I am the girl who will happily travel overnight on the lowest class of train in India and get extremely excited about finding rooms and beach huts for £4 a night!? I will rough it on any trip, however I have no shame in admitting I am a ‘Destination Snob’. Over the years I have questioned many a holiday destination of friends, family and colleagues.
Spain unfortunately has been the brunt of many a slagging from myself. The reason for this is I envision giant skyscraper hotels, English breakfasts, union jack beach towels, tacky tattoos, and embarrassingly drunk British tourists. It is not a coincidence that there is a resort called ‘Playa del Ingles’ in Gran Canaria that translates to ‘Englishman’s Beach’.
My only previous experiences of Spain are a family holiday to Benidorm (when I was 9yrs old) or some other such place, working a winter season in Fuerteventura, and holidays to Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Majorca when in desperate need of sunshine. All of which I enjoyed but with many hours spent online and my head in guidebooks researching to avoid the tacky resorts.However this year (all in the name of research of course!) I decided to venture back to the mainland and hope to find the real unspoilt Spain and maybe a little sunshine.
So I did the research and was keen to mix a city/resort in one trip. Finally I decided on Barcelona and Tossa de Mar. Tossa de Mar is scarily located in the Costa Brava which brings up terrifying images as mentioned above. Barcelona is known as one of the worst cities in the world for pickpockets and everyone I have spoken to has a story to tell.So I was ready for adventure.
Barcelona has everything you would expect from a city, I loved the cosmopolitan vibe, the Gaudi architecture, strolled its many busy streets and quaint city parks, fed a homeless man my mistaken meaty packed lunch and me and my camera left safe. Everyone seemed to think I was Spanish, so maybe that helped me blend in a little? Who knows…
Tossa de Mar is described by the Lonely Planet as ‘A picturesque village of crooked, narrow streets onto which tourism has tacked a larger, modern extension’ which leads me under no illusion that my trip has any relevance to what the place is like in August. However, I loved its beautiful deserted beaches, the old town with it’s pretty homes and cobbled streets and my venture up to the old fortress. I did not get to see much sunshine, but I would happily go back (maybe in September).
So am I a Spain convert? No, my transfer back to the airport passed through some of the tacky resorts and reminded why I must do my research, but I do plan to see more of the country and I shall try to be less judgmental of it. I made a good choice, I got culture, history, architecture,beauty and beaches. Not all of Spain is tacky, it is just like anywhere else ‘the best places are more tricky to get to’ to keep the riff-raff out!