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Spain has been on lockdown since March 14, and though Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has announced a four-phase plan to ease up restrictions starting this month, it will be a while before the country is ready for tourism again. Until it’s safe to go, you can get your fix of Spanish culture at home. From virtual visits of Barcelona’s most famous sites to sunset rituals that transport you to the shores of Ibiza, these are the best ways to mentally transport yourself to Spain now.
Virtual Tours & Activities
No need to wait on line and purchase tickets when you visit Spain’s museums and monuments online. Now you can enjoy sites like the majestic Alhambra in Granada, Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, and Park Güell in Barcelona—which normally requires tickets to control overcrowding—and Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofia via Google Arts & Culture. Plus, museums like the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya are offering virtual tours on their websites. The Picasso Museum in Barcelona is sharing fun facts and activities on its Instagram account using the hashtag #MuseuPicassoVirtual. Gaudí’s Casa Batlló has shared a series of coloring postcards, puzzles, and other downloadable crafts and games that are great for kids.
For more interactive activities, check out Airbnb Experiences. You could learn to dance flamenco with a professional dancer in Madrid, do a family-friendly storytelling and crafting project with an environmental educator in Montseny National Park near Barcelona, or get a private astrology reading and natal chart with a Barcelona-based graphic designer.
Listen to Spanish Music
Whether Ibiza’s club scene or the flamenco tablaos of Madrid are more your scene, there’s a playlist for you on Spotify. Ibiza Sunset will transport you to the island’s chill beaches—just add a gin & tonic. Best of Flamenco Guitar features acoustic tracks that make the perfect background music for cooking and eating dinner inspired by the sounds and flavors of Spain.
Watch Films Set in Spain
A good film can transport you to the Iberian Peninsula without leaving the comfort of home. Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth will take you back in time to 1944, when Spain was subjugated by Franco’s fascist dictatorship, and tells the story of a young girl who flees the harsh reality of daily life by escaping into a fantasy world. For more magical realism, watch Pedro Almodovar’s cinematic masterpiece Volver starring Penelope Cruz. The Spanish bombshell also stars in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which paints a vivid portrait of the city and the characters who inhabit it.
Read Books About Spain
Miguel de Cervantes, Federico Garcia Lorca, Antonio Muñoz Molina—Spain has produced some of the greatest authors in Western literature. While you’ve got time on your hands, why not immerse yourself in a literary classic like Don Quixote ($9, amazon.com)? Of course, American and English authors have also written about Spain. Hemingway portrayed Pamplona and its famed running of the bulls in The Sun Also Rises ($15, amazon.com) and chronicled the story of an American volunteer who gets wrapped up in guerilla warfare during the Spanish Civil War in For Whom the Bell Tolls ($13, amazon.com). George Orwell wrote about his own experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War in Homage to Catalonia ($12, amazon.com).
Cook Spanish Food
What would a virtual trip to Spain be without some tapas and paella? You can find recipes for these and other dishes in Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen ($23, amazon.com) by chef Katie Button. Or try making the regional recipes in The Cuisines of Spain: Exploring Regional Home Cooking ($23, amazon.com) by Teresa Barrenechea, one of the country’s most lauded culinary ambassadors. You may not be able to replicate a dinner at San Sebastian’s Michelin-starred Mugaritz, but you could certainly plan a Basque-style pinxtos party at home using Marti Buckley’s Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise ($23, amazon.com).
Spanish chefs are taking to Instagram to share cooking tips and recipes too. As if he wasn’t already busy enough feeding people in need, America’s favorite Spanish chef and a member of the American Express Global Dining Collection, José Andrés is doing a series Spanish cooking demos on his Instagram account using the hashtag #recipesforthepeople. Luckily for us, he focuses on simple dishes like migas (Spanish-style breadcrumbs) with chorizo and grapes or chicken with vegetables. Michelin-starred chef Paco Roncero, who runs a handful of restaurants in Madrid, is also posting cooking lessons on his Instagram account, though it helps if you can speak Spanish.
Support Spanish Hotels
Leading Hotels of the World, which has 19 members in Spain, created a coloring book and virtual tour videos featuring hotels in Spain and elsewhere. Some of their Spanish hotels are also doing virtual tours, sharing recipes and wellness tips, and broadcasting performances. 7Pines Kempinski Ibiza is going live every week for a “Virtual Sunset Ritual” featuring DJs and breathtaking views of the sea. The glamorous Marbella Club Hotel, and an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is doing a “Stay Home” series of Instagram stories featuring wellness tips from their resident yoga teacher, cocktail demos, interviews with the general manager, and more. For live cooking lessons, tune in to Madrid-based Hotel Fénix’s Instagram account. Meanwhile in Barcelona, El Palace is broadcasting a series of live yoga and pilates classes as well as concerts with musicians that play in their BluesMan Cocktail Bar on their Instagram account. If you like their content, consider booking a room when it’s safe to travel again.