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The AFAR Guide to Spain

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Like going out for tapas, taking a trip to Spain means you'll get a taste of everything. Travelers love the warmth of the Spanish people, not to mention the warmth of the climate. From the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, in the north, to the Moorish and Catholic traditions in the south, Spain is a fantastic mix of modern and classic.
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Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada, Spain
Esthetically speaking, there are not many architectural wonders in the world that could compare to the Alhambra. Every inch of the Nasrid Palace there are examples of intricate, nature-inspired arabesques; painstakingly exact stone, wood and...
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Puerta del Cambrón, 45002 Toledo, Spain
Toledo, once the glowing capital of Spain, is today mostly a tourist attraction within the walls of the fort-city. But inside those walls are museums, cathedrals and churches, an ancient synagogue—now a museum documenting the Sephardic Jews, the...
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Pamplona, Navarre, Spain
An incubator for local talent, the gallery features work by Mikel Urmeneta of the comedic San Fermín–inspired Kukuxumusu graphic arts company through the end of May. 34/948-291-686. This appeared in the May/June 2012 issue.
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Calle de Zapatería, 53, 31001 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
Situated in the heart of Pamplona, Palacio Guendulain hosted Queen Isabel II when she visited in 1845. The 25-room hotel is still fit for royalty—with a stone facade, an inner courtyard, and displays of vintage carriages. Doubles from $176 ($1,110...
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Carrer Bonastruc de Porta, 4, 17001 Girona, Spain
Costa Brava has no shortage of great eats, but I kept returning to Txalaka because it not only offered a reasonable 3-course lunch (for 11 euros) but also a sprawling offering of tapas at night, at 1 eur 60 each. With cheerful staff who took great...
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Girona, Spain
When you decide to head out to a new place, with just a few clicks of your mouse, you can find "best kept secrets" galore. That's what we were looking for when we decided to spend a few days in Girona, Spain. Our goal was to get to Barcelona. But...
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Platja Portlligat, 17488 Cadaqués, Girona, Spain
After falling in love with Salvador Dali at his museum in Figueres, we caught one of three buses out to the cliffside town of Cadaques where you can get to know Dali a bit more intimately by touring his house. Full of odds and ends, including mini...
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Cadaqués, Girona, Spain
The Costa Brava of the Mediterranean is truly a magical place and there is no wonder why so many notable artists frequented the small town of Cadeques, Spain over the last century. This old fishing village is the epitome of picturesque with its...
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Catalonians, particularly near the Pyrenees, love their mushrooms. So much so, hunting them in the forest where they grow wild, has become a beloved pastime. One of the best places to do so in the Pyrenees region is Montgrony. Arrive early in the...
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Carrer del Marquès de Dos Aigües, 6, 46002 València, Valencia, Spain
The 26-room Palacio Marqués de Caro, which opened earlier this year, is built into a wall dating back to Muslim rule. Arabic vases, medieval archways, and neoclassical friezes add to the appeal, along with the adjacent restaurant, Arrop. ...
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Carrer de Dénia, 37, 46006 València, Valencia, Spain
The exhibition space Hat Gallery features all kinds of art. Recent shows include: a multimedia exposition on femicide in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; designs that one artist created for a local chocolate factory; and a collaboration presenting 40...
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Carrer del Comte d'Almodóvar, 1, 46003 València, Valencia, Spain
The baroque decor at Café de las Horas makes it a favorite among Valencianos for a cocktail (or two) before hitting clubs such as the indie Radio City or the Euro-style Giorgio et Enrico. Calle del Conde de Almodóvar 1, 34/963-917-336. This...
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Valencia, Spain
Every March, Valencia Spain is filled with colorful papier mache statues, like this one of Michael Jackson in his Neverland Ranch. The intricate structures are supposed to represent trends and phenomena Valencia wishes to rid from its culture. On...
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Plaça de la Reina, 6, 46001 València, Valencia, Spain
Valencia is famous for its horchata, or tiger nut milk, and Llinares Ice Cream serves a respectable version of the drink. But the daring come for outlandish ice cream flavors, from glazed doughnut to potato omelet and fresh anchovies in vinegar. ...
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Carrer d'Eduardo Primo Yúfera, 1b, 46013 València, Valencia, Spain
All the City of Arts and Sciences buildings in Valencia are breathtaking, but the Oceanografic Aquarium is equally spectacular for its contents. It not only features 500 marine species from whales to sea urchins, it also offers a slate of stellar...
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Sacromonte, 18010 Granada, Spain
Semana Santa is the holy week of Easter celebrated with a passion here in Spain. It is worth noting that if you travel to Spain the week leading up to Easter many things will be closed or booked out. If you arrive this week there is also a good...
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Paseo de la Sabica, 18009 Granada, Spain
While in Granada, Spain, I chose to stay at the Hotel Guadalupe, a lovely hotel just minutes from the main entrance to the Alhambra. This was the view from my balcony. The hotel is about a 20-minute walk to the main part of town, but the wooded...
