1. In the 15th century two kingdoms were united with the marriage of Isabel of Castile to Fernando of Aragon.
2. Fernando was also the king of Catalunya. The conflict of Catalonia is a prevailing one in Spain. They have sought secession from Spain and failed to attain it. However, the region recognizes itself as an autonomous region. Their culture and practices are also starkly different from the Spanish. Once while I was travelling at a hostel a bunch of us were introducing ourselves when I clearly remember a guy stating that he’s Catalan and not Spanish. The distinction isn’t just in the flag they hoist, but in their identity and practices too.
3. Like UK and Sweden, the country still has a king sitting as the head of the state but doesn’t necessarily hold that much say in the country’s laws and regulations.
4. At a staggering area of 505,990 sq. km., Spain is the second largest country in the European Union. France being the first. For the beach bums, the good news is that the country boasts of 8,000 kms stretch of beaches.
5. They have the 5th largest population in the world. This population is said to have the second highest life expectancy with an average of 83 years! But this is projected to make the Spanish population one of the oldest by 2050, by which time 30% of them would be aged 60 years and above. Unfortunately, it also has the second largest rate of unemployment in Europe.
6. Not surprisingly, Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world.
7. If you’re looking to be surprised let me tell you that the country legalized nudity. So, erm with 3,000 hours of sunshine, strip as you please! Personal consumption of cannabis is also legal but smoking one in public is not. It was also the first country to ban smoking in bars and workplaces though, back in 2006.
8. Also, in the liberal country the legal age to consent for sex was 13 years and for marriage was 14 years, till back in 2013. Now it has been increased to 16 years.
9. Their openness has made the country largely open and comfortable with homosexuality. This is due to the Roman influence which once upon a time regarded bisexuality to be ideal. Under their effects, the Spanish kingdom legalized intercourse between the same sex in 1822 which was unfortunately recriminalized in 1928. In fact, the debacle of recriminalizing and decriminalizing went on off and again in Spain. The prohibition was lifted in 1979, recognition rights were given in 1994 and 2005 onwards same sex marriages and adoption were both legalized. Around that time, they even gave legal recognition to the preferred gender of a transgender person. The country even has laws to prevent discrimination on these grounds. It has also time and again been ranked as one of the most-gay friendly countries in the world.
10. After the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, females in Spain were responsible for setting up 40% of businesses, amounting to approximately 800,000 businesses. Girl power!
11. A 2013 OECD report indicated that the average Spanish individual dedicates 16 out of 24 hours to leisure activities. Just chill, chill, just chill! Or actually, “Manana Manana” which literally means “tomorrow, tomorrow” but is used to signify “no stress”, a key part of the country’s culture. On a side note, the country also has the most number of bars in all of Europe.
12. But hey, the first ever novel was also written here! The book Don Quixote is named after the protagonist and narrates his adventures as a knight who inherited the essential human values. Authored by Miguel De Cervantoes in 1605 this is believed to be the first modern novel. Its second part was published a decade later, in 1615.
13. In fact, we have the credit to thank for inventions as humble as the stapler to as complex as the spacesuit and even essential utility items such as the mop and bucket. It has even been a pioneer in renewable energy resources usage, being the first country to have wind as one of the greatest sources to generate electricity back in 2013 itself.
14. And on the note of records, the country has the third number of UNESCO World Heritage sites! Take a wild guess at the number. 47! Yep, with the likes of the Granada, Alhambra, Toledo and lots more, the country is a rich bowl of heritage.
15. The country is also lauded by football lovers as it holds the record for topping FIFA rankings for 5 consecutive years straight from 2008 – 2013. It also holds the record for winning the maximum number of consecutive matches, 28.
17. I for one relish the different folklores. If you’ve heard the practice of the tooth fairy, its time for you to be acquainted with Spain’s very own tooth fairy. Only this time it isn’t a fairy but a rat! Rotancito Perez is the mouse who comes to collect the teeth of children from under their pillows and leaves them behind money. While I appreciate the story being passed down to children, somehow the thought of a rat on my mattress is enough to disturb my sleep! :p
18. And on the topic of teeth, let me introduce you to Restaurante Botin. I mean, calling out to our food photographers, food bloggers and plain old foodies because this is the Guinness Record holder for being the world’s oldest restaurant! It has been running since 1725.
19. Meanwhile, circling back to traditions, the Spanish folks believe that if you eat a grape for every time the clock hits a beat as time strikes 12 am on New Year’s night, then with the timely consumption of these 12 grapes you’ll be blessed with good luck all year round! Not to be a party pooper but it is also said that this practice was started by wineries as they wanted to get rid of the excess grapes. Oops. This is not quite surprising seeing how over 1 million hectares of land is dedicated to wine production.
20. As for the ones who feel particularly lucky, it’d be interesting to learn that of all the lotteries in the world, a Spanish one is said to hold the highest prize, a whopping 2.3 billion! Named “El Gordo” to signify “the fat one” which is undoubtedly apt for a prize that fat!
21. A curious fact is that the national anthem has no words. Gosh, they must be a melodious bunch because if our national anthem didn’t have words and had everyone singing a tune, ah I can’t imagine that being something you want to subject your ears to, specially at school!
Trip Leader Niyati’s Recommendations:
1. Barcelona! From the famous art works or architecture of Antoni Gaudi (Sagrada, Park Guell, etc.) to its passion for football in Camp Nou stadium, from the Barcelona Cathedral at night to the beach clubs, taking the tram to Tibidabo Mountain and trekking up there; there’s so much to do in Barcelona that you must make sure to chalk out a couple of days for this city.
2. In fact, you can read Captain Nero’s own experiences in Barcelona as he paints a more vivid image of the city for you, here.
3. Speaking of Captain Nero’s adventures, has Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara got you wanting to take on adventures too? Would you go for the bull race to see your life probably flash before as your eyes as you take on something so exhilarating?! Read about Nero’s story here.
4. The cathedral, the Alcazar castle, the Giralda tower and the garden complex, Seville is the European dream served upon your eyes.
Click here to check out five best day trips from Seville!
5. Now if you are in fact a fan of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara then you are bound to have dreamed of the La Tomatina festival. Pelting each other with tomatoes and dancing and sliding away in the madness! Here’s everything you ought to know about it.
In case you’re curious about other absolutely mad festivals around the world, check this out: https://www.onhisowntrip.com/the-craziest-maddest-festivals-in-the-world/
6. Coastal hikes, pretty reefs and fishes, migratory birds and absolutely stunning turquoise water in sandy beaches, this is the dream that you get to live at Mallorca’s Mondrago National Park!
7. Forementera’s Playa de Ses Illetes beach is also nothing short of dreamy. It has time and again been recognized as one of the top beaches of Spain. I wouldn’t want to miss Playa de Silencio either for it offers an uncommon and beautiful landscape.
8. “Going for tapas” is an essential part of Spanish culture, one that you can experience anywhere in Spain but I’d recommend Granada to you. Why? Well, it comes free with your drinks. Yes, it’s that big a part of their culture. The hills of Granada are a different side of Spain with Sierra Nevada being ideal for skiing and Alhambra’s fort complex offering picturesque views of the whole city.
9. Adventures of sky-diving, ziplining and hiking, cultural experiences such as flamenco shows and a bustling night life, Spain has a whole to offer depending on what you’re setting out to see and what time in hand you have.
As I’m sucker for stories, why not end this with one? Here’s another one of Captain Nero’s tales from his adventures in Spain.
How to Reach:
Catch a flight with two layovers to reach Spain via Qatar and Italy, sometimes even via Dubai.
For visa kindly refer to the following page on our website: