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The Hidden Beauty of Spain, Albarracín

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One of the many beautiful villages in Spain, the medieval village of Albarracín sits on the hills of east-central Spain in the province of Teruel. The charming village is about a four-hour drive from Madrid and is teeming with history and culture.

Located on the top of a hill, getting to wander through the narrow cobblestone streets of Albarracía is a challenge to both your stamina and not to mention your calf’s. Though the extra workout will be worth your while because you will be rewarded with a spectacular scenery.

This quaint town is home to about 1,000 people and is yet to be a stop to busloads of tourists, making it a great way to experience authentic Spanish living.

Along the way to the stunning village of Albarracía, there are a few iconic monuments you can stop at. The 16thcentury El Salvador Cathedral, after going through two decades of restoration, is open to public via a guided tour. Despite the baroque modifications, hints of its original Gothic and Renaissance can still be seen throughout.

The old village’s crown, the castle on the hill was founded in the 9thcentury. Other than its perimeter walls and 12 towers, all of the things you will see has been extracted over the past decade. Including the remains of its past residents from the 11thcentury, Banu Razin Muslim rulers.

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For history buffs, Museo de Albarracín is the place for you. Formely the town’s hospital, the museum explains Albarracín’s fascinating history in detail in Spanish. Displays exhibited in the museum include numerous finds from the castle, which archaeological digs contributed in a significant way to the understanding of the town’s history.

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If you wish to do more than sightsee, you can head to Sierra de Albarracín. Perfect for nature lovers or outdoor enthusiast, the mountainous range boasts amazing walking trails through the protected landscape that is suitable even for people with reduced mobility. Sierra de Albarracín is well-known for its stunning waterfalls, lagoons and stone rivers.

As this village still remain as a hidden gem for many, it is best to see all of its beauty before swarms of tourists start discovering it.

5 Unique Things to do in Spain

A trip to Spain can easily be spent partaking in the country’s quintessential activities, be it eating paella, sipping espresso at a cafe, eating taps until late at night, sailing around the Balearic Islands or hiking one of the world’s most scenic routes.

From culture and cuisine to absolutely stunning landscapes, Spain has lots to offer and there’s bound to be something for everyone. If you don’t know where to begin, read on to check out some of our favourites:

Zipline Across Two Countries

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Image credit: LimiteZero

LimiteZero offers the only transboundary trolley in the world — located in Sanlúcar de Guadiana, this is the world’s first zipline spanning two countries. As you zoom across the 720m zipline, you’ll be crossing over the River Guadiana from Spain and arrive in Portugal. Experience an incredible adrenaline rush as you take in the stunning views at top speeds of approximately 80 km/h. At the end of the zipline, you’ll be arriving in the Portuguese village of Alcoutim before hopping on a boat back across the river to return to Spain.

Enjoy a Chartered Boat Ride Around Spain

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There’s no better way to explore the beautiful Spanish coastlines than to charter a boat to take you around the coast of Spain. Not to worry if it’s your first time, you can easily contact Nautal for boat rentals. In addition, they will be able to arrange a skipper to join you on a sailing yacht, motor boat or catamaran to assist you on your marine adventure. Sail around Sicily and Croatia and head off to explore the Balearic Islands. During your trip, feel free to take a few breaks at the different beaches, grab a bite at a fancy restaurant or simply just spend all day relaxing at sea.

Take a Walk on the ‘World’s Scariest Pathway’

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Northwest of Malaga lies the Spanic Village of El Chorro and it is home to one of Spain’s most adventurous activities. Nicknamed the ‘world’s scariest pathway’, Caminito del Rey teeters 100m above a gorge and the narrow pathway hangs off the steep rock face. Although it is definitely not for the faint hearted, the breathtaking scenery will make the trip worth it!

Explore an Underwater Gallery

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Image credit: Museo Atlántico Lanzarote

From Picasso to Joan Miro, Spain has a bunch of world-famous galleries. On top of that, Spain is also home to a unique gallery that is located underwater. At the Museo Atlántico Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, you will be able to admire artwork while diving underwater. The gallery is Europe’s only underwater sculpture museum and features impressive sculptures of Jason deCaires Taylor. Get your diving gear and be prepared to enjoy an experience like no other!

La Tomatina

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La Tomatina is probably one of the world’s most bizarre festivals. Every August, thousands of people would take to the streets of the small town of Buñol to get into one big tomato fight where people will be busy hurling 145,000 kg of tomatoes at each other. Although it sounds like a huge mess, it’s all good fun and if you happen to be in town, don’t miss out on this!

 

Explore the ‘Coolest’ Neighbourhood of Embajadores

What makes a neighbourhood coo, Is it the trendy people that live there or the vibrant food scene? The Spanish capital of Madrid, Embajadores, is likely a place you have to see and visit to know.

