The eastern side of Spain benefits from a Mediterranean climate
which provides hot, dry sunny summers and mild wet winters. Winter
temperatures grow colder towards Spain's central plateau. On the
Atlantic coast summers are slightly cooler and heavier rainfall is
experienced in winter.
Spain's cuisine is relatively simple and is based on the easy
availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and particularly
seafood. The settlement of different races throughout Spain's
history has also influenced its gastronomy, such as the widespread
use of olive oil; an ingredient associated with Greek and Roman
culture. There are many delicious Spanish specialties to try but
among those most commonly available are paella - a stew of
shellfish, chorizo sausage and rice, the hearty Tortilla Española
(Spanish omelette), Gazpacho, soup of fresh tomatoes and herbs
served cold, and Jamón serrano; ham that has been cured and aged.
Churros, deep-fried doughnuts, piped in a straight line rather than
a circle, are a popular dessert and snack. Spain is famous for its
red wines such as Rioja, and the fortified sherry, whilst sangria,
a red wine punch with fresh fruit, brandy and sugar is popular,
refreshing and available everywhere.
Touring Spain by train it is almost impossible not to be
introduced to someone's children and it is here that many visitors
show a misunderstanding of Spanish culture. In Spain it is polite
to shake everyone's hand starting with the oldest and working down
to young children.
Guests on our tours of Spain by train are accompanied by a Tour
Manager who arranges for local services including many meals.
Should you choose to dine separately at a restaurant of your own
choice, it is customary in Spain to tip between 5% and 10% of the
value of the meal.