Spain

geninfospain_400x300Spain is one of the top tourism destinations in the world, with over 505.955 square km in the Southwestern part of Europe, just a stone´s throw from the African Continent. Provided with a rich historic and cultural legacy, its varied mix of folclore and different traditions and languages make Spain a destination that fascinates every visitor.

A vast coastline,  reaching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean,  offers neverending, natural beaches with cristal-clear bays, under mediterranean sun at more than 300 days a year.

Great artist have been born here along the past and present. Having left an abundant number of traces, that today make out of Spain the avantgarde of arquitecture, culture and arts in the world. It´s one of the countries with most monuments forming part of the UNESCO heritage. Artitst & writers  like Picasso, Cervantes, Cristóbal Colón, Velázquez, Goya, Dalí, Ramón y Cajal, Gaudí, Lope de Vega are the essence of European culture, yesterday and today.

Spain – a country that enchants with a refined,  balanced cuisine and terrific wines. Mediterranean food like tapas, paella and typical regional delicatessen will make you fall in love with its gastronomy.

The historic and cultural legacy from Paleolitic Age until present times turns Spain into a vivid museum of arts and cultural with lots of influences from Phoenician, Greek, Germanic,  Arabic and Christian colours.

For Occidens-Tours, it´s a pleasure to introduce you to our country.

Some keywords about Spain

General Info

geninfospain_400x300Spain is located in the south-western part of Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula which is shared with the neighboring Portugal. Apart from Portugal, Spain has borders with Franceand Andorra to the north and in the south it is separated from Africa by the Strait of Gibraltarwhich is less than 15km (10 miles) wide. Spain also has a number of important islands, including the Balearic Islandslying to the east of the peninsula, and the Canary Islands, which are located more than 1,000 km. south of the Peninsula, just off the coast of Africa. Apart from this, Spain also has two cities (Ceuta and Melill),  located in the north of Africa which also form part of the nation and is one of the last relicts of a former colonial history.

Basic facts:

  • Size: 506,000MM square meters (Spain is the second largest country in Europe after France).
  • Population size: 42 million.
  • Density: 80 inhabitants per square meter.
  • Mean Altitude: 600 m.
  • Highest Point: Pico de Teide (Tenerife), 3,719 m.
  • Tourism: Over 45 million tourists visit Spain each year (Spain is the second most visited country in the world).
  • Political Structure: Parliamentary monarchy (since 1978).
  • Regions: Spain is made up of 17 autonomous regions.
  • Time zone: +1 GMT.
  • Currency: Euros ( before 2002, pesetas).
  • Language: Spanish (Catalan, Valencian, Gallego, Euskera are independent languages spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, Galicia and The Basque Country).
Destinations

destinations_400x300Definitely, we could enumerate all the possible destinations of Spain, however long it might be. Hundreds of  charming villages, towns and cities, full of overwhelming sights and monuments. But that would mean that we should start to publish a book about it – and our job is to sell you well organised Spain trips, not books.

To name a few, and the most important ones:

Barcelona

Madrid

Seville

Granada

Valencia

Córdoba

Santiago de Compostela

Toledo

San Sebastián

Úbeda,

Baeza

Ronda

Segovia

León

Burgos

Palma de Mallorca

Ibiza,

Doñana nature reserve

Mérida

Santillana del Mar

Altamira Caves

Prado museum

Alhambra Palace in Granada

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Teide National Park

The list coult be continued endlessly, but our best proposal is:  Contact Occidens Tours, we will find out the best destination for your needs!

Tapas

tapas_400x300The best way to fall in love with a country is definitely by tasting its cuisine. And in Spain the so called tapas will certainly do well their job: a semi-ritual snack of tapas and pinchos, you can order in every bar, accompanied by the finest wines, are part of the local culture and will make you find some friends while snacking. That´s what they call “tapear”….

Tapas are miniature culinary snacks, served on a slice of fresh white bread and decored with fish, meat, fried vegetables, seafood, cheese, etc.  The invention of the tapa is due to pure necessity in the Middle Ages, where many bartenders in Spain were obligued not to serve only wine to its customers and soldiers, but to accompany the glass with a tapa, simply to avoid excessive alcohol consumption

To sum it up, tapas in Spain are not merely a way to eat or a kind of sampling menu.They belong to  a certain lifestyle, and a way to share and enjoy friendship and neighbourliness.

Football

football_400x300In Spain, football (“fútbol”) – known in the US as soccer – is the most popular sport. The Spanish national football team won the FIFA World Cup in 2010 and also has been successful in the UEFA European championship and multiple Olympic tournaments. The Spanish word for football is futbol.

Every year in Spain the Liga BBVA tournament is held, commonly known as the ‘League of Stars’. The football matches in this tournament are followed worldwide by a vast audience.

