There’s nothing more annoying for an Instagram addict than realising it’ll cost you a fortune to post that perfect holiday photo online because you’re using your phone abroad. Data charges can be a nightmare for anyone, but it’s extra frustrating for bloggers who’ve promised to provide live social media coverage during a sponsored trip (cue massive phone bill).
That’s why I was pleased to be sent this travel infographic from Three, who have just added Spain to their list of Feel at Home destinations, allowing customers to use their normal data allowance (plus calls and texts) abroad at no extra cost. Time to fill everyone’s Twitter timeline with a drip-feed of Spanish holiday antics – known affectionately as holiday spam…
Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of selfies, especially on holiday, but I can’t encourage you more to play around with travel photography; all you need is a decent camera (the one on your phone will do) and a bit of imagination to move away from selfies into something more exciting. Spain is full of photo opportunities, so get out there and start ticking off some of these suggestions in person.
- Street art is huge here, not just in major cities but in more unexpected areas as well. Only last month, the Guardian reported how Fanzara village, near Valencia, reinvented itself as a street art destination, reviving the otherwise dying community and bringing together artists and locals. Banksy would approve.
- Salvador Dalí’s house in Portlligat, Cadaqués, started life as a bunch of fishing huts. He renovated the space over 40 years, adding surrealist objects (egg sculptures, lip sofas), taxidermy, a pool, a studio in an olive grove and a whispering room. Book tickets in advance and get exploring this unusual place in Costa Brava. You’ll need photo evidence or nobody will believe the things you’ve seen…
- Look out for dramatic buildings to capture against the skyline. Instagram favourites include Granada’s Alhambra Palace (built during the Moorish conquests) and the Segovia Aqueduct (built by the Romans). The cutting-edge Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a modern option.
Food and Drink
- It’s one thing to take a photo of your dinner, but up the ante by joining a tapas trail (like a pub crawl, but snack-based). Each ‘tapa‘ is a light snack and could be a national favourite or a local speciality. Torrevieja hosts a trail event twice a year, whilst Nerja has a self-guided route and Madrid has a full-blown tour running all year round.
- If you’re a beer lover you’ll already know about popular Spanish brands like Estrella Damm, Mahou, Cruzcampo and San Miguel, but you can impress everyone back home by snapping some of the more obscure variations (Estrella Galicia, Alhambra Reserva, etc.). FYI, Barcelona is the top place to find a microbrewery, known as a fabrica de cerveza.
- Stick two fingers up to #thinspiration and #fitspiration with a close-up shot of a traditional Spanish dessert – use the tilt shift option in Instagram for maximum impact. Crema Catalana is Spain’s take on crème brulée; turrón, or nougat, was introduced by Arabic settlers hundreds of years ago and is now a staple at Christmas; the ensaïmada, a sugary spiral of dough with different fillings, is Mallorca’s speciality.
Weird Spanish Museums and Attractions
- Spain holds its own with a huge collection of weird museums, where it’d be rude not to try and take a sneaky photo or check in on Facebook. Try the Funeral Carriages Museum (Barcelona), the Museum of Ham (Madrid) and the Jug Museum (Villena). Alternatively, pop into Borja, near Zaragoza, to see the Christ fresco ruined by a well-meaning Spanish pensioner (this is genuinely on my wish list). Cecilia Gimenez botched the Sanctuary of Mercy Church painting in an attempted restoration, but made headlines around the world and raised €50,000 for a local charity when tourists arrived to see the piece.
- Zugarramurdi has to be the number one unusual destination in Spain. The town, which was the site of the world’s largest ever witch trial, has a witches’ cave and a museum focusing on the occult. Perhaps not somewhere to visit on a romantic minibreak…
- Instead of ruining your clothes at La Tomatina, try taking a Vine video of human tower building in Catalonia. This bizarre sport, where ‘Castellers‘ gradually stand on each other’s shoulders to create a huge tower shape, is best seen in Villafranca.
- Head to a rooftop terrace to soak up the sunshine in luxury and take a panoramic shot. The Es Baluard Museum and Restaurant in Palma, Mallorca, gives you views of Bellver Castle, the Paseo Marítimo and Palma Cathedral, whereas the Palacio Ca Sa Galesa’s terrace features a rooftop pool, haimas (glamorous relaxation areas with ‘multimedia towers’!) and sunbeds, with the Cathedral right in front of you.
- Set off on a road trip – Rough Guides has some good mainland route suggestions. On islands like Ibiza and Formentera you can cycle or ride a scooter to reach secluded beaches that you’d otherwise miss, whereas on Mallorca you’ll need a car (or serious cycling/hiking abilities) to reach the Santuari de Sant Salvador, home to monks who make their own wine – a pretty cool souvenir to bring home.
- The Tabernas Desert in Almeria was used as a location for blockbuster films including Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, A Fist Full of Dollars, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; it also appeared in an episode of Doctor Who. Have your own Hollywood moment by visiting the studios’ three main areas, Oasys Park, Fort Bravo and Western Leone.
Places to Stay (Bragging Rights Included)
- Book up one of the factories, convents, castles and palaces that have been transformed into fashionable hotels across Spain. If your budget stretches to it, the Paradores chain has a great selection, including a monastery in Leon, and what’s thought to be the world’s oldest hotel, next to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Or try the Parador on Mount Teide, Tenerife, where you can sleep inside an extinct volcano.
- In the countryside, try a finca (farm) – no wellies required. There are plenty in Ronda (Andalucia), the Canary Islands and the Balearics. Alternatively, indulge your hippy side by staying in a treehouse in the Basque country or a yurt near Malaga.
- Hostels are known for being cheap and cheerful, but they don’t have to compromise on style. Bilbao has the arty Botxo Gallery Youth Hostel, Madrid has the U Hostel with its own cinema, chill out zone and library, and Seville has the classy TOC Hostel, complete with an open market and shop.
There’s no excuse not to start holiday spamming in Spain. Tweet me your best jealousy-inducing photos (@misspallen) and make the most of your trip.