Monday, October 31, 2011

Spain: A Land of Fact and Fiction

“Why Spain?” we are asked by those who add, “You’ve already been there, haven’t you?”

DSCF0673We have been there several times if you count cruise ship stops; those tapa-sized tastes of a country that leave you wanting a full-meal-deal size experience.

Our week in Madrid last May scarcely gave us time to see the town, let alone anything nearby.
And so we’ve chosen to return to Spain to continue consuming its history, sights, culture, and of course, its food and wine.   We’ve been studying – both fact and fiction – preparing for this trip.

Spain “. . .for the greater part . . .is a stern, melancholy country, with rugged mountains and long sweeping plains, destitute of trees and indescribably silent and lonesome. . ."  Washington Irving wrote in his Tales of the Alhambra in the mid-1800’s.
The Wall Street Journal last week reported that Spain’s jobless rate has hit an all-time high (21.5%) and that the number of households without any income hit 3.2% of the country's population, or 559,000 families.
Spain’s elections are scheduled to take place the day we board the cruise ship in Barcelona to head home.  We know that a major terrorist attack occurred prior to elections there in 2004.

DSCF0664In reality, it’s doubtful we will see the poverty, politics or protests up close.  We will – as do most travelers  – visit historic sites, marvel at the architecture, stuff ourselves with tapas and paella, and wash it all down with copious amounts of inexpensive, but excellent, Spanish wine. 

Oh yes, and we won’t forget those famous Seville sweets – a specialty of the Monasterios’ bakeries – thanks to a tip from Carol, a travel writer friend of ours. (Click the link for her sweet look at Seville.)

In a manner of speaking we’ve already spent a few months traveling through Spain’s history and countryside, reading – in addition to guidebooks and news reports --  of fictional characters whose stories brought history to life. Two books, Victoria Hislop’s The Return and  C. J. Sansom’s Winter in Madrid each took us into Spain’s Civil War and the Franco years. The Seville Communion by Spanish author Arturo Perez- Reverte provided an entertaining murder mystery set in the city we’ll be visiting.

Yes, we are returning to Spain - our previous tapa-sized tastes are bringing us back for more adventures in this land of fact and fiction.

Note:  The books mentioned above and others we’ve read on Spain now appear on our Amazon carousel on the Travelnwrite homepage.  Clicking on them will take you to reviews of the book; and in full disclosure, if you buy one from our page we will earn a few cents.

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