Spanish Vacation Spots

by Ian Smith

There are two absolutely different Spains as far as I'm concerned. You have got the coastal strip where the tourists rendezvous, universally known as the 'Costas'. The other Spain is everywhere else. The 1st is really nasty, the rest absolutely beguiling and quite entrancing.

I have to admit I know almost nothing about places like the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca, and I can't ever see that changing. There have however in times gone been times where my trip to the south coast had to be made close to the Mediterranean coast. Unhappily it was in peak season, and the traffic was literally bumper to bumper, at less than ten miles an hour all the way. The only sight I had of Barcelona was concrete tower blocks, although I'm absolutely certain it must have lovely parts to it. Far to the south on the Costa del Sol, places such as Torremolinos have to be just my notion of hell on earth with not great beaches packed with holidaymakers. Towering over them are miles of virtually the same restaurants offering virtually identical food catering to tastes from every part of Europe with not a real Spanish dish to be seen. As for the old original town it lies about hidden under tons and tonsof high rise concrete.

The real Spain can be found not so very far away. Thanks to some magnificent roads it is easy to journey from north to south in Spain in around 10 hours, with not a car in sight even in August. Just steer clear of the coast, and do your research. Find a Spain where life still stops at lunchtime and does not begin again till sundown, as the afternoon siesta still commands. No shops open, only a few cafeterias, no hustle, no bustle, just peace and tranquility. Add to this no Sunday megastore opening, hardly even a little shop unless you are sufficiently fortunate to come on one in one of the masses of untouched miniscule whitewashed hamlets you may very well be staying near.

A life in fact unchanged over the last thirty years. Yes there may be one or two UK expatriates enjoying the climate and the peaceful environment, happy in the understanding that they chose the right spot to put down roots. No hideous urbanisations where you reside cheek by jowl with other people you share a standard language with. What's the point in being English in Spain and living next to other English folk. It becomes like suburbia in a better climate, and you probably don't learn Spanish because you don't have to.

How much more fun it is to hire a finca in the country, than a villa on a small plot. It's hard to make yourself accepted in a local shop which has fruit and plants to die for, and succeeed in making a transaction and then discovering that Spain inland away from the crowds is still inexpensive. Get a enormous bag of shell on gambas and pay only tiny change, then if you have to visit a town on the coast discover you are paying less than half of the holiday makers there are paying.

The other Spain is wonderful, and is just waiting to be found. I adore my Caribbean Holiday Spots but inland Spain runs it a close second.

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