With the northern half of the Spanish Meseta all its own, this is unmistakably big sky territory. It is the largest autonomous region in Spain, covering a full one-fifth of the country's territory, and is larger than some EU countries, including neighboring Portugal. The Spaniards born in this sweeping mosaic of tableland hemmed by mountains are credited with speaking the purest Castellano tongue. They gravitate toward the major cities of the region, aBurgos, Valladolid, aLenaandaSalamanca, leaving vast tracts of land empty of all but shepherds and barley growers. They pray in two of the country's three greatest Gothic cathedrals in Len and Burgos, study at one of the world's oldest and most influential universities in Salamanca, cast for five-pound trout in the R o Duero and excavate the remains of Europe's oldest inhabitants in the Sierra de Atapuerca.a The stereotypes of Castilla y Len paint but a small picture of this vast realm. Pilgrims have trudged along the main route of the Camino de Santiago since the ninth century, a period when Christian Spain was in the midst of consolidating its forces to drive the Moors from the peninsula. Burgos would serve as the capital of the crown during the early Reconquest and eventually would be joined with the separate kingdom of Len in furthering the cause."
To sample a little that each of the Canary Islands has to offer in the way of climate, landscape and culture, Gran Canaria is perhaps the best choice. The southernmost and most populous of the islands, Gran Canaria contains within its roughly circular framework of 1,532 square km (597 square miles) patches of semi-desert like the larger ones found on Fuerteventura just to the east, the lovely green swaths that dominate the island of San Miguel de La Palma to the north, the volcanic highlands, forested areas and the dry, sunny southern belt characteristic of each of the four other western islands. It's entertainment circuit is only rivaled by that of Tenerife. The name Gran Canaria came about as a result of packs of wild dogs or cans that explorers encountered after docking at what became the capital city of Las Palmas, a crucial port of exploration originally founded by order of Isabella la Catolica in 1478. Especially rewarding are a few days spent on the southern beaches or hiking in the moist highlands, exploring rural villages like Santa Luc a or trying strange cross-sports like sea parachuting. The most populous city of the Canary Islands, Las Palmas was founded in 1478 after a Spanish squadron under the command of Juan Rejn had established its military base at the site along a strand of palm trees. Along with the neighboring Triana district, the historic heart of Las Palmas is the Vegueta district, an evocative area exhibiting exceptional Latin Colonial architecture dating to the 15th century. As in the past, the Vegueta and Triana areas continue to serve as the cultural nexus of Gran Canaria. Prior to his voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus stopped in the Casa de Coln to request aid of the governor in modifying his fleet. With its exhibits of charts, maps, journals and other maritime affects, this 15th-century former governor's mansion and museum can still be visited and paints a picture of the Americas before and after Columbus' fated voyage and how that all ties in to the Canary Islands. Every detail is here for the traveler - where to stay, where to eat, entertainment, activities of all kinds, from hiking to canoeing, concerts to festivals. An extensive section on what you need to know when traveling to Spain in general, plus a language and Spanish vocabulary chapter is included. A great new resource. -- Travel + Leisure. The perfect companion for planning. -- Rutgers Magazine. These useful travel guides are highly recommended... -- Library Journal"
In this guide, a resident of Spain delves into every province and town. She tells of the history and culture, and provides innumerable useful travelling tips. Everything is explored - the cities, the parks, the islands, the mountains, the foods. The book covers the entire country, from Ibiza to Granada, Andalucia, Barcelona, Madrid and Toledo. "A great new resource." -- Travel + Leisure. "The perfect companion for planning." -- Rutgers Magazine. "These useful travel guides are highly recommended..." -- Library Journal.
