Welcome to Europe! -- Spain

When we got off the plane in Madrid after 6 months in South America we had to scratch our eyes.  Everyone was still speaking Spanish, but after shooting through customs, grabbing some Euros from a convenient ATM, and hopping directly on the subway without taxi drivers hassling us, we knew that we were in Europe.  The last time that Sarah and I were in Spain was eight years ago when she was studying abroad here.  It was good to be back.

With the famous jamon serrano, tapas, beer, wine, and just general good living, Spain is a great place to visit.  We stayed for four nights in order to fight off our jetlag before heading up to the Baltic States.  We spent two nights mixing with Madrileños eating and drinking into the night, and touring the city.  We visited the Museo Reina Sofía (free on Sundays!) which we highly recommend.  Besides Guernica, the pride of the collection, the museum is full of great Picassos and other Spanish and European art.  We also saw a Novillado bull fight, which is a bullfight with young bullfighters, and was the introduction for two of them to the Madrid bullring.  Due to the recent political maneuverings around bullfighting in Spain, (it has been outlawed in Catalonia, the region that contains Barcelona, but mostly for political and separatist reasons), it was interesting to see people holding signs and shouting their support for their cultural history.  The bullfight was fascinating, however I’ll stay away from talking too much about it and the controversies around it here.

We then hopped a train to Ávila for a quick stop to see the old city with its well preserved walls, and continued on to Salamanca a beautiful and active college town.  Salamanca is home to some of Spain’s oldest universities, and I can’t vouch for what it was like in the 1200s, but today it is a super fun city.  We’ve seen a lot of city squares over the years, but we think that Salamanca may have the most beautiful.  It is the center of the city, and is full of people relaxing, eating, drinking and socializing from 10 in the morning until 1am.  The bars and cafes in Salamanca offer a free tapa with each drink (all for 2 euros), which makes bar-hopping a no brainer.  Let’s see, with my first beer I think that I’ll have octopus, and then with my second I’ll have meatballs, and oh, how about some cured ham and bread with my third.  And don’t worry, the beers are small and light, so you can carry on this way for many hours eating, drinking and chatting.  (Or in Sarah’s case a great Rioja red wine followed by sangria.)  We were in town for a Monday and Tuesday night and had a blast, I can’t imagine how much fun it is on the weekends!

Ahh Spain, you’ve gotten more expensive over the years, but what a beautiful return to Europe!

–Gabe

2 comments to Welcome to Europe! — Spain

  • Matt M.

    “And don’t worry, the beers are small and light, so you can carry on this way for many hours eating, drinking and chatting.”

    I would like to point out that the first half of this sentence was unnecessary (“And don’t worry, the beers are small and light…”). Gabe and Sarah are perfectly capable of carrying on drinking, eating, and chatting for hours regardless of the body, size, or even the presence of alcohol. That said, beer and wine can never hurt. :)

  • Sarah

    hahaha I just saw this. Nice, Matt!

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