This Spain travel guide is yet another excellent title in the remarkably good Day by Day series from Frommer’s. These days many travel guidebook series are re-hashes of old series, or merely something with a gimmick. Some publishers are using old material and putting it out in new formats with the briefest of updates, producing books that are not satisfactory at all. Full credit then to Frommer’s, whose Day by Day series was a breath of fresh air. We’ve seen several of these titles now and they have almost without exception been among the best guides you can find to a destination. The Spain title is another winner.
The Day by Day books are attractive to look at, with good colour photos on almost every page. There are numerous maps, which are also easy on the eye, and they are generally big, generous guides. This Spain guide comes in at over 700 pages, and shows no signs of being superficial.
There are over 80 pages on Madrid, and a similar number on Barcelona. There are 20 pages of thorough, practical planning information at the back, and lots of suggestions for special interest trips, ranging from language-learning and surfing to flamenco and archaeology holidays
This Spain travel guide contains 103 self-guided tours. Some are city walks while others suggest driving routes that range from a lengthy trip around the whole country to shorter explorations of a region. There is also a suggested train tour of Moorish Spain, a wine country tour, and a gastronomic journey around northeast Spain.
Within towns and cities many of the sights are linked by self-guided walking tours. These include such subjects as the Small Art Museums of Madrid, Gourmet Barcelona, and Gastronomic Valencia. If there seems an emphasis on food and wine then that’s because there is such an emphasis in Spain itself. Spanish cuisine is among the finest in the world, and it’s helpful to be pointed to some of the best places to sample it, in shops and markets and cheap bars, not just in expensive restaurants. Top marks for these self-guided tours.
There are a dozen really interesting features spread throughout the book, shedding a great insight into many aspects of Spanish culture. The features are on two-page spreads and are both intelligent and attractively laid-out, a cut above the average guidebook fodder. One is devoted to just one Velazquez painting, Las Meninas, and explains the story behind it and the characters in the painting. Others cover bullfighting, tapas, wine, Moorish design, the striking work of the architect Gaudi, and a look at Picasso’s painting of Guernica.
We would recommend this as one of the best guides to Spain we’ve seen. It’s one of our favourite countries and the feel and atmosphere of Spain shone out of these pages. It was a pleasure to read through it, and it will certainly be helping us prepare for the two trips to Spain that we’re planning later this year.
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