If there is one country in the world where the Horatian ethos of carpe diem is a life-organising principle, it must be Spain. With numerous external influences ranging from Celtic to Muslim to Roman Catholic, four official languages and administrative regions that differ a great deal, the whole country whirls to the sound of castanietas , and Spaniards, in all likelihood with little exception, share a remarkable penchant for a decent fiesta and a spectacular corrida. And whereas flamenco or even an overindulgent plate of paella generate almost exclusively positive connotations, bullfighting invariably stirs controversy among animal rights advocates.
So, if you're a lame dancer and a squeamish type, but still up for some fun, don't miss the town of Buñol on the last Wednesday of August and go wild at la Tomatina , a food fight festival which annually attracts thousands of participants from all over the globe. Alternatively, go for a laid-back stay in one of numerous seaside resorts along Costa del Sol, Costa Brava or any other costa you feel is worthwhile.
Yet, Spain has a lot more to offer than crowd-pleasing events and sparkling beaches. It is a land of vibrant cities dazzling with color and cultural diversity: melting pot Barcelona, cosmopolitan Madrid, artistic Seville or mountain based Malaga, to mention just a few. If you prefer bucolic to urban, you will be quite at home in Galicia, with Santiago the Compostela Cathedral as a superb epitome of Roman architecture.
Regardless of season, Spain is a well-aimed choice. Smell the fragrance of flower-flooded La Rambla in the spring, listen to the humming of waves lapping the Atlantic coast in the summer, taste the gentle Tempranillo in a cozy cafe of La Coruna in the fall, and when the winter sets in, head out for a skiing trip to the Pyrenees and feel a frosty breeze on your rosy cheeks.