Alhambra, Andalusia (Photo: D. Shah via Flickr)

One of the most striking things about Spain is the people. Open-minded, passionate, fun-loving and direct, they represent everything that is good about the country. When Franco died in 1975 so too did his brand of Fascism. Like the bursting of a dam, soulful expression and personal freedom were embraced by the Spanish like a missing family member returned home. The Cultural Revolution that ensued is still palpable in the hip neighborhoods of Madrid and Barcelona. In the North, craggy peaks of the Pyrenees give way to expanses of green fertile land, which decay to brown semi-arid land to the South, where the Sierra Madre was used to film Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western films. The Basque County, Galicia and Catalonia especially have their own languages and sub-cultures, while the culture and architecture of Andalucia is infused with Arabic influence via the Moors. People in certain regions of Spain consider themselves so unique and different that they do not consider themselves Spanish at all. Despite this the similarities are impossible to ignore. In the suggestive moves of a flamenco dancer, the social gustation of eating tapas or the flick of a matador’s muleta cape, one does not visit Spain to merely travel, one visits to experience life to its fullest.