Before start traveling throughout Europe, I used to go a lot to Spain. Compared to Portugal, the country where I lived all my youth, it was an upgrade in every way: a country with more and better options, including great parties and open women, a reality which planted the first seeds of traveling running after what I could not find back home.
And then the adventure multiplied itself, where in around ten years I visited about 25 countries in Europe, plus such countries as Brazil, Mexico, Japan or Thailand. It has been a great experience but, more important, the observation that the world has changed and that most of the places are not (anymore) as great as you may think in the first place.
And curiously enough, I have realized that I have been running in circles all these years just to draw a very ironic conclusion: that actually Spain is the most complete country in the world (according to my perspective and personal preferences, of course). And before you ask why, these are the arguments which support my claim:
Welcoming and warm People
If there is a country defined by its people then surely Spain is the best example one can think of. Expressive, warm and friendly, the Spaniards are easy recognizable wherever they are in the world, as they usually speak loud and move in groups. This can irritate many and can be quite annoying if you are not in the mood for listening to “speaking machines” but, if we look at it from a broader perspective, it is indeed the healthiest way of communicating.
Compare two situations: imagine a bus in Germany and another one in Spain. While in the former everyone is quiet and/or glued to his or her phone, in the latter you hear almost everyone talking to one another. You may argue that you prefer the silence and tranquility – maybe you are German? – and that is an argument totally valid. However, if we go back to what we are, animals able to communicate via a spoken language, then the way the Spanish people behave is surely the one which better matches our pattern of evolution.
But it is not just the way people speak. If you go to Spain – or meet Spaniards anywhere in the world – you will notice their willingness to help, even if it is about the most ordinary thing such as giving directions to a certain place. In the end, they see human relations how they should always be, natural and direct, and not like in many other countries, where people behave just like robots.
Cultural richness / Beautiful cities
Cultural richness includes diversity in anything that has to do with how people live: music, art, recreation, religion or beliefs, languages, dress, traditions, stories and folklore, ways of organization and of interacting with the environment, and attitudes toward other groups of people.
And if there is something which shows the cultural background of a certain place, that something is exactly a city, with all its history and architecture. And in Spain this means an amazing “physical” heritage left by the Romans, the Visigoths and the Moors, in different stages of history.
Starting in Andalusia, with its Arabian influence, we can find wonders such as Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Granada (its Alhambra could easily be one of the wonders of the world) or Cordoba. Moving east, we arrive in Valencia, a perfect mixture of modernity and history, while going up the coast, what to say about the colorful, impressive Barcelona and its younger brother filled with medieval architecture called Girona?
More to the north, another medieval example called Huesca, with its sublime Gothic cathedral. Tired already? Well, there is much more to talk about. Keep moving left on the map until you reach Pamplona, whose historical center is one of the oldest Gothic examples in the country. Close to Navarre is the Basque country, which give us such relics as San Sebastián and Bilbao. Move southwest and you will find Burgos, what was the capital of the kingdom of Castilla-Leon for five centuries, and more to the west you will arrive in Salamanca, the university city by excellence, known for its breath-taking old town.
The way to the west could not be complete without Santiago de Compostela which is, after Rome and Jerusalem, the city which attracts more catholic peregrines in the world. Moving south, close to the border with Portugal, Cáceres is an amazing example of different styles, mixing its Arabian walls with some medieval fortresses and Renaissance palaces.
Last but surely not least, in the middle of the territory, Toledo, a city with a history which goes way beyond the Moors, since it was the “Imperial City” for the Holy Roman Emperor in the XVI Century and the capital of the ancient Visigothic kingdom of Hispania, in the VI century. Just a few kilometers away, well, you will find the capital of country, la Movida, the majestic Madrid. I could also take about some cities in the islands like Tenerife, Ibiza or Palma, but I believe the continental cities are already more than enough reasons to visit the country of la siesta.
Celebrations, festivities and events
If the beauty of the cities wasn’t already worthwhile for itself, let me tell you that Spain also offers an endless selection of festivities you simply cannot miss.
