Note; This two-week road trip throughout Spain and Portugal were the last two weeks of my eight months in Europe…I wrote these posts (in rough) during my time there, but have been too busy since being home to type, edit and post…. Enjoy this time jump!
The time had finally come; Damien and I were on the plane, ready to enter the land of the salsa, siestas y fiestas. Spain is my dreamland….tapas, sunshine, beaches, spanish….
We arrived with RyanAir Airlines in Madrid on a Thursday, stayed with our wonderful CS host, Javier, and his four Chilean roomies who gave us a warm welcome with cards and Chilean rum. Salud!
Friday morning came early but we jumped up and ran at the day. Tapas were first on the menu….Tapas are a traditional Spanish dish and way of eating. They are like appetizers only they are what make up the entire meal. This way we can enjoy many different flavours and share, too! At 2.50 to 4 euros each, they make for cheap eats.
We wandered aimlessly for our first day, taking in the architecture, parade for their national Holiday and, of course, the sunshine. The city was full. I love wandering around getting lost in the city, its colors, its sounds, its history….imagining the craftsmen and artists sitting for hours, hand carving the detail in every nook and cranny of every piece of hundred-year-old architecture. Madrid was perfect for this. I’d find myself standing in the same spot gawking in disbelief at the beauty. Streets from the main square are accessed through arcs, each leading into a different direction. The houses are naturally decorated with wild flowers climbing to the roof. Flower pots cling to the walls and the sun reflects off shades of pastel blues, pinks, greens and purples. The majestic beauty is hard to believe. It’s like being in a fairy tale.
Javier met up with us that afternoon and we all had a stroll through the city. He showed us two parks, the Egyptian Temple, the Crystal Palace, Town Hall, the “Most beautiful place in Madrid” and finally, tapas. What a beautiful day and delicious night!
We caught our bus for Cordoba at 1am. Talk about enjoying every minute of our trip! We arrived three hours later, napped in the bus station while waiting to buy our ticket to Seville and were at the breakfast table of a small restaurant overlooking the river at 7:30 am. Our coffee and croissant (and Dam’s tuna baguette) gave us just the energy needed to hit the Streets with the biggest tourist heads imaginable; yankees hat, glasses, backpacks and sneakers. Ready, set, go!
haha sleepy eyes!
Cordoba was an Iberian and Roman city in ancient times and contains many architectural reminders of the Islamic rule with its Mosque-like style, rounded windows and colorful curtains. The center piece is a massive Mosque turned into Church, sitting in front of the Roman bridge.
Our second bus to Seville left at 12:30 that afternoon, welcoming us with a melting 33 degrees. We headed straight to the apartment, ate, and went out in the town. No time to be wasted! Since Damien had previously lived in Seville I let him be my tour guide. We went to his favourite tapa restaurants and he could answer all of my questions about the city. What a relief not having to use a map.
11am Sunday morning rolled around and we finally decided to start the day. Finally, a full night of sleep. We headed to the Gypsy market first thing and got six kilos of fruit for 4 euros, fresh and tasty. After the market, we hit up my favourite tapas restaurant where we got grilled squid, Gispachio and tomatoes dressed in salt, olive oil and tuna. I also ordered a typical spanish drink made of red wine and lemonade. All of this plus three beer came to 16 euros. Spain is a very cheap country and even though it’s an amazing place to be it would be hard to live there full-time while saving to travel and do other things.
It has only been one day and I have already Fallen in love with this city. The heat, simplicity and beauty and lured me in and engraved a desire to return deep into my mind.
Even now, as I sit in the park and write this journal I am stunned by my surroundings; I sit shaded by a gate, pillars wrapped in vines, in front of a squared pond. White and brown ducks plunge and swim carefree around the pond’s centerpiece; a Japanese tree, flowers in shades of reds and pinks growing sporadically, dangling out of rusted pots along the brick edge. Even the vase in the middle of the park is breathtaking, especially because this kind of beauty is ancient and did not involve machinery or factories.
Spain is not only beautiful, it’s practical, too. The Church bells ring every hour on the hour and again every thirty minutes. To tell the time we count how many times the bell rings. When it’s half past, it rings once. People are quite relaxed as well. If you have a rendez-vous at 6pm don’t be worried if people don’t show up until 6:30. They don’t consider that late. No rush. La vida es bella.
After spending a few hours in La Place España, the heat of the sun makes a freshly poured beer seem like a dream, a breeze in the desert, the sun after two weeks of rain. It may even be better. Surrounding me are palm trees, cherry-red fans, older women and men all dressed in bright purples, greens and blues. It’s springtime. The air offers a smell of a mixture of pine and dirt, with a hint of something cooking on the grill 200 meters away. There’s French, Spanish, and a small mix of unrecognizable languages that seem to blend together. Everyone here is gorgeous. Small birds looking for crumbs are everywhere. The tamed wild.
The people-watching here is magnificent. Between the biker taking a snooze Under a tree 25 meters away, the tourists snapping photos and the locals dressed in flamenco gowns, ready for la feria, my eyes and ears will never be at rest. People here work to live. They’re carefree, have a passion for food and a passion for life. Maybe I’ll come back….
Fried bread dipped in chocolate as a traditional dessert?…. I’ll definitely be back!