500 things Spain Travel

500 things! And the Winner is…..

First and foremost, many thanks to all who sent in the 100 entries to our 500 things to do in Spain before you die competition, all of which will end up in the charity book (see below). The quality was excellent, and picking a winner was extremely difficult. But, a winner there must be, and so… the prize goes to…

Rod Brookes! Rod, who blogs at Rods Spanish Stuff wins with this entry:

“Walk through the pine forests of the Parque Natural de la Breña (a few kilometres south of Vejer de la Frontera and west of Barbate on the Costa de la Luz) on a sunny Autumn day, through the distinctive trees that form a bizarrely shaped continuous parasol formed by exposure to the savage wind here. Pass the Torre del Tajo to the mirador which overlooks the sheer cliffs and gives you such a magnificent view, on your left down the coast to Tarifa (and even Morocco on a clear day), and on the right over the Cape Trafalgar lighthouse to where the battle was fought about 200 years ago. At the end of the day, drive down to Trafalgar in the orange light of sunset, walking past the kitesurfers and windsurfers packing up, up to the memorial, around the lighthouse and onto the almost certainly deserted beach.”

Why did this entry win? Firstly, it brings to light a little-traveled corner of Andalusia, a stretch of one of the last unspoilt areas of the coasts of Southern Spain. It’s an area I know fairly well, and one that is exceptional in terms of its wild nature and fascinating landscapes (those wind-blown parasol trees…) Secondly, it was one of several high quality entries sent in by Rod, all of which will go towards helping to make the forthcoming book a resounding success…

What next? The book

We now have a book to put together! The original idea of the competition was to gather entries for a guidebook that will then be sold for charity, with all proceeds going to the Spanish Red Cross. The competition netted around 100 entries, a fantastic level of participation, but that still leaves some work ahead if we are to reach the 500 target. The first job will be for us to organise the entries into categories, to edit and spell check everything, add more information where necessary, and then to start filling in the gaps. We’ll be asking for your help again over the coming weeks. For now, many thanks again to all who sent in entries, and watch this space for details of the book!

Photo above by Rod Brookes

500 things Spain Travel

Russian Roulette in Barcelona and Trout near Teruel – 500 things competition deadline approaches!

Two days left until we announce the winner of our “500 things to do in Spain before you die competition“, so get those final entries in fast! Remember, you have a chance to win an iPod Shuffle and all entries will end up in a book designed to raise money for charity.

To inspire you I’ve included a few great examples below, the first two on Barcelona from our man in the Catalan Capital, Dave Hall:

“Play Russian Roulette with the Piminientos de Padrón (some are hot, some are not!) along with other truly great quality tapas at the Ciutat Comtal restaurant on La Rambla de Catalunya. It’s always busy so you might struggle to get in, but the food, service, and atmosphere are all definitely well worth it.”

“Go and see the Magic Fountains located between the twin towers of Plaza España and the grand entrance to Montjuic. Aside from the Olympic stadium of course, the fountains were the centrepiece for the 1992 Games and the nightly shows are amazing, combining huge amounts of water and light to make a dazzling effect, and many shows are also set to music. Check the timetables on the internet before you go, for more details, as there’s a reduced program during the winter.”

Katie, who writes at the excellent España Profunda blog sent in this entry on a very appealing hotel near the lost city of Teruel:

“Hang out with trout in the heart of El Maestrazgo. Deep in a valley in the middle of nowhere Teruel, Aragón, you’ll find a lovely hotel surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Spain. The Hostal de la Trucha is styled tastefully like an old hunting lodge and sits on the Rí­o Pitarque next to a small fish farm that provides the hotel with trout every morning for the day’s meals. To top it off, there are plenty of well-marked hiking trails in the area.”

Send in your entries (by email only please) while there is still time!

500 things Spain Travel

500 things: Taking it easy in Murcia city

You still have ten days left to enter our competition and help us make a fantastic book about the very best things to do in Spain. Debbie Jenkins, from sent in the latest entry, about Plaza Cardinal Belluga, in Murcia City:

“Nothing could be more relaxing than making the short drive into the city on a Sunday morning, and sitting in the Plaza Cardinal Belluga with your newspaper (La Verdad for Marcus and El Semanal for me – I like the pictures!) and a coffee and tostadas, watching the world go by. On many occasions we’ve been entertained by marching bands, balloon sellers or by watching cars magically appear out of buildings.”

The region of Murcia (map) is off the map for many travelers to Spain, but is increasingly popular with British holiday makers and second home buyers. Do you know anything else about the region? A Murcia secret you’d like to enter into the 500 things to do before you die competition?

