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The itty-bitty country of Andorra is carved from the Pyrenees, with its cities all nestled in green valleys surrounded by snow-topped mountain peaks as if ripped from a Ricola commercial. Our routing to Andorra began with a flight to Barcelona, and a trip to Barcelona's bus stations to ask which would be the next bus to Andorra. We advise you to do a little more advance planning than that, and we're here to help.
With no airport and no train system, Andorra is perhaps one of the least accessible countries in Europe. It likes it that way, however; Andorra has been independent since 1278 and, at only 180 square miles, ranks as the sixth smallest European country (the five smaller are Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein and Malta).
Its tallest peak (Coma Pedrosa) is nearly 10,000' high, and the population is approximately 85,000 people, which pales in comparison to the nearly 10 million annual tourists who come to Andorra for skiing, duty-free shopping, and the Caldea spa.
In 2011, a small Spanish town, Júzcar, blue itself, quite like Tobias in Arrested Development. The whitewashed buildings, including churches and gravestones, formerly of the White Towns of Andalusia, opted for a makeover by Sony Pictures to celebrate the premiere of the The Smurfs movie.
Why the cozy town of Júzcar? Oddly enough, the Spanish village maintains an interesting relationship with the fungi, something smurfs are known to crave.
The mycological roots in Júzcar bloom in autumn, at which point the town toasts to the delicious fungi sprouting throughout the city. Better yet, the townspeople embraced the blue better than anticipated, voting—141 to 33—to keep the blue exterior even after the film’s premiere.
Today, Júzcar continues to attract hoards of tourists, over 400,000 since the makeover, which is an insane number for a town of under 300 people. That’s over 100,000 tourists per villager. But now, the city will receive a $56 million donation to dive further into Smurfdom and build an official Smurf theme park.
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Ullswater in the Lake District
As 2014 quickly comes to a close, there's no better time than now to think through exactly where we want the next 12 months to take us. Forget trend pieces trumpeting generic destination hotspots; over the next week, we'll share with you where our own Jaunted contributors personally want to go in 2015.
I’m UK-based, and though I love traveling further afield, I never fail to be overwhelmed when I come back to Europe. So as much as I want to go to other places next year (Taiwan! Dallas! Detroit!), I’ll stick closer to home for this list:
1: Salamanca. I never traveled to Spain when I was younger because I studied Italian and spend all my Med time there. Over the past couple of years I’ve been visiting and realizing how much I’ve missed out on. This year I have promised myself to make it to Salamanca, which I’ve been obsessed with the idea of visiting since watching Denzel Washington in Vantage Point, way back in 2008. Loads of frilly old buildings and a vast university mean two of my holiday musts – architecture and cocktails – should be well catered for.
Arnold Schwarzenegger always warned he'd be back, and for Madrid that promise has become a reality.
Schwarzenegger has been named Madrid's first honorary Ambassador of Tourism. It might seem like a stretch, but the former governor/aging action star does have a connection to the Spanish city. It is where he shot the original Conan the Barbarian movie more than 30 years ago.
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When traveling to a foreign city, it's nice to eschew the guidebooks and TripAdvisor tips to find your own way "like a local." Well, now a new travel start-up in Spain called Trip4Real has made this common traveler's wish something of a reality as they mark unforgettable experiences all around the country.
Calling upon Spaniards who have been vetted as "experts," the website pairs visitors with locals in Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza and other Spanish hotspots share the sort of experiences you'll brag about later. Similar to Airbnb, each expert is guaranteed legit by the company so you wont have to worry about someone stealing your money or not getting what you paid for.
Nothing is worse than sniffing an unexpected scent when traveling in the confinement of an airplane’s cabin, but a couple airlines have decided to romance passengers through their noses with a signature cabin scent. They’re not installing some kind of air purification system or planning on cracking a window; this scent is pure eau de airline, and British Airways was the first to experiment with the concept back in 2011.
New for 2014, BA's partner airline Iberia plans to do the same with a brand new customized scent. It’ll be known as Mediterraneo, and will boast accents of lemon, citrus blossoms, vanilla, rose, and jasmine—among other hints.
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It's a must-do on a visit to Barcelona, and tourists can usually immediately identify the most iconic church the city has to offer: La Sagrada Familia. This Gaudi masterpiece stands tall in the metropolis and, despite the fact it's been 131 years since construction commenced, it still remains shrouded in safety tarps and scaffolding.
Now the Spaniards have a little competition thanks to some post-graduate students from Eindhoven University in the Netherlands and their quest to recreate the famous Gaudi structure in ice. This winter, the pair plans to carve an ice castle replica of the cathedral in Juuka, Finland, where the average temperatures hover around -4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
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From Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck falling in love in Rome to Julia Roberts circling the globe to find herself, film has played an important role in shaping both the golden years and current day of travel. Thus, we present our newest series, Travel Movie Tuesday, where we detail the most inspiring travel films.
Spending a summer in Europe sounds both romantic and adventurous and, through the eyes of Woody Allen, we can only expect a brilliant caricature of those who chose to embark on such a journey. 'Vicky Christina Barcelona' is the story of two girls spending their vacation in Spain, combined with the ups and downs they experience on the road. Starring Scarlett Johansson as Christina and Rebecca Hall as Vicky, the movie follows the pair as they dive head first into more than just some tapas.
Combining the wonderful world of Ferrari with all things theme park seems to be a great idea, as the Ferrari theme park empire is moving beyond its home over in Abu Dhabi. Park officials are getting ready for a second theme park, as it sounds like they're packing up some cars, rides, and corn dogs and heading over to Spain.
Park number two will be known as Ferrari Land—as opposed to the original, Ferrari World—and it’s going to be constructed as part of the PortAventura resort area a little more than an hour outside Barcelona.
If you’re looking for something for that special someone who seems to have everything look no further than what’s up for sale over in Spain. Perfect for that individual whom is just so darn hard to buy for—it’s his very own international airport complete with terminal, runway, and everything else needed to start up a little air service.
Some reports indicate that Ciudad Real International Airport cost around $1.5 billion to build, but if you’re interested it can be yours for just $150 million. We’re sure that means that you can changes its name to pretty much anything you want, so if your name is Bob and you want to call it Bob’s International Airport—go for it.
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Your European holiday is about to get a little bit faster, as some new high speed train service is arriving on the continent. Now budget travel isn’t just an option aboard a low cost carrier, as the train might be able to zip you over to where you want to be.
Tickets are now on sale for the TGV train between Paris and Barcelona, and the speedy service should start up on December 15. Travelers can now visit Girona—that's just outside Barcelona in Spain—in just under six hours after departing Paris. Those looking to complete the whole journey between Paris and Barcelona can now do so in around six and a half hours. Connections are even available for those departing from London, as one can get from the UK to Spain in just over ten hours.
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Next time you're flying into or out of Barcelona, you'll want to reach for a few sweet sticks of Swiss Toblerone chocolate. No, really; you'll actually be subconsciously sold on the stuff, as an entire section of Barcelona El Prat Airport's duty-free shop has been converted into a golden altar to the awesomeness of Toblerone, all to promote the newly designed packaging featuring a Gaudi-influenced Barcelona design.
For as long as we can remember, Toblerone has been king of duty-free. Whereas airports on tiny Caribbean islands may push their handmade crafts and massive airports of Asian metropoli stock themselves to the gills with designer perfumes, there's one thing they'll both have in common: the availability of Toblerone.