The first thing you will notice when visiting Spain is how friendly and welcoming the Spanish people are. They know that tourism plays a big role in the country’s economy providing not only jobs but €134 billion to the country’s coffers.
Despite having given up the peseta for the euro Spain has managed to keep prices low guaranteeing its place as Europe’s favourite summer holiday destination.
Spain can also thank the weather and its beaches having over 300 days of sunshine per year on the Mediterranean coast and a staggering 577 Blue-Flagged beaches that guarantee clean sand and clear water.
Away from the holiday hotspots and vibrant Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza), Spain is a vast country with Madrid at its centre providing a hub for Europe’s largest network of high-speed trains, a network that allows you to travel from Barcelona to Madrid quicker by rail than it would take to fly.
Over the centuries the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans have all left their mark on Spain yet it is the 700 years of Moorish rule that created the magnificent Alhambra in Granada, a UNESCO World Heritage that attracts more tourists than anywhere else in Spain.
Spain’s status in the world was never greater than in the Age of Exploration between the 15th and 17th Century following Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America and the colonization of the New World which brought enormous wealth to the Spanish crown.
Miguel de Cervantes gave us what is considered to be the best book ever written with Don Quixote, while Spanish artists Diego Velázquez, Francisco de Goya and El Greco emerged as the world’s finest painters of the 18th century with their amazing work on display at the Museo Nacional Del Prado in Madrid.
More recently Modernists Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Juan Gris, and Joan Miró have given us a new way to look at the world, while architect Antoni Gaudi left his mark with the still unfinished Sagrada Família in Barcelona.
While going out of their way to cater to non-Spanish taste buds of the millions of tourists that flock to its beaches Spain has its own distinct cuisine that includes a healthy diet of seafood and grains and thanks to the Canary Islands a year-round supply of fruit and vegetables.
We all know that the de facto national dish is Paella but did you know that the original Valencian rice dish contained rabbit and not seafood? Add to this jamón, manchego cheese, olive oil and more red wine than you can shake a stick at and it will be no surprise to find out that Spaniards live longer than everyone else in Europe with an average life expectancy of 83.2 years.
Perhaps the Spanish have got it right having their main meal of the day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon followed by a nap (siesta) as you will never see a Spaniard yawning or hear them say they are stressed out at work.
Healthcare too may also play a factor in these figures with a recent study ranking Spain 8th in the world while the UK placed 30th and the US 35th.
Spain also holds the record as the country that performs the most organ transplants with doctors performing 4,818 transplants in 2017.
If you have never been to Spain seriously consider it for your next vacation and if like me you could love it so much that you end living here year round.