TraveLinkSites talks today with Lauren of the expat blog Spanish Sabores. She’s a food lover (which we like a lot) and here, she tells us all about her extensive travels through beautiful Spain.
1. Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your experience travelling in Spain?
I’m Lauren Aloise, a 20-something expat trying to make a life for myself in sunny Spain. I’ve been teaching English for the past few years, but I’m truly passionate about food and wine (especially Spanish!) and often write about gastronomy on my website Spanish Sabores.I also give Spanish speakers a more realistic view of American cuisine on my site Recetas Americanas.
I first moved to Spain as a teacher’s assistant and requested to be placed in Andalusia after previously studying in Granada, where I loved the sunny weather, gorgeous landscapes and delicious food and wine. I was placed in Seville and spent the next two years getting to know that gorgeous city and its surrounding provinces such as Cádiz, Málaga, and Córdoba. I now live in Madrid, but often find myself missing the South!
Apart from Andalusia, I’ve traveled extensively throughout the rest of the country, exploring places like Cataluña, Valencia, Extremadura, and Castilla y León. This summer I hope to take on the North of Spain and visit País Vasco, Galicia, and Asturias. A tourist will never run out of places to see in Spain!
2. How does Spain compare to the rest of Europe in terms of things to see and do, its food and its culture? Is it very similar to other countries or very different?
Europe is extremely diverse so it is difficult to compare, but I will say that Spain in itself is like a group of unique mini countries. Each region is quite different– from its landscape to the languages and dialects spoken, and of course the food; each Spanish community really has its own special character and traditions. This makes it amazing to live here because it’s so easy to experience different sub cultures without going too far. A day trip can transport you to the past, and a weekend can take you to a peaceful island… what more could you ask for?
I also think many regions in Spain haven’t been as affected by mainstream global culture as perhaps some of the cities in other countries around Europe.
3. How much money can someone travel around Spain for? What are the greatest expenses? What things are relatively cheap?
One can travel around Spain on the cheap for sure. Hostels prices range, but you can generally find inexpensive rooms in all tourist destinations. The problem comes when you go off the beaten path to lesser-known destinations– usually there may only be hotels available, which can be a bit expensive if you are a solo traveler. However, if you are traveling with at least one other person, you won’t pay too much more for a hotel than hostel prices.
Other options that are popular around Spain include CouchSurfing and renting apartments. Food is also really inexpensive and in any city where tapas are the norm you will be surprised at the quantity and quality you can get for your euro!
Transportation around Spain also varies– bus is usually the cheapest option but often the longest travel time too. Trains are quick and comfortable, but can be pricey. Car rental prices vary but companies often offer some good deals. Cheap flights also exist between many Spanish cities and to the islands.
4. What are your favourite destinations in Spain and why?
This is a difficult question, as I’ve liked almost anywhere I’ve been in Spain and I still have so much more to see! But I guess I’d have to say that I love Andalusia; it will always hold a special place in my heart.
My top destination is Granada, followed by Cadiz and Seville. Ronda and the Sierra de Cadiz is a beautiful escape as well, and Valencia is a really cool city, especially to visit with children! With flights to Malaga being so cheap at the moment it would be a shame not to visit this underrated city too.
5. What cultural activities and events would you suggest everyone seeing or taking part in while travelling in Spain and why?
It really depends on your interests because Spain has it all– art, architecture, cuisine, cities, countryside, monuments… I would personally recommend taking part in a culinary tour of your destination (whether with a tour guide or self-lead after doing your research!), partaking in a wine tasting at one of the many bodegas throughout Spain is also a gorgeous way to spend the day. The Prado museum in Madrid is really lovely, as is seeing an authentic Flamenco show in Granada or Seville. For a true cultural experience try a festival such as Las Fallas in Valencia, Semana Santa in Seville, or Feria in Jerez.
6. What is your favourite thing about travelling this country? What is your least favourite thing?
I love looking out the window and always seeing something beautiful. Horses in their pasture, sweeping hills and mountains, or bright yellow sunflower fields are some of the sights I’ve taken in on my way from one place to another. I don’t like all of the roundabouts– it’s a silly thing but they make me dizzy!
7. What things do you focus on most when you blog about this country? Why do you choose these things?
I currently blog a lot about the ups and downs of expat life because I know that a lot of people can relate to the good and the bad that comes when living in a country that is not your own! I also love writing about food and travel, as they are my biggest passions and the things that have been motivating me as long as I can recall.
8. What’s one thing you can’t travel around Spain without?
I need my camera! Ever since buying a DSLR I can’t go anywhere without it. Spain is full of perfect shots– and I’m still learning how to capture them. It’s a challenge, but one worth taking on as the results can be stunning!
9. If you could live anywhere else in the country where would it be and why?
Again, this is a tough one, but I would probably want to live in sunny Andalusia, not too far from the beach. My husband’s family has a lovely home in El Puerto de Santa María, a five-minute walk from the beach and a national park, and I love spending time there. I also feel really attracted to the beauty of the mountains in Andalusia, but perhaps I’d get a bit bored living there!
10. If you could think of one thing you wished someone told you before you started travelling in Spain what would it be?
Travel in Spain! I remember when I first studied abroad in Granada I was always searching for a cheap flight to Italy or Portugal to spend the weekend and I didn’t realize that Spain itself was well worth exploring and even cheaper! I wish I had started exploring Spain earlier because I feel like I have so much left to see and there are lots of places I also want to return to!
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