Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spain: The Only Place Where It's Acceptable to Have A Lisp

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I was constantly distracted by the Spanish people's tongue being caught between their lips when they said their "c's"; then again, it could be because I couldn't understand a word of what they were saying. The Spanish people are laid-back, helpful, and like to have a good time.


We stayed in a small apartment recommended by our friend Christine (thanks!) Coin, while having nothing in particular to recommend it to the guidebooks, nevertheless had a tourist office. Spain is in the top 3 touristed countries in the world I think, so even small towns have the facilities for visitors. Coin was beautiful. The buildings were white, the streets were narrow, and the view from the top of the hill was unbeatable. Southern Spain is truly a natural wonder.

Cordoba and Granada

We met up with Lauren and Ben, who live in Qatar and edit for the government, including from what I understand terrorist letters they receive before they are released to the public. Who knew a job like that exists? "They're all the same," we were told. "They all say, "We've defended our land from the infidels, we know the one true God, we keep our women veiled..." yadda yadda. Lauren knew Jacob from the FLSR. Jacob, when awake, regaled us on our hours-long drive with fascinating historical facts, for example the fact that coins actually originated in our town where we were staying, and that in fact we had toured the factory where the first coin was ever made. We had a grown up sleepover in a hostel after we missed our bus. It's fun to travel with friends.

Madrid and Segovia

I'm so glad everything came together for our family vacation in Spain. Luke flew out from Macedonia, Al and Laura flew from KC to Texas to Madrid, and Jacob and I caught an overnight bus, all without a hitch. Fortunately, the apartment we stayed in was perfect for us. Right in the center of town, it included wifi internet (always a must) with a cleaning service, welcome goodies, excellent soap, air conditioning, washing machine, kitchen and comforts for 5 people for 91 euros a night. This is saying something for the prices of Spain, which is probably the most expensive European country I've been to (excluding England, which uses the pound). I'd definitely recommend the apartment to anyone who wanted to visit.

Our wallet was stolen here, of course, but really, the pickpocket couldn't have chosen a better time to do it! Al and Laura came to the rescue, we had only 90 euros, not 390, in the wallet, and the most unfortunate thing was that we got sent on a chase to get new temple recommends. Jacob was stunned anyone would try to pickpocket someone of his size, but we had to hand it to him--the guy was a true professional. Took it right when he was giving Jacob directions! You don't meet a guy that good every day.

We got spoiled by Al and Laura. By now Luke, Jacob, and I are used to travelling together. We've been in Radovis, Skopje, Athens, Larisa, and
 now Madrid.

We took a day trip to Segovia. We visited a castle that was supposedly the inspiration for the castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

On the bus to Segovia

Frisbee in Retiro Park

 El Rastro market. That lady looks like she recognizes Jacob, which wouldn't surprise me. In Madrid, Jacob met two groups of people that he had met elsewhere, including in Morocco.

We happened to arrive in Madrid during the week of "White Night" when people are out all night visiting museums, doing dance moves to large movie projections, and watching marching bands play in the streets.


Because I enjoyed the sunrise flight to Morocco last time, I aimed for the same thing again flying to Barcelona. Unfortunately, I realized too late that there would be no transport to the airport in the middle of the night. We therefore ended up spending the night at the airport. And then the sun didn't even rise on the flight! Oh well... I was instantly struck by the beauty of the buildings in Barcelona.

We arrived during the city's patron saint Merce festival. It meant there was onstage music, parades, and fireworks. A great time to visit.

If I could have picked a street artist to draw my picture, it would have been this guy. His prices were steep though: 50-70 euros. I watched him drawing a bit. He was fantastic with hair. I should have stayed longer to pick up some tips.

I thought this was a church, but it turned out to be a Catalan language school. In the end, this is what I love most about Europe: it's sometimes not practical, efficient, or economical, but it will be beautiful or expressive or artistic.

 We were astonished to see these urinals in broad daylight in a public square....that is until Jacob saw the drunk people, men and women, lining up in the alley outside our hostel peeing directly on the street after a night of partying.

This band playing outside of the Gothic cathedral attracted every person that walked by. They were intense performers. The guy on the left played bells hanging on a walker, bowls, and a huge guitar looking instrument. The one in the middle played the hang and tapped his foot with his ankle bell bracelet. And the third guy that looks like a blind man played a mesmerizing saxophone.

Las Ramblas, coolest street in Europe. It's touristy, sure, but it's a constant stream of performers, from costumed statues dressed like a baby in a crib or a monkey behind bars, to soccer players to magicians to musicians to dancers.

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Plaza Catalunya

After Barcelona, we hopped on a flight to NYC. Although we didn't ride first class, the flight attendant brought us goodies because she "knows how stressful it is to fly standby" Sweet! I didn't even feel sad to leave Europe, because I know we'll return, and because we've both been missing America a bit. Barcelona let us go out with a bang. We're excited to spend the next couple weeks with friends and family!

PS Does anyone know why comments would be blocked? It blocked them on the last post, but I don't want that :(


MIFFY said...

hello jacob hiller

are you remember ?

i'am Miffy

can i send phote for YOU︿︿

about sahare ( you no memory card )


wood0306 said...

Hey guys... Amazing! Sounds like another successful trip. I just realized that I haven't commented in awhile. I am always so in Awe of your adventures, by the end I never leave a note. I just wanted to let you know that I love reading your blog. Safe travels!

Adespain said...

Spain looks amazing! I took a history of the Iberian peninsula class for my spanish teaching minor and ever since have wanted to go to Spain! Plus, my ancestors come from there before Bolivia!

Can't WAIT to see you!

oh said...

Scott said: "Hooray for the flight attendant."

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