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Ten resolutions to make the most of life in Spain in 2016

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Ten resolutions to make the most of life in Spain in 2016
Photo: Toni Blay / Flickr Creative Commons.
12:22 CET+01:00
Stuck in a Spain-sized rut? Need to add some sparkle to your life in 2016? The Local offers you ten easy-to-achieve resolutions that will make the coming year in Spain one to remember.

1. Improve your Spanish (or Catalan or Basque etc)

Photo: The LEAF project/Flickr

If you've decided your Spanish is already good enough, or that the language is just too hard, now is the time to get out of your comfort zone. Buy a book, get an intercambio (language exchange partner), takes classes, or just watch more Spanish television: whatever you do, stop putting it off and take the next step .

If you're looking to learn some offbeat vocabulary a class might not teach you, perhaps start with our list of Spanish words the English language should adopt.

And if you want to work on sounding a bit more local when you speak, try these outrageous, rude expressions.

2. Take up the sport of padel: 

You've probably spotted them around Spain — strange half-sized tennis courts with wire mesh fences. Welcome to the wonderful world of padel. Part-tennis, part-squash, this is a great, fun game. Why not join a club, improve your fitness and meet some Spaniards at the same time?

Spaniards love this racket sport, so much so that they organized that largest ever padel tournament in October of last year, attracting nearly 700 players and making it into the Guinness World Records.

3. Cook up a storm: 

Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP

Make 2016 a culinary watershed by learning how to make a new Spanish dish every month of the year. Set yourself the target of making a sublime salmorejo, a terrific tortilla and perfect pincho. Then invite your friends over and amaze them with your cooking prowess.

You may not be able to compete with some of the world's top chefs who reside in Spain, but at least there is plenty of inspiration. And while it's still chilly, cold weather tapas could be a good place to start on your culinary education.

4. Volunteer: 

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

One of the few positives to come out of Spain's economic crisis is a renewed passion among Spaniards for volunteering, or giving back something to the community. You could try working at a local soup kitchen or a food bank. Or you might want to volunteer with Age Concern España which helps older English-speaking people living in Spain.

And there are also many opportunities to get involved in helping newly arrived refugees in the country through donations, volunteering and more.

5. Walk (or cycle) the Camino de Santiago:

Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Say Camino de Santiago and most people think of the 800km 'French Way' from southern France to the city of Santiago de Compostela. But you can start the route from pretty much everywhere in Spain, with major routes linking Seville, Madrid and Barcelona with the pilgrimage city. You can decide to do just part of the trail too. So whether your motives are religious, spiritual, or just sightseeing, this is a great way to experience Spain.

6. Learn to do something typically Spanish:

Photo: Arnaud Guillaume/AFP

Make 2016 your year for learning something unique to Spain. This could be anything from getting to grips with the fine art of slicing jamón to learning how to pour cider the way they do in Asturias. Or maybe you want to try flamenco dance or guitar. Take a course and get a whole new perspective on Spain.

7. Head to a crazy Spanish festival:

Photo: Rafa Rivas/Flickr

You've seen all the pictures and you've heard the stories, but you've never quite managed to get there. So why not take the plunge in 2016? With everything on offer from getting splattered with tomatoes at the Tomatina festival to watching people swing from the necks of dead ducks in in the Basque fishing town of Lekeito, there is a wacky Spanish fiesta for everyone.

But remember to stay safe - last summer was one of the deadliest for bull-running fests.

8. Read Don Quixote:

Photo: Davidd/Flickr

Yes, Cervantes' classic novel about the The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is hundreds of pages long. Yes, it's a serious piece of literature. And yes, most Spaniards have never actually read it.
 
But the story of this genius/fool on a personal crusade to bring back chivalry is also seriously fun. One hundred of the world's top authors have also called it the best book of all time. So whether you read it in English or Spanish, just read it.

9. Get off the beaten track:

Photo: the secret valley/Wikimedia Commons

Think you've been everywhere in Spain? Think again. Why not use 2016 to start exploring some of Spain's lesser known regions. Take a trip to the wetlands of the Ebro Delta or visit the stunning castle of Gormaz in lonely Soria province. Or you could check out some of the places dubbed the Most Beautiful Towns in Spain in a ranking this year.

We also recommend stopping by small, undiscovered villages, or perhaps some quaint seaside ports. And don't forget about Spain's 44 different Unesco World Heritage sites.

10. Join a political group

Photo: Javier Soriano/AFP.

After the elections on December 20th, maybe you'll be feeling extra political. So why not get active? Organizations like Greenpeace and Amnesty International always need volunteers while there are hundreds of single issue groups too. Or you could join a political party and get an insider's view of the nuts and bolts of the country's political machinery.

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