Are you visiting Spain this March or April? Boy, have you got a lot to fit into your schedule!
If you're already in Spain, March gets off to a bang today with the Carnival (known as Mardi Gras in the US) taking place in many cities around the country. Check out my list of Carnival Cities in Spain or read about what's going on tonight at the Carnival in Sitges or the Chueca Carnival.
If you're not in town for the official start of Lent, don't think that the next forty days will be bereft of fun things to do. The Fallas Festival also happens this month, with events earlier in Valencia leading up to the big event from March 15 to March 19.
April sees Semana Santa, Spain's week-long Easter celebrations, dominate events. Check out the Best Semana Santa Cities in Spain to see what to head for (or to avoid, if Easter is not your kind of thing).
Venere.com, one of my favorite hotel booking websites, has a 15% off deal for today only - and the best part is that you don't have to pay up front!
With Venere, as with Booking.com (in most cases), there is a no-obligation clause which can make planning your vacation a lot easier.
This could be especially useful for anyone looking for Las Fallas Accommodation. Valencia's colossal street festival, Spain's Biggest Party, takes place in March and accommodation can be extremely expensive, especially this close to the dates.
Check out the Venere.com 15% Discount.
I just stumbled upon an interesting article on the New York Times website about Spain's unusual daily schedule. The cherished siesta and even more revered late, late nightlife and the work-play balance that the Spanish are known for is perhaps a bit of a myth, with many workers not getting that leisurely afternoon rest (and certainly never having the chance to sleep).
Instead, Spaniards find their work day stretched out unnecessarily. As a result, there is now a campaign to re-adjust the Spanish day to be more in line with other nations'. This is a topic that I have written about before, but the NYT article shows that the campaign is doing its best to keep the idea in the spotlight.
Though the afternoon rest may not be rooted in the truth, the late-night part of the equation is a reality, with a quarter of Spaniards watching TV between midnight and 1am and people of all ages staying out late in the country's famous bars and cafes. So what suffers? Sleep, productivity, and for many, family life. But never the partying.
The campaign to shift Spain's hasn't taken hold yet, so being prepared for the differences on your first trip to the country is a good idea. It takes a bit of getting used to find many shops closed between 2pm and 5pm, though this happens less than it used to in the country's larger cities. And trying to get something to eat at 7pm is at best a lonely experience and usually downright impossible.
See also: Barcelona Nightlife Spots
The caves, which are believed to have been inhabited 13,000 to 35,000 years ago, were closed 12 years ago due to carbon dioxide damage caused by the breath of visitors to the sight. The trial re-opening is designed to assess the potential impact of more controlled visits.
The first lucky people allowed to see the paintings were chosen at random from the nearby museum and had to wear protective clothing.
If you're not interested in staying in Santander, the Altamira caves are an hour-and-a-half's drive from Bilbao.
Viator, one of the biggest marketplaces for guided tours around the world, are running a 10%-off promotion until Monday.
Just use the promotional code F224 during checkout to get the discount.
See also my list of the Essential Guided Tours of Spain: there are some sights in Spain where visiting by yourself just isn't practical and where the efficiency of a tour combined with the expertise of a local guide is indispensable.
Both Ryanair and easyJet have been fined by Italian regulators over the 'lack of transparency' in their travel insurance policies.
easyJet has already started to make changes to the way they display their policy. Ryanair have not yet responded and have been given 30 days to do so.
Regardless of the changes that the airlines make to the way they display their insurance policies, the general consensus is that most ancillary services offered by airlines should be avoided.
In the case of travel insurance, you will almost certainly get a better deal from your bank, health insurance provider or a company dedicated to insurance.
Airlines take advantage of the ease with which one can add insurance to their purchase as well as the pressure to finish buying your tickets before the dreaded 'session time out' screen appears.
The same can also be said for hotel and car hire offers, which may seem tempting at the time but may end up forcing you to pay more. Check out a price comparison site like Travelocity before you book.
If you're a British expat who needs their hit of Marmite, Branston or PG Tips - or if you're from elsewhere but recognise that not all British food is bad - you might be interested in this map of Great British Grub from Which OffShore.
Their map is not complete. Particularly conspicuous by their absence is the British food stores on the Costa del Sol. For these, check out this list of British and English Food on the Costa del Sol. However, it gives an interesting insight into the spread of the British diaspora. The map tries to cover the whole world of British expat stores; particularly interesting is just how many stores there are in Brittany in France.
See also: Shopping in Barcelona
Features of the ship include the first ever at-sea Starbucks, Chicago stage show and seven distinct 'neighborhoods'.
The Royal Carribean ship will start sailing from Barcelona from 2015. Initially the liner will travel to Palma, Marseille, La Spezia and Civitavecchia.
New figures show that this month has seen the fewest road fatalities in Spain since 1960. And yet the Spanish media (both Spanish-language and news in English aimed at foreigners) seems to have an obsession with car accidents, periodically publishing road deaths figures for busy times of year such as Semana Santa and Summer in Spain.
So does Spain have a particularly high number of road traffic accidents?
A look at the Wikipedia page for Road Traffic Deaths suggests this not to be the case. Spain is safer than many other European countries, including Greece, Belgium, Poland, Italy and Austria, and has a third less road fatalities than the United States. Spain is next to its neighbour, France, on the league table. Most Scandinavian countries do a little better than Spain and Great Britain has roughly half the road deaths that Spain has.
Every road death is a death too many, but the media's preference for stories about road fatalities shouldn't scare anyone into not driving in Spain.
See also: Madrid Road Trips
What's going on in Spain over the next couple of months? Easter is late this year, so carnival doesn't come until March. But you do have Madrid's Gastrofestival and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, while Jerez has its big flamenco festival towards the end of the month.
Not only do we have carnival in March, but the Fallas festival in Valencia too, meaning you'll never be short of excuses to go partying. The Fallas festival is probably Spain's biggest street party and combines music, food, fireworks and lots and lots of noise. See more on Things to Do at Las Fallas.