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Albaicín, Granada, Spain
It seems like just about everywhere you wander in Granada, Spain—from bustling plazas to the winding alleyways of the Albaicin—you come across murals by local legend, El Nino de Las Pinturas. Most are social commentaries depicting people in highly...
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20170 Usurbil, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Kalimotxo is a drink made of equal parts red wine and cola. When I first heard of the drink, I had to check the source - I thought someone was playing a trick on me. When I found out that people have been drinking kalimotxo in Spain for quite some...
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by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman Famed French architect Jean Nouvel gets credit for the bold exterior, while a different design studio dreamed up each of the hotel’s 12 floors. Step out on the seventh to find Ron Arad’s space-age curves, on the 10th for...
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Calle Mañueta, 8, 31001 Pamplona, Navarra, Spain
The churros here supposedly get their crispy exterior from being cooked over an ax-cut beech-wood fire. You can sample the results when the 140-year-old shop is open: only two Saturdays in June, every day during the San Fermín festival in July,...
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Okendo Kalea, 1, 20004 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
San Sebastian, muy bonito!
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Seville, Spain
I'm guessing at the exact address here, but it's on the walking street in the Old Town.
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Calle Alemanes, 27, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
Victuals of all kinds are to be found at the indoor market just over the bridge from old town. This area also boasts some wonderful tapas bars.
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Calle Lope de Rueda, 7, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
These are the views of the impressive Seville cathedral (the third largest in the world) from the rooftop terrace of one of the best private penthouses in the city (available for rent). The place is magical, especially at night. And yes, it's one...
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Mercado la Encarnacion 1, puesto 25, Plaza los Terceros, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
Wandering around a typical neighborhood off the usual tourist path is a great way to get a sense of place. Calle Feria in the Macarena district has no fancy shops or restaurants. Just typical small shops that make up a neighborhood where people...
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In a little cafe in Sevilla, Spain, I sat with my mother as numerous brides came strolling down the square to the main cathedral for their big wedding day. This bride captivated me however, with her simple yet elegant headpiece, so I ran down the...
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This ceiling in one of the rooms in the Alcazar in Sevilla, Spain makes you feel as if you are staring into the heavens. The hypnotic effect provided by the shimmering gold made me want to lay on the floor and look up for hours.
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Paseo de Catalina de Ribera, 2, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
I was not sure what to expect when I visited the city of Seville. It was supposed to be a side trip for my vacation, a short train ride from Madrid. But what I didn't realize when I went there, the city was celebrating their annual La Feria...
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Calle Peral, 49, 41002 Sevilla, Spain
by Kelly Lack “Elbows out, twist your hands, hold your posture, feel the rhythm … feel the rhythm,” Christine Lian told herself. She was in a flamenco lesson in Spain, trying to master the steps of this fluid, dramatic dance. “My biggest...
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Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
This was the beautiful and exquisitely made cathedral in the middle of Sevilla. I went in with my mother for a moment of prayer. It was a great moment.
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Paseo de Cristóbal Colón, 12, 41001 Sevilla, Spain
We were fortunate to get tickets to the last bullfight of the season at the Plaza de Toros de La Maestranza de Seville in Seville, Spain. We paid a bit extra, 34 (US$48) for the Barreras (front seats) where we sat with the upper crust of Seville....
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Watching flamenco artist Olga Pericet dance at Corral de la Morería in Madrid was an experience of extraordinary intensity. She was a rhapsody of exuberant motion; a piece of poetry that seemed to silence the room with the force of its emotion....
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Calle de Augusto Figueroa, 24B, 28004 Madrid, Spain
Madrid's multi-level Mercado San Anton is a sight to be seen. Rows of gorgeous produce, local specialties, Italian deli favorites, briny seafood and locally-farmed meats line the perimeter of each floor, each stall more enticing than the one...
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28028 Madrid, Spain
A trip to Las Ventas is a must in Madrid. Tickets are available for those who wish to attend un corrido and tours are available for others who don't care for the bullfight. If you decide to watch this Spanish tradition in action, buy a seat and...
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Plaza Murillo, 2, 28014 Madrid, Spain
Real Jardin Botanico, the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid, is a peaceful place to get out of the city streets and stroll around in nature. Fountains and sculptures are scattered throughout the 5,500 species of living plants, trees and flowers....
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Calle de Alcalá, 39, 28014 Madrid, Spain
The Metropolis Building in Madrid claims dominance over the intersection of Calle de Alcalá and Gran Via. The topping sculpture of Phoenix and Ganymede, like an architectural hood ornament, keeps a watchful eye over the busy boulevards below.
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Calle de Santa Isabel, 52, 28012 Madrid, Spain
Life reflects art? The Reina Sofia museum in Madrid is home to Picasso's famous Guernica, and many works by other Spanish artists, including Miro and Dali. A fabulous place to discover the art, artists, and ideas of the 20th century.
