Te Amo, España or Christmas Holidays in Spain
10 days, Christmas, friends, fast trains, sangria, narrow streets, modern art, tapas bars, stairs. I close my eyes and this is how I remember Spain.
This time it wasn’t about sightseeing lists (ok only a couple of must-dos); we wandered around, map in the back pocket, turning from one cobblestone street into another, hopping markets, small shops and bars, sipping coffee on sunny winter afternoons in outdoor cafes, climbing rooftops for views and sunsets.
I loved Spain. White street tiles and paella of Valencia, cute cafes and tapas bars tucked away in nooks and corners in Madrid; Don Quixote tales in Toledo; Gaudi wonders and harbourside and bars and shops of Barcelona. Christmas time and staying in AirBnB apartments made the holidays feel less touristy and more relaxed, just about soaking Spain in and walking around.
(Funnily enough, on Christmas Eve itself me and my friend were inside our rented apartment in a bohemian area of Madrid, drinking cheap wine we got from a Chinese convenience store because everything else was closed, with bread, cheese and jamon leftovers by the candlelight, watching Michael Buble Christmas Special on YouTube. Yep.)
An Ode To Spanish Food
And the food, oh the food! I was in gastronomic heaven. Spain bursts with the flavours I love: cured meets, sharp cheeses, anchovies wrapped on olives, marinated bite-sized tuna chunks… I could spend ages in food markets, detouring into bars, sipping my drink and trying all the wonderful tapas. Which is what we often ended up doing, because we could! (the benefit of ravelling itinerary-free). I had a taste epiphany in a busy tapas bar in Barcelona: a tiny pickled sweet pepper stuffed with goat’s cheese, washed down with local sparkly white wine; it was perfect. I could have it every day and I would want more. And Spanish jamon, oh it’s a story in itself. Thin slices of cured ham, aged to perfection, deep pink transparent to the light, melting in my mouth – jamon deserves its own place in my food half of fame; it is now on my last supper menu.
Gaudi is genius
Gaudi architecture in Barcelona is one of those few sightseeing things we did; it was fascinating.
La Sagrada Familia rises above Barcelona skyline like a futuristic animal – best admired from the top point in Park Guell, with views extending into the Mediterranean sea…
And inside it’s a different world, a church like no other. It’s architecture married with nature, with soaring columns becoming forests and afternoon sun streaming through stained glass; I felt my lightness of being when I walked in. Antoni Gaudi deserves all the fame he gets; his work really is a triumph of human imagination and ability.