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Religious Travel / Holy Travel / Spain Travel / Spain / Israel Travel / Israel / Europe Travel / Europe / → All Tags
Europeans are fond of complaining that American imports are ruining their culture, and usually we're like "shut up, we need our Chipotle." In this very specific case, though, they might have a point. Europe's first Christian theme parkmodeled after the ones in the American South and South Americais now set to open in Mallorca, Spain. Inexplicably.
We of course usually recommend a different religious travel solution. If if you want to see what the Holy Land looks like, our reasoning goes, you should actually take a trip to the Holy Land and see it. From the United States that might be prohibitive with the cost, but a flight from Spain to Israel on one of Europe's billion LCC's is fairly affordable. When you factor in the Euro/Shekel exchange rate you're almost saving money. We understand there are pluses and minusesin Israel you can only walk on the "Jesus trail" while in religious theme parks you can actually meet Jesusbut we kind of prefer our way. Even if there are no "live resurrections," as this theme park promises.
Travel Deals / Spain / Spain Travel / Beach Travel / Beaches / Travelzoo / → All Tags
When January comes around with its hella freezing weather, you'll be dreaming of sunny beaches; shoot, we're doing that now. To prevent seasonal affective disorder, you'll need a dose of Costa del Sol, or "Coast of the Sun." According to Travelzoo, the beachfront locale has more than 300 days of sunshine each year. The company's offering a package to the Spanish coastal region along the Mediterranean for $499, which includes a five-night vacay with airfare, but you have to book by Oct. 28.
The deal includes round-trip airfare from NYC to Malaga, Spain. You'll also spend five nights at either Sol Principe or Cervantes, both of which are four-star hotels. If you opt for Cervantes, you'll get free breakfast daily. And if you're the type to tire from frolicking on the beach all day—crazy talk, we know—you can add day tours to Cordoba, Granada or Tangier to the package for an additional $71 to $91.
Museums / Languages / Spain / → All Tags
Step off the beaten track of Spanish tourism with a detour to Bilbao, a modern city nestled in the heart of the Basque country.
What To Do?: If you've made it this far you absolutely have to go to the Guggenheim Bilbao, if only for its Jeff Koonz statue "Puppy View 4" (a giant dog) and river views. But the Euskal Museoa (Basque Museum) is a great place to start your trip by getting acquainted with Basque culture -- not only is it a small and well organized museum, it's smack dab in the middle of the casco viejo, the oldest part of town. And there are plenty of mom-and-pop restaurants nearby to give you your fix of pintxos, or Basque tapas.
Getting There: Air France flies from New York to Bilbao's uber-modern airport via Paris (a seven-hour flight followed by a two-hour flight). Or fly through Madrid or Barcelona and pick up a discounted fare through Vueling. EasyJet flies to Bilbao from Londson-Stansted, base for Eos and MAXjet.
Where To Stay: The advantage of staying here, as opposed to Madrid or Barcelona, is you can usually find a great deal just by wandering around. If seat-of-your-pants travel isn't your thing, check into the Ria de Bilbao Residencia -- a hostel that looks like a hotel but is priced (at $33/night for a double private room) like a campground.
Bonus Tip: While most people in Bilbao speak Spanish, secession-hungry activists have been campaigning for a revival of Euskara, a language resembling almost no other in Europe which separatists claim is proof the Basque civilization predated anything in Spain or France. Maybe a little far-fetched, but make sure you catch some Euskara speakers in action or at least on the news.
[Photo: Nick Mariette]
The Costa del Sol in Spain is not beautiful. Yeah, it's a coastline on the Mediterranean with endless beaches, but one doesn't go there for the nature. Instead, one goes to party. Northern Europeans started the trend, and the rest of the world obediently followed suit, turning beaches like Malagueta into centers of hedonism.
It is in Andalusia, so there is lots of interesting history and culture, if you look for it. But you might be the only one in the museum, especially in the summer months, when the beaches are most packed. In fact, MTV has taken to holding concerts there, and Enrique Iglesias performed at one recently. He's really a perfect match for the place, all sweaty suaveness. Bet he wears cologne.
