Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Madrid’

Sangria…a Taste of Spain

November 21, 2011 1 comment

Prompt #20: DRINK – my eighth post in bootsnall’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project.

Just as the cuisine of a place reveals clues about its culture and history, so does its signature local drink. What’s the best drink you had on the road, and did the drink have any connection to the place where you drank it or the people you drank with?

Sangria.  There really is no question about it.  Sangria is so tied into the culture of Spain, so representative of this country.  Sangria is delicious, refreshing, light and a mixture of complex flavors, just like Spain.

I found Spain to be a refreshing break from “Old Europe”.  Not as proper as the British, by the book like the Germans nor as traveller adverse as the French.  There was a sense of history, an understanding of those that had come before but at the same time a great enjoyment of life.  It just seemed like the Spanish people were fully aware that they had a great country and were happy to share it with the world.

Spain has long been a meeting place for different cultures.  The Arabian scholars helped preserve many ancient texts here, ensuring that we would have these records of history at a time when many in the Christian church were trying to destroy them.  Over time this past has been combined with the strong Catholic influence, combining to make Spain.  That said, even when traveling to different parts of the country there is a clear differentiation between the regions.  Madrid is different from Basque country which is different from Catalonia.  While there are certainly tensions, they all come together to form Spain.  Sangria has this mix of flavors with sugar and fruit balancing the wine.  It just works.

While traveling through Spain, from Bilbao to Rioja to Madrid and finally to Barcelona, most afternoons were spent having a glass (or pitcher) of Sangria.  Sometimes hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar, just to sample the variations on this delicious drink as we were sampling the various experiences of this great country.

Madrid

Two weeks in Spain is simultaneously a lot of time to explore a great country and not nearly enough.  While planning, we knew that we wanted to fit in a lot; see the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, run with the bulls in Pamplona, spend a lot of time in Barcelona, visit Rioja, one of the predominant wine regions in Spain and of course visit Madrid.  But why Madrid?

Ok, I know that it is the capital of Spain, has some world famous museums and is known for fantastic food, but throughout the planning of the trip I kept my attention more on the other parts of Spain.  The day we arrived in Madrid I was a bit out of sorts because I had no expectations, good or bad for Madrid.  I had no plans of what I wanted to see, which is highly unusual for me.  One of my favorite things about travel is the planning, the expectation that goes along with a visit to someplace different from home.  In fact, expect to hear more about the planning process sometime in the near future about my next adventure.

Back to Madrid.  We hit the main sights, the large Prado, filled with art that is skillful, but not really my artistic preference, had numerous good (though more expensive than I expected) meals, had a day trip to Toledo, saw the opulent Royal Palace, and even caught El Rastro, the Sunday flea market that takes over a whole section of the city.  Each of these things were fantastic, so why didn’t Madrid win me over?  The argument can be made that I didn’t want to be won over, but I don’t think this is really the case.  I tried to love it.  Really.  I think what got in the way was my fond memories of what we had already experienced on the trip and the anticipation and expectation of what was still to come.

So…Am I crazy?  Do you love Madrid?  What are the charms that I missed out on?

Do you also forget to fully experience the here and now on vacation? Either by looking forward or comparing it to something that has come before.

It was still a beautiful place, perhaps I will need to revisit to give it another shot.

%d bloggers like this: