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.
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.
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.
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?
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.?
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.
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.
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?
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.
But, I don’t recommend the jamon flavored Pringles. Nope, not one bit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wine is served strangely cold in Spain.
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.
Gotta love a country where 1 pm is far too early for lunch, but not too early for a nice glass of wine.
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.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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?
There are still book stores and record stores in Spain. We miss book stores and record stores.
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.
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”?
Oh, Spain, you are one of our favorite countries and we will be back.