Spain offers visitors a richness and complexity that may surprise. All the tempting postcard fantasy pictures are there in reality, side-by-side with other, less-expected ones.
You may come across fiesta dancers in a village square, a young man practicing flamenco guitar, a medieval Arab fortress or windmills so enormous Don Quixote could be forgiven for thinking they were giants.
But there's also the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, its mind-bending shapes like those of no other museum in the world, just as the exuberant architecture of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona makes it like no other church in the world.
You may see ultracool young Madrilenos togged out in urban chic, talking endlessly on their cell phones; international businesspeople hurrying to appointments; and tourists and golfers of many nations flocking to Spain's spectacular countryside and balmy beaches. There are super-fast trains, and there are villages where life goes at a pace that has changed little for centuries.
Spain today is an engaged member of the European Union that has transformed itself from a remote backwater to a modern nation, all within living memory. The contrasts, the colors and the vibrant spirit of the place will stay with you for a long time.
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