Final Thoughts on Spain (2021)

We had final thoughts on Spain back in 2019 when we first visited. But you just know that, after spending over two months there in 2021, we had more thoughts. So, away we go.

A wild parakeet in Seville.

Our trip to Spain started on a weird note. Someone literally stole the hand soap out of the airplane bathroom. In business class. Who does that? Thankfully, the flight crew was able to replace it, but the whole experience was strange.

Christmas decorations in Madrid. Anyone know what lemurs have to do with Christmas?

Speaking of bathrooms, while at a restaurant in Nerja, we saw directions printed on the wall teaching someone how to use a toilet. Um, if you can read directions, I would hope you already know how to use a toilet.

A statue in Cordoba.

Speaking of bathrooms, it was so nice to be back in country where bathroom stall doors reach the floor and don’t have big gaps on the sides. What is the deal with U.S. bathrooms being so not private?

The aqueduct in Segovia.

You know what else was nice? Being back in a country where even the cheap bread is edible. How is it that cheap grocery store bread in Spain can (often but not always) be better than expensive bakery store bread in the U.S.?

A Malaga specialty. Grilled sardines. Robert was in heaven.

And, speaking of food, how on earth did we not try torrones the last time we visited Spain? For those that haven’t tried it, a torrone is like a nougat, generally filled with nuts. And, torrones are delicious. We might have had more than a few while we were in Spain.

Sardines in olive oil. Another favorite of Robert’s.

And don’t get me started on Santa Clause melon. This melon, otherwise known as piel de sapo (toad skin) is absolutely the best melon to eat with jamon (ham). And, it is pretty good all on its own, too.

A tapas lunch in Granada.

We absolutely loved the fact that churros and chocolate is (are?) considered a meal. Who doesn’t want fried dough and melted chocolate at 11 am?

Churros and chocolate.

You know what else we recommend? Flamenquin. A tasty little delight of jamon serrano wrapped in pork, breaded, and deep fried. Delicious. Sometimes, there is cheese and sometimes it is blue cheese, so you do have to watch out for that monstrosity.

A selection of montadito (little sandwiches) in Malaga.

But, I don’t recommend the jamon flavored Pringles. Nope, not one bit.

Scenes from a football match in Malaga.

And, we found it odd how few vegetables were served at restaurants. You could get all the potatoes you wanted, but if you wanted a nice grilled vegetable (I don’t know why you would, but Robert did), you were pretty much out of luck.

A statue of Hermes in the Alcazar in Seville.

Markets vary so much in Spain. The main market in Malaga was great — tons of produce, seafood, nuts, cheeses, and meats. The main market in Granada was awful — pretty much just a bunch of restaurants.

The Cathedral in Jerez.

We found it weird how the word “tortilla” has such different meanings in Mexico and Spain. In Mexico, it is like a little round flat bread. In Spain, it is potato and egg omelette.

A car show in Plaza de Espana in Seville.

And, don’t get me started on the insanely cheap price of wine. We routinely bought 3 Euro ($3.34) bottles of wine that were completely drinkable.

Carvings on the cathedral in Toledo.

Wine is served strangely cold in Spain.

More from the cathedral in Toledo.

Speaking of beverages, I always forget how much I adore orange Fanta until I’m back in Europe. They sell it in the US but, for reasons unknown, I only drink it overseas. And, then, I drink a lot of it.

Old Roman ruins in Cordoba.

Gotta love a country where 1 pm is far too early for lunch, but not too early for a nice glass of wine.

A statue in Granada.

We enjoyed watching how mixed drinks are served in Spain. Out comes your glass with ice and a measure of alcohol and a full mixer so you can mix to taste. (At one memorable bar in Nerja, Robert was told “say when” as the guy poured the alcohol. Never a good idea when Robert is the one drinking.)

An interesting fountain in Granada.

Robert loves a good carajillo. But a carajillo in Spain is nothing like a carajillo in Mexico. In Mexico, it is coffee and Liqor 43. In Spain, they ask you what kind of liquor you want and don’t understand when you ask for Liqor 43 (even though Liqor 43 is made in Spain) and eventually make clear your choices are brandy or rum.

The Caminito del Rey.

It was so refreshing to be in a place with a high vaccination rate that takes covid seriously. When we visited, over 80% of the population was fully vaccinated and about 99.99% of the people wore masks properly indoors and about 50% of the people wore masks outside. We never felt unsafe and we never worried about catching covid. We sure wish we could say the same in the U.S.

Street art in Malaga.

We took long distance buses several times in Spain and were pretty much shocked at how different they are than the long distance buses in the U.S. They were on time. They were clean. People were quiet. There weren’t any crazy people on the bus. Such a pleasant surprise. (Don’t worry, they weren’t perfect and were often late.)

The cathedral in Madrid.

Seville had so much more graffiti than last time we visited. And, not the good kind. The kind where bored kids just scrawl their initials on walls. It was kind of sad. And, there was so much dog poop in Seville. And, Seville still doesn’t have good pizza (at least that we found.)

The Royal Palace in Madrid.

Why do European washing machines take so long? Three hours per load was pretty standard. What on earth are the washing machines doing for that long?

A duck in Maria Luisa Park in Seville.

There are still book stores and record stores in Spain. We miss book stores and record stores.

Statues of Hercules and Caesar in Seville.

Just like last time we visited Spain, we found it shocking how difficult it was to tell Spaniards and Americans apart (well, at least until they spoke). And, we forgot how much we hate cigarette smoke. And, we were surprised at how brown the scenery is in Spain.

Christmas decorations in Malaga.

Just like last time we visited Spain, we were embarrassed at the behavior of some of our fellow Americans. I mean, come on, we all learned a tiny bit of Spanish watching Sesame Street. We can probably all count to three and say please and thank you, right? So, why do Americans get on a city bus and just grunt at the driver and expect the driver to be fluent in English? How hard is it to say “dos por favor”?

A statue in the gardens of the Alcazar in Cordoba.

Oh, Spain, you are one of our favorite countries and we will be back.




About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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