Geographically, Cataluña, the region surrounding Barcelona, is not unlike Spain as a whole. The soaring Pyrenees Mountains in the north separating Spain from France yield to the Mediterranean's Costa Brava in the east. Were it not for the ungainly resorts that have diminished its natural beauty since the 1960s, this wild coast would be the loveliest, if not the most extreme Mediterranean coast of the peninsula. Still, its features – the dark, jagged rock outcroppings, the foreboding cliffs and the general angriness of it all – have not been completely buried in concrete, just harnessed for the ease of our enjoyment. There are the remarkable ruins of Empíries to explore, vestiges of the Greeks and the Romans who were truly the first to develop this coast, and a few of its coastal towns – Cadaques comes to mind – were never wrecked. We have the Pyrenees to thank for saving Cadaques, since to reach it one must ascend and wind around the lower reaches of these mountains for 45 minutes (on good roads) before making the descent toward this, Salvador Dalí's favored retreat. Developers tend to favor easier roads. Higher up in the Catalan Pyrenees, where the peaks top out at over 3,000 m (9,840 feet) and waterfalls cascade down their faces, there is more to be thankful for. A series of Romanesque churches, the product of Cataluña's medieval golden age, when its counts allied with neighboring Aragón to create a seafaring kingdom unrivaled in the Mediterranean at the time, are hidden in far flung valleys, set along crystalline streams away from the package tourists and even paved roads. With snowfall, the Catalan Pyrenees offer great cross-country and downhill skiing and, when it melts, great whitewater adventures. Throughout the year one can marvel at the secluded wilderness of the Aigüestortes National Park and wonder why they ever spent so much time in Barcelona. Barcelona is the stylistic capital of Spain, endowed with bold modernisme architecture, traditionally the seat of challenging art movements and, by and large, a truly modern, European city. To the west, the modest mountains surrounding the city, the champagne vineyards and beyond them the wild massif of holy Montserrat give way to the eastern realm of the barren plateau known as the Meseta, Cataluña's driest and most desolate expanse. As the region narrows out toward the south near its border with Valencia, the delta of the Río Ebro, Spain's longest river, fosters wetlands that attract clouds of migratory birds. Here, as throughout the coastal regions of Cataluña, the climate is strictly Mediterranean with generally mild winters and brutally humid and hot summers – a stark contrast to the dry air and snowy peaks of the Pyrenees. In its diverse landscapes Cataluña certainly looks like Spain, even if it doesn't act like Spain. But by its own measure Cataluña adds an element of sophistication and openness that serves to complement the rest of the country. Without it, Spain would have its wine, but no champagne. Barcelona is a city that immediately calls to mind great art and architecture (here one and the same), music, nightlife, walks, a great many things, as well as a great deal of misunderstanding. As a Catalan friend pointed out, We are a complex people living in a thousand places at once. Such a maelstrom of commerce, culture and idealism is not easily correlated, often leaving visitors with the feeling that, while they may have seen a Gaudí façade, they were never invited inside to see what was holding it up. Here is the most detailed guide to Barcelona and the Cataluña region that surrounds it, loaded with maps, photos and complete information on where to stay, where to dine and what to see and do. Also included is an extensive general section on Spain as a whole. An excerpt from Hunter's Adventure Guide to Spain, which is 670 pages in print, this is the equivalent of 200 print pages.
In this guide, a resident of Spain delves into every part of the Balearic Islands. He tells of the history and culture, and provides innumerable useful traveling tips. Everything is explored - the cities, the parks, the islands, the mountains, the foods. There is an extensive introduction to the whole of Spain, the history and culture, the foods and wines, the arts & architecture. Then all the practical details are covered. Next, we zero in on Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera - the Balearic Islands. Ibiza has been called one great open-air disco, the ultimate party place. Mallorca can be stunning with the bloom of almond trees and red poppies, its high coastal cliffs and mountainsides thick with forests of holm oak and pine (the last refuge of Europe's largest bird, the black vulture) receives moderate rainfall, the southern coast is flat, not to mention its many beaches. Menorca offers countless undisturbed beach coves and casual coastal villages that reflect its heritage, of Spanish and British occupation in whitewashed walls and colonial facades. A great new resource. -- Travel + Leisure. The perfect companion for planning. -- Rutgers Magazine. These useful travel guides are highly recommended... -- Library Journal
