I was going to start this post with, 'Dear Spain, For gods sake hurry up, I've been standing here for 5 minutes already while you talk on the phone/gossip with your coworker/instant message your online boyfriend', but I decided I was getting dangerously close to slamming every culture I experience on this trip and I don't want this blog to get (too) negative.
Even though I know you all secretly like it when I complain because it reconfirms everyone's suspicion that Australia is the best country in the world
I spent a bit over 3 weeks in Spain and hit Tarifa, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona (and an undisclosed mystery village somewhere near those places). All worthwhile, apart from the sewerage smells. What I've liked the best about Spain, apart from Barcelona, there aren't that many sights, its more about exploring the streets, eating the food and trying to adopt their weird-arse sleeping habits.
Which brings be to this. The one thing I will remember is the bizarre hours they keep. I'm talking about siesta frustration. Apart from Barcelona, all those other places are relatively small and the siesta tradition is still held in a high regard. Every place becomes a ghost town from around noon till 5. It is the most annoying thing ever. Usually you get started around 10-11 each day and if you want to do or see anything, you've got about an hour to get it done before everyone closes up shop. And you'd better be prepared with food for lunch cause sometimes you won't even find an open supermarket or corner store.
And then there's Sundays! As you saw I went to Pizza Hut for my birthday dinner. That wasn't through choice, nothing is open on Sundays, nothing! You'd better be organised on a Saturday to get any supplies you need or you'll pay through the nose at a restaurant. And you'd better get up early on Saturday, because most places close for the day at lunchtime (must be to have an extra long siesta to get prepared for a day of snoozing on Sunday).
Enough complaining. I love the food, tapas are the best thing ever. For the uneducated, it's finger food. In Granada you get them free when you order a drink, some bars have different courses for each subsequent order. It's always a surprise too - mini hamburgers, olives, sardines or just a plate of cured ham. I even heard there are some places that finish off with desert tapas, but I never ran into any of them. Disappointingly I never had really good paella, considering Valencia is meant to be the capital of the tasty rice dish it was a bit of a shame. I'm a Sangria convert now as well - I've never been a red wine fan and still aren't, but add some fruit, juice and sugar and I'm there. My last night in Valencia I did a cooking course which covered all the above things, so I'm looking forward to having a kitchen in the UK to try out my new skills.
Before I go I have to mention Barcelona. What a cool town! The Gaudi designed buildings are so cool (google is you're friend if you don't know what I'm on about). La Sagrada Familia is awe inspiring, the building itself is so incredible but then you look closer at the facade and see such a complex level of detail. I walked round the place twice and saw new things each time. It's actually still under construction so I can't imagine what it'll be like when completed, which is planned for 2020 (I'm guessing siestas are part of the reason why it'll take that long). I explored the gothic quarter and the hilly area where the Olympic Stadium was built, which has had escalators installed at all the long staircases leading up to the nearby old buildings (which pissed me off).
It felt to me like Barcelona is one of those cities that feels totally unique and vibrant, with totally different quarters sitting shoulder to shoulder, museums I actually want to visit (the Picasso museum is meant to be great, but closed on Monday when I visited) and lot's of the aforementioned interesting buildings. I rate it.
So that's my take on Spain, I totally get why it's such a popular trip for Brits - laid back atmosphere, long sunny days and good food. Just make sure you learn the language - it's the first place I've really been to in Europe where English isn't a second language. Adios.