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The Basque Country

Post written by Kate Robinson.
If you have ever travelled to Spain you probably agree that it is quite surprising how different each autonomous region is from another. The Basque Country, or Euskadi in Basque and País Vasco in Spanish, is perhaps one of the best examples of this. This region is renowned for its individuality and it really does strive to be a country on its own. When you arrive in the capital city of the Basque Country, Bilbao, you will see the first signs that it is different…the street signs are all written in both Euskera (the Basque language) and Spanish, and you will probably hear the locals speaking in a funny language. If you have ever been to Barcelona, you will have experienced something similar.
It is this cultural identity that I think you will like about Bilbao as it is so different from the traditional Spanish stereotypes. However, this is not the only attraction….the Basque Country is known for its beautiful landscapes, green hills and mountains which can be contrasted with the dry, parched fields and land of central and southern Spain.
I love the Basque Country and here are a few places you must visit.
Bilbao is the capital of the Basque Country where you can visit the Guggenheim Museum and go shopping.

San Sebastian
San Sebastian has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, called La Concha. Here you should walk around and take in the atmosphere….as well as sample pintxos (Basque style tapas).
Pamplona is actually the capital of Navarre, another autonomous community, but its proximity to the Basque Country makes it worth visiting. This is where they run the bulls through the narrow streets to the bull ring every day for a week in July.
Bilbao is the main gateway to the Basque Country and Navarre so you are more likely to find low cost flights to its airport. Some of the airlines which operate routes to Bilbao are Iberia and easyJet. Flights with American Airlines and British Airways usually have a stopover in Madrid.

Eating out in Barcelona

Post written by Kate Robinson.

I always find it quite difficult to find a good restaurant in Barcelona and most of my friends who live there would tend to agree. When I say a “good restaurant” I mean a place where you can enjoy a bite to eat without paying a fortune for a miserable dish. The city is very touristy and most restaurants are just out to make money. One of the things which still annoys me is that when you get your bill you may find a service charge (at least that is what I think it is called). When I was on holidays in Barcelona, it was added to my bill in a number of restaurants and when I asked what it was for, the waiter told me it was a fee for using the knives and forks, and for the “complimentary” bread on the table. Can you believe it? After doing a bit of investigating, I found what I would call good restaurants, cafes and bars. Take note if you have booked flights to Barcelona and want to eat out in a nice place.

Santa Maria

Carrer de Grau i Torras 59, Barceloneta

An Italian café/restaurant where you can enjoy sandwiches and salads or a drink while watching the sea roll in or the holidaymakers soak up the sun. My favourite drink is the Italian Spritz.

La Esquinica

Passeig Fabra i Puig 286

A great place for tapas and it is not expensive. This restaurant opens at 8 p.m. so it is a good idea to go early as it gets so busy there are queues for a table.

Casa Albert

Plaça de les Olles 4, El Borne

This is a restaurant which only attracts locals and it is cheap and cheerful. Expect to pay less than 10 euro for the three course lunch menu.

A Short Journey by Montjuic Funicular in Barcelona

If your next destination is Barcelona, then you’ll probably want to see how the Funicular works. It is an original means of transportation, so if you have decided to go on the top of Montjuic hill, then you have to go to the Parallel metro station. The whole ‘trip’ lasts only 2 minutes but it is very exciting going up the hill. Don’t worry if you missed it, it leaves every 10 minutes. It is advisable to stand right at the back of it, to watch the landscape. The cabin of Montjuic funicular hosts about 400 passengers but it does not get so crowd, so don’t worry you’ll have enough space to look around. You don’t have to buy a ticket if you have a metro one, so keep it because otherwise, you have to pay extra money. You can take the funicular anytime on Monday to Friday from 07.30 to 20.00 or at weekend or during public holidays from 9.00 AM to 9 PM. This cable car will take you to the Olympic Stadium, Palau Sant Jordi, Miro foundation and other beautiful natural places in Barcelona.

Montjuic Funicular in Barcelona, Spain
Montjuic Funicular in Barcelona, Spain

Funicular Station
Funicular Station

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