By Damien Simonis
Ascend the lofty l. a. Sagrada Familia, then song down Gaudi's very good, lesser-known worksRow vigorously over the lake at Madrid's Parque del Buen RetiroRelax with Basque tapas and white wine within the bars of San Sebastian's Parte ViejaWander domestic in your casa rural as evening falls and silence envelops the slim village streetsIn This Guide:Nine authors, 4964 kilometers of beach, 18 exuberant regionsFull-color sections on eco-friendly trip and the easiest of Spanish meals and drinkDedicated bankruptcy at the Camino de Santiago through Galician resident and strolling advisor Nancy FreyContent up to date day-by-day: stopover at lonelyplanet.com
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Additional resources for Spain
Return to beginning of chapter FESTES DE LA MERCè around 24 Sep Barcelona’s gigantic party (Click here) marks the end of summer with four days of parades, concerts, theatre, fire running and more. Return to beginning of chapter OCTOBER Return to beginning of chapter DÍA DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DEL PILAR 12 Oct In Zaragoza the faithful mix with the hedonists to celebrate this festival dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar (Click here). The pillar in question, upon which the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared, is in the cathedral, but much of the fun happens in the bars nearby.
Return to beginning of chapter FEBRUARY–MARCH Return to beginning of chapter CARNAVAL This event involves several days of fancy-dress parades and festivities. It is at its wildest in Cádiz (Click here) and Sitges (Click here), but is also good in Ciudad Rodrigo (Click here). It usually ends just before Lent, on the Tuesday 47 days before Easter Sunday. An especially odd celebration takes place in Solsona, Catalonia (Click here). Townsfolk celebrate Carnaval by hoisting a donkey (nowadays made of plastic) up the central clock tower and dropping it onto the crowded square below!
Explore the cobblestone medieval marvel of Santillana del Mar (Click here), admire the Modernista architecture in Comillas (Click here) and catch some waves at sprawling Playa de Merón (Click here). The eastern Asturias coast is best travelled by train, stopping off at Llanes (Click here) and Ribadesella (Click here). Arriondas (Click here), the next stop, is one gateway to the majestic Picos de Europa (Click here). Straddling Cantabria and Asturias, these peaks offer fabulous hiking. Next head for Oviedo (Click here), Asturias’ capital, for its pre-Romanesque architecture, and Gijón (Click here), a substantial port where cider flows copiously.