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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 January 17, 2019

        8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

        8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

        In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

        Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

        Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

        Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

        Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

        The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

        There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

        How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

        According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

        Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

        Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

        The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

        Listen carefully:

        We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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        The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

        Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

        8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

        There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

        Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

        1. Pray Daily

        You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

        When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

        Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

        Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

        2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

        A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

        By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

        Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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        If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

        This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

        How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

        3. Smile Often

        Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

        Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

        Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

        The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

        4. Organize Your Working Desk

        A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

        When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

        Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

        Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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        5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

        I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

        Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

        What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

        6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

        God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

        I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

        I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

        7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

        You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

        How do you do that? This is my formula:

        First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

        If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

        If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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        If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

        Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

        8. Go Exercise

        Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

        The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

        You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

        12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

        The Bottom Line

        It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

        It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

        Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

        More Resources About Mindfulness

        Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

        Reference

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