A Severe Case Of Hispanophilia
No, it's not a disease. It's just a general state of being
nuts about everything Hispanic.
As far as travel is concerned, last year was a great year. We spent two and a half weeks in the South of Spain in the provinces of Almeria and Malaga where we checked out places such as Mojacar, Nerja, Marbella, Ronda and Gibraltar.
The famous Ponte Nuevo of Ronda.
Spain is such an awesome place. The history, the architecture, the language, the music, the food, the climate, the diversity of landscapes... It is truly an amazing place and I can't seem to get enough of it.
The Rock of Gibraltar - a piece of Britain on Spanish soil.
In September I took off again for another two weeks and a bit with one of my friends, guess where - to Spain! Again! This time I went to Barcelona (what an awesome city!), Tarragona, Valencia, the Costa Blanca, Montserrat and I also spent a relaxing week on the island of Ibiza, which turned out a lot more beautiful than I expected. Barcelona I thought was fabulous, its location on the Mediterranean, surrounded by a group of hills. It's also very close to the Pyrenees, so there is excellent access to skiing, hiking, mountain biking and all sorts of other sports activities. It's obvious by now that I have a love for the Spanish language, Spanish culture, music etc.
Benidorm: Spain's equivalent of the Copacabana.
In November I had a brief interlude with my short 9-day trip to Austria with a brief side trip to Slovenia and Northern Italy. And although I appreciate Central Europe, and it was certainly nice to visit my home country again after an 8 year break, something always calls me to places where it's warm and where they speak Spanish.
Church of Ronda, in brilliant sunshine.
One of my dreams is to learn how to speak Spanish and to achieve close to native speaker level. I learned Spanish almost 20 years ago at university and haven't had much of a chance to keep it up since then. Last year I finally took some courses in Spanish again, (at a fabulous place called the Spanish Centre in Toronto) and I am enrolled for another course starting this coming Monday.
Casares, one of the Pueblos Blancos (white villages in Andalusia)
So when you combine a language nut with a travel nut, what do you get?
You get someone who's planning to take a trip that includes a local language training program. This has a number of advantages: first of all, I'll get to go to an interesting place in a warm climate. Number 2: I get to learn Spanish. Number 3: Chances are I'll stay in a "homestay" program, meaning that I will be staying with a local family where I am fully immersed in the Spanish language and I get to know local customs, traditions, etc. Number 4: I'll get to explore the local area, meet some of the local people, take pictures, etc.
Another Pueblo Blanco.
It's a fantastic combination, spending 4 hours in the morning learning languages, then having the afternoon off to explore the place, having your weekends free to do excursions and being fully immersed in the local culture by staying with a family. It's great because you don't need a travel partner since you will be staying with a local family and you are already connected to other people through the local language learning institution.
These language schools generally arrange everything, including the accommodation, and usually they also have excursions and special social & cultural events that the language students can participate in. I know that I will be doing a Spanish language study trip some time in the spring, probably April, but I haven't yet determined the exact location and all the details. I'll keep you posted on all that good stuff.
I'm already getting excited.
Useful and interesting books about Spanish language and culture: