Visions of Spain

Barcelona, Madrid, Gaudi, jamon, tapas, futbol, Dali, Picasso, Alhambra, la Mezquita, Montserrat, Gibraltar,…



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Finding your hotel is easy once you realize that the signs are little more than a small plaque in the doorway.

Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia… by far, the most beautiful, audacious, jaw-dropping piece of architecture I have ever seen. So much so that it alone is enough to justify a trip to Barcelona!

By the way, the more reasonably-priced hotels have old world charm and no elevators. And some of the facilities can be quite “cozy” as you can see in the aseo below.

Granada is absolutely dripping wet with Moorish influence. The exquisitely beautiful Alhambra is the main draw here, but don’t miss the crypt of Isabella and Ferdinand (of Christopher Columbus and Spanish Inquisition “fame). Let’s go!

The ancient Roman aqueduct alone makes Segovia worth a visit, but the fairy tale castle is also a lot of fun. Let’s go!

The mixed salads throughout Spain are absolutely delicious!

Small World. I could hear these Russian musicians playing some Pink Floyd while I was inside the crypt!

Gypsy ladies ready to “charm” unsuspecting tourists…

Picturesque San Sebastián (Donastia in Euskara) is in the heart of Basque country… where ETA separatist sentiments are quite visible. La Playa de la Concha is a most unique crescent of sand that seamlessly connects the city with the sea… Let’s go!

Lekeitio is an authentic fishing village on the North coast of Spain. As you can see below, this is still Basque country. Let’s go!

My guardian angel, who graciously directed me to my hostel when she noticed how lost I looked.

Gernika (Guernica), bombed by the Nazis at Franco’s request, is the namesake of Picasso’s world-famous anti-war piece. Basque separatist sentiments remain quite strong and visible as you can see below…

The famous stained glass ceiling. (The oak tree symbolizes Basque pride and freedom).

Gernika (Guernica), bombed by the Nazis at Franco’s request, is the namesake of Picasso’s world-famous anti-war piece.

ETA separatist sentiments remain quite visible…

The old oak tree, enshrined for posterity near the assembly house.

“The rock” is taller, steeper, and more massive than I expected, topping out at 1400 feet elevation. Although it is geographically attached to Spain, Gibraltar is eminently British as union jack is flying everywhere.

Look North into Spain and South across the Strait of Gibraltar to see the other pillar of Hercules in Morocco.

Heads up: If you climb the rock, you will meet the Barbary macaques, whose manner and body language make it quite clear that you are in their house. They wait patiently for tourists to drop their guard and are quick to snatch anything that might be edible. Be careful with food or any kind of packaging that merely suggests the presence of something fun to eat…

And hang onto your hat on the summit!

An interesting side note: I just happened to visit Gibraltar days before the royal wedding and noticed that the locals were not shy to express their allegiance to the British Empire and their affection for the royal family, as you can see below.

Valley of the Fallen is a very strange place indeed.  While the site is quite an impressive engineering and architecture project (the cross is 500 feet tall), it does not seem to know what it is dedicated to.  Is it the tomb of Dictator Francisco Franco or a memorial to all the victims of the Spanish Civil War?

It seems that it cannot be both.  As such the monument remains a subject of intense controversy.  This is reflected in the difficulty of getting there, which for me involved an expensive taxi ride from Escorial. Valley of the Fallen… Franco’s tomb or memorial to all the victims of the Spanish Civil War?

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