Dear Friends and Family,
Ten days in Spain and I’m hooked! My best friend and boyfriend Matt and I are halfway through a three-week adventure to soak in the sun, aromas, and lisping Spanish accents. We are currently bicigrinos, pilgrims on a six-day bike tour along the 300+km Camino de Santiago.
As we sit in an albergue, one of hundreds of old monasteries turned hostals, a lightening storm crashes and interrupts the pouring rain on the cobblestone streets. We have splashed through mud, climbed thousands of meters up dirt roads and gawked at the vistas while following the yellow arrows and sea shells that mark the Camino. Despite a faulty pedal (me) and a broken gear shifter (Matt), I wouldn’t trade this part of our trip for all of the tapas in Spain. We’ve crested green hills pillowed in clouds with windmills in the distance and countless flower lined medieval towns with effervescent cathedrals.
If the cowbells and buildings dripping with history weren’t stereotypically European enough to make you fall in love, I’ve compiled a list of ten additional reasons why Spain deserves your company:
1. Food: Of course, this would be #1 for me.
Hot chocolate that left me unable to speak(whoa!), the first olive I have ever enjoyed, and jamon (ham) like I never knew existed often paired with fresh bread and perfect cheese. They invented the art of snacking and understand that drinking should always be accompanied by good food. Hence, the free tapas with every glass of wine or cider, which leads to número 2…
2. Wine: plentiful, cheap, expected. Oftentimes ordering a glass = free food or vis a versa (see #1).
3. Bike lanes: automobile-centric USA culture take note, drivers CAN coexist with bikers. The kilometers upon kilometers of heavily used bike lanes contribute to an active culture, which helps to combat the effects of daily chocolate croissants.
4. History: It’s normal to live in an 18th Century building or to sit in a medieval plaza.
The modern amenities seamlessly weave into a fabric so rich in history that the footpaths have been worn soft by the soles of hundreds of years of pilgrims on the same path.
5. You can drink the water: Compared to most of my travels, this is a luxury I do not take for granted. It’s on par with flushing the toilet paper.
6. It’s Cheap(ish): I went to Spain expecting my frugal self to squirm whenever the wallet came out. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that for 10€ ($13) Matt and I can split a three-course meal with wine, or simply have a bottle for 1.5€($2) and stay in a clean room with a shower for 20€ ($26) without worrying about bed bugs.
7. Trains are so fast!: Latin American buses, despite having great dubbed Jet Li movies cannot compare to the zoom zoom of the rail system.
8. No hurrying allowed: As one of our friends warned, ” Whatever you do, don’t fuckin’ hurry in Spain. It’s just not Spanish.” We’ve taken this to heart and enjoyed many a cafe con leche (Matt) or a pastry (V) to watch the clouds and people float by.
9. Sleeping in is not an issue: In fact, it’s encouraged. We stayed up till dawn with our incredible hosts in the foothills of Madrid then subsequently slept till early afternoon.
10. The national lisp: I have to grin when they say Zaragoza (pronounced Thar-a-go-tha).
Spain’s cultural history is nearly as diverse as the many dialects that inhabit its various regions. We are less than 20 km from Santiago and our bums are looking forward to relinquishing the saddle. My back (which I broke in June) is doing great and hasn’t bothered me on the tour.
Matt and I have hardly stopped smiling since we took off from Tahoe and we still have almost 11 days to explore San Sebastián and Barcelona. I hope that life is keeping you smiling as Fall begins to tickle the leaves to the ground.
Besos y abrazos,