Embajadores was recently voted as the coolest neighbourhood in the world by Time Out. The vibe and feel of the area is indescribable—specifically Lavapiés, who was given the title for its diverse nightlife, street life, street art and high culture, food and people from far and wide.

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Many of the famous hangouts in Embajadores does a great job of connecting the past and present. Sala Equis, once an adult cinema, still hold movie screening for films that are less risqué than the showings in its former time. There is also an old tobacco factory, the Tabacalera, that has become a creative centre for the community.

If you want a taste of street treats, you can head over to the Sunday El Rastro Market, one of Lavapiés most popular attractions. From 9am, vendors that sell items from street foods to art take over the market and become Madrid’s most popular outdoor flea market. It’s a perfect place for you to practice your bargaining skills!

During the day, Plaza Tirso de Molina is packed with florists, but the plaza transforms into hub of young pleasure seekers during the night. These youthful revellers queue to get into Madia puri, a popular club in the city.

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The city is filled with huge cultural centres that serve dishes from all parts of the world. You would be able to find Indian specialties that is served on a flowery oilcloth or taste an exquisite Moroccan lamb tagine for low prices.

As with most ‘cool’ places, not everything in the area is as rosy as it is on online reviews. Known for its immigrant population due to the cheap rent of housing, Embajadores’ housing prices are unlikely to stay low due to the countless tourists that take over spaces for short-term holiday rentals.

Despite being named the ‘coolest’ neighbourhood, most locations that bear the title are more complicated than the internet allows us to see. However that doesn’t mean you should erase places like Embajadores off your ‘places to visit’ list. Visiting and exploring these places are still worth it, just travel responsibly by doing some research before the trip!

Pair Your Brunch With a Drink, With a Spanish Tradition Twist

When you wander around the streets of Barcelona, in search of something to eat, you may pass by bars or restaurants advertising ‘Vermut, 2€!’.

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Image credit: michael clarke stuff

Vermut, Catalan for vermouth, is the same thing that is mixed in your Manhattan and Martini. And just like how some of these cocktails are served, Vermut is served on the rocks with an olive or an orange slice. A few sips in the drink, you will notice that its has a more spiced up and herbaceous taste compared to the ones you taste in your home cocktails.

Vermut is a quintessential Spanish culinary experience that you will not find in just any old tapas bar.

A popular Barcelonian activity is Fer el Vermut, which is somehow the equivalent of brunch. While brunch has layers of meaning—inviting someone to eat breakfast food near lunchtime and beverages. When you invite a friend to fer el vermut, it is pretty much the same as going out for brunch. Drinking vermut and eating salty titbits together.

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Image credit: vitelone

Fel el Vermut is also a meaningful interpersonal ritual. And just like brunch, this ritual occurs during the weekend mornings and early afternoons. Similar to ordering coffee at 3pm in Rome or getting a mimosa at 9pm at a neighbourhood dive bar, ordering a Vermut in Barcelona after the designated brunch timings might earn you some hidden eyerolls from the bartenders. As long as you get what you want, who cares right?

A slight parallel to brunch, you don’t have to leave your humble home to have a vermut. If you want to host your very own fer el vermut at home, you just have to look for bottles that are made by traditional producers such as Yzaguirre, Miro and Perucci.

The best way to get a taste of traditional vermut is at the Vermuteria in Barcelona, where the vermut obsession started. Come around during the weekends at noon, if you are able to get a table, you’ll get to experience the cross section of the city partaking together.

Cycling in Barcelona

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Barcelona is one of the world’s most beautiful and culture rich cities, with its picturesque peaks, gorgeous architecture and pristine beaches. The best part is that it is all within riding distance, making cycling around the city an ideal way to take in the sights.

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Sledding in Catalonia’s Aran Valley

Montgarri

Montgarri

We’re gliding silently through an undulating winter landscape, with the soft padding of paws the only rhythmic accompaniment. Other than the musher’s occasional boisterous commands, all is peaceful. As we settled into the cozy sled – covered only in a thick fleece blanket – we leaned back to discover the Milky Way spread across the night sky.

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Catalonia: Beyond Barcelona

Skiing at Baqueira-Beret

Skiing at Baqueira-Beret

While Barcelona is no doubt a popular destination on the Mediterranean coast, but head into Catalonia’s hinterland, and you’ll discover that there’s a lot more to this coastal city. For starters, there’s the prestigious ski resort of Baqueira-Beret in Val d’Aran, as well as the breathtaking canyon of Congost de Montrebei. Skiing, hiking, mountain biking and rafting are some great ways to explore Catalonia’s varied landscape.

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Explore Catalonian Crags in Lleida

Escalada a la Vall d'Ëger (Montsec, La Noguera)

To most, the image of Catalonia is that of sunny Barcelona, but head just inland from the Med, and you’ll be in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. Forming the rugged border between France and Spain, their sheer walls and deep chasms hide ancient villages with Romanesque churches and castles, and are popular with hikers, birders and rock climbers.

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