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?
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.
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.
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.
They do, however, include unemployment. Boo.
But back to the title – Italy is cool; France is all right; but shut up, Spain is better.
I am so happy to be home. There is nothing like my home in the summer – green grass, cookouts, margaritas made by my Uncle Steve (which we drink on the porch), sunsets, fireworks (even if I don’t like them), walks at twilight, humidity (ugh!), and more. I wouldn’t rather be any place else. However, having been home for almost a month, and having spent the last few days in Texas, I realize there are a few things I miss.
No, not El Escorial specifically. Rather, I miss beautiful scenery of centuries-old buildings. The U.S. is the toddler of the world, having only existed for 200-some years. Spain has universities that were established half a millennia before the United States. Now that’s old! I miss stepping out of my house, walking five minutes, and seeing a Romanesque church built in 1400. I miss every town having its very own Plaza Mayor. I especially miss Salamanca’s.
Ah, dando un paseo - taking a walk/stroll. Around 6 or 7 PM nightly, you can count on a large majority of the people you know to be out doing this very thing. Mario’s parents usually see at least 10 people they know. If you can cross the main street, Santa Clara, without seeing anyone you know, you’re basically no one in Zamora. You will see all types of people out strolling along the main thoroughfare: grandparents with babies, parents with babies in elaborate strollers, parents holding toddlers’ hands, teenagers laughing with their friends, old men with their hands clasped behind their back, old ladies gossiping, elderly women with their hand firmly grasping their husbands’ elbows – all kinds. This just doesn’t happen here, even if you do live in a town where strolling is possible.
Fútbol. I don’t always enjoy watching it on TV, but I love the excuse it gives people to get together, drink, and eat. It doesn’t hurt that when Mario’s friends get together, the food is good - no potato chips and soda here. Nah, we roll with empanada, salad, chorizo, jamón, tortilla de patata, and we can’t forget the always delicious red wine! I also don’t mind that soccer players are, ahem, attractive (a lot of times).
This guy. Yeah, I kinda miss him. By the way, anyone have a job for a cuatrilingual Spaniard (Spanish, English, French, and German)? He’s really smart, has three degrees, and, uh, just hire him! You won’t regret it.