Thursday, February 5, 2009

Spain

So it has been a while – here we are in Morocco and you have heard nothing of Spain! We learned a lot in Spain about traveling as a family, and traveling with kids, not to mention everything we learned about the Andalucian region of Spain as well. So, here goes the general:

1) Traveling with kids is hard, because when someone says something like “The Cathedral is 20 minutes away by foot”, you should really interpret it as “the Cathedral is an hour away if you add in the time your children will spend slowing your walk to a complete halt.” However, traveling with kids is also easy because I found myself content to spend an hour in a Plaza watching Abi chase birds with other children.

2) I am a jerk when I travel. I like to be in control of life. Travel is like a sick game where someone tricks me into thinking there are like 500 things I can be in control of (what we do, where we eat, do we take nap or not?), and then puts into motion 500 more things I have no control of (like whether kids can eat the food on the menu, how far it really is between “A” and “B”, and whether or not the streets are labeled), and then sits back and watches the madness ensue. I think I will retroactively add this to the “new year’s resolution”. I need to chill out.

3) Andalucia is a most beautiful part of the world. Spanish is a romance language, which always sounded like an odd way to describe a language when I thought of it in a Puritan sense. Is “rojo” really a more romantic word than “red”? Seeing language alive in Cadiz made me think of the word romance though. It seemed like the people in Cadiz were so in love with living life each day. I swear one out of three shops was dedicated to birth, confirmation, children’s clothing, weddings, lingerie or family photography. The remaining stores were for chocolate, wine, flowers and cheese. People engaged in conversation over tapas looked intensely at each other as they talked about whatever for hours. Everywhere we went people doted on our children, proclaiming their beauty, potential, intelligence and general perfection. Mind you, Spain isn’t a country where we stood out from the population. It was anyone’s guess whether the conversation would begin in Spanish, English or French. But most ended with a grandma smothering children in kisses, or running away with the baby to show a friend how cute babies are.

4) Also big in Cadiz: Little dogs. Like, little Paris Hilton dogs. Everywhere. In purses. In sweaters. Riding on bicycles with their owner. I have no explanation for this phenomenon, but it was cute.

And the specific:

On our first day in Cadiz, we went out for a night of Tapas at Cumbres Mayores, and Baladro. Tapas was a culture, so we were a bit intimidated when we first stepped up to the counter and asked for a menu. I think we expected to sit down and enjoy a meal, but it became apparent that we should stand at the bar. It made me wonder if that was part of the secret of Spain. This is a total sidetrack, but Cadiz is all about pork and cheese. Every “local specialty” listed on a menu is some mixture of bread, bacon, ham, and cheese. And then there is the sausage, which comes in hundreds of varieties and might be a part of any meal. Cadiz culture is about waking up late and staying up all night. Yet, the people are pretty moderately sized. So, I see this “stand up while you eat” culture, and I pondered for a second whether there would be room for more bacon in my life if we ate standing up at a counter while drinking and stretching every meal into a two hour affair. If this diet craze ever sweeps through the USA, I am so on board!
We had fresh salmon in a mustard sauce, meatballs in salsa, Manchego cheese, and something else delightful at Cumbres Mayores. All this was complemented by red wine, beer, and finished off with the local Manzanilla – something reminiscent of a dessert wine in texture, but with a biting, oakey flavor.

Baladro offered a “posh” environment with modern furniture and moody lighting. We did dessert with the local specialty, Sangria. We chose a chocolate brownie with heavenly chocolate and orange ice cream for dessert.

Appreciated at both places was the lack of bass-ey background music. Both restaurants were places to gather, eat, and talk with people you know.

Later, we took a train to Sevilla with some friends on the ship. Their teenage children kept Abi occupied for the 2 hour train ride from Cadiz to Sevilla. We only had a few hours in Sevilla, so we went to see the cathedral.

7 comments:

Kayla said...

Wow, Mel. Spain sounds magical! You make me want to go there, and that in itself is amazing!

Eric Hensley said...

I'm intrigued by the manzanilla wine, it sounds very interesting. Manzanilla is also the word for chamomile so I wonder if it's related somehow?

It's great to hear you're having fun in Spain! I've only been there once, but I totally loved it. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it as well.

Durr Family said...

I love hearing about the priorities in life being reflected in their shops. Ah - Europe just gets it sometimes!

ginger said...

wow- great insight to travelling with kids. Once again, I wish, kids and all, we were along for the ride.
hugs~

Trevor and Sara said...

I so wish I was in Spain right now. I am going to tell my mom to read your blog...she will absolutely LOVE it. Did you eat any churros dipped in chocolate for me? What about tortilla espanola? I want to eat your food. :)

two of us said...

We traveled with a family with sightly older children on F06, and it was a different experience. One good thing was that the younger of the two boys tired about the same time I did, so I had delightful company on the bench with me.

Gretchen

kathye said...

Sounds like you all are having fun and getting the hang of travelling with Abi & Lily. Enjoy yourselves & wish we could enjoy the scenary with you! Grammie & PoPo