Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Culture Spain, alive, vibrant and the best reason to come to Spain!


Culture Spain, alive, vibrant and the best reason to come to Spain!



After eight years living in Spain, I remain convinced that the best reason to come to Spain (either as a holiday maker or for permanent life) remains the intrinsic culture of Spain.  This may seem odd when most people’s focus on Spain is centred upon the wonderful weather, great beaches and cheap(er) housing than Northern Europe.

In fact, the culture of Spain is what sets it apart from many other countries that also have a terrific climate, reasonably priced villas and dreamy beaches.  Most countries lapping the Mediterranean can probably boast those benefits but can they promise to deliver more than that?

Spain, to its credit, certainly has a culture that goes well beyond just its climate and the caricatures of Flamenco, beach holidays and bullfighting.  Indeed, the past few years have shown Spain to be an extraordinary country and this has much to do with the nature of Spanish themselves.

Certainly, with the current problems in Egypt, the Middle East, Greece and Italy, it is hard not to look upon Spain as anything other than an impressively balanced and secure country.  This is despite these dreadful economic times and the economy of Spain being stunned.  Indeed, apart from some half hearted (and very short) strikes, life has continued as normal – with violent, mass demonstrations being noticeable by their complete absence.

Meanwhile, one of the most important aspects to Spanish culture is the general Spanish tolerance to foreigners.  In that regard the country is impressively user-friendly – particularly to English speakers.  English is now the obligatory second language and Spain, after well over thirty years of mass tourism, has an infrastructure that makes it ideal for English speakers and this is as true for holidaymakers as it is for anyone wanting to set up home in Spain.

However, one of the other cultural advantages that Spain has over many other (particularly ‘new’) countries is its overall familiarity to North Europeans.  By this, I mean that it has a complicated, structured culture that goes back thousands of years.  This is combined with cities, towns and villages that are genuinely old with architecture that is interesting and varied.

Indeed, Spain ‘feels’ interesting in a way that ‘newer’ countries never can – for long.  The depth of Spain’s history and the very culture of Spain is writ large wherever you go, with each and every area markedly different.  This is as true of the high streets and shops as it is for the buildings, the landscape, the Spanish themselves and their particular customs.

Unarguably, one of the enduring delights of Spain is the way in which the country has embraced modernity – whilst retaining a pure and intact, localised culture of its own.  This is most obviously displayed in fiestas, which vary not just between regions but also between villages.  Each is different and each has retained its vibrant integrity, despite Spanish life having changed radically over the past 100 years.

So, if you are looking for more than just great weather and super beaches then Spain is somewhere to be highly recommended.  It has a fine infrastructure, a wonderful history (evident wherever you go) and sufficient to keep you interested for a lifetime!

Of course, Spain is not a paradise.  It has its problems (property legalities being one!) but as a place to live and holiday it must rank amongst the top places in the world – and jusifiably so.  Certainly, some 50 million people a year feel the same…

Can you get better than that?  Maybe – but the critical and complicated mix of things that make a holiday (or permanent life) in a country work well is not found easily!

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