España oh dear España!! I have never been to a country that is so different from one region to another and so enchanting and warm! Each region is a must visit which is why you will see the most cities under Spain in my blog. They all happened at different times and different stages in my life and I’m ever so greatful for the gifts that Spain bestowed upon my relatively insignificant life (my ego just threw a major fit when I wrote that, narcissism!).
You will get everything in Spain from beaches to mountains to glaciers to rivers and streams, jungles and plains to fields full of fresh tomatoes to olive groves, bull fight rings to modern food markets, crazy parties, happy people, winter sun and fresh fruits all year round.
Fun fact: Outside Kashmir, Spain is the only place that produces good quality Saffron, an association in very proud of, such a beautiful bond between my homeland and this home away from home.
My first visit to Spain was to Gran Canaria during Christmas and New Years Holidays . Next year I chose Tenerife to get some sun when Europe was plunged in grey clouds and rain. That summer I went to visit Barcelona with one of my best friends and last year I popped in to Madrid before going to Brazil and the last trip was this year when I went to see Alhambra in Granada along with Mezquita Cathedral in Córdoba and Alcazba in Malaga. From Catalonia to Andalusia, Spain is a sheer treat no matter what you fancy doing, the country offers it all with a smile.
Spain is one of the biggest countries in Europe and with its glorious past, amazing beaches, partying culture, scrumptious food it is a unique blend and the culture is quite similar in terms of its warmth with all the differences in the culture across regions.
The Racism Factor
Pfffff! Spaniards would be the last people I’d associate with racism, people from small shops to those on streets and everyone above and below is really nice. The country is very used to tourists of all colours and shapes and majority is not racist at all. I haven’t had a whiff of racism in all 6 of my trip and have yet to meet a racist Spaniard…
The Gay Factor
Spanish guys are the hottest, most amazing and super friendly guys on the whole planet along with Brazilians. I made so many friends all around the country and I love them to death for being so amazing and loving. One day, hopefully I’ll marry one of the Spanirads or Brazilians, if my dream came true ?
People are very sweet when it comes to sexuality and never for a single moment I felt threatened or judged or even tolerated for being gay. Despite its catholic past Spain is very liberal when it comes to integration of gay culture in modern society. Madrid pride is one of the biggest in the world and people just love getting drunk and partying instead of being judgemental and hateful.
Grindr, scruff and hornet are all teeming with guys one hotter than last but the thing that sets Spain apart is the attitude of guys; extremely friendly. This is a bit of a change from other European gay scenes where the culture is great but people are reserved.
Another reason I loved this country and its gay culture is almost lack of drug use. While some guys are addicted and you do see some chem sex invites in Madrid and mostly in Barcelona the smaller cities are almost drug free, absolutely love it!!
Value for Money
Spain is relatively quite an economical place even in the bigger cities like Barcelona. Food and accommodation as well as public transport is cheap. Canary Islands can be a bit expensive if you stay too close to the tourist areas but locals stuff there is cheap as well.
My first trip to Spain was to Gran Canaria and I stayed in the capital Las Palmas for the entire 8 days and travelled around keeping that as the base. It is the best place to go during winters to get some sun in Europe.
The second trip was to Barcelona in next summer with a few friends and we had the time of our lives. The city didn’t let us get bored for five consecutive days.
Third trip was again in winter to Canary Islands but this time I stayed 4 days in south of Tenerife and 4 days in maspalomas which is in the south of Gran Canaria travelling by ferry.
Next trip was the winter after while en route Argentina and Brazil when I spent 2 and a half days in Madrid, another delight and the last trip was the spring of 2016 to the gorgeous Andalusia; Granada, Córdoba and Malaga where I spent 9 days in total.
I would highly recommend Airbnb for mainland and hotels for Canary Islands for accommodation in Spain.
The best area to stay in Gran Canaria is Las Palmas but you can divide your time between the gay Maspalomas and the capital in the north; Las Palmas. Staying at one place here will be an utter loss because you need to party in Maspalomas and enjoy the island in Las Palmas.
Similarly you can divide your time between Santa Cruz and Las Americas in Tenerife although Tenerife doesn’t have a very established gay scene.
For Madrid, I would definitely recommend Chueca which is the gay area. It is also very central and has a lot of good options for food including 2 food markets and everything is close by.
For Barcelona, the gay area is called Eixample (Giaxample in Catalan) but the central area is around La Rambla which I’d recommend over the gay area but they are not very far from each other.
Andalusia is generally quite chilled out and since the cities are small staying in the city centre is quite convenient for Granada, Cordoba and Malaga.
In Granada you also have the option to stay in Albyzin which is the old moorish district but you need to be able to climb stairs and lots of them but the views from top especially of Alhambra at night are totally worth it.
Everyone has heard of tapas and paella, these are the signature dishes of Spanish food but Spain has so much variety in each region and city that you will never get bored.
The best part of Spain is the food markets, every city big or small on the mainland has modern food markets right in the city centre that bring about the best the city has to offer and apart from Lisbon I’ve never seen markets so nicely organised with such a great collection. Seafood, paella, tapas (Pinxos in Catalonia), Rabo de toro in Andalusia, fresh grilled fish and calamari in Canary Islands, the options are endless…
Fun fact: During the Spanish Inquisition years people lived in fear of being blamed to be Jewish or Muslim and the easiest way to disprove that was through pork and Spanish food is full of pork meat in one form or another even till today..
Tip: In Catalonia, tapas means a full portion of food and you should instead order Pinxos which are smaller bite size portions like tapas in the rest of the country.
Fun Fact: In Andalusia and most of the south, the tapas comes free with the drink. This tradition started from the olden times when people died of alcohol poisoning because they could afford either to drink or to eat and you know what they chose.. With the help of nobility it was established that small portions of bread be given to peasants with drink to keep them fit for working in the fields.
Phone & Internet
Phone service is generally quite good and cheap throughout the country. Internet is the same and reception is very reliable. I always used my roaming but if you wish to buy the prepaid SIM card click here.
Wifi is also quite readily available throughout the cities though a little less common in Canary Islands but I am sure it has gotten better with time.
Cash & Cards
Spain uses Euro as its currency and card payments are generally quite widely accepted in the cities including the contactless payments even though it is a little less common in Canary Islands.
Cash machines and money exchange are also available quite easily but if still suggest keeping some money around because I still remember some bars and places which were not too keen on card payments.
- You will need a lot of sun screen in this country especially in the south, it is a warm country with a lot of sun shining throughout the year.
- I’d recommend buying some beach towels and hats, there’s a lot of really cool places to relax and chill out without any sun beds and umbrellas.
- There’s a lot of options to try Water sports (not that kind..) with beaches in almost every sea side town, I’d highly recommend trying scuba especially in Canary Islands.
- The partying scene is quite big is Spain but the timings are different with people getting to dinner around 10pm and clubs opening at 1am till sunrise, pace yourself accordingly.
- Siesta is quite an important part of Spanish culture and you should try it as well, it does wonders. Also a lot doesn’t happen during the sun blazing down so don’t go out looking to things to do at that time..
- During summer, Spain can go as hot at 40-45 degrees and you should always check the temperatures before heading out, skin burn is a nasty bitch.