Since before the economic meltdown we have been planning a trip to Spain to explore my husband’s roots and revel in all that is Spanish soccer. I know a number of people who have traveled recently to debt-stricken European countries including Spain, Greece, Ireland and Iceland. Prices are still high, but most raved about their trips and Spain has stood out as a fabulous place to visit despite the nearly 25% unemployment rate. Food in particular has been a big draw for many, fueled in part by Anthony Bourdain and other shows on the Travel Channel.
Clearly, visiting struggling countries helps to boost their economy. For a place like Greece, it might well be how they can dig out of such a deep hole, promoting all that is so appealing when life for locals is so hard. So, when I read a recent New York Times article entitled “The Country Beckons Spaniards as Jobs in Cities Grow Scarce,” it was interesting to think about how long periods of strife can dramatically change the travel landscape.
I remember rolling in to sleepy Spanish villages, practically drunk on olives and olive oil and even sleeping under an olive tree one hot day. The small towns, just awakening from years under Franco, were still very old world, so authentic and charming. Spain of course has modernized quickly over the last 20 or so years, but much of the growth was isolated in the big cities and towns.
With jobs so scarce and the cost of living so high in cities like Madrid and Barcelona, many folks are moving back to the countryside and taking with them all their urban skills, savvy, appetite and spirit. The populations of many cities are shrinking, and conversely, the small towns are growing, blossoming with artists, entrepreneurs, new farmers and even circus performers!
So if you’re headed to Spain, after you have been to the Prado Museum, walked Las Ramblas and soaked in some Spanish urban culture, head to the smaller towns to savor the old world flavor or relish the new life! Triporati has more than 50 destinations in Spain to discover!