Saturday, April 30, 2011

Montblanc - city of kings and legends in wine country


Founded in 1163 by King Alfons I, Montblanc is a town where history and legends meet. Surrounded by a 14th century wall, it is where, according to tradition, Saint George fought the dragon (you can even enter into the city from the gate where the fight took place). The collection of medieval churches and other buildings make the whole town a historical monument. The buildings were constructed during the time when the city was one of the major administration centers of the Catalan empire, and the walls (which run almost a mile in circumference around the city) are a testament to its past glories. As if all of this were not enough, Montblanc is also located in the heart of the Conca de Barbera wine region, and is a short drive from the Priorat, Montsat and Penedes regions as well.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Las Cruces de Mayo - Welcome to May - Spanish style


Just when you thought you had missed your chance to see the parades and processions after Semana Santa, this weekend brings us the lower-keyed Fiesta de Las Cruces (Festival of the Crosses). The day of Las Cruces is technically May 3, but around Spain the festivities will take place all weekend. As the name suggest, the origins of the celebration lies in a mixture of religion and legend, and according to legend dates back to the Roman emperor Constantine, who saw a giant cross in a dream as a way to defeat the enemy army.

Our recommendation for visiting is Andalusia, check out Cordoba which is also preparing for its 2011 Patio Festival.

For more information or for help planning and booking your private tour of Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013 or email us at info@thespanishtouch . com

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sant Jordi 2011 - flowers and books for all


2011 is a year unlike others in recent memory for those who are in the Barcelona area. Semana Santa coincides with the other major holiday of the city, Sant Jordi. On April 23rd the streets of the Catalan capital will fill up with book stands (complete with authors signing books) and roses. The celebration flows into the markets, where the sellers will be giving out roses to their female clients. It's a wonderful event that takes place thoruhgout Catalonia, and the perfect time to see and take part in local culture, and this year it has the triple benefit of being on a Saturday as well as during Semana Santa.

For more information or for help planning your private guided tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at 888-480-0013 or info@thespanishtouch.com

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Best place for a break in Valencia - Avenida de la Horchata

The springtime sun has reawakened a desire for that uniquely Valencian drink, Orxata (Horchata in Spanish).  Orxata (legend says it came from king exclaiming that it was like drinking gold "Or" in Catalan) is a cold drink made from tiger nut milk and sugar. It is traditionally served with "Fartones", a sweet pastry which is great dipped into the orxata or eaten alone. For the best Orxata, head up to the Alboraya area in Valencia and visit the Orxata Avenue and experience this gastronomical wonder for yourself!

For more information or to include a private visit to Valencia on your next tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at info@thespanishtouch.com or at 1-888-480-0013.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Semana Santa 2011 - The tradition of the robes



This year's edition of Semana Santa falls much later than usual, which means that the temperatures will be milder (one might even suggest downright warm) for much of the week, and the celebrations are in full swing. By now many people are familiar with the idea of the various brotherhoods slowly progressing through the streets of the cities and towns bearing a large float  depicting events of the last week of Jesus' life dressed from head to foot in robes of various colors. This merits some explanation.

Unfortunately, for many, this might be a frightening prospect, but let's remember that certain groups in the US started wearing similar (white) robes to hide their identities to commit atrocities, whereas in Spain the idea originated hundreds of years before the USA even existed as a country. The idea of each member dressing identically comes from the equality of the brotherhood. The hoods, often conical formations, are designed to represent the punishment that was reserved for convicted religious wrongdoers in the Middle Ages, and was contrived as a form of ridicule. Now, the brotherhoods use the hoods to show penitence and to admit to their own guilt in the death of Jesus. A far cry indeed from the despicable uses for which they were put to use much later in the USA.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Masies and Casas Rurales - The Country Inns of Spain

For many people, visiting Spain means staying in the city center, using their hotel as a base for exploring the culture and history of the region. There are others, however, who prefer an even more intimate experience. More and more people are discovering a new way of experiencing Spain, far from the rush of the city: Casas Rurales and Masies. The exact translation of these two concepts is difficult to capture, although in many respects they are best viewed as country inns, or rural bed and breakfasts. Not that they have to be in the middle of nowhere, mind you, so don’t get stuck on the idea of a farmhouse 3 hours from the nearest city. In fact, many of the best casas rurales are located in or near areas such as wine regions, national parks, quiet beaches, and other cultural treasures. A casa rural does not necessarily mean a simple stone farmhouse, either. In many cases, they offer services that are hard to find in most hotels, such as Jacuzzis, pools, and of course, the personal touch of the owners, who are happy to share their culture. The casas rurales of Spain are a great way of connecting with the Spanish culture and heritage, and for those people who take the opportunity it always provides some of the highlights of their visit.

Contact The Spanish Touch for more information at info@thespanishtouch.com or call us at 888-480-0013 for help planning your private guided tour in Spain.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ideas for Semana Santa in Spain


As we close in on the 2011 edition of Semana Santa, we offer some suggestions for some different ideas on how to explore one of Spain's most interesting national festivals. We start, of course, in Seville and Malaga, where the entire city gets involved, and, if you've never been to one before, it's the most traditional and most intense way to discover the emotion and history of the region. But there's much more for the inquisitive traveler. Check out the processions in Granada or Cadiz in Andalucia for a change of scenery, or try Santiago de Compostela, a religious highlight all year round, or one of the areas that have obtained the "Fiesta de Interes Turistica internacional" like Zamora, Salamanca and Valladolid. There's a lot to do and see, make the most of your time and the week!

For more information or to arrange a private guided tour of Spain, contact The Spanish Touch at info@thespanishtouch.com or call us at 888-480-0013.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Barcelona and Madrid Cultural Tours - updated June dates

 We are happy to announce that we have a second date for the June Barcelona and Madrid Cultural Tour:
June 18-26 from $2,850 per person enjoy a personal, up close encounter with Spain's two biggest cities as we take you into the heart of Spanish culture and history!

For more information contact The Spanish Touch at info@thespanishtouch.com or call us at 888-480-0013 for your own private guided tour of Spain.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

City of Arts and Sciences - and yet another reason to visit Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences (La Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències) is a 5-part complex in the heart of Valencia biult by Valencia's own Santiago Calatrava. Built along the dried Turia riverbed which runs through the city center, each of the parts was designed to host a different aspect of arts and sciences. Highlights include the Hemisfèric - an IMAX cinema, the Umbracle for its panoramic views, the Prince Phillip Science Museum, and the Oceanográfico, which boasts the largest aquarium in Europe.  Visiting the complex is a great way to spend a day, with temporary events and expositions complementing the already impressive array of possibilities for the visitor.

For more information or to plan your next private guided tour in Spain, contact The Spanish Touch.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Coming soon: Pyrenees and Costa Brava Summer Tour


Summer vacations in the mountains and on the beach are a wonderful way to relax and get away. But why not combine the two? The Spanish Touch is preparing 10-day escape which combines relaxation and culture, leaving plenty of time for you to enjoy the sun, the shopping and a lasting Spanish experience for this summer.  Beat the heat of the Spanish summer, soak up some culture and sun, and take lasting memories back that will make this summer's holiday one to last a lifetime!

For more information or to plan your next private guided trip to Spain, contact us and we'll help you every step of the way!