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Once away from the holiday costas, you could only be in Spain. In the cities, narrow twisting old streets suddenly open out to views of daring modern architecture, while spit-and-sawdust bars serving wine from the barrel rub shoulders with blaring, glaring discos.
Travel is easy, accommodation plentiful, the climate benign, the people relaxed, the beaches long and sandy, the food and drink easy to come by and full of regional variety. More than 50 million foreigners a year visit Spain.
SPAIN TOURS & TRAVEL:
Costa del Sol Tours,
Gran Canaria Tours,
La Coruna Tours,
Santiago de Compostela Tours,
BARCELONA Tours, Travel and Activities
Barcelona has transformed itself from smug backwater into one of the most dynamic and stylish cities in the world. Summer is serious party time, with week-long fiesta fun. But year-round the city sizzles - food, fashion, style, music and good times.
The buildings, many the work of the eccentric genius Gaudi, will blow you away. The art, with significant collections by Picasso and Miro, will make you giddy all over.
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BILBAO Tours, Travel and Activities
As well as the famous Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao acts as home for the Fine Arts Museum recognised as one of Spain's finest art museums and recently refurbished) and the Maritime Museum on the Nervion's banks, which recently hosted the RMS Titanic exhibition which has been touring Europe.
Museums are only a part of the city's attractions. Since the inauguration of the Guggenheim museum in 1997, eight new hotels have been opened in the city, reflecting the increasing interest for the city. Bilbao was briefly featured at the start of the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.
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COSTA DEL SOL Tours, Travel and Activities
Strewn along the seaboard from Malaga almost to Gibraltar, the Costa del Sol stretches like a wall of wedding cakes.
Its recipe for success is sunshine, convenient beaches (of gray-brown sand), warm sea, cheap package deals and plenty of nightlife and entertainment.
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GRAN CANARIA Tours, Travel and Activities
The Canariones, as the islanders tend to refer to themselves, like to think of Gran Canaria as a "continent in miniature." You'll come across this phrase with great regularity on your visit here, due to the startling range of terrain - from the fertile north to the arid interior and desert south - which largely justifies the claim.
The island is the third largest of the archipelago but accounts for almost half the population.
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GRANADA Tours, Travel and Activities
During the period of Muslim domination of Spain, Granada
was the finest city on the peninsula. Today it is still home to the greatest Muslim legacy in Europe, and one of the most inspiring attractions on the Continent - the 11th century Alhambra.
The Alhambra is one of the greatest accomplishments of Islamic art and architecture, and is simply breathtaking. Much has been written about the fortress, the palace, its patios and gardens, but somehow nothing can really prepare you for it.
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LA CORUNA Tours, Travel and Activities
A Coruna (Castilian: La Coruna) has only in recent years been rivalled by Vigo as Galicia's biggest city. It remains the region's most outward-looking urban center, with a liberal-republican tradition at variance with the conservative remainder of Galicia.
Its port was the gateway through which hundreds of thousands of Galician emigrants left for new lives in the Americas.
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MADRID Tours, Travel and Activities
Madrid may not have the Roman origins that get city historians hot and bothered, but it oozes an ebullience that rarely fails to move.
This is Spain's headiest city, where the revelling lasts long into the night and life is seized with the teeth and both hands. Strangers quickly become friends, passion blooms in an instant, and visitors are swiftly addicted to the city's charms.
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SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA Tours, Travel and Activities
Apart from the undisputed splendour of its gold-tinged monuments and the charm of its medieval streets, Santiago de Compostela is a lively city with a sizable student population during term.
The story begins with Santiago Apostol, but the region had long been inhabited by Visigoths, Romans and Celts. Once the holy site had been identified, it wasn't long before Alfonso II, the Asturian king, turned up to have the first church erected.
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SEVILLE Tours, Travel and Activities
One of the first people to fall in love with Seville was the poet-king Al-Mutamid, and the city's ability to dazzle has not abated since. It takes a stony heart not to be captivated by its exuberant atmosphere - stylish, confident, ancient, proud, yet also convivial, intimate and fun-loving.
Its crowded center unfolds subtly as you wind your way through narrow streets and small squares. Its flamenco, bullfighting and nightlife are incomparable.
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SUGGESTED ITINERARIES: BARCELONA
The combination of tourists and business travellers visiting Barcelona means hotels are busy for most of the year. Spring and early summer is the best time to be in the city. The weather is usually pleasant, the number of tourists manageable and the city humming.
High summer (mid-July to late August) is asphyxiating - many locals get the hell out and leave it to the guiris (foreigners). September isn't bad; the city recovers its normal rhythms, the heat eases and tourist numbers drop. Winter isn't especially distressing, but you will want a room with heating.
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