Days spent – 17 days (24 June 2016 to 11 July 2016)
Places visited – Barcelona, Girona, Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Almeria, Valencia and Barcelona (again)
Books read – Homage to Catalonia, Around the World in Eighty Days, Tales of the Alhambra (unfinished)
Things done – Montserrat, Madrid Royal Palace, Seville Alcazar, Cordoba’s Roman Bridge, Cordoba Mosque, the Alhambra, Almeria Alcazar, Tibidabo, Camp Nou, Sagrada Familia
Highlight(s) – Alhambra, Sagrada Familia
Lowlight(s) – Bye Jiong 😦
Cost – £908.33 (£53.43 per day)
So, hola Spain, a country I’ve actually been to before. But, a holiday with four teenage lads to Torremolinos may be slightly different to this one! The first thing I need to do is thank a Spaniard, for when I arrived in Barcelona I had no accommodation booked and it was very busy being a weekend in late June. Luckily, Albert from Airbnb saved me so thanks for that mate and hope all is well.
It’s in Spain that I start to appreciate the way I’m travelling (trying to avoid air travel). Spain is a beautiful country, it has a kind of masculine beauty attached to it. Most would say that flying gets you from A to B, but I disagree, it gets you from A to Z… You may see A and B, and Y and Z but you miss C to X. Unfortunately, my phone camera isn’t good enough for photos out of a window at 110kmh plus. Or maybe Jiong would say I’m not good enough! For me, the particular highlight was the Castelldelfels coast road just outside of Barcelona but the Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees also deserve a mention. It seems so other-worldly that I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if Genghis Khan and his army rounded the bottom of one of these mountains on their mounts.
Due to the long journeys in Spain I finally manage to finish reading Homage to Catalonia. It’s weird to see places and road signs that crop up in the book, especially as they are so different now (thankfully). I also start reading Tales of the Alhambra but in between I read Around the World in Eighty Days. What a wonderful book that is. Phileas Fogg resonates with me somewhat! It’s day fifty seven on the road as I write this but I’m yet to find my Aouda, although to be fair I haven’t made it as far afield as India yet!
So having started to read Tales of the Alhambra, I had a bit of an idea of what I was in for before I reach Granada but I love this place. There’s a viewing point across what the Spanish call a river but I would call a trickle. There, people gather most hours of the day, in daytime there are tourists aplenty but by night it’s a local hangout with beer consumed and the aroma of casual drugs in the air with traders and buskers plying their lots. I think to officially be Spanish you have to be able to play guitar, although why they have to sing as though they have a bad stomach ache I’m not sure! Inside is just as good as you imagine it to be prior to arrival.
Washington Irving – author of Tales of the Alhambra
Excluding Albert I didn’t have much interaction with Spanish people. This is probably just as well because they all want to know my thoughts on Brexit and to joke about how bad we are at football. Although I did get a Blablacar with a Spanish girl from Almeria to Valencia, she had little English and my Spanish is in its infancy if I’m polite about it! We had a few broken conversations before realising we can’t progress much further. But, because it’s such a long journey we stop for lunch and I have my first conversation via Google Translate! It’s weird but fun. The voice recognition doesn’t work that well but you can type, it translates, you then show the other person and they can read. You see their flicker of recognition then processing and then a smile or a laugh when they understand and that’s great.
I also need to thank the people I spent time with. Jiong, as always with us, thanks for the good times and great company. She’s the sort of girl that spontaneously gets gelato when you’re on your way to dinner (i.e. my dream girl!). Nathan, Fernando and Rachel: thanks for those summer evenings on a Spanish hostel rooftop. The highlight of which was when we nearly caught those pigeons having sex! I can still see their evils in my mind’s eye! I think the world would be a much better place if its diplomats did all their business in south Spain, on a July eveing, at 1am, on a rooftop, in twenty eight degree temperatures, with three of four beers down.
I think I should talk about food, as it’s my second favourite thing in the world! Three things come to mind regarding Spanish food: paella, tapas and sangria! Tapas I love, what a genius concept! Paella I find a bit hit and miss, I had to try a third before I enjoyed one. Ironically, that one was a free hostel dinner! Made by a guy that could speak Japanese, no end to his talents… I’m afraid to say it, but the best sangria I’ve had was in Turin… Shhh, don’t tell the Spaniards!
Squid ink paella on the right, but you wouldn’t know!
Strawbs – written 3 August 2016, published 7 August 2016
Sagrada Familia windows
Cordoba Mosque/ Cathedral – weird to the two mixed… Muslim architecture with Christian symbology and iconography etc.
Turtles at Madrid train station
Barcelona fountain show
It was hot, but not this hot! Managed to time it just as it was changing to the time.
Any of you intellectuals out there know who this is? Hint: English people should know… (Answer to follow on Facebook Spain photo album!)
Forgiveness Door of Seville Cathedral – renounce your faith and be shot or keep your faith and be burnt alive, seems fair…