‘Familiarity breeds contempt’, so the saying goes, and it is always a disappointment to me when people denigrate Spain as a holiday destination as it is still, in my opinion, one of the most amazing countries in the world and indeed that is one of the many reasons why it is still the most popular destination with Irish people.

Ironically, the expression ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ was never about places but about people — children in particular — and the immortal words were uttered by Richard Baxter in a publication called ‘A Christian Directory” as far back as 1673 and what he actually said was ‘’suffer your children not to carry themselves unreverently or contemptuously towards you (parents); but to keep their distance. For too much familiarity breedeth contempt, and imboldeneth to disobedience’’. Who said that travel blogs couldn’t be educational?

Why am I talking about Spain in this week’s article? Because the country is being served by more than 42 air routes out of Ireland this year so that there is absolutely no excuse for travelers not getting out and exploring every nook and cranny of the country and not just slavishly returning to the same destination year after year! Spain just abounds with beautiful cities such as Cordoba, Seville, Grenada, Segovia, Toledo and San Sebastian which people fall in love with, the first time they visit them.

San Sebastian is a particularly lovely city as it has the unusual distinction of being located on a beach and being surrounded by forested hills. Sound idyllic? Believe me it is.  It will also be much more accessible for Irish travelers this year when Brittany Ferries commences its much-anticipated direct service from Cork to Santander — opening up all of Northern Spain to those of us who love to take our own cars on holidays with us. I am particularly excited at the prospect of being able to explore the fantastic Rioja region which is located just over an hour’s drive due south of Bilbao, the regions capital and which, beside providing the world with some of its best wines, is also a truly beautiful looking region that boasts medieval hilltop villages, charming towns and delicious food.

Speaking of food, did you know that San Sebastian — a city that is roughly the same size as Cork — is home to 18 Michelin-starred restaurants; the greatest concentration of such restaurants anywhere in the world! We’re still early enough into 2018 for you to make a belated new year’s resolution and my suggestion is that for 2018, one of the resolutions that you make is that you explore a completely different part of Spain this year that you’ve never been to before. The country deserves to be discovered more by people who can appreciate it and trust me — you most certainly will not be disappointed!

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