Shut up, Spain is Better

This post title is harsh because I am angry. (Okay, not really. Just irritated. Sometimes.)

A lot of people romanticize Europe. It’s cool; I did it, too. I used to think of Europe as all cobblestoned streets, cafés filled with a low yellow light, and freshly baked bread carried under your arm. It paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it?

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But the reason why I’m – grrr – angry frustrated is that most people, when they think of places they want to go, do not think of Spain. I admit it, I’m jealous. Tengo celos. (I said it in Spanish so you know it’s goin’ down.)

When I say wine, do you think Italy? France? California?…Spain?

I think of Spain, now and forever. It has great wine, and heck, if you’re actually in the country, it’s cheaper than water (the house wine, that is). I never liked red wine until Spain and now I’m very partial to it indeed.

My dad, however, may never really get wine. And that’s okay. But he gets it – Spanish wine is tops.

—-

If I say delicious European food, what do you think of? Italy? France? Greece? … Spain?

You should. I mean that. I know, I know, it’s easy to go to a restaurant with the menu in English that serves you greasy fries and dried out pork. It’s not good. But guess what? That’s not true Spanish food. True Spanish food is fresh, delicious, made from the very best ingredients.

So sorry so yellow. Again, Dad looks odd. Sorry Dad?

If you want the good stuff, I suggest making a Spanish friend (boyfriend / girlfriend works too – ahem) and going to his or her house. Usually, almost always in fact, the food is good. My favorite meals were the simple ones – lentejas being one of them. It was hearty, delicious, and good for you. Cha-cha-ching!

When you think of a beautiful country, do you think of Spain? I do. Spain has it all – the climate in the north is like Ireland’s (rainy and green), the climate in the south is more like the southwest of the U.S. (dry and hot), and in the middle you have a temperate climate like where I’m from, the Midwest. Oh, and you also have beautiful beaches. And some islands thrown in for good measure.

Best Beaches  Canary Island Beaches

When you think of nice people…you should think of Spain.

Now, at first glance you may think to yourself, these people are not so nice (unless, of course, you are in Andalucía where they are a bit more, shall we say, exuberant). They don’t usually say anything as they shove past you in the grocery store. People don’t smile at strangers. Waiters don’t coddle you.

But, but, but…if you take the time to get to know – really get to know them – you have friends for life. I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through the past year without Mario’s parents to take care of me, feed me, worry about me. How would I have known about getting my hair appointment for the wedding? Who would have made me endless bowls of soup and worried way too much about me when I ran outside in the freezing temperatures? I am blessed. But there are so many Spaniards like Pepita and Jesús.

I came off as rather negative at times about Spain this past year and by writing this I wanted to clear things up – it was my problem, not Spain’s. Right now, Spain’s problems do not include any of the following: wine, food, beauty, people, or lack of stupid things to do with bulls.

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They do, however, include unemployment. Boo.

But back to the title – Italy is cool; France is all right; but shut up, Spain is better.

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17 comments

  1. Estoy totalmente de acuerdo on all fronts! Wait, except one: I totally don’t think you ever come off as negative about Spain. Despite totally normal frustrations, your love for the country always shines through. Viva España (and the wine, and the food, and the people, and the beautiful countryside…).

  2. I watched Eat, Pray, Love a couple weeks ago, and boy, did they lay on the Europe romanticism thick! I was dying to go to Italy after that movie. But then I realized that, with everything (except for the pasta, perhaps), Spain was on pretty even romantic footing.

    Of course, we expats are listening to your sermon from the choir section.

  3. I love Spain, and that says a lot considering that I probably live in the most unromantic city of them all–but I don’t know, it has some very, very stiff competition from Greece for me. But then again, Greece is the first place where Europe’s romanticism won me over and I still see it in that glowy light :)

    I do know how you feel and when I hear people say they have no desire to go to Spain, I throw up a little inside. ;)

  4. awww this made me all nostalgic. I only went to Spain for two weeks, but I stayed at Spanish friends’ apartments and got a really, non-touristy feel for it. It really is a beautiful place, in all definitions of the word.

  5. Totally with you on this. Why Spain isn’t everyone’s first thought in planning a trip to Europe is beyond me. And I still don’t get people who complain about Spanish food! Total guiri bs :)

  6. Yep. I think people forget about Spain because they think it’s all bullfighting and flamenco. More wine for the rest of us! Guiri BS indeed.

    I enjoy your blog because you remind me so much of myself 30 years ago (you even look similar to how I did in my 20’s!), when I lived and worked in Madrid from ’82-’87.

  7. While I literally bump into tourist hordes in Madrid every week, Spain isn’t even on the radar when I mention Europe in the states. Perhaps it’s related to tourism board efforts, or the fact that Rick Steves loves Italy.

    It seems like the Spanish tourism board is kicking things up a notch these past few years, though, with the “Spain is different” motto and now the “I need Spain” campaign. Have you seen the videos of Real Madrid and other sports teams telling the audience to “visit Spain!” in English? Here’s one of the basketball team, which aired during every other commercial break of the big game last week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzcmeWytu_k I love how these show more of the diversity of the country (instead of simply “Spanish guitar! Flamenco shoes! Bulls!”) and wonder how these efforts will influence not only tourism dollars, but also ideas about the country itself.

  8. So true! I hate when people bash Spain without giving it a chance! Although I never realize how many different landscapes Spain has until living here for a year. It really is amazing! And I totally agree about the people, I think Spaniards aren’t into short term friendships but if you really get to know them they are truely great people!

  9. I am okay with Spain being a secret. More pimientos de Padrón for me.

    But you’re right; when I reveal my academic background as Spanish Language and Linguistics, people do always seem a bit miffed by the fact that I’ve chosen Spain instead of the much closer Central or South America. The truth is, I’m incredibly interested in checking out Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, and heading back to Mexico armed with my language skills – but my studies in Valencia caused me to completely fall in love with the Iberian Peninsula. Even with Greek islands and Italian pasta calling my name, I find it hard to leave Spain.

  10. Hi!
    I am new to your blog. I am a Catalan girl and I really appreciate this post and your love for Spain.
    I know that few people think of Spain as a great country (specially the ones that never been here), but I think we have quite good things here too… So thank you for speaking out!

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