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3 Inimitable Places in Spain to Visit in Your Lifetime

3 Inimitable Places in Spain to Visit in Your Lifetime

The subject of El Greco and Ernest Hemingway, Spain holds a certain mystique for those who suffer chronic wanderlust. To appreciate what this country has to offer, you have to be willing to take the “road less traveled.” This means foregoing the more obvious points on the map.

If you are a traveler with a refined sense of adventure, the Spanish destinations listed here are places you must see in your lifetime. (For a list of “must-see” world destinations, read this article.)

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1. Seeking Sanctuary in Covadonga, Asturias

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    Photo Credit: Santuario de Covadonga/Jaime González, https://flic.kr/p/fEzogh
    Photo 1: Built into the mountainside, the Holy Cave houses the tomb of King Pelayo and the Virgin of Covadonga. The original chapel, burned down with all of its contents in the 16th century. A year after its destruction, a marble chapel was donated by a local cathedral. Access to the chapel is available by taking stairs up the mountain.

    Located in the Pico de Europa mountains in the northwest of Spain, the sanctuary of Covadonga stands out against the mountains, with its Basilica of Santa Maria la Real de Covadonga being visible before you reach the sanctuary proper. It commemorates the great battle of Covadonga, in which Asturian leader Pelayo won a victory that began the reconquest of Spain from the Moors from North Africa.

    Offering a variety of sights for the eager explorer, Covadonga provides breathtaking landscapes, access to the Pico de Europa mountains and its lakes, an awe-inspiring basilica, and a mythical grotto. What makes this destination truly original is the majestic beauty of the Holy Cave that appears suspended within the mountainside and houses the Virgin of Covadonga as well as Pelayo’s tomb.

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    2. Between a Rock and a Hard Place in Toledo

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      Photo Credit: Toledo, Spain/williamwheatley, https://flic.kr/p/rsnRpx
      Photo 2: Toledo has served as the logistical, cultural, and political center for various rulers and regimes throughout its existence. Two millennia of history and monuments reside within its city walls. Ironically, when the capital moved permanently to Madrid, the ultimate result was the preservation of many of the city’s cultural and architectural elements. Today, the city is a reflection of the artistic excellence that can occur when heterogeneous cultures find ways to coexist.

      Bearing the same name for both its municipality and its province, Toledo is a city with unique history and cultural influences. Known as the “City of Three Cultures,” this World Heritage site was once a branch of the Roman Empire, the capital to the Spanish Visigoths, and later the Moors. It was a place of harmonious coexistence of between Jews, Muslims, and Christians. It was also the main court of Spanish Royalty. The site was besieged by the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. With such a rich tradition built into every inch of this city, it is more like visiting an open-air museum than a destination.

      If you plan to drive in Toledo, be careful. Centuries before the modern invention of automobiles, the labyrinthine streets where not built for cars. The streets are absurdly narrow in many places. You might want to check into some auto insurance quotes before getting behind the wheel, just to be on the safe side.

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      3. Life’s Literally a Beach in Fuertaventura, Las Palmas

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        Photo Credit: Verano en La Playa de Las Canteras Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Agosto de 2013)/El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video, https://flic.kr/p/fCdqAg
        Photo 3: Roughly translated to mean “strong winds,” Fuertaventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands. Home to over 150 beaches, either fine, white sands or black volcanic shingle are present on its coastline. Fans of windsurfing and kite surfing flock to this location due to windy locale. Similar to the climate in Florida, this destination enjoys year-round warm temperatures and many hours of sunshine.

        With over 93 miles of some of the most impressive coastline in Europe, you are sure to find the perfect beach to suits your tastes. However, if you preference is for f fine, white sand beaches, and pristine waters, look no further than La Concha and El Cotillo. Having earned World Biosphere Reserve status in 2009, this island’s tradition of high winds and long hours of sunshine are known to attract both kitesurfing and windsurfing enthusiasts. Seasonal summer Trade Winds make Fuerteventura one of the world’s best windsurfing destinations. Annually, the island hosts World Championship events on the south side of the island.

        Final Note on Road Trips in Spain

        If you plan to travel by car in Spain for large stretches of time, save yourself some Euros by using the autovias (labeled on road signs with a capital “A”) that are free, as opposed to the autopistas (labeled on road signs with the capitals “AP”), which are toll roads. Remember to take time to enjoy the scenery and surrounding towns. Because the roads are very old, they wind through mountains and in between shade and light at certain times of day. Make sure to wear protective eyewear to avoid solar glare on these beautiful and sometimes treacherous roads.

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        Featured photo credit: Toledo, Spain/williamwheatley via flic.kr

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        Paisley Hansen

        Freelance Writer

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        Last Updated on November 11, 2019

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

        To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

        Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

        1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

        Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

        Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

        To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

        Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

        If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

        Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

        3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

        Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

        Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

        4. Feed Your Brain

        Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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        This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

        Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

        Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

        5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

        According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

        Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

        Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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        6. Write it Down

        If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

        It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

        You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

        7. Listen to Music

        Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

        8. Visual Concepts

        In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

        Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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        Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

        9. Teach Someone Else

        Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

        Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

        10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

        Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

        So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

        Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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