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travel Viva Espana! According to Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, ‘the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain’, but the good news is that in the summer months there’s not much rain at all! And, if you’re coeliac, there’s plenty on offer to make your trip memorable – and stress-free S pain is one of the most popular resorts for the British, and it’s easy to see why. Flights and hotels are cheap, as is the food and wine. It’s a country with long, hot summer nights with around ten hours of sunshine a day; every summer, temperatures reach an average 31 degrees celsius on the mainland during August and about 28 degrees on the islands; and July and September are only marginally cooler. There are endless stretches of award-winning, golden beaches, with a staggering 373 in mainland Spain receiving the Blue Flag award for cleanliness and environmental safety and sanitation in 2004. This same picture holds true for the various islands around Spain: both Tenerife and Gran Canaria have seven Blue Flag Beaches, Lanzarote has five, Fuerteventura has six, Menorca has 14 and Majorca has 28. Most of the popular beaches offer a full range of water sports but if you fancy something a little more secluded you can hire a car (usually between £100 and £140 per week, plus insurance), pack a picnic and beat the tourist trap. If you’re after the traditional side of Spanish nightlife avoid the large bars and look for where the locals go. Spaniards usually start the evening with a light stroll through the main square and the harbour before finding a street café or bar and socialising until the early hours. The atmosphere is always vibrant but relaxed and welcoming. Where to go In Spain’s main resorts you’ll find a mix of traditional Spanish life combined with traditional English pubs and foods. It’s well worth hiring a car and taking a trip off the beaten track to discover the other Enjoy the history side of Spain with its flamenco dancing, bull-fights, orange groves and architecture and sleepy villages with Moorish architecture and castles. Catalonia, of Barcelona in particular, is noted for its history with its own ancient language. Costa Brava, on the north-east coast, is very close to the city of 26 Crossed Grain magazine • Coeliac UK • Summer 2005 Barcelona and easily reached. It’s well worth checking out the broad, exciting range of museums there, as well as the city’s breathtaking football stadium. Valencia is on the Costa Blanca and has just as much for the visitor to do, with a huge variety of history, beaches, theme parks, water sports and restaurants. Madrid is another fascinating and cosmopolitan city, which, despite its vastness, is easy to navigate round due to the number of helpful tourist offices and a well-maintained metro system. There’s a lot to do in a place that’s famed for its culture and shopping, and transport links are excellent, so even if you’re on the coast you shouldn’t rule out a visit to one of Spain’s cities. Another city worth seeing is Seville, on the Costa del Sol, which is draped in history and one of the most beautiful in Spain. Not to be missed is its massive Gothic cathedral which also holds around 500 works of art and dates back to the 1400s and took 125 years to See Menorca’s breathtaking scenery How do you say…? Here is a list of Spanish phrases that you may find useful when you’re eating out English Spanish I have an illness called coeliac Tengo una enfermedad que disease and have to follow a se llama celiaca y necesito strict gluten-free diet. seguir una dieta rigurosa libre de gluten. Does this food contain flour Contiene esta comida las or grains of wheat, rye, harinas o granos de trigo, barley or oats? centeno, cebada o de avena? If you are at all uncertain Si tuviera alguna duda sobre about what the food contains, el contenido de la comida, por please tell me. favour digamelo. I can eat food containing rice, Puede comer alimentos que maize, potatoes, all kinds of contienen arroz, maiz, patatas, vegetables and fruit, eggs, todo tipo de verdure y fruta, cheese, milk, meat and fish huevos, queso, leche, carne y – as long as they are not pescado – siempre que no cooked with wheat flour, hayan sido preparados con batter, breadcrumbs or sauce. harina de trigo, rebozo, pan rayado o con salsas. Without sauce, please. Sin salsa, por favour. Thank you for your help. Muchas gracias por su ayuda. travelavel By train: Spain is a great country to see by train due its incredible Don’t miss Madrid, scenery. The trains are mostly modern – and fast. One memorable Spain’s capital city journey takes you from Alicante to Denia on the Costa Blanca and features deep gorges and white-washed villages. Between Benidorm and Gata de Gorgos runs the restored Limon Express – it takes passengers past scenic beaches and idyllic towns. Spain also has its fair share of steam engines and railway museums (try The Museo del Ferrocarril in Madrid). The Tren de la Fresa (Strawberry Train) is one of the best-known and goes from Madrid to the palace at Aranjuez. The train used to take fresh strawberries to the capital and to remind passengers of its history, fresh strawberries are served en route. Eating out Many shops sell gluten-free products (bread, pizza bases, biscuits, flours, croissants etc) while the best shop, in term of availability, is El Corte Ingles, which is in most big cities. When eating out, always inform the restaurant of your condition. Coeliac disease has a higher profile in Spain than here in the UK so you should find