When planning a MICE trip to Spain for your clients, unique activities and destinations are always popular instead of just going to the usual tourist hot spots. Your group will thank you many times over. I know from experience that your guests will form many unforgettable memories of Spain if unique activities are included in the itinerary. These are the types of things that keep time spent on buses interesting and buzzing with conversation about their unique and fun experiences.
Just a short drive from Madrid is Toledo, a favored city in Spain. This medieval and very interesting city is where diverse cultures (Arab, Jewish, and Christian) have experienced and lived in harmony for centuries. It is easy to wander the walled streets and neighborhoods seeing monuments that pay tribute to the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures. The old Jewish Quarter’s cobblestone streets and beautiful synagogue are not to be missed. Interestingly, you can also find some of the best swords in Toledo.
They are not only beautiful but the design and attention to detail is unparalleled. I had a customer who bought several and they absolutely took my breath away. Toledo is also a food lover’s delight offering both sweet and savory delights. The city has won numerous gastronomy awards for their local cuisines.
After your trip to Toledo, return to Madrid and in the late afternoon or early evening set out for the Plaza Mayor for some sangria and tasty bites. One of the best things to do in Madrid is to experience tasca bar hopping. I did this with a group, and everyone experienced a fun time. Madrid’s Plaza Mayor offers many bars and tascas to experience where everyone can nibble on tapas and sample sweet sangrias. Tapas are a Spanish staple consisting of small plates and/or bites of some of the best Spanish cuisine.
A favorite is the tortilla espanola, a delicious potato and onion omelet. Green olives and squid are popular, as well as stuffed mushrooms. There are so many Spanish tasty bites to sample. This is a fun, laid-back, and quite popular activity that allows your attendees to try different Spanish cuisine and sample small bites.
Spain has so many fabulous cities and regions. When visiting, work out your itinerary so you can attend and experience one the many Spanish festivals held throughout the year. One of the top ones, held every March, is the Fallas of Valencia. It is a week-long celebration of partying, dancing, eating, and drinking. “Fallas” began during the Middle Ages when carpenters would hang up planks of wood called parots in the winter to support their candles when they were working. At the onset of spring, these were burned in celebration of the end of winter. Then the tradition began of clothing the parot and then modeling it after a well-known local personality; often satirical. The highlight of the festival is when all these figures are burned in a huge and incredible bonfire. It is definitely a party and wonderful to participate in.
Another great Spanish experience is in Ronda. This small town in Andalusia, situated about an hour from Marbella lies 2, 460 feet above sea level. Its history and beauty allow visitors to see Roman, Arabic, and Gothic-style architecture dating back to Celtic times. It is also home to the oldest bullring in Spain.
From the Puente Nuevo stone bridge you can experience a breathtaking, panoramic view of the valley. Try to go during the Easter Holy Week or the Semana Santa, a weeklong of parades and festivities. Holy Week is highly revered and one of the most important in Ronda and Andalusia. I personally experienced a day in Ronda seeing an Easter parade and procession. To say I was in awe and amazement is an understatement. The processional participants in their beautiful attire and floats with life size Christ and Virgin Mary replicas was a wonderful experience. It went on for hours, so we found a wonderful little restaurant while watching to sample paella and red wine, of course. There we could savor our cuisine and still see the festivities. Quite a memorable experience.
Another favorite and unique place to visit is Granada. Be transported back in time; a time when the Moors ruled. The Moors’ Islamic influence is showcased at the Alhambra Moorish Fortress. This beautiful, intricate fortress and palace once served to protect the city from Christian invasions during the last of the Muslim dynasties. Alhambra is breathtakingly beautiful with many courtyards, gardens, and towers throughout the grounds. See the King’s summer residence, Generalife, with even more exquisite gardens.
The architecture is exquisite. You can spend hours here wondering and experiencing the history and beauty of this unique destination.
There are so many wonderful places to visit in Spain and many things to experience. You cannot go wrong, and each region offers activities unique to them. For more information and guidance for your groups, contact the Tourist Office of Spain at www.spain.info.