- Malaga [TripAdvisor]
[image via People]
Spain / Sports / → All Tags
We thought that Jai Alai (pronounced high lie) was just for crossword puzzles, but the game is quite popular in the Basque region of Spain. Sadly, it's nearly gone from the national consciousness of most other places on earth. Even though it was an international craze at the turn of the 20th century, only two courts remain in the U.S., both in Florida. Hardly national treasures, they operate more like OTBs than anything else.
It's surprising, because the game sounds exciting; players compete by alternately hurling a goatskin ball against a wall with a cesta, which is made from Spanish chestnut and reeds, trying to get their competitor to drop the ball instead of returning it successfully. The ball goes really, really, fast: Up to 180mph. Think of it as death squash, or extreme racquetball.
If you want to see jai alai in person, villages along the Spanish coast near San Sebastian are your best bet. Information is sometimes posted here as well. It sure beats watching a bullfight, if you ask us.
· Coming Home to Jai Alai [NY Times]
· Straight Lines are for Losers [Jaunted]
Hotels / Spain / → All Tags
Explosions? What red-blooded male doesn't love 'em? Gents, this is one explosion that you can use to show your sensitive side; it's an explosion that is even supported by Greenpeace. How's that for touchy-feely?
A hotel project at El Algarrobico beach, near Carboneras in the southeastern region of Spain was half-completed. However, Greenpeace, among others, protested the construction, claiming that it was adding to further destruction of the Spanish coastline.
The regional Spanish government is paying about $2.5 million dollars to buy the hotel back from developers in order to have it destroyed. Greenpeace had seized upon the complex, which would have included a gold course and 1,500 apartments, as a symbol for overdevelopment in the region.
See, if Greenpeace spent more time appealing to the Maxim contingent while pursuing their agenda, they would get a lot more done.
[Image via TimBrighton/Flickr]
· Hotel to be blown up [Guardian]
Food / Spain / → All Tags
Ferrán Adria may be the chef of El Bulli, the top-ranked restaurant in Europe by quite a few different tallies, but that isn't stopping the man from bringing edible sea foam to the world of fast food in Madrid. He's just opened the second branch of his takeaway joint, Fast Good, in Madrid. A brave name for a restaurant, even one by a Michelin chef with three stars to his name.
The menu looks to be a mix of lunchtime staples; hamburgers, salads, even bocadillo sandwiches made with high-end pata negra ham. Unlike many chains, which replicate their menu everywhere, the menu here changes quite often; we'll see if customers get frustrated at not having permanent access to their favorites over time.
The chain seems to be doing well: branches are planned for Barcelona, Valencia, and Las Palmas. Sure beats Arby's, doesn't it?
[Image via damdam/Flickr]
· Cityscape [Wallpaper*]
· El Bulli Still the Best [Jaunted]
Spain / Food / → All Tags
The English haven't offered the world much in the way of cuisine, except for perhaps fish and chips. Now we think the Spanish have them beat at even that. Pescaito frito, a fried-fish delicacy from the southern Iberian province of Cádiz, is miles ahead of its English counterpart. Not only does it taste better, but the Spanish version also offers a lot more variety: You're not limited to just cod fillets here, folks. They'll fry you up any seafood you wish, from baby squid to fish eggs. Our personal favorite is cazón en adobo, dogfish in "special" spices.
Where can you get some of that delicious dogfish for yourself? It doesn't get any better than in the capital of Cádiz Province itself, also named Cádiz. A peninsular city jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean (Cádiz claims to be the oldest in Europe, at 3,000 years old) is dotted with dozens of fast-food fried-fish joints, known as freidurias. Our personal favorite is Freiduria Veedor, located on a street of the same name in the center of town.
Once you've found Veedor, go for the surtido, a mix of everything they have to offer. Just don't expect any boring ol' cod in that mix; you'll have to go back to England if you want those.
