cobilingual


First impressions of Spain
August 12, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: travel



many pots

Originally uploaded by cobismith.

We arrived late in Granada by English standards, but the city was just starting to come alive. Our flight was fine, but our confusion over the Spanish autovias saw us take the scenic route from the airport, through Santa Fé.

It was 9:30 and driving through the historic town centre it seemed everyone was on the streets. There were crowds of tanned young men lolling about in the squares, a discreet distance from the groups of segnoritas in light singlets, waving fans like women did a hundred years ago.

It seemed so foreign, so different to England, I felt a little nervous. This is Europe! I thought. Don’t be ridiculous. But Spain is very different to countries in the north west of the continent.

We drove on, returning to the autovia, and quickly reached Granada. As we were arriving late for one night only, we’d booked a fancy hotel in a mystery deal through lastminute.com. We parked in a no parking zone, anxious fresh from England.
‘Don’t worry, the valet will come in 15 minutes, it’s fine’ the concierge reassured us, after we waited for half a dozen airline staff to check in.

Reaching our room, Ian wedged a business card in the key slot so we could leave the airconditioning on while we went out for a late dinner. I hurried him, anxious to get onto the streets before restaurants stopped serving.

I need not have worried. We chose a place tucked away on a side street, our strategy for avoiding tourist traps. We descended on the one free table; a jovial waiter appeared with a torrent of Spanish. Although we’d both been learning, it was late, everything was new, and after a couple of Spanish stumbles on our behalf he cheerfully converted the conversation to English. I was part disappointed, part relieved.

We had a plate of tapas with beers, mostly olives, excellent. We had jamon (of course, the only fitting first meal in Spain, the waiter said), and peppers stuffed with fish. The beer was cold, the glasses iced. We felt at home after months of tepid beer in England. The Spanish climate suits Australians homesick for the weather.

Like France, but rawer and more welcoming, we concluded on first impression.

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