First of all, many western and southern cities celebrate its Feria, which is exactly that: a fair for the entire family and friends to gather, eat, listen to music and have fun. Among many that I will not list here, I strongly recommend going to the two biggest ones: Seville and Malaga. While the former is totally based in the Flamenco culture, with everyone dressed accordingly, the latter is more like a summer party, offering these casetas playing music 24/7, so you must be a party warrior to survive this one-week celebration!
Ferias are a true hallmark of the Spanish culture, but what to say about the Carnival? It is true that you cannot compare it to Brazilian enthusiasm but still is one of the best parties you can have in Europe. The both times I was there during this time – once in Badajoz, the other one in Cádiz – I had really a good time, with serious party until the sun was already burning my face (yes, in February). Another great Carnival which I have not attended (but some friends have) is Sitches, 30 minutes away from Barcelona. Its extravagant tone – due to the large gay community which exists there – gives this extra dose of craziness which every party should have.
But the list of celebrations in the country of tapas goes on and on and one of its most famous celebrations is the San Fermin in Pamplona. Alongside with Oktoberfest in Munich as the party in Europe which brings together more people, this unique event which started in the middle age and gained real popularity in the last century (largely due to the novel “The Sun Also Rises” from Hemingway) is much more than the running of the bulls. Actually, you do not even need to support the Fiesta Brava, as in Pamplona you will have the streets all day and night long filled with people, music and a great atmosphere.
Another very famous celebration in Spain is Las Fallas, in Valencia, in which the Valencianos celebrate their own Carnival, where everything that is supposedly bad (the fallas, which are built all over the year by every Valencian neighborhood) is burnt and reborn from ashes to welcome a new era/season – in this case the spring. It is a very traditional festival, which naturally includes craziness spread throughout the whole city, where music and alcohol are present in every corner.
And last but not least, very close to Valencia – more specifically in the small town of Buñol – you have the world-famous La Tomatina, where everyone literally throws tomatoes at one another. It can be defined as the world’s biggest food fight and one of these experiences every person should try at least once in a lifetime.
The list could go on indefinitely, but I believe these are more than enough reasons to visit the Spanish territory, just in case you are looking for some fun!
Music and Party Spirit
I have talked about the big street parties and events which exist in Spain, but there is still something very important and totally related to it, which could not be left out: its music. Flamenco and classical guitar are the most famous examples, but the Spanish music is way vaster than one may think in the first place.
Spain was actually one of the cornerstone countries in shaping the classical music in the whole Europe, since many Spaniards traveled to such countries as Italy, Netherlands or Germany, while many composers of these nations also traveled to Spain. This resulted in an exchange of ideas, sounds and rhythms which deeply influenced how the music developed itself, having its climax in the XVIII and XIX centuries.
But if there is a thing which Spain is known about is the so-called Latin music, which includes such rhythms as salsa, bachata, reggaeton or merengue. It is true that none of these styles began actually in Spain – even so, they were all formed based on this hispanic culture, language and traits – but they are so famous, that you will listen to them across the whole country, where at least one in every two bars plays it.
You already know my passion about these types of music but, personal preferences aside, what this Latin music brings is not only unity but also lots of fun among people. One may argue that jazz, rock or even techno are the real styles of music and that Latin music is crap. Fine, but you can not deny neither the social side nor interaction the latter provides, since people start dancing with one another very easily, something which in Spain is as natural as the great barrier reef.
Finally, and talking specifically about having fun when the sun goes down, you will surely find many men when going out at night, where most of the places just turn into a big sausage fest. We all know how night life is fucked up and Spain is no exception. Nevertheless, due to the fact that you not only have many foreigners/tourists but also women are also more open than in most of the countries (more on that later), you will still have plenty of chances to get lucky, especially if you choose wisely the places.
Criminality / Safety
If you think about safety or even terrorism in Spain, then most likely what will pop up in your head will be the ETA, the Basque separatist group which killed around 800 people between the 60s and 2011, the year of its official ceasefire. And you may also have in your mind the terrible attack in the Atocha train station in Madrid in 2004 or the several attacks which happened last year in Barcelona. But, aside from that – and taking into account that ETA is nowadays a totally disarmed organization – there is not really much we can associate with the country as being unsafe.
As a matter of fact, if we look at the Crime Index per country of Numbeo, Spain shows up worldly ranked in the 83rd place with an Index of 36.74, a number totally acceptable to a country with so many different cultures and very disparate living standards. Actually, Spain has been facing a deep crisis in the last years, leading to massive unemployment levels, which is a factor which always increases criminality.