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Calle de Bailén, s/n, 28071 Madrid, Spain
No trip to Madrid is complete without a tour of the Royal Palace, home to many of the kings and queens of Spain since the 1500s. Inside, every wall, ceiling, and floor either is a work of art, or hosts works of art. One room is made entirely of...
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Paseo República de Cuba, 4, 28009 Madrid, Spain
When you travel to a new location, the only way to see it is through the eyes of a local, which means finding the local hangouts. If you happen to be in Madrid, this means strolling the afternoon away through Retiro Park. This isn't any ordinary...
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28013 Madrid, Spain
While in Madrid last month, I spent a day walking around Puerta del Sol, one of the busiest and best-known parts of the city. You can see more photos on my blog here: http://stevecookphotography.com/puerta-del-sol/.
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Plaza de España, 28008 Madrid, Spain
If you visit Madrid, don't miss the famous Don Quixote and Sancho statues, located close to the Metro stop in Plaza de Espana. They are situated right in front of a fountain and early in the morning the water mirrors the statue—making it feel...
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Plaza de San Miguel, 1, 28005 Madrid, Spain
The Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid is one of the best places to go for a little of everything local, or tapas-style shopping. They are always busy. Whether you are looking for ham or oysters, fresh fruits or desserts, coffee or wine, they have it...
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Carrer del Consell de Cent, 292, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Make sure to sample some hot drinking chocolate in Barcelona. I chose a mug from Cacao Sampaka, a gourmet chocolate shop where you'll find all sorts of delightful dessert concoctions. The rich, velvety drink is nothing like American hot chocolate....
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La Rambla, 65, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
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Sants-Badal, Barcelona, Spain
The first match I attended at Camp Nou, a derby against Espanyol, didn't end as beautifully as it began. At the very end Espanyol scored a goal to tie and Real Madrid scored one to win in close succession and Barcelona lost out on the league title...
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Passeig dels Castanyers, 1, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
Monasteries, Modernista buildings, lush green spaces, and historic cemeteries are tucked away into hidden corners in and around Barcelona. In the city proper, visitors can spend an afternoon snapping shots of gorgeous funerary art at Montjuïc or...
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Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Soak up the sun and stroll the grounds of this centrally-located Barcelona park. Home to Barcelona's zoo, the Catalan Parliament, this park hosts interesting events (and political demonstrations) throughout the year. During La Mercé (Barcelona's...
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Carrer de la Marina, 253, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
I've always loved pictures of the exterior of the Sagrad Familia in Barcelona, but finally seeing the inside was spectacular.
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08024 Barcelona, Spain

Great use of public space and gardens. Also has some fabulous mosaics and examples of of Gaudi's architecture and urban design

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Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Antoni Gaudi architecture is very unique. The Barcelona architect has several buildings which are listed as Unesco World Heritage sites, including the Casa Batllo. Part of the modernisme movement in the late 19th and early 20th century, Gaudi took...
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Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 3-5, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Palau Güell is an early Gaudí masterpiece, designed for his longtime benefactor, Eusebi Güell. The mansion, one of Gaudí's first big projects, was recently restored and re-opened to the public. The centerpiece of the building is the amazing...
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Carrer de Valldonzella, 2, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Based in Barcelona since 1992, Holala! Plaza is the best Barcelona shop for vintage clothes, furniture, video games, accessories, books and more. It's hard to leave empty-handed, but even if you don't have cash to spare, stop by to check out their...
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La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
I love to just walk around the Boqueria, buy some fresh fruit or food from Bar Pinotxo, and watch the vendors arrange their goods and the (other) tourists walk around and photograph it all.
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Carrer de Pau Claris, 192, 08037 Barcelona, Spain
This summer, I spent a few days in Barcelona. Of course, any trip of mine is always highlighted by the many restaurants I visit. In Barcelona, I ate at these 6 outstanding tapas bars, each offering a different vibe and a different attitude. Bar...
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Provença, 261-265, 08008 Barcelona, Spain
Before Barcelona I knew very little about the famous architect Gaudi. Yet, before I left I was mad about Gaudi.
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Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona, Spain
I really like this concept - Yesterday's bullfight arena, today's shopping mall. Inside the old arena, there are restaurants, retail stores, cafe and even supermarket. It is also conveniently located at the Plaça Espanya metro subway station.
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Av. del Litoral, 36, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Along the public beach in Barcelona, there are a number of interesting sculptures as well as sculptural "seats" of concrete in many undulating shapes so you can find the perfect spot for your particular tush. This enormous copper fish sits above...
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Carrer de la Diputació, 249, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
We knew we’d be eating and drinking our way through Barcelona. And, with relatively brief interruptions to take in the mind-bending exhibitions at the Picasso and Miró museums and to be equally astonished by Gaudí’s and ...