· Healthy English Food No Longer MIA [Jaunted]
Design / Spain / Madrid / Architecture / → All Tags
Those in, near, or visiting New York have until May 1 to check out On-Site, a fantastic overview of recent and future Spanish architecture at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA).
It's noteworthy how many of the buildings profiled in the exhibit are for public use. Public housing, government buildings, health centers, and museums all feature prominently. On-Site makes a great case for the cultural value of ambitious government-funded public architecture.
Highlights include Murcia's Town Hall Extension and, of course, the ridiculously beautiful new T4 terminal at Madrid's Barajas. The latter is surely already prompting travelers to route connections through Madrid in order to spend even a few hours under those amazing bamboo waves.
Each profiled project is helpfully plotted on a map of Spain, which is an indispensable aid for those working out a fantasy contemporary archi-tour itinerary.
· Straight Lines are for Losers [Jaunted]
· Terminal Diagnosis [Jaunted]
· Spanish Fly [Jaunted]
Bad Fare / Ryanair / Spain / London / → All Tags
Jaunted Bad Fare: Stansted--Vitoria-Gasteiz, $2.82 RT
This week's bad fare is a bit of a shout out to one of our favorite writers, Anthony Lane. He's one of the New Yorker's film critics--we hazily remember that he may have liked one of the films that he reviewed in the late 90s, but there hasn't been much since then--and this week, for the magazine's Journeys Issue, he tackles low-cost Irish carrier Ryanair.
To prove his point, Lane pretty much choses a destination at random; one that he has not heard of, and then tries to figure out where, exactly, he has arrived. His choice? Vitoria Gasteiz, in the Basque region of Spain. If you want to recreate his trip, it'll run you $2.82 before taxes if you book by tomorrow and travel anytime before the end of October, save for a chunk of summer blackout dates.
However, do you really want to be jammed on a Ryanair flight with a bunch of other people who are enamored of Anthony Lane? It's one thing to consider having such a insouciantly cantankerous seatmate such as he, but being stuck with a tweedy Lane-wannabe sounds even worse. So take that cheap flight to Spain, but do so at your own risk. Or at least bring some headphones.
[Image via _esti/Flickr]
· Previous Bad Fares [Jaunted]
Architecture / Design / Spain / Finland / Helsinki / Segovia / → All Tags
A little help in prioritizing your travel never hurts; that's why this list of the World Monument Watch's 100 Most Endangered Sites (via Kottke) is just peachy. Forget Disney World--a site we wish was endangered--and instead head to, oh, Helsinki's Malmi Airport. It was the second largest airport in Europe in 1936, with a hangar that could fit six whole aircraft, and now it may be demolished for a housing project.
No sale? What about the Segovia Aqueduct in Spain? Built in 50 A.D., it's a UNESCO World Heritage site, and yet...the Spanish aren't taking very good care of it, failing to repair damage from water and bat nesting. Always watch out for the bat nesting.
And if that doesn't interest you, there's always the entire country of Iraq, which made the list as a single entry. It won't be long now before cheap flights to Kirkurk start to appear...
[Image via cuellar/Flickr]
· 2006 List [World Monuments Watch]
Hotels / Design / Politics / Architecture / Spain / → All Tags
Things are looking up in the north of Spain. Basque separatist group ETA announced last week that they would be observing a "permanent ceasefire". Since that time, the Basque region has already unveiled plans for a new tourist push, including the construction of a Frank Gehry designed hotel, to compliment the Gehry-designed Guggeheim Bilbao.
The Hotel Marqués de Riscal is set to open this September, in the Rioja Alavesa part of Basque country, famed for its wine. The hotel itself rather resembles an exploding car--perhaps Gerhy was making a nod to ETA in the design? Or, more likely, he was doing the same thing he's done with every other building he's designed since 1992.
Basque country has also benefited mightily from the European LCCs, which love the small airports there. And Foodies take note: there are a grand total of twenty-two Michelin stars in Basque country. With that many good meals on tap, it makes an exploding hotel seem that much more tolerable.
· Peace Dividend [Times of London]
· ETA permanent ceasefire begins [BBC News]