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Latest News from A&K Spain & Portugal
New high-speed rail line to transform Granada access
Rail travel is already the most convenient mode of transport for covering the vast distance between Madrid and Barcelona, due to the comfort and speed of the AVE line. However, until recently this has not necessarily been the case elsewhere in Spain due to the lack of a high-speed service for other destinations. That has now changed for Granada though. Following over a decade of delay and numerous construction works that involved building 122km of new rail line, 7 new tunnels and 31 new viaducts, Granada is now connected to the world’s second largest high-speed rail network and services are available for the public. This cuts two hours off the previous quickest train journey from Madrid to Granada, and also means that the AVE journey is the quickest way of travelling between the cities without flying – you can save up to an hour off the road transfer time with this new rail route. The likes of the majestic Alhambra Palace and the whitewashed streets and alleys of the Albaizin district are now more accessible than ever from the Spanish capital.
An Urban Paradise
Aside from the abundance of history and culture, more laid-back travellers can also enjoy some of the finest beaches around while in Spain. La Concha has seen the praise come flooding in for a few years now, and TripAdvisor’s user-based awards are just the latest accolade to add to the list. The urban beach in the heart of San Sebastian, capital of the Basque Country, is a 1.5km stretch of golden sand, bookended on either side by the mountains of Urgull and Igeldo, which offers stunning views across the bay, and the picturesque Santa Clara Island within swimming distance. Not only has this city centre paradise retained its rating of best beach in Europe, it has also broken into TripAdvisor’s top 5 beaches in the world. Those tired out by all that sunbathing will be pleased to know that San Sebastian’s gourmet reputation is no smaller – no city in the world has more Michelin stars, and the exquisite cuisine is considered one of the primary reasons why Spain was also named healthiest country in the world in a recent Bloomberg study.
Zaragoza's week-long party underway
Spain and Portugal are famed for the rich variety of local and festivities that seem to be celebrated in one Iberian town or another almost all year round. Aragon and its capital of Zaragoza are not always on every tourist's must-see list, but their celebrations, known as the Fiestas del Pilar (after its patron saint, the Virgen del Pilar), are among the most enjoyable. Originally a religious feast day, October 12 is now also a national holiday, deliberately chosen to coincide with Columbus Day and the Discovery of the Americas, meaning that the whole country can join in the revelry. The festivities include the Offering of Flowers, during which hundreds of thousands of locals in traditional dress set up a huge pyramid of flowers that remains on display throughout the celebrations. If you're making your way to the party, make sure you also catch a glimpse of the Comparsa de Gigantes y Cabezudos - large papier-mache figures of local characters with medieval costumes and, as tradition dictates, disproportionately large heads!
Paella chefs prepare for kitchen clash
Food and drink festivals are celebrated in towns and villages across Spain throughout the summer months and the Valencia region is home to some of the most entertaining examples. You may well have heard of La Tomatina, in which revellers hurl tomatoes at each other for the best part of an hour, but another competition in nearby Sueca pits competitors head to head in a kitchen challenge. Paella is arguably the best known Spanish dish overseas, but its origins and spiritual home lie in this corner of the country, which is why professional chefs will flock into town on September 10th and attempt to prove that their version of the local rice dish is the tastiest!
Lisbon on Top!
Lisbon has recently been voted at the top of lists regarding preferences in Europe, as the best family, honeymoon and even winter destination, all according to the Best Vacations rankings from the US news website. With its diverse beautiful landscapes, rugged coastline, rich culture, history and culinary delights its clear to see why. Please contact us for further information.
Contemporary Art at the Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Madrid will home a collection of art that has never been on display together, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy the collection as a whole. Work from contemporary Spanish artists Manuel Milares, Martin Chirino and Luis Feito are just some of the names on the works waiting to delight art fans. Please contact us for further information.
Spains Royal Crown and Sceptre go on Display
Spain’s royal crown and sceptre will go on display in public for the first time ever. The dazzling items are significant in Spain’s natural heritage and will leave the vault which has been their home for decades to take pride of place in a new crown room in the Palacio Real in Madrid. Please contact us for more information.
Neanderthal findings in Gibraltar
Gorhams cave in Gibraltar is now home to a series of etchings being cited as proof of neanderthal intelligence. The etchings were discovered beneath sediment along with neanderthal tools. Please contact us to find out further details.
Archaeological Snorkeling Park on Spanish Coast
The coast line around the Costa Brava was always a stop off point by ships in the Roman times and now the region is launching a pioneering initiative promoting Spain’s under water archaeological heritage. Roman amphorae dating back from the 1st and 2nd centuries will be available for divers and bathers to explore and discover. Please contact us for further details.
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