Spain is a country of leisure, and it was just what I needed at the time. Smack in the middle of my busy-ass life, it was nice to get away for ten days, even if those ten days did include air travel and navigating three airports total.
We ate a lot of wonderful food in Madrid, at outdoor cafes and parks. Madrid has a lot of places to loiter. They expect you to take hours to eat. My only quibble there is they don’t do free refills, and all the walking made me quite thirsty. If you order tap water, you only get a tiny glass, and the waiters don’t come around often to fill the glass. I guess they expect everyone to sip.
The Cerralbo Museum and the palace were two of my favorite tourist spots, but then again, I love gold leaf. Pics are not allowed inside the palace, but the inside is quite like this one pic of the Cerralbo.
The palace was immense, though, just like this pic of the outside demonstrates, and because the king and his family still live there, we weren’t able to see the entire thing. We were able to tour the attached cathedral, though, and it was equally as epic as the palace itself. If you’re visiting Madrid and you enjoy grandeur, be certain to visit both of these. The Cerralbo was only 3 euro to get in, and they provided a paper guide which you had to return, but what the hell do you want for 3 euro?
We visited a lot more places in Madrid, like the Prado Museum, home to thousands of famous works of art–also no pics inside there–Retiro Park, where I mostly took snaps of statues and fountains, and Plaza Mayor, which is full of cafes and street performers who do odd things for cash.
We visited the medieval city of Toledo (which is what it says on the brochure). This is a pic from the road outside looking toward it. I remember reading that Toledo was the heart of Spain for a long time, and had a castle and wall, which you can see here, to repel invaders. Someone marched on Toledo from the south, but wound up in Madrid and took that city, thinking it was Toledo. After he took Madrid, he wondered what all the fuss was about because he’d taken it quite easily. When he found out it was only Madrid, he probably felt really stupid. Since I suck at facts unless they’re right in front of me, I don’t remember names. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
One of my favorite spots to visit was the mountains north of Oviedo and the coast north of that. (I also suck at geography). The mountains were so gorgeous we just started calling them Middle Earth.
They were also covered in mountain climbing cattle. There was no designated pasture, so the cows just moved everywhere, and you could hear the bells they wore around their necks clanging in all directions. It wasn’t as annoying a sound as you might think, but quite peaceful, once you could climb above the cow shit to appreciate the view. Seriously, it was everywhere, even on the sides of steep slopes. We climbed as high as we could, and it was there, too. Maybe they’re a cow/goat hybrid.
This is as far north as you can be in Spain without going in the water. I tried to climb onto one of the little rock fingers going into the sea, but the trail petered out, and I didn’t have any climbing gear with me. I’m not an experienced climber, not even a novice, but I think I could have made the relatively easy climb with even just a rope to help me. It was not to be, however, especially since several of my friends and family are afraid of heights and didn’t want me to go.
Well, I’m sure you don’t want me to post all thousand of my pictures, and this sums up my favorites that I could get a decent shot of. We also saw flamenco dancers whose passion for their art, no shit, almost brought me to tears. There was no filming, or I would share that with you, and the pics we caught are mostly blurry, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations.
I loved being in Spain and hanging out with my friends, and now I’m back with my passion for writing fully restored. Of course, I couldn’t write right away, as I had FenCon X to go to! Since this post is getting long, though, I’ll save that for next week.
What was your favorite vacation destination?