In this guide, a resident of Spain delves into every part of the Basque Country of Spain. He tells of the history and culture, and provides innumerable useful traveling tips. Everything is explored - the cities, the parks, the islands, the mountains, the foods. There is an extensive introduction to the whole of Spain, the history and culture, the foods and wines, the arts & architecture. Then all the practical details are covered. Next, we zero in on Bilbao, San Sebastian and other parts of this fascinating Basque region -- with a population speaking a language far more ancient than any other in Europe. A great new resource. -- Travel + Leisure. The perfect companion for planning. -- Rutgers Magazine. These useful travel guides are highly recommended... -- Library Journal
In most cases travelers begin their trip here on one of the two most popular islands and, if they want, use the ferry boats to reach the smaller islands for short day-excursions. While Gran Canaria and Tenerife offer the widest array of tourist entertainment and accommodations, each has beautiful and largely unspoiled natural areas just a short drive from the developed centers of activity. Scuba diving is popular in places around the islands, as is surfing and windsurfing. And each offers an extensive and varied network of hiking paths which are most frequented and best maintained within and around the four national parks. Naturalists found in the Canary Islands a botanical paradise, a haven for over 600 native species, including the mythical dragon tree, a variety of endemic birds and one species of giant lizard capable of growing up to six feet long. Today, with four of Spain's 12 national parks on the islands accounting for some 35% of their total land mass, sustaining this wondrous natural environment is a reasonable ambition despite the steady growth of tourism. With peninsular Spain over 1,500 watery km (930 miles) to the north, a look and feel quite distinct from the motherland becomes quickly apparent once you're standing on the tierra firma of the Canary Islands. The steady, year-round spring temperatures - which can come as a godsend while the rest of Spain endures its tempestuous swelters and freezes with no happy medium in sight - make exploring the wilder spaces as comfortable as a snooze on one of the hundreds of beaches. If natural, the beaches will be volcano dark and hot to the soles of sensitive feet or, if manmade, cool with Saharan sand like that of Tenerife's crowded Playa de las Americas. The many landscapes of the islands are a mix of rare and otherworldly scenery in settings that range from lush volcanic highlands to arid, semi-desert flats. Though scientists have put forth a plausible explanation concerning the origin of these islands, ancient myths linger on and add a certain element of intrigue to the Canaries. Ancient Greek poets and philosophers associated them with the mythical Elysian Fields, the Garden of the Hesperides, and the lost continent of Atlantis - fantastical, Edenesque realms somewhere beyond the Pillars of Hercules (now recognized as the Strait of Gibraltar on Spain's southern coast). Every detail is here for the traveler - where to stay, where to eat, entertainment, activities of all kinds, from hiking to canoeing, concerts to festivals. An extensive section on what you need to know when traveling to Spain in general, plus a language and Spanish vocabulary chapter is included. A great new resource. -- Travel + Leisure. The perfect companion for planning. -- Rutgers Magazine. These useful travel guides are highly recommended... -- Library Journal
The overwhelming popularity of Tenerife among European travelers is due to a number of factors. Geographically, it is situated roughly at the center of the archipelago, facilitating ferry travel to each of the surrounding islands. Though it is the largest in total area - around 100 km long and 40 km across at its widest point (62 x 24 miles) - touring the whole of Tenerife, at least by way of the well-maintained autovías along its perimeter, can be managed in a matter of hours. This, mated to an efficient public bus system, countless low-cost car rental agencies and innumerable resort complexe.
Stately Segovia is perched high on a rocky promontory overlooking the rivers Erasma and Clamores at their convergence. In the distance 12 km (7.5 miles) away is the silhouette of the Sierra de Guadarrama. The Moorish Alcázar is seated precariously at the edge of the cliff, the Gothic tower of the Cathedral is centered in the Plaza Mayor; the famous Roman aqueduct is at the base of the hill. The lofty city of Ávila is the highest provincial capital in Spain, crowning with its Herculean wall a rough landscape strewn with granite boulders. The Sierra de Gredos in the south of the province forms a scenic backdrop to Ávila and beautiful rolling land lies in between; in its foothills along rivers, small mountain villages have embraced rural travelers and offer facilities and instruction for hiking, climbing and fishing in the area. In the city, the remarkable condition of the walls, and the wealth of Renaissance palaces and Romanesque churches placed in and around them along a maze of cobblestone streets makes for a modern-day medieval crusade. At the end of the 19th century a mining railway was being cut through the diminutive Sierra de Atapuerca east of Burgos when a series of caverns laden with prehistoric fossils was unearthed. During the course of the next century a veritable goldmine of prehistoric sites was discovered dating back over a million years and marking the Sierra de Atapuerca as the earliest human settlement in Europe. These are just a few of the amazing attractions in the region of Spain. The guide contains all the information you need, from where to stay and eat to what to see and do. Plus there are hundreds of color photos.