Spain was great, all around. Some things surprised me...
- Everyone smokes there. It's hard to get away from. Much more than in Italy (at least from what I remember). And our brief stopover in Frankfort at the airport...the whole airport reeked of smoke. It was awful. And I thought Kentucky was bad.
- Very few people spoke any English and even those that did, really didn't want to use it. It's like what you hear about the French.
- I'd always heard about Castillian Spanish (you know, the lisping), but there are actually a total of 6 different main dialects in Spain. The Basque is really, really hard. They have all these K's and X's...it looks a lot like Greek and sounds like a mush of French, Portuguese, and Spanish altogether. Madrid was easiest -- it's Castillian there, but at least it is closer to what I learned way back when in school.
- Graffitti was absolutely everywhere, especially in the larger cities. It's really terrible. Beautiful, incredible and very historic buildings even have graffitti. I'll never understand that because it isn't strangers coming in...it's people doing it to their own town. That was the most depressing thing. More graffitti than I've seen anywhere else, including places like New York and Miami.
- No one drinks sherry (jerez). All those travel channel things about how everyone drinks sherry with their tapas? Not even close. Yeah, everyone eats tapas, but they pretty much are drinking either cerveza, vino, or sangria. The one place we were actually able to get sherry (once I got the guy to understand what I was asking), he actually had to leave the bar and get it from another area. And it wasn't just regional -- same thing in all the places we visited. The Food Network lies.
- Flamenco still rocks, but the Spanish don't go to see it much anymore. We went to one of the older places (Torres Bermejas), and only tourists were there. I read in an interview later (here at home, and with two of the people we actually saw - Toni el Pelao & Uchi) how the dancers are lamenting the fact that the Spaniards just don't go anymore. Such a shame. Such a beautiful thing -- both the bailaors (dancers) and the cantaors (singers), not to mention the guitar playing guys. Tony was just in love with it. He could hardly contain himself from clapping.
- Spain is expensive (es muy caro!), even in the smaller cities. Not sure we could afford to live there.
- We still love the markets (mercados). Probably the reason we will one day have to live in Europe. Well, that and the food.
I posted all the pictures via the other blog ( http://go2louisville.blogspot.com ) and if I weren't so tired, I'd link them from here too. Maybe tomorrow...