Spain, Spain, you’re all the same.
Full of sunshine, sand and sky-high white complexes that spill lobsters into places so crowded with plastic, it’s hard to see the beach.
Or, well, you’re not, really.
Nope, not even a teensy little bit.
Seven years I’ve been blogging about the world here on Inside the Travel Lab, and for several of those I lived in Spain.
I said it then and I’ll say it again now. Those characterless stereotypes of drunk Brits abroad, stumbling between cinder-blocks and chlorine pools, represent travel in Spain in as much depth as Kate Middleton represents the average woman’s career trajectory in Britain.
Both are true, but they’re hardly representative.
It travels through lush cheese and green-laden mountains, through groundbreaking literature and smoky-skied windmills, beneath the arches of Gaudi in Barcelona and harp-like shark fins of science in reclaimed land to the east in Valencia.
There are abandoned outposts built as a monument to love. Brutal yet beautiful tales of motherhood derived from a darker time. Papier mache parties, stone frogs that bring good luck and otherwise sleepy villages that launched the career of Balenciaga.
But if none of those stories tempt you, then let me try a simpler way to tell a tale.
The one without a thousand words.
The one with that uses pictures instead.
Forget the crowds, the sun, the sky, the sea.
Tread along the wooden boardwalks of Las Tablas de Daimiel, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Look out across lagoons and crouch in bird-watching shelters, whispering and waiting for kingfishers, egrets and great crested grebes.
Let the shiver of the breeze as it runs through the long grass shiver the quieter parts of your soul.
And embrace the quiet side of Spain in these remarkable literary wetlands straight from Don Quixote .
Not a tower block in sight.
Disclosure: I love Spain well and have visited many times and even lived there for a while. On this occasion, I visited in partnership with iAmbassador and Castilla La Mancha. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like.