Cataluña is almost like a country unto itself. It has its own language, Catalan, and its own flag. It has everything any decent country would need: a unique cuisine and culture, an amazing coastline, a large and lively capital city, beautiful countryside, mountains and parks. Indeed, if some Catalans had their way, this would be an independent country.
The Aragón region is majestic and dignified, with a spectacular mingling of natural attractions. The Pyrenees mountains lie to the north, and this region is filled with lakes and valleys. Adventures abound in the rich territory, ranging from watersports and horseback riding to mountain biking and four-wheeling.
Mercat Municipal de Galvany in Barcelona has over a hundred vendors. The building’s stained glass and vaulted ceilings make it a sight to behold.
Some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, stunning beaches and serene, vineyard-dotted countryside are in the Aquitaine region, yet it remains underrated and undiscovered by most tourists. Bordeaux, an epicenter for wonderful wine, is an amazingly vast and entertaining city that is constantly abuzz. To the south lies the enchanting Basque Country, a region crossing into Spain whose borders are not official, but whose people are vehemently (and sometimes violently) proud and independent. Much of the Aquitaine region is a national park.
The Languedoc is a hidden jewel of Europe, and the most discriminating tourists are delighted to discover it. The area has many of the same traits that endear people to next-door neighbor Provence: a warm coastline, outdoor markets, picturesque hillside villages, gourmet dining and vineyards dotting the landscape. Yet Provence is the one with the reputation that causes tourists to flock there, its popularity thanks in large part to books like A Year In Provence, by Peter Mayle. Make no mistake.
The Midi-Pyrénées region is a tiny universe of contrasts. It is a world of fertile farmland and rural outposts, sprinkled generously with chic and happening cities. It is a land of mountains and valleys, including some of Europe’s highest peaks. It is a place for sinfully divine cuisine, inexpensive meals that last for three hours with five courses. There are some of France’s most historically significant sites here, alongside a thriving aerospace industry. The region’s borders touch both Spain and the principality of Andorra.
Saxony is one of the smaller German federal states but one with a complex history and many historic and natural sights of interest to the foreign visitor. The main drawing cards are the great cities of Dresden and Leipzig. Dresden is famous for its Baroque architecture, making for one of the most beautiful city panoramas in Europe. Leipzig is architecturally less harmonious but an interesting city to visit. Both cities have a number of outstanding museums and galleries.
Thuringia (Thüringen in German) is the smallest of the former East German states that joined the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990. Its central location at the geographical heart of Germany allows easy access from all regions.