How to sum up Spain?
Well, I'm guessing you've all given up on me, and no wonder, I have been so busy these last two weeks, with very little contact with the computer, that Spain has wooshed by in a flash!
I've loved it.
I've met a bunch of wonderful people, kind, good-natured aussies and kiwis who are the salt of the earth, are hilarious, and who I love to bits.
I've been to tiny walled towns, where the cobblestones seem to extend up into the buildings and towers.
I've seen countrysides where olive groves and sunflower fields stretch for miles and miles to the distant horizon.
I've eaten crazy amounts of tapas, most of them very meat-based, from the indomitable jamon on bread (their proscuitto type ham, which is EVERYWHERE, there are even shops called the Museo de Jamon, museum to Ham) to saucy meatballs, spicy chorizo, gazpacho, tortilla espanola (spanish potato omelette), olives and skewered chicken.
I've seen 2 proper bullfighting rings, and learnt all about the serious art of bullfighting.
I've tried jugs of sangria in every city, most very orangey, but some with melon, and my favourite with cinnamon-type spices.
I've seen exquisite moorish architecture, at the Alcazar in Serville, the Mezquita in Cordoba, and the Alhambra in Granada, where north african craftsmen have used geometric patterns and arabian script and marvellous carpentry, mixed with christian architecture and jewish influences, set amongst palatial gardens with lakes and fountains, to create havens of beauty.
I've been in high thirty degree temperutures (writing this in Barcelona, its still about 25 degrees at midnight).
I've crossed the border to Gibraltar, and discovered the rock of Gibraltar isn't just a statue, but a blinking great sheer cliff that the city of Gibraltar clings to the edge of.
I've cable-cared to the top and sat in cloud roaring over the summit, and witnessed wild monkeys and seagulls sitting side by side, followed by a very English dinner at a English pub (Gibraltar is an English colony... there was even a Marks and Spencers!)
I've now got a stamp in my passport for Africa, after surviving Morocco. A group from my tour and I jumped on a daytrip from Algicaris to Tangiers, which turned out to be us and 60 sandal-and-socks-with-large-camera-and-hiking-shorts-clad-mature-travellers, and being herded single-file through tiny maze like streets to see "snake charmers" and "carpet demonstrations" while all the while at least 2 Morroccan men are crowding beside each one of us trying to sell us skarves/bracelets/wooden toy camels. The aggression of the selling, and having to constantly say no were exhausting, as was the kitshy touristness of it all, but the experience was one in a million, I'd love to go back to Morrocco. But not alone!
I've single-handedly haggled a beady-eyed Morrocan storesmen down to a decent price from his over-inflated tourist asking price, and am now the proud owner of a beautiful morrocan teapot. Which happens to also be red :-)
I've seen an ancient bridge built over a steep gorge in Ronda, where a trio of musicians playing at the top could be heard echoing wonderfully around the gorge below.
I've had a traditional Arab bath in Granada, which involved a hot bath and a cold bath, a thirty minute massage, more soaking in the baths, and delicious arabian mint tea.
I've seen traditional flamenco, in a tiny bar that looked like someone's converted garage, where the flamenco consisted of lots of incredible singing and guitar playing, with random and passionate bursts of dancing.
I've survived an overnight train to Valencia, arriving at 5am after next to no sleep.
I've visited the America's Cup village in Valencia and felt sheepishly patriotic being so small and insignificant on the other side of the world, enough to spark a cheesy photo of us 3 kiwis in Team NZ caps outside the NZ base. And affected our aussie friends so much, they bought caps too :-)
I've been to see a famous Spanish classical guitarist perform inside a marvellous gothic church in Barcelona.
And I've taken in beautiful Barcelona itself, which I love, with its old buildings, crazy mind-blowing Gaudi masterpieces, amazing design stores and wonderful dining.
Unfortunately I can't show you all photos of my adventures, as a scumbag stole my handbag from the hotel restaurant bar in Valencia, taking my phone, wallet and camera, and both memory cards with all my Spanish photos which I was about to burn to cd the next day. Luckily passport and credit cards and the majority of my cash I had in a money belt, but it means I've also had the experience of dealing witht he Spanish police force, sigh. Was incredibly grateful to be with a Spanish speaking guide and very generous friends who helped me out no end.
Anyway! Tomorrow is my last day in Barcelona, unfortuntaely... I will definitely be back.
Off tomorrow night to London, for three whirlwind days before my flight back to NZ.
Posted on 18 Jun 2007 by Anna