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PackitUp Travel Guide
Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC
We are staying in southern Europe for our early July PackitUp Country Guide blog post! Welcome to Spain, the paradise of Europe, the second biggest country on the continent and a culturally massively rich place. Spain is famous for many things, beautiful beaches, gorgeous landscapes, some of the most visited islands in Europe and cities that have both an impressive history and a rich cultural scene. Spain, located on the Iberian Peninsula, consists of 17 autonomous regions and is famous for their four main ethnolinguistic groups with varying degrees of ambitions to separatist sentiments.
Besides the main Spanish identity, there are the Basques, the Catalan countries and the Galicians. Trying to decipher the historic developments and significance of many events, make sure to look up the specific areas for you next journeys. There might not be only cultural differences but a completely different language altogether. You might find some interesting information about the locals and their country! But this is not what this blog post should be about anyways, we are here to tell you about the beautiful possibilities of traveling in this gorgeous country!
As usual, we will give you a breakdown of some fast facts and collect blog posts about what to do, where to go and what to see. Enjoy!
506,000 square kilometer
Madrid (which is by far the biggest city too)
Catalan (and Occitan)
1 USD buys 0.88 EUR
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We love Spain and we especially love the customs and traditions that have been developed over a long time and that always have a deeply culturally rooted background. Here are our top picks:
As just mentioned, Spain has a highly diverse culture and history. There are different customs and traditions all over the place and it is interesting to experience every single one of them.
What most people certainly think of first are bull fights, including the bull races of Pamplona, Flamenco and possibly, well, siestas. Let us explain a bit:
Bull Fights: Bull fighting is practiced in most parts of Spain, in southern France, some areas of Portugal and in some Latin American countries. The toreros (bull fighters) in Spain are very popular and sometimes almost as famous as football players. Bull fights are not without controversies and forbidden in most countries. If you want to get into this argument, read up online or nicely ask locals for their opinions.
A very impressive tradition is the building of castells in Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencia. UNESCO classified the human towers as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. During the castell season from June to November you can witness the building of the human tower, layer by layer, starting with broad-shouldered men, going all the way up to young girls (with helmets!) who climb all the way to the top. It is a beautiful and impressive spectacle. It used to be only done during certain festivals but nowadays happens more frequently.
Running of the Bulls
The running of the bulls in Pamplona would top my personal list of things to see (to see! Not to do!). It is an outrageous display of bravery and madness where people in the narrow streets of Pamplona, a small city in the Basque country, are being chased by a good dozen of heavy-weight, ready-trample-anything, massive bulls. It takes place during a religious festival honoring St. Fermin, the holy patron of the city.
The Spaniards take their sports very seriously and they are damn good at it. Both football and basketball play an important role here and most of the world knows about the significance of Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. There is another sport that the peninsulans are crazy about, jai alai. You might have seen the curved wicker baskets that torpedo a tiny pelota across the room. As most Spanish traditions, seems dangerous.
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