When it comes to visiting Spain, a visit of a typical partido of futbol should not be missed, as it forms an essential part of Spanish culture. It´s definitely a special experience to attend a typical match in the Santiago Bernabéu or in the Camp Nou stadium of Barcelona and thrill to the amazing atmosphere, the excitement of the game, and the passion of the fans.

Occidens Tours reserves seats (VIP & regular) and informs you about everything related to this exiting sport in the Spanish League. Ask for special conditions to visit matches of FC Barcelona!

Fiestas

fiestas400x300

Certainly, one of the most famous and traditional ones, is the San Fermín fiesta in Pamplona, with its fabulous bull-running stampede through the center of the city.

In contrast to that, the Tomatina in Buñol (Valencia), – a tomato battle – is of a more recent origin and attracts especially the younger visitors of Spain.

To name some others like the Fallas of Valencia, a festival of fireworks, bonfires and passion. Or the Moros and Cristianos procession (Moors and Christians )of Alcoy (Alicante) that remembers the historic events of the reconquering of medieval Spain from Muslim dominance.  Or the  Feria de Abril in Seville. Semana Santa processions in springtime in Cordoba, in the heart of Andalusia. Or even the brasilianlike Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, in the Canary Islands… Wherever you go to Spain, no matter what season, you will always find a fiesta to join. And if we have intrigued you, just contact us.  We will plan your next fiesta trip through Spain….

Corrida

corrida_400x300The culture of  la corrida – bullfighting –  is a deeply rooted tradition which forms an essential part of the identity and history of Spain. Bullfighting is certainly one of the best known, although at the same time most polemical Spanish popular customs.

During the eight centuries of the Spanish War of the Reconquista (711-1492 A.D.), the knights, Moors and Christians, weary of killing one another, would occasionally allow themselves a respite; but in order to avoid boredom, and also to release their pugnacious instincts, they would compete in hunting wild-life existing in the Iberian lands. Deer and other equall docile animals were easy prey, and while a cornered bear or boar would occasionally put up a fight, it was never a challenge for such valiant knights. However, the scenario changed every time they faced the Iberian bull. This beautiful and awe-inspiring beast, with its unique noble bravery would, when provoked, rather die fighting than flee – in essence, transforming the hunt into an avid exchange in which the bravest warriors could bring to light their courage. Perhaps a nobleman with an entrepreneurial spirit thought about capturing several of these horned beasts, taking them to the village, and recreating the thrill of the hunt so that the knights could demonstrate their skill and win the admiration of their subjects. Thus, in a remote corner of Medieval Spain, the beginning of what today is the national Spanish spectacle of bullfighting was created.

The first historic bullfight, corrida, took place in Vera, in 1133, in honor of the coronation of king Alfonso VIII. From that point on, history is full of instances in which kings organized corridas to commemorate important events and to entertain their guests. After the Spanish War of the Reconquest, the celebration of corridas expanded throughout Spain and became the outlet where the noblemen demonstrated the bravery that allowed them to defeat the Moors. Even the Emperor Charles I in Valladolid in 1527, and later King Philip IV took part in the lancing of bulls in the bullfighting arenas.

During the reign of King Philip II, Pope Pius V, appalled at the unconscionable carnage of the bullfights, forbade the practice of the corridas. The people, however, ignored the papal decree and continued to relish the fiesta brava, forcing Pope Gregory VIII to recant the decree, following the advice of the writer and mystic Fray Luis de León, who said “the bullfights are in the blood of the Spanish people, and they cannot be stopped without facing grave consequences.”

With the arrival of the French Bourbon dynasty in Spain, the nobility gave up the thrill of the arena for the pleasures of the royal court. As a result, bullfighting was left to the lower social classes,  who in turn enthusiasticly took up to its practice, and took it to heart as a symbol of something genuinely Spanish.

Although Occidens-Tours works in a certain manner as ambassador of Spain and its traditions, we point out that we do not support this spectacle actively. Nevertheless, if you insist in visiting a corrida, we will reserve your ticket and organise the transport, if required.

Bullfights and their related festivities can be found almost everywhere in Spain. Many of the traditional Spanish fiestas are associated with cycles of bullfights with matadors performing on foot or on horseback.

The bullfighting ferias of Madrid, held every May in the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, are particularly prestigious, as is the Feria de Abril in Seville, with a select programme of bullfights full of art, aesthetic, liturgy and tradition. The Ferias of Valencia, Zaragoza and Bilbao are also notable, and there are many more.

In other regions of Spain, for instance in Catalunya, bullfighting spectacles officially have been prohibited – and some of the former bullfighting stadiums have been transformed into shopping malls or similar.