Yes, it’s impossible not to love Spain. Sure, it’s highly unlikely that you do not notice that at the center of the Iberian Peninsula summers are very hot (and the winters are just as cold). For this reason, there is a remedy: I advise you to do, now, with me, the “Grand Tour of my Spain ” what I have tasted several times in my life. Obviously, this is not a tour guide, but only what I wish to share with you.
Today, I return to Spain mentally while I prepare my luggage, to change the city and the nation, and it is in this kind of occasions – and only those – that we decide what to take with us: photographs and objects, catalogs and books, along with the memory of some people who have accompanied our life. Those memories made of paper or glass, wood or plastic, joy and regret, all of them I also speak of the Iberian Peninsula and of its coasts, where lands kissed by the sea have long, hot summers, winters are short and mild.
Travelling in my memory – but even in my unfulfilled desires – you will find that in Barcelona, the breeze reaches the “Ramblas“, makes the sparkling city with a strong Catalan identity. Walking along with my memories, you will feel the glory of the Middle Ages, but also the incredible modernity of this place, because you cannot not be aware of the presence of the colors that Gaudi has left here. Of this wonderful city, I have never forgotten the excursion to the nearby sanctuary, 720 meters above sea level. If you visit that site, you’ll find a community of monks, a wonderful museum, and a blackened wooden sculpture of the Madonna of Montserrat.
It would have been nice to get to Bilbao crossing the Pass of Roncesvalles, but this belongs to the category of my unfulfilled wishes. The modern city center, it revolves around the “Casco Viejo” (the old town which is situated on the right bank of the river Nervión). It is an area with a large number of restaurants, where we can choose our own. Do not forget to visit the Guggenheim Museum, just north of the square Moyúa. If you have time, we can also visit the Basque Museum. After August 15, and for nine days, into the atmosphere of the “Auctions Naguisia” – that of the “Semana Grande” – we can embrace the sounds of street theater, along with fireworks, those who caress the evening your eyes. After the fireworks? If you really want it, a walk in the “Casco Viejo”. If you’re in town on the first Saturday of the month, remember the Flea Market, where you can find antiques, but also books, and perhaps an old diary, what could tell you the warmth of nights far away, and the caresses of a time here has been ended, even in the nights of the giant Gargantuà (a big insatiable) and the brave King Pantagruel (a big eater). Those enormous feats described by Francois Rabelais, nearly five centuries ago, they have remained in our common language: they were gargantuan and gargantuan.
Inside my eyes, it has remained a city that he has always played a strategic role, a land of conquest. Zaragoza. It contains testimonies of several of its rulers, such as the gothic Cathedral “mujedar” or the shrine of “Nuestra Senora del Pilar.” I still remember the warmth of the walls of the city, the one that gave off even late at night, under a sky that was the color of cobalt blue.
“Finis Terrae”. Yes, now I will speak to you of a place where the land seems at the end. Its fame is due to the fact that it keeps the mortal remains of St. James. Santiago de Compostela, and the famous pilgrimage route of the same name, they are a world heritage site, but also one of my regrets. Before the voyage of Christopher Columbus, the city was considered the extreme western edge of the known earth, and in those coasts I will am sure that you will do what I have not done: dive into the Atlantic Ocean, but do not forget you will have to burn your clothes , as dictated by ancient tradition of purifying the “Camino de Santiago“.
“Nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno“. Temperatures are low and the cold winters. The summers are hot and dry. In Valladolid, the importance of Holy Week is a time dedicated to the devotion of the faithful, the ones that evoke an old passion. The tradition of religious brotherhoods, it wraps the city in an atmosphere of prayer. Every year, you can see paraded through the city streets an incredible public performance of religious devotion.
See this little sword? It is my recollection of Toledo, a city where cultures are skillfully blended in medieval climate that the city has retained. Let yourself be led by the narrow streets, without a map, and you will discover the treasures of the Gothic cathedral, but also synagogues, mosques and churches. Everything speaks to you of the passing of time, which seems not to have never stopped.
It retains all the splendor of Arabic, such as the Mosque, one that will amaze your eyes, with his “forest of columns”. But by visiting Cordoba, I suggest you close your eyes, inside that place of faith, listening to the charm of a time that Spain retains, even for you.
The “city of grace” for its monuments Arabs and Christians, that where an evening you dedicated to eating becomes a different thing, a real show, the one where you can admire the view – along the Guadalquivir – is included in the price of what you eat. Perhaps, eating at a “tablao“, perhaps listening, perhaps observing what the word “flamenco” it is not able to say, perhaps you’ll understand what Seville gave Spain.
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada, he shall keep the Arab citadel of the Alhambra, enclosed within the walls of its ramparts. I advise you not to count the number of rooms gifts, mosques, baths and fountains, courtyards, arches and columns, because their number is huge, because Granada is too large to describe.
The Mediterranean climate is subtropical on your skin while you visit the Roman Theatre, the Alcazaba, Gibralfaro Castle and the Picasso Museum. Do not forget the Fair in August, the “Gran Fiesta del Verano,” which dates back to the 800. It lasts 10 days, to commemorate the conquest of Malaga from the Catholic kings who they entered into the city in August 1487.
The old and the new coexist, in the ancient Lonja, yes, along with the modern facilities of Calatrava. Surely you will not forget that it is full of beaches, but I advise you not to remember it only as “the city of paella.”
Now, I close my box, the one where I decided to keep the my Spain. Where I’m going, it will be with me, and by opening it, I find myself the writer Garcia Lorca, I may still read a good book by Ernest Hemingway, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, or “Don Quixote”, one written by Miguel de Cervantes, a Spaniard from the incredibly rich life: The Battle of Lepanto and imprisonment, but fortunately the justice of Spain had not cut its right hand. If you want, you can read a book published by Meeting Benches, THE LAST ROW, a novel set just on the historic time of Miguel. Hello, I hope you have understood the meaning of a special Spanish word: Hispanidad.