Thursday, March 25, 2010

Small-town Semana Santa

Semana Santa (Easter Week) is upon us again in Spain. Long considered one of the premier festivals throughout the country, it has been (rightfully) extolled in places like Malaga, Toledo and Seville. However, it would be a mistake to limit ourselves to just the big cities. Some of the best, most moving and spectacular scenes I have seen have been in small towns and out-of-the-way places that most people tend to drive right past. In towns like Cuenca, with it's cliff-face houses and panoramic views, or Lorca in Murcia, or St. Feliu de Guixols along the Costa Brava the experience seems more personal, closer, more accessible.

For help planning your next Spanish vacation or more information regarding Semana Santa celebrations, contact us at The Spanish Touch.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Madrid's Gran Via turns 100

It is sometimes strange to think of 100 being a relatively short period of time, but when we say something in a city as steeped in history as Madrid is 100 years old, we have to fight the urge to add "only". However, when we are talking about major thoroughfares through Madrid, then perhaps we can understand how impressive 100 years is. On April 4, 1910 King Alfonso XIII swung the first stroke for what would become Madrid's most famous, most-used road: the Gran Via. More than 100 years ago the urban architects of Madrid had the foresight to see the need for a single road that would connect old Madrid with the rapidly growing city without passing through the ever/increasingly congested Puerta del Sol. In fact, the first plan was submitted in 1861, but the final project took almost 40 years to come to fruition.

The city of Madrid will be hosting a series of events, including guided tours of the street's most famous (and not-so-famous) areas, conferences and expositions.

Check out The Spanish Touch's for more information about our services in Madrid and the surrounding areas, including Toledo, Segovia, Avila and El Escorial.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Spanish Touch welcomes the Springtime

After one of the wettest and coolest winters in recent memory, Spain welcomed Spring with open arms over the weekend. With Las Fallas saying goodbye to winter as only the Spanish can, the new season brings new and exciting possibilities for people looking for something more than just a "standard" experience. With the fruit trees and flowers in full bloom, it's a great time to take an excursion up to El Chorro to see the Camino del Reyes (pictured above), or explore the scenery of Montserrat. It is also a great time to visit the wineries and witness first-hand this year's promising crop.

The Spanish Touch is offering a 15% discount on all walking tours and select "rural tourism" routes such as visits to La Garrotxa and El Chorro.

Contact us for more information about our upcoming specials or for information regarding any of Spain's Springtime activities.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Picasso's Guernica in 3D

The 3D craze has spread its wings throughout popular culture again. With it's return to worldwide popularity through Avatar, more attention has been drawn to other genres that have been employing it for years. As people become more aware of 3Ds' possibilities, "discoveries" are made which stretch our imaginations.

A wonderful example of this is Lena Gieseke's 3D exploration of Guernica, Pablo Picasso's masterpiece. Gieseke chose to use digital infographics to allow people to contemplate the great Spanish painter's from a different perspective, and it certainly offers us that!

The original painting, inspired by the civil war and the bombing of the Basque town of the same name, is on display at Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum, is surrounded by sketches by the artist showing the progression of his ideas and painting. For many years it was not in Spain, as Picasso had stated that he did not want his work displayed while General Franco's facist regime was in power. The work is one of many on display by Picasso at the museum, which forms a part of the so-called "Golden Triangle" of museums in Madrid, with El Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Templars in Spain

Mention the Templar Knights a words like "legendary" and "mystical" often pop up in the conversation. The Templars were an extremely powerful order during the times of the crusades, and their exploits have been linked to everything from the Holy Grail to Solomon's gold. A lesser-known fact is that Catalunya and Spain was one of the most important Templar areas, as the frontier land between the Christians and the Moors. The Castle-Fortress of Miravet, in the Ebro River Delta, is considered one of the best, and best-conserved, examples of the Templar architecture in all of Spain. The best way to get to the Castle is to take the local ferry, a truly unique experience!

For more information or to arrange a tour of all or a part of The route of los Templars, which starts at Miravet and continues throughout Catalunya and Aragon, contact The Spanish Touch.

Walking with the Kings

Everyone remembers the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. They united the Spanish and Aragonese empires, completed the Reconquista, and commisioned Columbus' voyage across the Atlantic. This year the Spanish Touch is offering a route tracing some of most important places where the Monarchs stayed. Starting in Madrid and Toledo, the route includes visits to Ronda, Frigiliana, and Granada. Join us to learn discover some of the most interesting and curious facts about Spain's most famous king and queen, and to experience the history and culture of Spain in an 8-day tour, starting from just $1,680 per person!

For more information contact The Spanish Touch and we will be glad to give you more details on this or any of our custom and private tours in Spain.

Las Fallas 2010

One of the biggest and best celebrations in a country famous for them is upon us: Las Fallas 2010 has arrived in full effect in Valencia! For those people lucky enough to get the chance to live the Fallas first hand, it is a truly unique and exhilirating experience. Every year the streets fill up with the Ninots (giant statues) and people, and the whole city seems to be a kaleidescope of colors, sounds and lights. The beauty of Las Fallas is that every year is completely different, as the giant paper-mache floats are burned and artists spend most of the year creating new statues to burn for the next year.

This year's celebration kicked off yesterday, March 15, and continues through the 19, with each day bringing new Ninots and new celebrations.

To visit Valencia during Las Fallas, or to learn more about this or other Spanish festivals, please contact The Spanish Touch.

Malaga Airport gets its due

It's been a long time coming, but the most active airport on Spain's southern coast finally got the expansion it has needed. Long considered the gateway to the Costa del Sol (for the good and the bad that name entails), Malaga International Airport suffered from its small size and lack of infrastructure. However, with the arrival of the T3 (Terminal 3), the capacity has essentially doubled, and will allow an increase from 12 to 30 million passengers a year. King Juan Carlos opened the Terminal in an official ceremony this morning.

Malaga's airport is ideally situated for those people who want to visit not just the traditional tourist towns along the Costa del Sol, but also for those who are looking to get in touch with cities like Granada and Nerja, or to take a trip through the region of Andalucia with The Spanish Touch.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I'm not dreaming - it's a white Barcelona

It's not every day, or every year for that matter, that the city of Barcelona gets any snow at all. So yesterday was a bit of an oddity, and despite the problems with transportation and power that some areas experienced, provided the city and the region with some spectacular, albeit uncommon, panoramas. While the snow and winds were enough to keep most people inside, those who were daring enough to brave the elements got to see things which are unique and beautiful. The city dressed in white is indeed a beautiful sight: For example, the above picture of the University of Barcelona, this one of La Pedrera:

While we may not like the traffic or the cold, there is no denying that the snowfall has demonstrated that the city looks fabulous dressed in white.

For more information about the city of Barcelona or tours, please do not hesitate to contact us at The Spanish Touch.