500 things Notes from Spain Podcast Spain Travel

Notes from Spain Podcast 56 – A Year in Europe

[Download MP3]

La Cartuja

Ben and Marina talk to Scott and Sheryl who gave up everything for a year on the road, and have just spent two months in Andalusia. To follow them as they continue on their adventures check out the great posts and podcasts at, and Scott’s photos on Flickr. The image above comes from Scott’s La Cartuja Flickr set, taken at the semi-abandoned Seville Expo site we discuss on the podcast. Would you consider giving up everything to make a trip like this? Let us know in the forum or comments below…

Scott also came up with an entry for our 500 things competition (keep the entries coming in!):

La Mesquita in the Morning

Experiencing one of the jewels of Mudejar Andalucia is something you’ll never forget. Make your way to Cordoba and visit La Mesquita first thing in the morning, right at opening time. As you walk through the courtyard you are teased by the bricked up Moorish arches that were originally open to the interior. When you enter through the tall wooden doors, and once your eyes adjust to the darkness, you’ll see what makes this place so breathtaking. Stretching seemingly into infinity is a forest of columns, connected by graceful white and red arches and dimly lit by hanging chandeliers. Wander through the streams of morning light, splashing pools of color onto the marble floor. If you’re lucky, you’ll pass through a wisp of orange incense in the air. Inside La Mesquita, you are transported to another time where you experience a special piece of ancient Spain. It is magic.

Mesquia, Cordoba

Photos above © Scott Andress

500 things Spain Travel

Silence in Spain?! …500 things competition

Arpi Shively, who runs the excellent Andalucid blog on life in the Alpujarras and beyond, sent in this entry for our “500 things to do in Spain before you die” competition (you can win and iPod Shuffle and get in a book!). Apparently there is somewhere in Spain that you can get away from all the noise:

“Retreat from ‘la ruida’ at Osel Ling in the Alpujarras: Noise, cars, buildings and people gradually melt away as you wind up the long steep track to this Tibetan Buddhist monastery, whose name means ‘Place of Clear Light’. Its rugged stone buildings and stupas are perched at the top of the Poqueira gorge above Pampaneira in Andalucia’s High Alpujarra foothills. Retreat to one of the simple huts on the herb-scented hillside, attend lectures on Buddhism and drink in the silence that is sweeter than any music.” – Photo: © Fred Shively who has some wonderful photos of Spain.

Have you got a silent Spain secret you are willing to share? Enter the competition! Details here!

500 things Spain Travel

500 things – Granada: Party until dawn with gypsies in caves

The entries are pouring in for our ‘500 things to do in Spain before you die’ competition (you can win an iPod shuffle!) When I sent details to my Spain-dwelling friends I never expected to get two entries on the same experience, proving that this must indeed be one of the most memorable things to do in Spain before you die…

500 things Spain Travel

NFS Competition: 500 things to do in Spain before you die – win an iPod shuffle, get in the book, raise money for charity!

It’s competition time! But this is a competition with a difference. The aim is it come up with 500 of the very best things to do in Spain, be it eating that tapa in a certain restaurant in Seville, taking a special train ride, or swimming off your own little-known deserted beach… I’m sure you all have one amazing tip to share! At the end of the competition on March 31st we hope to have a list of 500 amazing experiences, and one lucky winner, who will receive a brand new iPod Shuffle and a CD of great Spanish music to put on it.

But there’s more… once we have the list of 500 we will be putting it to good use, sharing it with the entire Notes from Spain community: the 500 experiences will be listed here on the website for a limited period after the competition ends, begfore being turned into a book that can be bought in downloadable pdf or actual book format, with all proceeds going to the Spanish Red Cross or another Spanish charity of your choice.

How to enter/Rules:

The theme of the competition is ‘Things to do in Spain before you die’ (and we hope that with your help the list will reach 500!) Your entry can be about any experience available to travelers anywhere in Spain, but the more specific you are, the better. For example, naming a certain bar, restaurant or harbor to eat seafood in will be better than just saying ‘eating prawns in Galicia’. The more details the better, but try to keep within a maximum of around 75 words. See my examples below and take your time, all entries are going to end up in a book remember, and the better the book, the more we can raise for charity!

Entries must be sent in to Ben by email. Please include your name and location. You may enter as many times/things to do as you like. The winner will be announced on March 31st 2007, and we will get to work on putting the book together after that (N.B. By entering in the competition you agree that your entry will be published in the book afterwards and that some entries may be edited for grammatical correctness!) In the meantime, all entries will appear here on the blog throughout March.

Here are some examples of the format we are looking for, but remember, your entry might be about a stunning train ride in Huelva, an unmissable tapas experience in San Sebastain, or an often-overlooked village just outside Cuenca, whatever you think everyone should do once in Spain before they die…:

Climbing the giant sand dunes in Bolonia, Andalusia: This is one of the wildest beaches in Spain, with random cows, dogs, and fisherman wandering up and down the white sands with no particular destination in mind. Climb to the top of the giant dunes at the far end of the beach for an eye-watering view across the glistening Straits of Gibraltar to the shores of Morocco, the very edge of Africa.

Walking down the Cares Gorge: This spectacular six hour walk between the hamlets of Poncebos and Cain in the Picos de Europa mountain range, follows a narrow footpath that clings to the sides of a 1,500 m deep ravine. Not for the faint-hearted, as the drops are severe and, being Spain, there isn’t a safety railing in sight!

Eating freshly bought sea snails out of a paper cone with a pin, on the harbour in San Sebastian, while trying to spot the friendly dolphin in the bay!

Right, it’s over to you, our inbox is waiting!