You've got a shiny, new passport and a whole world to explore. Where do you start? Your first trip doesn't have to be to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, followed by a one-month stay in the Sahara desert. There are plenty of international destinations that offer the perfect amount of new and exciting experiences with a healthy balance of familiar and reassuring ones.
Spain is one of those places. You know, it's exotic without the extreme culture shock. Here are seven reasons why Spain truly is ideal for traveling Millennials who want to add a stamp to their passports and — let’s be honest — take some dope photos for Instagram:
1. We're (sort of) neighbors.
Spain is located in western Europe and is only about a seven-hour flight from New York. On the other hand, flights to Australia and certain parts of Asia can require over 20 hours of travel.
Naturally, it’s not a competition. But for the novice traveler (or even the impatient traveler), seven hours is much more manageable. It’s basically four "Game Of Thrones" episodes, plus a nap, plus a Justin Bieber album.
2. Spanglish is easier than it sounds.
Everyone speaks “intermediate” English. OK, this is an inside joke for anyone who has lived or traveled to Spain. All jokes aside, Spain is one country that is dedicated to bilingual education.
So, Spaniards who are of our generation will probably have a better grasp of English grammar than you ever could. If you’re a first-time traveler and you’re concerned about the language barrier, Spain will be a smooth transition.
In major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, you’re bound to find both English-speaking ex-pats as well as Spanish speakers who have a relatively solid grasp on the English language. Dust off the cobwebs on your college Spanish textbook and repeat after me: “Dónde puedo encontrar una prostituta?” Just kidding, don’t say that.
3. Spanish weather is the closest thing to nirvana.
No matter what type of climate you’re accustomed to, you can find it in Spain. If you’re searching for sandy beaches and high temperatures year-round, look no further than the Canary Islands.
If big wave surfing and rocky beaches is more your flavor, check out Asturias and Galicia to the north of Spain. If you’re looking to reenact a scene from “The Lord Of The Rings” or “The Sound Of Music,” Cantabria is the region you want. It’s hilly and lush AF.
4. Enjoy the fine wine at a decent price.
The Spanish make mild alcoholism look chic. First-time travelers who need a bit of liquid courage, fear not, as you will never have to drink alone while traveling in beautiful, boozy España.
This is a country where wine — great wine — is about as cheap as bottled water. If you come during the winter months, drink to stay warm. If you come during the summer, drink to cool off. It’s a win-win situation. Have a bottle of wine over lunch, a glass of wine after work and a G&T nightcap with friends over tapas and and semi-coherent conversation.
5. Missing home? People do brunch in Spain.
After you’ve danced sevillanas in Seville, and stuffed your face with pinchos in San Sebastian, then fist-pumped with reckless abandon in Ibiza and taken in the cultural mecca that is Madrid, you might feel like you need is a taste of home.
Although it’s a relatively new concept, brunch is taking off in Spain. The Spanish have even adopted the word, so there’s not need for you to awkwardly fumble through a haphazard attempt at translation. I mean, how can one truly put into words the magic that is brunch?
It’s completely normal to get a twinge of nostalgia for home, especially if it’s your first time away. Treat yourself to brunch because you’re on vacation, and you make the rules.
6. It's easy to get around once you're there.
Traveling within the country is so easy that even the directionally challenged can manage the simple subway system. If you can count to 12 and distinguish between light blue and dark blue, you too can survive the Madrid metro, which is arguably the most intricate.
From Madrid, you can reach all of the other major Spanish cities, as well as dozens of the smaller villages by train. If you’re in a hurry and have the euros to spare, jump on the high-speed bullet train and pretend to be The Flash. That’s what I do.
7. Time is only a suggestion, and it's not even a strong one.
Getting lost and turning around is half the fun of exploring a new place. It’s a necessary evil that you can either embrace or fight tooth and nail. Don’t stress about being on time or rushing. Leave concepts like time, deadlines and punctuality back home.
In España, you get there when you get there, or you don’t. Either way, there’s always time for coffee or glass of wine. First-time travelers, pull out your maps, get lost, stop to look around and take it all in.
Even small steps move you forward. Now, small steps with a glass of Spanish wine in hand will make the journey even sweeter.