategic position, the village has been able to preserve its beautiful centre throughout its long history. hence, the village of cantavieja has successfully been able to withstand numerous sieges and cruel destructions.

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cantavieja on a mysterious dusty morning

in the province of levante:

peñíscola – the city is surrounded by water on every side but one and has a beach that’s well worth a visit all year around. the castle, perched on a large ridge overlooking the sea, offers a glimpse of its past at a time when knights and battlemented fortresses occupied the lands of el maestrazgo. the parade ground offers as a delightful balcony over the mediterranean, and its keep makes the perfect place to see a panoramic view of the coastline. in spring and summer this walled enclosure hosts a spanish comic film festival and a festival of old and baroque music. visitors may also like to see the lighthouse and the museum of the sea, or go hiking or mountain biking in the sierra de irta nature reserve.

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a village surrounded by water: the stunning town of Peñíscola

in the province of cantabria:

santillana del mar  – sheltered by gentle hills and solely a few meters from the sea this historic town is located. this town is undoubtedly the centre of artistic and historical attractions of cantabria, and one of the most visited sights. from the earliest settlements known la cueva de altamira (the villa) until today, boasts a formidable heritage chaired by the jewel of romanesque architecture in cantabria. this beautiful town is a must-do when you are in this region and a very special gem that one needs to discover.

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the cosy streets of santillana del mar

in the province of catalonia:

cadaqués  – this beautiful fishing village is full of surprises in for example the house of the surrealist genius salvador dalí. known as the portlligat house-museum, which consists of a group of fishermen’s cabins arranged to form a kind of maze, which dalí modified over a period of 40 years to make this incredible home and workshop a reality. in cadaqués you’ll also be able to enjoy a charming town on the costa brava to the fullest as you can go for a swim against a backdrop of little white houses overlooking the sea, and let yourself be soothed by the tranquillity and the light that inspired dalí.

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the beautifully located cadaques

for more information on the villages please visit spain.info . and for more information on tours to these destinations and tips for hotels and transportation, do not hesitate to contact us. we will be happy to assist you and give you more insights in how to travel to these beautiful rural towns around spain!

please visit: http://www.accros-spain.es

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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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a rather unknown yet very refreshing way to get to know the natural beauty of spain is touring the ´vias verdes´. for many people this may sound new but the spanish government has been working on this initiative for some years now. the vias verdes, literally the ´green ways´ are old railways that are currently not in use as such anymore. they were restored by the government in order to serve as cycling lanes and hiking paths for nature lovers and people who like outdoor sports.

touring these ´vias´ is a different and very fun way to explore the spanish nature while at the same time being a very budget and eco-friendly one. since these paths are a great promotion of outdoor activities, they literally bring a breath of fresh air for people of all ages. it is therefore, no surprise that their popularity in spain is increasing every year. now is the perfect time to indulge yourself into the cycling life and to get your sport shoes ready, let´s go!

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via verde over an old train bridge

a little note on the history of the via verdes; after trains stopped running along these tracks, they fell into despair. however, today the old railways have been restored and rearranged into proper bike lanes and trails for walkers. In total there are currently 1900 kilometres of ´vias verdes´ and they can be found all over spain. all tracks can easily be reached and they is a range of difficulty in them so that there is a path for everybody, from young kids and their parents to senior citizens or people with reduced mobility.

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enjoy the variety of the spanish nature

the beauty of the spanish nature can be enjoyed to the fullest on the ´vias verdes´ since there is no outer-disturbance due to the fact that all motor vehicles are forbidden so there is no traffic noise. a track along a ´via´ will lead you to charming villages, over beautiful bridges and through dark (former) train tunnels. the gorgeous scenery is very unique and shows you the beautiful forests, olive yards and rivers and even beaches. along the way you will find areas to rest and enjoy the views while you can have some lunch or a snack at one of the many picnic areas. information about the routes, the towns or the nature can be received at the restored train stations that now serve as information points.

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restored train station along the via verde in bot in terra alta

bellow we will present some ´vias verdes´ which we recommend to our clients and think are worth a trip. first of all, we would say that the ´via de la jara´ is a beautiful track that one has to check out. this path will take you over the aqueducts and train tunnels in toledo and offers stunning views on the rivers and valleys.

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via verde de la jara

In catalunya the via verde ´sant feliu de guíxols´, located close to girona, is one of our recommendations. this route is 39 km long and leads cyclists through tunnels, forests and even brings them to the beautiful seafront. the route is perfect since it shows us the variety of the catalan countryside and provides for an interesting and challenging one-way track.

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via verde sant feliu de guíxols

the last recommendation from our side is to go and explore the beautiful ´torrevieja greenway´, which could also easily be reffered to as the ´salt flats greenway´. this route is based on the old albatera-torrevieja railway line and combines an urban section and a beach one at acequión. the trail leads cycslists around the local salt lakes where flamingos can be spotted if you are lucky.

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flamingos & torrevieja

please contact us for more information on the routes, hotels or other recommendations for the ´vias verdes´ for all regions!

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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.

Ruta del Vino del Penedes. Caves Pere Ventura

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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