As temperatures rise out of single numbers, at last,  jackets, scarves and hats can be discarded because the flowers are blossoming, shoots are appearing and the smell of cut grass fills the air.  Cold air is being substituted for an air that has a fresh warm smell – Spring is coming!  Daylight Saving Time is upon us once again and this means longer days.  Spain, Portugal, France and the UK, among others, will be putting their clocks forward on March 30th at 2am!!

Clocks forward 2014

We all love Spring, a chance to shed our layers and open our wings. Our eyes open as we look up rather than down. People are happy, anticipating the Summer, so gardens get tidied and houses get painted.  We feel the need to get out and about under blue skies and discover new places.  Why all the excitement?

Night falls early in Winter, giving the impression that there’s not enough hours in the day and so we crave more daylight. Since the shortest day of the year, back in December,  the days have slowly been getting longer, but it’s not enough, and they need a bit of help!  Don’t forget, day light saving time starts (has started already or ends depending where you are!)  at the end of this month (or not), as most of  Europe anxiously awaits “Summer Time!”  An hour of sleep is lost when the clocks go forward, but daylight saving time arrives with the promise of an extra hour of evening light for months ahead.  On the other side of the World (and in parts of the southern hemisphere) the situation is reserved, as Australia, for example, leaves Summer time and heads into Winter time, thus turning the clocks back.  Something the rest of us will not be doing until well after Summer.

Still confused about if the clocks go forwards or backwards?

Most people use the mnemonic “spring forwards, fall backwards” to know what to do with their clocks.  In Spring they “spring” forward and in Fall (Autumn) they “fall” back.

Clocks in The United States and Canada sprang forward already, on the 9th of March at 02.00h (until the 2nd of November 2014, when they fall back again)

Clocks in Spain and France spring forward on the 30th of March at 02.00h (until the 26th of October 2014, when they fall back again)

Clocks in the UK and Portugal spring forward on the 30th of March at 01.00h  (until the 26th of October 2014,  when they fall back again)

Clocks in Australia will fall back on the 6th of April 2014 at 03.00h (until the 5th of October 2014, when they spring forward again)

Spring is a fantastic time to discover Spain, as well as Portugal and SW France.  Although all year round destinations, Spring is an attractive time offering bearable temperatures, blue skies, flowering gardens, vineyards bursting with new shoots and relaxing bar and restaurant terraces to watch the world go by.  The air is clear and life seems lighter, it’s a great time to be outside! But, if you’re in Spain, don’t forget to put your clocks forward on the 30th of March at 2am to take advantage of those longer afternoons and lighter nights!

Barcelona, Spain

Amble along the streets of bustling Barcelona where the locals will still be hurrying along to work, meetings or lunch.  You, however, can take the time to appreciate the Sagrada Família, La Pedrera or the Plaza Real, people watch on the Rambla, stroll along the Barceloneta or take in the views from Montjuic mountain or Antoni Gaudí’s Parc Güell. Barcelona has something for every taste: Chic Shopping to Artisan Boutiques,  Nouvelle Cuisine to Tasty Tapas, Magnificent Monuments to Arty Meccas.

 

Madrid, Spain

Visit majestic Madrid with its ornate rooftops, regal Palacio Real or sit and watch the world go by in the terrace filled squares of Santa Ana and Plaza Mayor.  Retiro Park is a great place to enjoy the open air as you stroll along the paths, of this once royal garden, passing fountains, statues, the delicate Palacio de Cristal, the boating lake and maybe the odd street entertainer or art exhibition.  Should you experience an infrequent Spring shower there’s plenty to visit indoors, like the Prado Museum (the biggest art gallery in the World), the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museums or marvel at the interesting interior of the Palacio Real.  Our Officially Licensed Bi-Lingual Guide is additionally qualified in Spanish History and Art so a private tour of the museums is a must for any art buff to beat the queues and to make sure you miss nothing!

 

San Sebastian promenade

Follow the scallop-shaped seafront of San Sebastian as you stroll along the promenade of La Concha bay to the bustling and colorful port at the end and then continue on the path that almost circles Monte Urgell hill.  For some fantastic views over the bay, and the town, climb to the top of the hill, now a public park,  where at the summit stands a castle, and, it’s not Rio de Janeiro but, there’s also a big statue of Christ.  San Sebastian is also famed for its gastronomy so why not hit the foodie hotspots, as the locals do, for a “pintxo” and a glass of Txacoli wine.

 

Granada, Spain

 

Granada in Spring time offers a fantastic time to visit the great Alhambra and the gardens, which will be bursting with color, all the way to the Generalife – the summer palace of the Kings of Granada.  Walk over to the Albaicin and Sacromonte  for fantastic views of the Alhambra and the surrounding mountains.

 

Orange trees

Saunter around Seville, getting lost in the picturesque narrow streets of the Barrio Santa Cruz, breathe in the scent of the famous Seville oranges (the trees flower in Spring) and visit the grandiose Cathedral to take in the spectacular views from La Giralda.  Join the tapas hopping culture of this great city as foodie hotspots offer their fresh-out-of-the-kitchen plates.  Seville boasts more than 4,000 tapas bars – roughly 1 for every 200 locals so you know they know what they’re talking about!

 

Costa Brava, Spain

Breathe in the Mediterranean air, in Calella de Palafrugell, as you walk along the miles of coast path that line the wild Costa Brava coast.  Enjoy a short walk to discover some hidden coves or maybe a longer route, on the meandering clifftop path, to enjoy the wildness (in less common parts the path is quite wild). Calella de Palafrugell to Llafranc is a delightful, easy walk and a glass of wine on a sea front terrace at the end can be your reward!   What’s for sure is you will be at one with nature and feel as free as the sea air.

 

Spanish Winery

The Wine Regions of Spain will  gradually be getting their grapes and, depending on the time you go, the vines in Spring in Spain will be sprouting or full of leaves.  Join us on a wine tour of Spain to enjoy private winery visits to our hand-selected vineyards and exclusive wine tasting!  Ribera del Duero, Priorat, Penedès, Empordà, La Rioja …… will all be waiting, expectant of your comments on their wines as you taste their best!

 

These are just a few of the many places in Spain that you could be visiting on one of our Food, Wine and Cultural Tours in Springtime, but there’s so very much more! And, not to forget Portugal and South West France that too are eager to welcome you into their hearts and their lives!!

Contact us for a personalized quote of your perfect private tour of Spain, Portugal and/or SW France.