Your staycation guide: Spain
Author: Sophie Thorpe
Swap Radio 4 for Enrique Iglesias, and settle in with a glass of something that speaks of warmer climes, as you start planning a superior staycation. You may not be walking round the Prado, exploring Seville, or gazing up at the Sagrada Familia, but – with the right soundtrack, reading list, films and food (not to mention wine) – you can get pretty close. Here’s our short-list to get you going.
- The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: From its conception in 1989, it took Terry Gilliam almost three decades to get this film out the door. It’s a fun adventure that will take you deep into rural Spain.
- Vicky Cristina Barcelona: A Woody Allen classic that earnt Penelope Cruz an Oscar. It’s a charming escape to a tempestuous summer in Barcelona.
- Sexy Beast: This black comedy featuring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley might make you happy you’re staying home this summer. It’s a brilliant twist on the classic gangster genre filled with the sunshine of the Costa del Sol.
- Volver: We had to include at least one Almodóvar – this, also featuring Penelope Cruz, come from his heyday. Gripping, this dark yet warming and vibrant tale follows three generations of women in rural Spain.
- As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning – Laurie Lee: This sequel to Cider with Rosie follows Laurie Lee’s walk from the Cotswolds to Spain, a nation then on the brink of civil war. It captures the brewing uncertainty and Spanish countryside perfectly.
- Death in the Afternoon – Ernest Hemingway:Smell the blood and sand, the tension in the air as all eyes watch a lone bull and the torero do a fatal dance in Hemingway’s brilliant book on bullfighting.
- Leaving the Atocha Station – Ben Lerner: There’s something almost Dostoevskyan about Ben Lerner’s both tragic and witty tale of an American poet struggling with life and art in Madrid.
- The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon: Disappear in this literary thriller set in Madrid. A page-turner that also happens to be written beautifully, settle in as the mystery of a forgotten book is unravelled.
- Gipsy Kings: We couldn’t limit ourselves to a single song from this iconic band, whose flamenco-edged pop is as catchy as can be.
- Carmen – Bizet: A French opera, but set in Seville, Bizet’s tragic tale is filled with fiery women and bullfighting. We recommend having a bottle of Manzanilla on hand.
- Y Viva España – Sylvia: With travel corridors opening up, you might be able to sing the chorus of this retro hit with confidence: Oh this year I’m off to sunny Spain…
- Deveulveme La Vida – David Bustamante: We challenge you not to tap your foot to David Bustamante’s classic tune. In fact, we challenge you not to deep dive into the archive of this Latin pop legend.
- Gazpacho: For when the hot weather returns (or you decide to switch the heating back on), savour this supremely refreshing garlic-edged soup. Biased we may be, but we rate our Head Chef’s recipe using barbecued tomatoes.
- Tortilla: Simple yet superbly pleasing. Keep things simple with potatoes, or take things up a notch with Nigel Slater’s artichoke and rosemary version. Glass of Albariño basically essential.
- Churros: You might have to imagine the greasy paper bag and sandy beach, but you’ll come close with a plateful of churros.
- Basque cheesecake: indulgent, creamy and rich, yet moreish and with that tantalising wobble when baked to perfection – try Bon Appétit’s recipe. Serve it with a sweet Sherry (like Lustau’s classic East India) for the perfect finish to any feast.
Stock your wine rack with bottles from the region to set up for a serious staycation: browse our favourites here.