Wednesday, November 08, 2006


My flight took me through Mallorca, including a wide sweep around the southern end of the island before landing. This afforded me a beautiful view of the clear water, white-sand beaches, and scores of mansions. Unfortunately that view and layover proved to be the first of two sunny days I had in Spain... I was there for 6.

Yes, nearly every day I was traipsing through rain and colder than normal temperatures. However, it was very pleasant staying with Becky and her spanish roommate, Aida, who spoke an unusually large amount of English. [most Spaniards do not speak ANY english, a deficit which made things somewhat more difficult when my hosts were not around]. I was actually pleased to learn quite a bit about Spanish culture through living with and talking to her for a week, including a traditional Tapa recipe.

We spent quite a bit of time hanging out with Becky's peers in her evening Spanish class -- people coming from Latvia, Portugal, France, and Germany. It was interesting (if not a bit frustrating) to hear people from so many different backgrounds convening through a language once foreign to each of them. We mostly went out to bars for a drink after her class, including a so-called "Museum of Ham"... which actually did have some good ham. (Several times I actaully got a chance to speak some much needed Deutsch with a few Germans -- I was starting to miss it quite a bit, or at least the experience of struggling to use it).
I also got a chance to visit the school where Becky teaches (on the same program as me), but a couple of the days I ventured out on my own to explore the city in my raincoat. I saw some beautiful and elaborate parks erected by the royalty of the past, and some incledible period architecture lining the car-filled streets. Whereas Hamburg is mostly punctuated by canals and parks, Madrid loves large intersections with roundabouts encircling statues or obelisks. It also features several impressive parks, but there seem to be less pedestrain squares.

We spent one of the days (the second sunny one) in the royal city of Aranjuez, which sprung up around the summer "home" of the Spanish royality of the 18th Century. The palace and extensive gardens were impressive, and particularly enjoyable in the warm and dry. For lunch that day we ate at an odd sort of diner which served strange combinations of (seemingly) American dishes with Spanish names. What I ended up receiving was a vinnegrette salad with olives, egg, and tuna, and a broiled porkchop with french fries... I preferred the Croquettes we made with Aida.

Sunday night I took a series of 4 trains, with no more than an hour and a half between each one, from Madrid all the way back to Hamburg... that's 32hrs. While an interesting experience, that's the last time I will plan travel so poorly.


Blogger Tohmkatte said...

hello, sir. Glad you're doing lots of traveling! Although I love seattle, I wish I could take a couple of weeks and "couchsurf" in Europe. What a cool idea! We miss you over here! --Colleen

4:32 PM  

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