Josh and I went down to Cadiz for a little walk around yesterday, then headed over to Torremolinos and Malaga to visit my friend Silvia, who I haven’t seen since we traveled together briefly in India 3 years ago. Cadiz (and many of the cities in this region really) is a fascinating overlay of thousands of years of history, starting with early settlement by the Phoenicians and stretching through Roman, Visigoth, Moorish and Spanish Catholic rule. In many places this history is in evidence, and in others it is quite hidden or has only recently been uncovered. We visited an archeological museum in Cadiz that has some pretty extensive documentation on one site, where you can walk around on a glass floor and view the excavations beneath you. After Cadiz, we came here to Torremolinos (where my friend Silvia lives) and she took us out last night around Malaga (which is very close by) and showed us many sites in the city. Malaga was really a surprise for us, because I only associate this part of Spain with sun tourism, and the city has an impressive historic core that has been undergoing intense restoration and renovation over the past few years. I unfortunately did not have my camera with me last night, but we may pass through again today and try to take a few shots. After that we came back to our hotel in Torremolinos and went out for a drink. Where we are staying is surprisingly heavy with gay tourism, and there are tons of tacky gay and lesbian bars in the area. In fact, there are a ton of them all crowded together in one spot, in a way I haven’t seen since my trip to a similar collection in Chiang Mai, Thailand (if you can believe that). It was surprising that with so much activity and so many bars that there was so little that was interesting in the sum of them, and we stayed only a short time before heading back to the hotel and sleep.
This morning Josh and I went to the Alcazar, an amalgam of amazing styles of Architecture spanning several centuries and dynasties. If you are in Seville, it is a must see, the place is unbelievable.
Josh and I made it to Sevilla, checked into our hotel and walked around for a bit, with a plan to go to dinner and out to explore a gay bar or two later, but I wasn’t feeling so hot. I am not sure if it was something I ate for lunch or too much of the sweltering Spanish sun, but I was feeling kinda weak and queasy and so decided to stay in the room tonight and relax. I drank lots of water and watched this week’s episode of Mad Men and am generally feeling a little better.
I can’t say enough nice things about our experience in Zafra. Everything has been amazing, the town is super charming, the food has been great. And special mention must be made about our hotel, which is really lovely and the staff fantastically nice. It is called the Casa Palacio Conde de la Corte, and I highly, highly recommend staying here. We arrived last night and will be walking around a bit today before heading to Sevilla. Below you will find a link to the pics taken so far (I will add more later, so check the album again).
Josh and I had breakfast and a bit of a final walk around in Salamanca yesterday before hitting the road towards Sevilla. Salamanca really is a lovely city, although we didn’t find the best food in the world. (Not that we tried very hard. They have a special kind of beef there from a cow species that only exists in this region that we tried. It was ok.) Once Josh navigated the car out of the subterranean labyrinth hotel parking with a few scratches and curses, we headed south on the highway. We had a read an article in the NY Times about a lovely little town called Caceres, and we took the exit off the highway to explore it, but could could find nothing charming about it, and with very little patience, went back to the highway and headed towards another ancient city, Merida.
Merida started out being as charmless as Caceres, but with greater determination, an overpriced lunch, and a sun beating down like a wire hanger from a deranged star, we made our way to the interesting sites. And there were lots of them. Merida has a fascinating Roman, Visigoth and Moorish history, and there were amazing ruins to be seen. Click on the image below to go to the entire album.
We arrived last night in Salamanca to discover a lively street festival had overtaken the town. There were people everywhere, and we had a nice little walk around the lovely town center and drunk people of all ages. Check out the slideshow below.
And I am just home to the hotel. Why so early, you ask? Well, we are leaving in the morning (make that later in the morning) so I didn’t want to stay out too late (Josh, undeterred, went to a discotheque with some of our new friends). I have had such a wonderful time in Madrid the past few days, I will surely come back at some point. I was also very lucky to reconnect with three friends here and get each of their perspectives on this great city. First, my friend Chris, who you may remember I first met up with in Guadalajara over 2 years ago. He lives here with his husband Pablo, and has a lot of really great insights into the city that he shared with us. Then my friend Judith, who I first met in Paris over 20 years ago and haven’t seen in over 10. She has been living here for 10 years with her husband Carlos and their two sons, and it was a treat to see her again. And finally, a really sweet guy named Pablo who I met in Peru almost exactly two years ago. He is studying in an MBA program here and met us this evening and took us to a fantastic tapas restaurant for the best meal we have had yet in Madrid. I love the randomness of so many people and their stories criss crossing in so many ways. So goodbye Madrid and friends, and thanks so much for the food, drink and fun.
Tomorrow we pick up the rental car and head off to Segovia and Salamanca. I hope Josh makes in back by 10am as he promised…
We arrived in Madrid a few days ago, and are mostly loving it. One of the funny things about trying to get practicalities taken care of in a foreign land is how nothing works as you expect, and there is a high probability of being taken for a ride at least once. For us, it was a run in with the lying bastards of Vodafone, who made all kinds of representations about their cell and internet services which were, well, lies. And getting on the internet in the hotel as well has been challenging, so while I have been taking all kinds of photos, they are difficult to upload as of yet. (That said, check out the unsorted, untitled first mess here.)
So as in any culture, there are things that strike us as funny or odd coming with our own frame of reference. Here are some of those things we have noticed here so far:
– It seems almost impossible to order regular tap water here. We suppose that the environmental benefits over bottled are not yet evident. And I am sure they like charging for it.
– The napkins seem mostly to be a form of wax paper, not exactly conducive to soaking up anything, but very good for smearing the mess around.
– The metro is fantastic and very easy to use, but it does have one peculiarity. Many different lines are listed above each door in the metro cars, making it very difficult to determine what line you are actually riding on.
– The crosswalks all flash a green man when there is little time left (instead of warning you with red), which makes it a bit confusing to us. It seems to be saying “go”, but there is almost no time left when the green man starts blinking and we have almost been run over more than once.
– This siesta business is not a joke, stuff is really closed all over the place in the afternoon for several hours. More than once we were unable to visit something because the Spaniards are fond of napping.
– And speaking of napping, they clearly need it, because the hours they keep here are very difficult to adjust to. Dinner is later than any place I have ever been (except Argentina) and going out on the town lasts easily until 5 or later.
– Without fail, the people we have met out on the town are friendly and easy to get to know, and are way less uptight than the French. To put my finger on it, I would say the French are much more mannered, and the Spanish are more natural and gregarious, at least in the gay community.