August 21, 2007

I spent about half of my European adventures in Spain, a country that I hadn't really visited before but that I'd heard great things about. So after London I flew down to Madrid (cheap flight from EasyJet!) and spent a few days there before heading to the north-west of the country. I spent some time in La Rioja (wine country) as well as in the Basque country. It was quite interesting for me to see the ads and propaganda for an independent Basque country, and to compare it to some of the Chinese propaganda that I saw while in China. Not to mention that the Basque language is fascinating (it's not related to any other language in Europe!), so I had to buy a Basque hard-rock CD which is actually pretty good. I went to San Sebastian, a Basque sea-side resort, Vitoria, the capital of the Basque Autonomous Region in Spain, and Pamplona, the city famous for the running of the bulls.
Next I headed south-east to Valencia, then down to Granada. By this time it was getting really hot in Spain, between 35 and 40C. Granada is a cool city with a lot of Arab influence as it was the last Moorish city to fall during the reconquista. I went up to see the Alhambra, where the Moorish rulers used to live and rule. It's a beautiful site, and the Moors did amazing things with design and architecture. Then you see the later Christian buildings on the site which look primitive in comparison.
Next stop was Malaga, on the Mediterranean coast. The beach wasn't as nice as in San Sebastian, but the water was warmer. I'd heard a lot of mixed review about Malaga, but I actually enjoyed the city. My last stop in Spain was Seville, where the heat was almost unbearable. Luckily the amazing hostel had air conditioning for part of the day. Once again I loved the city (despite the heat), and went to a little flamenco show which was beautiful. Very cool to see flamenco in the heart of Andalusia.
Next stop... Italy and Switzerland to visit friends.

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