Freitag, 29. April 2011

España: The Land of Picasso, Bull-fighting, Tapas, Flamenco and perfect weather: Part 1

I really had no idea what to expect when I landed in Málaga, Spain on Friday the 8th of April. You never really hear much about Spain if you think about it. I know about the Spanish and Indian war, Flamenco and a few other weird facts, but other than that I don't read about Spain much in the news. Maybe Spain isn't given enough representation in the world. I think some people don't even know it is in Europe.
When I took off from the Memmingen, Germany airport (smaller than Portland's, if you can imagine that) I was in luck with good weather and nice seat partners, not to mention a window seat. We flew over Switzerland and the Swiss Alps. They looked like a giant field of cold gray rock shards with powder sugar snow dusting their tips. They were magnificent. I have seen the Alps from the ground, but there is nothing like the view from above. As we flew over mountains, rivers, fields and ocean I dwelled on the bliss of independence. It is so bittersweet. One longs for it all of childhood and then upon grasping that wild beast, we are taken aback. It is like a blow to the chest. It knocks the air out of you. Sometimes I am so happy to have it that tears sting my eyes, but sometimes those tears are not as happy.  It is all so much. I can easily say that traveling alone is the most exhilarating thing I have ever done because you are completely responsible for getting to where you need to be. As we circled around Costa del Sol near Málaga I became astounded by the landscape. It looked hot and dry, but full of life (true upon landing). Small mountains rippled across the land's surface. Olive trees evenly dotted those hills. After chatting with my seat partners in German we de-planed and went our separate ways. I had to take a subway to the actual train station where I would then take a train to Sevilla where I would be staying. I caught the slowest cheapest train to Sevilla, which was 2 hours and 45 minutes of incredible scenery. I didn't sleep a wink. We passed enormous cliffs with small caves dotting their sides. We passed flamingoes wading through a large puddle. Flamingoes! In their natural habitat. I saw black and white cranes or storks, I am not sure which. Fields and fields of orange trees, olive trees and other tropical produce flew by my window. I saw a shepherd herding a flock of goats through a ravine. Horses were numerous and to my great delight donkeys too! The temperature was 30 degrees centigrade or about 90 degrees fahrenheit. It was truly incredible. One thing I learned about trains in every country I have been in is that you don't see the nice part, the part where the tourists go, you see mostly working class housing and a lot of not so perfect situations. Old couches, pieces of cars, shoes, clothes, tables, etc.  are often seen strewn about the sides of railroad tracks. That is why I prefer the train. The landscape varies so much and it is really fascinating. Always take the train in Europe if you aren't traveling too far because it is a tour of what you wouldn't have seen from a plane, let alone as a tourist.