Sure, Madrid and especially Barcelona are widely known for their professional pickpockters and you will be robbed in case you get unwary in a public place. Plus, not only these two cities but other ones such as Seville and Valencia are also known for lots of thefts in vehicles parked on the street. But, if we look at the big picture and talking from personal experience, I can ensure you that you will never feel unsafe while wandering around in any given city of this country.
Before moving to Germany, I had this delusional idea that the weather did not really matter…”what matters is what you do and the people you are with”, I thought. Well, six years after, I can tell you that I was completely wrong, as I have come to the conclusion that the climate around is CRUCIAL to both your well-being and even health. It may be different for many people but, if you are a normal being, then you better live in a place in which grey is not the norm.
And if there is a country in which you have a great weather throughout the whole year, that country is exactly Spain. It is a fact that the territory is quite large and the conditions are not the same in Oviedo, Vigo or Santander as in Málaga or Almería. But even so, let us consider the former examples: Oviedo, which is arguably the coldest city of the three, has as average lowest temperature of 5° in January. So even that is quite bearable, meaning that you will always have between a nice and relatively warm temperature in the majority of the year.
Consider the latter example and talking about Andalusia, eventually the lowest temperature you will have in the whole year will be 10°, making this region eventually the best one in the whole Europe, in case you do not like to live with goosebumps all over your body. This great weather can also be extended to other southern regions such as Murcia or Valencia and naturally to the Balearic and Canary Islands. In the end, wherever you will be located at, you will never have to worry about buying that coat which weighs more than you and hides almost all your body and face.
Cuisine and food
“You are what you eat”, it’s a saying that you have most likely heard more times than your own name. Indeed, the food we ingest has a huge role in our lives and influences everything we are and also what we do, from the functioning of your toes until the millions of synapse communications you have in your brain.
So why is it that people neglect so much what they eat? Well, most of them do not think about the consequences in the long-run and just care about the instant gratification they get, usually coming from this immediate release of dopamine.
Look at such countries as USA, United Kingdom or Germany, and you will see countries filled with trashy food, available to everyone at ridiculous, cheap prices, in that supermarket just down the road. People consume an absurd, dangerous level of processed food, which only harms their general health and well-being.
Regarding Spain, luckily we have a country in which its inhabitants still live according to a relatively healthy lifestyle, which obviously includes proper food. From the famous tapas to the tortillas, from the gazpacho to the paellas, the Spanish is well varied and offers also many other options, based on fish, sea food and exquisite loaves of meats. It is true that sometimes the food either tends to be fried or contains many fats but, due to its Mediterranean nature, it can be considered still quite healthy, keeping all its taste in the background.
Price of things
All of the previous points are apparently great, but there is something which could hold you back from visiting Spain with a smile on your face: the price of things.
And while Spain can be expensive as hell, it can also be a bargain and the best value for money you can find.
But let us start with the former: if your idea of Spain are the islands, especially Ibiza, then I should not even be writing this point. The party island is almost for sure the most overpriced place in Europe, in which you are paying for a “brand” and not for the experience itself (which, by the way, it is not worth).
Moreover, albeit to a lesser extent, if you go to Barcelona, Madrid or even Seville or Valencia, you will surely run into very expensive things, especially if we take into consideration accommodation, eating outside and partying. Concerning the former, you can find cheap deals once in a while, but the reality is that not only for short stay but also for long-term renting you will need to allocate a large sum of your income. Regarding the latter, an outside dinner plus going for a couple of drinks can easily reach 100€ per person.
But while this expensive cities are a reality, the truth is that most of the Spanish territory is indeed quite cheap. For instance, instead of booking a hotel in Barcelona, you can go 60km northeast to Loret de Mar, where you can find a hotel for 20€ with breakfast and a swimming-pool. Or instead of checking the royal Marbella, why not staying 50 km moving east in Torremollinos, where the prices differ from day to night?
And as you can imagine, this applies to everything you will do and buy, from the items in the supermarket to the cocktails you will drink at a certain bar. So make sure that, the next time you will go to Spain, always look for the “provincial” Spain, which will give you the best of the country without leaving your wallet empty.
