Friday, September 21, 2012

Take a Holiday in Spain...

Take a Holiday in Spain is one of my favorite Counting Crows songs maybe because it has a great melody or maybe because it reminds me of Spain. When life gets tough do you ever have passive thoughts about "getting away?" For me, I've often thought maybe I should just pick up and move to Cadiz. When I was in college a good friend of mine that went to UCLA did a semester abroad in Cadiz. She'd email me and explain how amazing the beaches were, how great it was to live in a culture that had siestas, and how easy it was to hop over to the stunning Canary Islands for a getaway.

It didn't take long for me to book a ticket to Spain. My first stop was of course Cadiz. Cadiz is the southern most point in Spain on the Mediterranean Sea not far from the straight of Gibraltar. I'm always fascinated by the history of places, so bear with me for a quick history lesson. It's the most ancient city still standing in Western Europe. It was the home base of the Spanish Armada, Christopher Columbus departed on several of his voyages from Cadiz and in the 1500's it was occupied for a short period by Sir Frances Drake.

As I started to explore the city, hoping on and off public buses I talked to the locals. Something that took me by surprise was the seeming Lisp they all had. Instead of pronouncing Cadiz as "Ca-deece" they would say "Ca-deeth." A persistent urban legend claims that the prevalence of the "lisp" sound in Spanish can be traced back to a Spanish king who spoke with a lisp, and whose pronunciation spread by prestige borrowing to the rest of the population. This myth has been discredited by scholars for lack of evidence but I still think it's a fun theory none the less.

The beaches of Cadiz are gorgeous, thatched Palapas line the sand to provide shade to beach dwellers. It's common to find a pick up game of beach soccer  and you can't forget the occasional beach side bar. I stopped at one that reminded me of the bar that Tom Cruise tended in Cocktail. Yes, I realize that wasn't in Spain but it looked the same to me. Sangria was my drink of choice, fruity and refreshing. I kind of liked the way every time I ordered a Sangria, the taste varied, it kept me on my toes. I love seafood and Paella quickly became a new favorite dish with rice, shrimp, calamari, scallops, and lots of powerful flavors- it kept me coming back for more. One thing to keep in mind when visiting Spain is that Spaniards operate on their own time schedule. Everything shuts down mid day for a siesta and no one ever seems to be in a hurry. I loved it. How refreshing, coming from America where everyone is governed by an agenda and list of things to do.

We visited a beautiful cathedral in Cadiz and were told a story about a painting they had of St. Anthony. Apparently the painting was stolen and a few months later it showed up in a antique show in New York. The ironic beauty of the story is that in the Catholic church St. Anthony is the saint you pray to when you lose something. Ha!

While in Cadiz I did a quick getaway to Sevilla. Sevilla houses the 3rd largest cathedral in the world that boasts having the tomb of Christopher Columbus- the funny thing is, the tomb is raised- hovering in the air- being held up by four statues because Christopher Columbus vowed to never be buried in Spain. In Sevilla a friend and I decided to wander around the town and stumbled upon the Plaza de Espana. The Plaza de Espana is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous beautiful bridges. In the centre is a large fountain. By the walls of the Plaza are lots of tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. It was originally built for the World's Fair and truly is breath taking- the majesty of it reminded me of one of my favorite places, the palace of fine arts in San Francisco. We sat and watched couples in love as they rowed, sat, and rendezvoused in small boats along the water ways. Sevilla is a town of love, it could have been the fact that I missed my lovey back at home but while I was there it seemed like every where I looked there was a young couple in love. Sevilla has several bridges through town which creates a fun atmosphere, a few of my friends and I settled in to a bar on a river and enjoyed the warm summer night with a pitcher of Sangria. The funny thing about Sangria is... it's so sweet that it's easy to forget how many you've had until you stop. look around. And start to see Penelope Cruz sitting at the next table, Antonio Banderas is your waiter, and by the time you think Javier Bardem is driving your cab back to your hotel you realize I may have had one too many.

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