Tag Archives: Spain

Spain – One Country,Many Cultures

Spain’s popularity as a holiday destination is renowned, with over forty years of high annual demand for its beautiful beaches, reliable sunshine and warm hospitality. British holidaymakers in particular have fallen in love with the Iberian Peninsula and often return year after year to specific resorts or locations.

Beach, Spain
Spain – Land Of Sand

Yet the country that comes under the name of Spain has numerous cultures and even separate languages which exist concurrently under this single identity. For instance, the Basque region, which abuts the Pyrenees and takes in the city of Bilbao, has one of the oldest European languages still in daily use and which is quite distinct from Castilian Spanish.

Similarly, the area of Catalonia, which is where Barcelona can be found, also has its own language, spoken not only in and around the Catalonian capital but also in the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Minorca, Ibiza and Formentera. These differences in idiom are just the most obvious aspects of the cultural divide between the regions of Spain and the dominance of the Castilian heritage.

Thus the traditional assumption that flamenco is a typically Spanish style of dance and music is erroneous, as this unique artistic expression emerged from the gipsy or Gitano culture that was first documented in the eighteenth century. And it was firmly associated with the area of Andalucia, in the south-eastern corner of the country, until much later when its popularity began to spread to other regions.

Flamenco dancers, Spain

Similarly, bull fighting is only practiced in certain parts of Spain, with a ban introduced in Catalonia in 2012 and the sport never having really taken off in the Canary Islands. The first records of bull-fighting in its current form date back to 1726 although the culture of bull worship is far more ancient and it is thought that the sport may well have developed from Roman gladiatorial combat.

While the Balearic Islands owe their distinct cultural differences to a fusion of many diverse influences, due to their important logistical location in the middle of the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands are overwhelmingly Spanish. With the obvious caveat that Canarian culture has deviated from the hegemonic Castilian mode over the centuries, due to the islands physical remoteness from mainland Europe.

The reasons for the dominance of Castile over the other regions of Spain came about after the marriage of Ferdinand II and Isabella I in 1469, uniting the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile. And it was their grandson Charles V who first emerged as the King of Spain in 1516, although even six centuries later the country is still defined by its distinct regions and histories.

The Great British Summer Getaway

The school bells have sounded across the UK, signalling the end of term for kids across the country.  And despite the fact that the country is enjoying its best summer weather in years the annual exodus known as the Great British Getaway is now well and truly underway, as millions of tourists flock to airports across the country, sparking what are now almost routine scenes of chaos.

Queues, airport, UK
Aiport Chaos

July 25th – aka Black Friday – didn’t pass off without incident this year, as the end of term at schools in the UK sparked a mass dash to get away on holiday, with an estimated 2 million tourists passing through British airports this weekend.

And as you’d expect the system inevitably buckled under the pressure, resulting in nightmare delays at Manchester airport as the third busiest hub in the UK struggled to process over 320,000 passengers and a chronic luggage log jam at Gatwick, thanks to what were described as ‘resourcing issues’ with baggage handlers Swissport. Delays were also experienced across the UK road and rail network, making it an equally grim experience for those choosing to enjoy a staycation.

Passenger volumes were at their highest in the South East, as Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Stansted serviced a combined total of just under one million holidaymakers.

And where were they all headed? Well according to ABTA Spain is the number one destination this summer for British sun-seekers, followed by Greece and Turkey.

Beach, Spain

This would certainly seem to tally with figures recently released by the Spanish tourist authorities which reveal that the country’s tourist industry enjoyed a real boom in growth during the first half of 2014, particularly to key destinations such as the Canaries and Catalonia.

On Lanzarote for example, where we offer a great selection of villas and apartments for rent in the popular resort of Playa Blanca, passenger numbers have soared by over 15% versus the first half of last year as a total of 1,127,456 foreign tourists took a break on the island. British holidaymakers have been the real driving force behind this growth, accounting for 525,850 arrivals, whilst the Germans, Irish, Dutch and French markets account for 129,935, 99,112, 52,426 and 43,756 visitors respectively.

The local tourist authorities (with self-promoting predictability) have claimed that much of this increase can be attributed to initiatives such as Saborea Lanzarote – a project designed to promote the island as a gastronomic destination – and the positioning of Lanzatote as a sports destination.

But in reality the increases can be more accurately attributed to the greater availability of lower cost flights and new budget services from key metropolitan areas, such as Paris, which have helped to make Lanzarote more accessible and affordable.