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Tim
Tim

Spain 2014: After The Holiday

 

That was my first time in Spain as a grown-up and you'd never been there.

I've never been there unless you count a weekend in Barcelona.

Our friends who live there would say you've never been to Spain!

We knew we had two weeks to play with so we planned starting at the top and working our way to the bottom, subject to our usual condition of wanting to avoid any tourists. We arrived in Bilbao, the capital of the Basque Country, and spent a few nights there.

It was a lot nicer than I expected because the guide book had given the impression that it was quite industrial but it turned out to be a really pretty place. We saw a huge puppy made of flowers (which was very pretty but also very weird) and the Guggenheim museum.

We planned a couple of days whilst we were in Bilbao. I thought that San Sebastian was a very nice place, just the sort of place we would visit again if we happened to be in the area.

Yeah, but it maybe wasn't the best decision in the world to go there by train because it was incredibly slow. And incredibly noisy with all the teenagers in our carriage on the way there. We probably could've got there quicker by bus.

It was our first beach of the holiday and looked just like the ones that are supposed to be on the south coast, with yellow sand, which we saw from atop because we'd been climbing. Our next day out was Santander.

That definitely wasn't a good choice. In retrospect, we should've listened to what the guide book said!

Yep! What we should've done is try to travel to Guernica or Vitoria by the local bus. At least we know if we ever happen to be in that region again to do those. Anyway, that wasn't a bad start to the holiday. The days weren't as hectic as they had been on previous holidays, everything was good and relaxing. We travelled by coach to Salamanca, a famous university town.

That was one of the most beautiful places we were in. Certainly the apartment had the best location, within sight of one of the cathedrals - although it was probably the smallest apartment that we've ever stayed in in our lives!

I particularly liked it here because everything was scenic. We were within the old town, away from the hubbub of people going about their everyday lives. Everywhere was scenic, especially after darkness fell, when we could cross the river and look back at the cathedral rising above everything else. I'd definitely go back there again.

We took a daytrip to Ciudad Rodrigo whilst we there. I should take the blame for that one since I knew of its historical importance and wanted to go. The walls were rather disappointing and didn't seem terribly high, and there wasn't much to see.

I think the town itself is very pretty and there was nothing wrong with the walls, it's just that the countryside around it is very flat. I'd always imagined that part of Spain to be very hilly.

We could see some hills in the distance marking the border with Portugal but that was all we could see, until we descended from the walls and entered the town itself, which was lovely.

We left Salamanca and travelled by train to Madrid. I wasn't necessarily expecting much from it because its inland and so populated, so I thought that there would be smog and not much else. As soon as we set out we were pleasantly surprised, heading westward from the main metro station, Sol, and seeing the cathedral and royal palace. On another day we saw some beautiful buildings such as the Banco de España, plus things like the statue of Columbus.

And there was a beautiful park, which was a nice place to relax although not as shady as we hoped.

And we had the pleasant surprise of getting to see the Spain that the locals get because we met up with fellow Esperanto-speaker Jorge Camacho and his wife, Chen. We had several servings of wine each, each coming with tapas, and the bill came to 13€ between the four of us.

And it was a real surprise because we hadn't planned any of it! It just sort of developed through Facebook.

And the next day we met up with Toño, who is a thoroughly nice chap. I felt it particularly reassuring to sit down with him and see how normal he is because a few bad apples tend to discolour the impressions that I have about people who are very active online.

We'd intended to leave Madrid by train but the prices were far more expensive than had been indicated online, so instead we decided to head to Cordoba by coach. We had the problem of not only trying to find the coach station, which wasn't on our map, but to get there with a broken suitcase, because a wheel on mine died.

Cordoba's fantastic, isn't it? We were located just off the main square and it was so easy to find things to look at. My goodness, it's just the sort of place that you have to visit again because even with the aid of photos it's impossible to remember everything that you've seen. We spent a whole day travelling around an enjoying Cordoba but at the last minute added a day trip to our itinerary.

Yeah, we did well to follow the guide book's advice and go to Granada.

I didn't think much to Granada itself but Alhambra is spectacular. To be fair, we noticed in the taxi on the way down that there are some beautiful little bits of the old town which we hadn't seen.

I'd definitely like to go back! There are so many parts of this region that we could visit, so I'd definitely like us to take a future holiday in the south of Spain.

From there we did what the tourists do and headed south to Seville, because that's where we were flying home from. Goodness me, it was hot. And we didn't adapt well to the local traditions of eating several hours later in the day. But I think it was fine as a necessary evil.

And that's every recapped, so now for the summary. How do you feel about two weeks in Spain? Was it too long? Just about right? What would you do again and what might you do in addition?

Two weeks is fine but if we're going to travel in the south I think it would be better at a different time of year when it's not so hot. It's not the sort of area I'd want to go during a school holiday!

Although we're referring to "the south of Spain" we'd actually start in the middle, wouldn't we? Salamanca and Madrid again, Toledo?

Yeah. Cordoba definitely. Spend time at Granada and see other places from there.

I think two weeks would be fine. You could condense it into one week but I don't think you'd get the reward. If you're going to take a trip there you may as well make it two weeks and visit this variety of places rather than limit yourself.

If you were going only for one week I think you'd have to stay in one place and get a car. Public transport is the thing that disappointed me most about Spain. It was impossible to navigate the websites, the connections and timetables were rubbish ... I mean, you could easily spend a week in that apartment in Cordoba, but you'd need a car to get anywhere.

 




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