Coronavirus might have put a pause on travel for the time being. This is not only impacting us here in Spain but in every country all over the world. No one can go anywhere right now. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t daydream and make plans for the future. Every traveler is wanting to travel from home.
Me too, of course!
And because I have business devoted to personalized Spain travel services, as well as a growing Travel Spain! community on Facebook, I needed to get creative, quickly, and tap deeply into that inspiration (or Spainspiration as I’ve been calling it). Not only for myself but for my community including devastated clients who had to postpone their trips to Spain.
Here are some ways I’ve been continuing to take my community on a journey around Spain, and where I find the Spainspiration to keep doing it, from the comfort of my small, interior piso in Madrid.
The added bonus: armchair travel and traveling from home are free!
Finding community is so important now, as many people are isolated. People are starting to connect more globally as well as find others who are passionate about the same things.
For me personally, my Facebook community, Travel Spain! has been such a godsend during these times. The feedback from my community is that they feel the same. Travel Spain! is a dedicated space for us to travel around Spain online until the day comes when we can really start traveling again.
I’m loving the discussions, tips, and photos shared there!
One of the things I am enjoying most is hosting online events for my community as well as getting creative to find new ways to keep them engaged.
For example, we played a live Spain travel pub quiz in my community every Sunday in April via Facebook live video. And I have some other Spain traveled online events on tap for the coming weeks and months as well.
It’s been a change in the journey for sure, but I love seeing the Travel Spain! community traveling throughout Spain together, from our different corners of the world.
Eating My Way Through Spain
Some of us like to travel around the world through or taste buds.
Rewatching some of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episodes about Spain reminds me of some of my favorite regional Spanish foods. I especially love his Asturias episode where Asturian born chef José Andrés, takes Bourdain on a culinary adventure around Asturias. It was also the first episode aired after Bourdain’s death.
Going into the cheese caves in Asturias with Bourdain and Andrés is always fun. And not to mention the sidra.
A selection of wonderful cheeses from Spain. Photo: Spain's Ministry of Agriculture
Margit Sperling, of Walk and Eat Spain, has also started a Spain travel and foodie video interview series. Every week she brings a new guest for a conversation (live) where viewers can interact with her and each other in the comments.
You can watch the past episodes on her Facebook page as well as try to catch her live videos there.
Her recent interview with Marcelo from La Carbonera Bar de Quesos left me crazing some of my favorite Spanish cheeses (can’t you tell that I am a cheese lover?)
Finally, for those more adventurous in the kitchen and want to learn to cook Spanish foods, the Eat In Madrid community is always a good place to share Spanish recipes (and more).
And speaking of cheese, I always make sure I have a supply of good Spanish cheese during lockdown (and our amazing wine too!)
- Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
- Say CHEESE! These are the 15 best Spanish quesos
- The one speciality dish you need to try from each of Spain’s regions
Books that transport me to different places (and eras) here in Spain
There’s always the Lonely Planet guides. And I will admit that lately, I have been thumbing through my Spain and Andalucía Lonely Planet guides to get some other ideas for my post-lockdown escape.
I also often find myself browsing one of those old Eyewitness guides I have leftover from the glory days of physical travel guide books. You know the ones, rich in photos and visuals.
For you avid readers out there, there’s nothing like visiting Spain through a good book.
Don’t only travel, but time travel, back to Spain in The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain.
From the early 800s to 1492, this wonderful book by María Rosa Menocal takes you on a journey through the Iberian peninsula when the Moors, Jews, and Catholics lived in (somewhat relative) harmony, for nearly 800 years.
I often reread the beginning where I am transported back to Córdoba in the year 786 when the first ruler of Spain’s Moorish dynasty, Abd al-Rahman I built the Mezquita. It takes me back to a time when Córdoba was at the forefront, with universities, libraries, and aqueduct systems, where this era of Spanish history began.
And speaking of Moorish Spain, you can read all about Washington Irving’s days squatting in the Alhambra in his Tales of the Alhambra.