restaurants are helpful and knowledgeable. If you’re in coastal or island areas it’s worth seeking out local restaurants to try the freshly caught fish and seafood – often a speciality. As always, be prepared, and contact the Coeliac Society in your chosen region (see opposite for details). We asked Spanish reader, Maria Lifante, who now lives in the UK, if she had any advice for readers. “It is a lot easier to be a coeliac in complete. Seville has a great Spain than it is here,” she told us. “That is mainly down to the fact range of theatres and museums that the Spanish diet contains less processed food than what’s on and good transport links. offer in the UK. I also recommend that people avoid tapas bars as they serve mostly bread-based dishes. It is a good idea to steer clear Out and about of restaurant chains and instead eat in independent places where they By bus: Buses are cheap and prepare their food from scratch. That way you know what is in the well-maintained. Most towns dish and they can leave out ingredients if necessary, like changing have a bus station (estacion de autobus) but don’t take it for granted wheat flour for cornflour. In all the times I have been back to visit my that just because you are at the stop the bus will actually stop family and friends in Spain, if you exclude burger and pizza places, – it is best to wave your arms frantically. Also, many city buses only I have yet to find a restaurant where I couldn’t eat anything.” accept the correct change. Try to avoid buses on Sundays and public One site worth visiting for gluten-free restaurants in Mallorca holidays as services are drastically reduced. (Majorca), is: www.mallorca-restaurants-121.com (produced by the By taxi: Licensed taxis are of a high standard. They show a green same company as gluten-free-onthego.com) where you can specify light when free – you just flag them down. Most taxis are metered and gluten-free as your speciality diet and get a list of restaurants with there’s a set price for certain journeys. Tipping of 5-10% is customary. photos, contact details and so on. Ask the travel agent… We asked our researcher, James Hayward, to go “under cover” to see just how helpful travel agents are… PICTURES COURTESY OF THE TURESPAÑA/SPANISH TOURIST OFFICE Going Places: No problem arranging food for a flight but they they could contact the hotel beforehand to check they can meet recommended either going self-catering or to a 4/5 star hotel. my dietary requirements. However, this would be anything from Booking a hotel would take time so that specific needs could be them preparing me a separate meal to having me eating plain met but they didn’t see this as a problem. They recommended meat and vegetables for a week. Overall helpful, but I left feeling Going Places could ring them to see who would be best for that I should be grateful that I would at least be able to have plain, gluten-free food. Overall very helpful. bland food for a week! First Choice: Problems with food on the flight, with the assistant Thompson: Thompson actually advertises a number for special citing that her father had coeliac disease and just took his own needs (0870 532 9509) on its website – no other operator offered food! Suggested trying 4/5 star hotels but said hotels would be this – which I called. They were helpful and understood my needs awkward catering for one person’s needs and again referred to and apprehensions about travelling abroad. There would be no her father who used his own judgement! Overall very poor. trouble organising a gluten-free meal on my flight and once I had Thomas Cook: I was referred to someone who dealt with chosen my hotel they would check their details and see if they disabilities and special requirements. She said that there would be would be suitable, but seemed to want to avoid calling them. no trouble organising a gluten-free meal on the flight and that Overall helpful and willing to go a bit further, but not far enough. 28 Crossed Grain magazine • Coeliac UK • Summer 2005 Valencia is Spain’s southern treasure Help is at hand… For tourist information: website: www.spain.info Spanish Embassy in London: website: www.tourspain.co.uk, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 0207 486 8077 For more details on beaches go to: www.blueflag.org For coeliac societies: there are four in Spain, divided into areas: Asociacion de Padres de Celiacos de la Provincia de Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), ASOCEPA Asociacion de Celiacos, De la Provincia de las Palmas, Apdo Correos 4237, Las Palmas E-35080 Telephone: +34 (9) 28 55 04 54; e-mail: email@example.com . S.M.A.P Celiacs de Catalunya is Catalonia (Barcelona, . Costa Brava, Costa Dorada), S.M.A.P Celiacs de Catalunya, Comtal 32 5e 1a, Barcelona, 08002 Spain Telephone: +34 (93) 412 17 89; fax: +34 (93) 412 03 82; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org F.A.C.E. - E.Z.E. Asociacion Celiaca de Euskadi (North-east Spain: Bilbao, San Sebastian-Donostia, Vitoria-Gasteiz), F.A.C.E. – E.Z.E. Asociacion, Celiaca de Euskadi, Somera 3-3 Depto 2, Bilbao; E-48005 Spain Telephone: +34 (94) 416 94 80; fax: +34 (94) 416 94 80 F.A.C.E. (Federation of Associated Coeliacs Spain which brings together all regions), F.A.C.E., C/Hileras 4-5, 28013 Madrid, Spain Telephone: +34 (91) 54 75 411; fax: +34 (91) 54 10 664; e-mail: email@example.com None of these websites is in English but if you contact them they will provide a gluten-free food list as well as details of places where gluten-free foods are on sale.
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