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Spain in depth

Updated on March 26, 2007

Are you planning to visit Spain? Would like to know this country in depth? Come with me for a virtual tour! You can get to know the most famous spots, the little villages less touristy, learn about this country and its lifestyle, landscapes, gastronomy, character... and also you can ask questions in the Guestbook :-)

This is a master lens of a lens collection related to Spain. In this collection I'm including a travelogue of my trips, general articles about the areas and also useful information for anyone willing to visit them.

Index of lenses included in this collection so far:
- Renewing energy in Alicante
- Castilla-León: Going back in time
- Asturias: Natural Paradise 

Geography of Spain

Spain is divided in 17 autonomous Communities and 50 provincias (administrative regions), each one with its own geography, history and culture. Here you can see a map with the names and location of all the provincias:

Spain has a great geographical diversity. The coastline is the most well-known area, but inland there are also beautiful places worthy to visit. If you follow the links included in the introduction of this lens, you will be able to learn about all these areas.

Practical info

- Languages: The official language in Spain is Spanish (castellano), but it coexists with other languages in certain regions: Catalán in Cataluña, euskera in País Vasco and gallego in Galicia. Besides, other regions have dialects not used so often but that you may encounter: bable, aragonés, valenciano... And you will notice that the Spanish pronunciation changes pretty much from one area to another.

- Climate: Spain is associated to sun and high temperatures. That is true in the south and mediterranean area, that in summer can reach temperatures above 40ºC and rain is very rare.

But other areas have a very different climate. For instance, the Cantabrian coast (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria & País Vasco) has a milder climate, and it's often influenced by the Atlantic depressions, having then the wettest part of Spain. In the mountain areas, there is a more extreme climate, with hot & dry summers and snowy & very cold winters.

- Money: The official currency is the Euro, as in many other countries of Europe. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 500 euros, and coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents, 1 and 2 euros.

You can also use any major credit card for your payments, and in most hotels you can also use traveller's cheques.

- Time: In Spain the time is one hour more than GMT (Greenwich Meridian time) in winter and two hours more in summer because of the daylight time saving. Canary Islands are always one hour behind peninsular time: GMT in winter and GMT+1 in summer.

Business hours are usually Monday to Friday or Saturday, from 9h to 22h and from 16.30 to 20h, though this timetable can vary from one company to other. Shopping centres are usually open from 10 to 22h uninterrumptedly also in Saturday. Most of the shops close in Sunday.

Meals time is different to most of the European countries: breakfast from 8h to 10h, lunch from 13h to 15.30h and dinner from 9pm to 11pm or even later, as nights are very lively in this country, with pubs and bars open usually until 7am.

- Phone calls: To make calls within Spain you just dial the number, that always has 9 digits. To call abroad from Spain you need to dial 00 + country code + phone number, and to call to Spain from abroad dial 00 + 34 + phone number.

- Electricity: The electrical voltage in Spain is 220 volts, 50Hz and the plugs are according to the European system, with two round pins.

Gastronomy in Spain

Every city and village in Spain have their own flavour. There are hundreds of typical dishes that you can try when you visit the different zones of Spain. One of the best ways to eat following the Spanish style is to taste the delicious tapas, that are traditional small dishes, served at bars and cafés across the country. Tapa means lid, and there is a story behind: In the past, to keep flies from landing in the customer's drink at taverns, the keepers used to place a slice of bread (or a plate) on top of the glass. Later, they began to top the customer's drink with a treat, like some olives or slices of chorizo. This is said to be the origin of the tapas.

Eating tapas is not only about eating, but also about sharing. In a group, usually every person chooses a tapa and then all of the tapas are shared on the table. There's a great variety of tapas to choose, for instance: tortilla española (Spanish omelette), tabla de ibéricos (different air-dried ham and cheese), stuffed olives, pulpo a la gallega (octopus at the Galicia style), fried squid, paella (rice with vegetables, seafood and saffron), chorizos a la sidra (sausages coooked in cider from Asturias), Russian salad, gambas al ajilllo (Prawns in a hot, garlic oil), patatas bravas (brave potatoes), smoked ham croquettes... And a delicious dessert to finish the meal, like a Spanish flan with cream, cheese cake or arroz con leche (sweet milky rice).

Some photos of tapas:

Don't they look delicious? :-)

Let's learn a bit more about Spain through these polls! - This poll will be closed on December 1st and then I'll give you the right answer.

Do you know where Oviedo is located?

See results

The magic night: Noche de San Juan

The night of 23 to 24 of June we celebrate in Spain la noche de San Juan (St John's night). It's the shortest and most special night of the year.

