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Pre- trip to Spain reading

Looking forward to my solo trip to Spain/Portugal coming up in September. Looking for some additional reading tips as I love to immerse myself in reading prior to make the trip so much more special!
Let me tell you what I have so far..
I have booked a “Shadow of the Wind” private tour in Barcelona on the Sunday I arrive. Has anyone done this or read the book? I’m re-reading it again, it’s truly marvelous. Shadow of the Wind is written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s really a wonderful fiction story. I was so excited to see that there is actually a tour based on the book! I loved this book so much when I read it originally and am re-reading it again. There is a public tour that takes place the Saturday before I arrive- but I was able to book a private tour on Sunday because that is my only day I can do this. The extra cost is worth it to me- I hope it is worth it. I figure it will be a great introduction to Barcelona with some meaningful book locations. This is truly one of the things I’m looking forward to in Barcelona the most!
Next- I have downloaded “Tales from the Alhambra” by Washington Irving
Also- “Iberia” by James Michener
As you may notice- I’m a fiction lover but with history mixed in.
Any other reading or movie tips appreciated. I love Pedro Almodovar’ s movies. He is a genius.
I have been watching the Rick Steve’s tv shows for advice, too. ( I have the entire series on DVD)

Posted by
3648 posts

There are a number of good Spanish movies, if you would be interested in learning about our culture and history through cinema, I'd recommend:

Ocho Apellidos Vascos (for Basque Country)

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (for Madrid)

Biutiful (for contemporary Barcelona)

Mientras dure la guerra (for Salamanca and Spanish civil war)

23-F (Transition to democracy + 1981 Falangist coup attempt)

La Isla Mínima (Andalucía's deep south during transition to democracy)

If you are interested in Spanish television, we have good historical tv shows too, I'd suggest:

La Catedral del Mar (Barcelona during the middle ages)

Isabel (life and times of Isabella I of Castile)

Carlos, Rey Emperador (rise of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor)

El Ministerio del Tiempo (historical fiction about Ministry of Time of Spain, which deals with incidents caused by time travel in Spain's history)

Hope this gives a few ideas, not too sure where you can see these in the United States, maybe try some of the big streaming services, or Amazon, or even maybe on YouTube.

Posted by
729 posts

The Time In Between: A Novel by Maria Duenas is a wonderful historic fiction novel. It is set in Madrid and Morocco before, during and after WWII. It was made into a series and can be viewed on Amazon Prime for free if you have PBS Masterpiece. You could also watch for free with a 7-day PBS Masterpiece trial, binge and then cancel. It uses English subtitles.
The film locations include Madrid and Lisbon.

Posted by
470 posts

@Carlos mentions some good things.

Ocho Apellidos Vascos (A Spanish Affair in English) is fun.
I love La Isla Minima.

Another reference about for the Basque Country would be the Baztan Triology, by Dolores Redondo. The first book is The Invisible Guardian, and has been translated into English, and there is a move too.

If Belchite is on your itinerary, you might want to read up a bit on the Lincoln Battalion.

Posted by
298 posts

Thank you very much everyone!! I am really looking forward to checking these out!!

Posted by
298 posts

@carlos I just want to thank you very much. I have been watching the Spain travel section here and you comments are so helpful to all travelers to Spain, me included.
Thank you so much for taking the time to list those films, television and books.
You are truly a great person, such a great resource and I appreciate the time you put into answering my questions.
I wish you the best!


Posted by
3648 posts

Well thank you so much Lisa for your kind words! I just like to help travelers better explore my country of Spain. I commend you for all the pre-trip research you're doing, it'll make your travels so much more rewarding ☺️