Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spain Trip; Part One; General Impressions

Just got back from 10 days in Spain; Seville, Madrid & Barcelona. If you’re looking for hotel, activity, tour guide & restaurant reviews feel free to email and ask.  I’ll also be posting individual reviews on trip advisor later in the week, which you can find my searching under my name. I’ll use this space to jot down thoughts and a few stories. I’ve divided it into 3 blog posts; General Impressions, Jewish life & Food. Hope you enjoy.
General Impressions

First of all, Spain is amazing.  And fun. And delicious. As for comparing one city to the other ,Madrid & Seville definitely won out for me over Barcelona. Yes, Barcelona is a wonderful, cosmopolitan city. Yes, the Sagrada Familia  is beyond words. Also loved the Park Guell and La Pedrera as well as the old city. But for me, it didn’t hold a candle to Madrid & Seville.
We took the high-speed trains from city to city. They offer the most wonderful contrast. You are sitting on a modern train,, which runs completely silently, watching Guardians of the Galaxy with free headphones while passing by a scene that hasn't changed since Don Quixote rode by on his mule. Depending on where you are you pass endless olive groves, vineyards, and orange trees. Everywhere there are low stone hand built walls; some in good shape, others crumbling, while small groups of cattle and pigs wander around them.
Both the cities are beautiful, full of twisting cobblestone streets, and ancient stonewalls. As always, you realize how young America really is. There are walls over 2000 years old built by the Romans and buildings referred to as ‘new’ dating from the 1400s.
Being in Madrid & Seville is like being plunged into a different culture, one that happily hasn’t been Americanized. Except for a few people in the hotels most people do not speak more than a few words of English. Menus are in Spanish only, except for scattered tourist traps, and everyone eats according to Spanish time. Get up before 9am and don’t expect to find anything to eat. After all, any normal Spaniard is still sleeping. Lunch is around 1 or 2 and by 4:00 everything shuts down. Show up at a restaurant before 8:00 and expect to wait outside until they open. At 9:00 you will be one of the few folks eating. But walk out of your meal at 10pm and the whole world is alive. Every street, every plaza, is packed with people eating, drinking, walking, and socializing, not just kids but folks of every age and economic group. On a Tuesday evening at 12:30 we met a private equity couple drinking in a sherry bar with a large group of friends!
It’s a wonderful way to live….

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