The fire becomes the king of the place, blazing in every corner of the country. Bonfires are started at 12am everwhere and the party goes on all night. Old and young people sing and dance around the bonfire, throwing to the flames their wishes written in a piece of paper.

Facing the bonfire, when you close your eyes and listen to the fire's crackle, it's like if you were back many many years in history to the pagans time, when the God of Sun was adored. This day is supposed to be in honour of Sain John the Baptist, but in reality it's an old pagan festival to celebrate the summer solstice and the power of the sun. It's the day when the sun shines in the sky longer, but also begins its journey to the winter solstice, that is a symbolic death. So in this day we celebrate life and death, light and darkness, what is to be born and what is to be left.

It's a night of magic and mistery, also called the witches's night. There are many legends from ancient times, saying that in this night Nature can show all its power, and the world of humans mixes with the world of Faerie. Conjurations and celtic rituals for love or money are made. Asturias, my region, is a land with celtic roots and celebrations like the San John's night are lived very intensely.

This year I was invited to my uncle's for dinner and we lit also our own bonfire in the garden. It was a lovely night, spent together with my family and my uncle's dog, who was scared most part of the time because of the fire. Here are some of the pictures I took that night:

You can write your comments here, by clicking on the "Submit your own blurb" link below: your opinion about this lens, questions about Spain, suggestions...

My guestbook - Please, leave a message here!

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    • profile image

      ViveCandas 4 years ago

      I recommend http://candas.sytes.net for visit Asturias

    • profile image

      pointing123 5 years ago

      Many people who want to learn Spanish, this will help those people >> http://www.spanish-teaching.com/2012/3/benefits-of...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wish to visit Spain some day.

    • profile image

      justanormalguy 6 years ago

      @Barcelona Ok Ap: Barcelona is great but Spain has so much more to offer http://www.squidoo.com/wintersundestinations

    • Barcelona Ok Ap profile image

      Barcelona Ok Ap 6 years ago

      Very useful lens! Personally, I think the best city of Spain is Barcelona and I like writing about it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Hola Silvia! Terrific information - gracias. Lensrolled to 2 of my lenses.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      It's great to find a lens that invites people to Visit Spain. I went to Galicia and found a lot of interesting thing to do there Cheers for your great job!

    • profile image

      bestonline323 9 years ago

      Hi i loved this!

      im visiting spain next month actually im in the process of Hotels Booking but i am in Istanbul

    • Piksychick profile image

      Piksychick 9 years ago

      Great info Silvia, gracias! I visited Tenerife in June, and had such a great time that decided to make a travel blog lens on Puerto de la Cruz. I'd like to read more from you. Abrazos!

    • profile image

      sallen 10 years ago

      Wow Silvia, Great lens. Very comprehensive. I'm building a blog about learning Spanish...you've given me a lot to strive for. Thanks.

      learn-speak-spanish

    • profile image

      YKRandall 10 years ago

      Hi Silvia, gorgeous photos and lots of useful info. We have a lot in common, I also live in Spain and I write poetry. I've put your lens on my lensroll.

    • profile image

      PaulConway 10 years ago

      Hi Interesting lens.Costa de la Luz

    • profile image

      PaulConway 10 years ago

      Hi Great lens very in informative. Have you visited the area of Andalucia yet?Learn Spanish Fast

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 10 years ago

      Hey, I like your lens. I studied in Spain when I was in college as well. I spent a summer at the University of Salamanca and got to travel around some on the weekends. I loved it there. My husband and I plan to travel through Europe and end in Spain this summer! Good lens!

    • profile image

      CJPate 10 years ago

      Great lens with lots of information about Spain. I especially like the "Gastronomy" part. The photos are fabulous!

    • profile image

      Grace_n_Mick 10 years ago

      Great lens Silvia - I found how difficult it is to condense a whole country into one lens in my Holiday in France lens but you have done an excellent job.

    • silviamar profile image
      Author

      silviamar 10 years ago

      Hi Steve! Thank you for your post! Your website about Spain is also great and useful. I look forward to see your new lens :-)

    • profile image

      thisisspain 10 years ago

      Great lens with masses of quality info and some superb photos. This is obviously written by somebody who has a passion for Spain. Enjoy, everybody! I most certainly did.

    • silviamar profile image
      Author

      silviamar 10 years ago

      QaterGuest, thank you for your comment about my photos, I'm glad you liked them :-).

      Today I've decided to divide this lens in several others, as it was becoming too long. Now it is an index lens and from here you can access all the lenses that I'm writing about places in Spain.

    • Web-Optimizer profile image

      Web-Optimizer 10 years ago

      Some super photos!

    • Web-Optimizer profile image

      Web-Optimizer 10 years ago

      Some super photos!