Imagine deciding that you’re just going to move into a room and squat in the Nazrid Palaces today. A bygone era for sure.
A few other recommendations are The New Spaniards by John Hopper and James Michener’s Iberia.
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
Films and Series
It seems like everyone is talking about the hit Netflix series, Casa de Papel (or Money Heist in English).
This Spanish crime series is set in Madrid with the main goal being to steal millions of Euros from the Royal Mint of Spain.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but the series has some lovely scenes from Madrid, that, despite living in Central Madrid, is about as much of Madrid as I’ve been able to see over the last 40 odd days.
Another movie with beautiful scenes from Spain, this time Barcelona, is Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother in English) directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Released in 1999, the drama stars Penelope Cruz amongst others.
It won the Oscar for the best foreign-language film as well as six Goya awards here in Spain. It is also available on Netflix.
Ocho Apellidos Vascos (Eight Basque Surnames in English), one of Spain’s biggest box office hits, is a comedy that showcases some of the differences between Southern and Northern Spain (Andalucía and Basque Country), in a more quirky and lighthearted way.
For those of you who miss the sounds of Spain, Paul Burge’s When in Spain podcast can take you on a journey around Spain through your ears.
I particularly love When in Spain because you get to hear the sounds of Spain, something I miss so much now.
Paul doesn’t only record his podcast from his computer at home. Instead he goes out, to bars, to the streets, to the metro and even the AVE, and from so many other places typical of Spain, and records from there. Even now, under lockdown, we are able to hear Spain.
He has several travel-related episodes including one where he and I wandered the streets of Madrid talking about our favorite small squares and hidden alleyways. That seems like an eternity ago now, but it brings me back and reminds me of how much I love Madrid.
Some might want to explore Spain through the Spanish language (or use this time to brush up on their Spanish to prepare for traveling in Spain)
Notes in Spanish with Ben and Marina is a great podcast for this. Instead of teaching grammar, they discuss everyday topics in Spanish. And with varying levels, it is accessible to anyone on any part of their journey to learn Spanish.
Check out their Vacaciones en España episode for Spain travel chat in Spanish. This particular episode is geared toward intermediate speakers.
READ MORE: Eight great podcasts all about Spain
Finally, let’s not forget one of the most beautiful social media platforms, on old favorite: Instagram!
Every day during the lockdown, I am looking through some of my old Spain travel photos and sharing them as “daily Spainspiration” on my Instagram account (@spainlesstraveled)
But sometimes I just want to look at others’ beautiful photos of Spain, without a lot of “other noise.” Just scrolling through Spain photo after Spain photo is easy since I follow several other Spain accounts and hashtags.
Here are some of my recommendations to fill your Insta feed with stunning Spain content.
The official Instagram for Spain tourism is @spain. It’s a huge account which puts out a lot of colorful content
The “@estaes_” accounts are great for specific parts of Spain. For example, if you want to see photos from Asturias follow “@estaes_asturias.” This works for all of Spain’s regions and some of Spain’s provinces as well. (for example “@estaes_toledo” or @estaes_cadiz)
And some of my favorite hashtags are #travelspain #spainiswonderful #spaintravel and #spain_vacations but there are many more! And again, you can also follow regions or cities such as #granada or #cordobaspain.
Follow some of those on your feed and you are guaranteed to have an Instagram that takes you on a trip around Spain.
Keep planning and getting ideas
During these times channeling all of the Spainspiration is so important for our collective mental health as travelers.
But keep one thing in mind: one day we will all be able to travel again, and once that day comes there are so many beautiful places to explore in Spain. Now is a good time to start planning your next travel adventure in Spain, using all of the resources to start thinking about where to next!
Karen Rosenblum has 20 years of experience in the professional travel industry, and now specializes in personalized travel consulting and handcrafting Spain itineraries based on her clients' unique needs through her business Spain Less Traveled. Last year, she created Travel Spain!: a fast-growing Facebook community for Spain travelers (and travel dreamers) who want to discover Spain more authentically and (a bit more) off the beaten path.