seven days in spain

6 Jan

Random observations from V’s first seven days in Spain:

So serious: People don’t smile enough. While waiting in a Madrid bus station to head toward Bilbao, it was eerily silent in the midst of what is Spain’s Christmas season. There’s just not a lot of laughter or wasted words here.

Speaking of the holidays: Traveling back to Madrid from San Sebastian on Jan. 5, the equivalent of “Three King’s Eve,” we shared train space with Spaniards lugging wrapped Christmas presents. That night, the streets of Madrid were cluttered with people finishing their shopping and the main department store, El Corte Ingles, selling traditional holiday baked goods by the door. To an American eye, it’s all a little upside-down — New Year’s before Christmas — but a welcome relief to the commercialism that passes for Christmas in the U.S.

Runner dudes: By far, the most people I have seen running were in the coastal resort city of San Sebastian in the northeast. Preparing for swimsuit weather? Have yet to see a single woman running on the streets.

Too much of a good thing: For me, that would be “pinxtos,” the Basque version of tapas, spread like a feast in the bars and restaurants in Bilbao and San Sebastian. Sometimes fried, always rich.

Basque ABCs: We didn’t hear as much of the Basque language (Euskera) as we thought we would but we saw a fair number of signs that were impossible to decode. Just take any old word and add a bunch of z’s, k’s and x’s and it could pass for Basque. San Sebastian Spanish sounds deeper and more gutteral than that spoken in Madrid.

Going the distance: Loved the fact that the street signs that dot many corners on the main thoroughfare in San Sebastian give the distance in minutes, as in “Renfe 5 mins,” or “five minutes to the train.” Fastest speed clocked on the train to Madrid … 247 kilometers per hour … couldn’t help but calculate how that would demolish my commute back home.

No translation necessary: While overhearing one of the many children we have passed on the streets, G the human translator said, “Ugh, a whiney kid is the same in any language.”

3 Responses to “seven days in spain”

  1. Katie Nelson January 6, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Wasn’t it Orthodox Christmas?

  2. Kathy Satterfield January 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    More! We want more, V and G!


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