Sexy local Women
“Andreas, so much bla bla to finally reach the core of the matter”. I know, an article about a country could not be complete without talking about its women but hey, the best always comes at the end, right? And regarding Spain, it surely has plenty to talk about.
The kingdom of Felipe VI is eventually the European southern country in which women care more about their external appearance, as they groom and dress up even to go to a supermarket. In a way, it is like the Latin version of Russia or Ukraine, where a woman knows how much her value can come from what she shows to the world.
However, it is important to note that this trend depends a lot on the region. We know that talking in general can lead to some errors but that is where the (valid stereotypes) come from and they exist for a reason.
For instance, if you go to the north of the country, you will eventually find fewer girls who like to dress in a feminine way. The same goes for Barcelona, known for its left-wing sympathy and supporters, which always results in many women carrying clothes which would make every man turn gay!
On the flip side, due to its more traditional side and also political spectrum, in all the south, especially Andalusia, women tend to dress really to impress and are really proud about it.
In the end, you will have an interesting mixture: on one hand, you will see a bunch of attractive women totally dressed up, an experience similar to such countries as Russia or Serbia. On the other hand, due to this mentality of practicality and plenty of leftism in the background, you will come across many unattractive females.
Anyway, compared to the western standards, it is surely one of the best countries you can find on this matter, where many women still care a lot about their appearance.
Plenty of foreign women
The topic of women has not finished yet: if it were all about the local women, then surely there would be much better choices, not only in Europe but also in other countries such as Colombia, Brazil or Argentina. However, if there is a thing Spain is known for, is the number of foreigners it receives.
But contrary to other countries such as France, Germany or UK, in which women go there either to work or to land some cuckold, in Spain they come to have fun. Think about all the girls who you have already met who have been to Spain and try to remember about their commentaries on the matter. Most likely, they said things like “oh, the country is so cool”, “it has really a nice atmosphere” or “I really loved the weather and the people”. All of which are just disguised ways of saying that they were there to have real fun.
Regarding the tourists, it is obvious. They go there to party hard, leaving all the shyness and bitchiness they usually display in their home countries. Off the top of my head, I immediately think about the Germans who make of Mallorca their crazy second home, about the Swedes or Norwegians who invade the south of Spain or basically almost everyone who goes to the party island of Ibiza or, to a lesser degree, to the Canary islands. And even considering such cities as Seville and especially Madrid and Barcelona, every single woman who goes there will surely include a couple of nights out.
But wait, there is more. Even the women who come here to work, many come to find small jobs such as working in a bar, as a receptionist, as a tour guide or even as a foreign language teacher, so that they can develop their Spanish. And we all know that this eager to improve their Spanish also includes some crazy adventures with the Latin lovers they are so curious about.
It is true that there are some women who come to work for valid and not for party reasons but, if we sum up everything in the end, Spain is a country filled with open foreign girls whom you can meet at every corner.
If we talk about any of these points individually, then most of the choices would not fall on Spain. Sure, the Spaniards are quite nice, but what to say of the hospitality of the Portuguese or the natural or the ease of the British?
And regarding beautiful cities, certainly France and especially Italy would have a word to say on this matter. And talking about Italy, its food would eventually grab most of the world’s preferences, whereas the Greek cuisine would be chosen as the healthiest one.
And what to say about the price of things? Just go to any given country in Eastern Europe that you will find cheaper deals. And security? Go to the Nordic countries and you can even leave your phone on a bench, that most likely you will find it still there fifteen minutes later. Last but not least, let us not even talk about women, as most the countries in Eastern Europe are a better choice in terms of local talent.
But usually a very good thing is the sum of all its parts, and Spain is surely the best example I can think in terms of a country. It might not be the best if we take into consideration every point separately – eventually just regarding the foreign women and also the celebrations and festivities which happen the whole year – but it is, in my honest opinion, the best combination of all of the factors which matter when visiting or living in a country.
If you do not agree with me, that’s fine, I can live well with that. In any case, I strongly recommend to come to Spain, a wonderful country where most of the people are truly nice and friendly and will make you feel at home. In addition, it offers options and alternatives for all tastes, and whose vibrant atmosphere and lifestyle you will not find anywhere else in the world.