jueves, 27 de noviembre de 2008

Rioja tops the list!

Is Rioja the new Tuscany?
(The answer is yes, but you may want to keep on reading to find out why).

The secret is not totally out yet, but is somehow in the air. According to trend-hunters, the discerning traveler has had enough of the touristy, market-oriented experience that Tuscany provides and is setting his/her avid eye on new European destinations. Rioja tops the list.

1- Perfect location to discover Northern Spain. Just between Bilbao, Navarra, Castilla and Zaragoza, you are less than one hour away from some of Europe's major highlights (Guggenheim museum, Marqués de Riscal, Laguardia Burgos Cathedral, Pamplona....).

2- Most visitors are Spaniards, independent travelers, hikers or families. As Rioja is not on the tour companies' itineraries -and we keep our fingers crossed for it never to be-, you will not see huge buses or crowds of people being herded from monument to monument. A relief, isn't it?

3- People. You will find Riojanos to be warm, personable, relaxed, open and generous people, who are keen on visitors. When a Riojano opens his doors for you and uncorks a bottle of wine, he means well and does it wholeheartedly (in case you doubt, you should never forget that this very, very wealthy region does not need tourism...)

4- Stunning striking modern architecture for wineries has put Rioja on the map for modern architecture lovers. In number of major works by major masters, this region is second to none in Europe.

5- Art: Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims' route that religious hikers follow on their way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, crosses the region, accounting for Rioja's outstanding artistic wealth since the Middle Ages. Monasteries, castles, fortified villages, cathedrals....

5-Nature. Seven different valleys, one after the other, with mountain rivers that empty on big Ebro: that is Rioja. This means an amazing natural diversity, from ski resorts to fertile plains.

5- Food: several of the best restaurants in Spain are in Rioja.

6- Wine. Do we need to say more?

Word is going round that Rioja is to be the next secret destination. And this time -pun intended-, you did heard it through the grapevine!


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