Home again and looking forward to spring in New England but first, some final thoughts about our winter in Spain.

I didn’t realize that most of Spain is mountainous. In the south it is dry with barren hills and desert plants. In the north pines grow on the mountain sides and in both places, snowy peaks are often visible in the distance.

A street in Granada with mountains in the distance.

A street in Granada with mountains in the distance.

Everyone smokes! Okay, that’s an exaggeration but coming from the US, the smoking seemed to be endemic. Restaurants and bars no longer allow smoking inside but every restaurant has an outdoor seating area where most people sit. Even in the north where it was cold, the terraces are occupied. If it rains there are awnings to protect the diners.

Bars open at 8 or 9 in the morning. It is where one gets coffee and a toasted baguette or croissant. Each morning we encountered the same people at the little bar where we went each morning after our walk. After a few days we were regulars too. Our coffee arrived as soon as we sat down.

Restaurants open for lunch at 1:30 and close at around 4. They open again for dinner at 8 or 9 at night. Finding meals outside of those times can be difficult but all bars offer tapas, the Spanish snack food or “little bites”.

A huge selection of tapas in a Barcelona Tapas Restaurant

A huge selection of tapas in a Barcelona Tapas Restaurant

Ensaladilla Rusa

Ensaladilla Rusa

Every bar has a row of dishes on display. Fried squid, potatoes with garlic sauce, shrimp (with shells) in garlic, tiny meatballs, Russian salad (a potato salad with lots of mayonnaise), olives, tortillas (a Spanish omelet, sort of like a frittata). The variations seem endless. They may be hot or cold and often come with a slice of good bread. In some bars a free tapas is offered with a drink.

More tapas.  Unlike this restaurant, most bars will have six or eight selections.

More tapas. Unlike this restaurant, most bars will have six or eight selections.

Calamares Fritos

Calamares Fritos

Language differences. We encountered three distinctly different languages. Spanish, Catalan, and Basque. It isn’t just a regional accent or dialect, they are totally different. I’d learned to read a menu fairly well in Spanish until we got to northern Spain. Thank goodness for Google Translate.
Pork chop: Spanish – chuleta de cerdo, Basque – txerri txuleta, Catalan – costella de porc.
Bread: Spanish – pan, Basque – ogia, Catalan – pa.
Egg: Spanish – huevo, Basque – arrautza, Catalan – ou.

Good roads, even the secondary roads are well maintained and marked.

Basque fishing village of Lekeitio seen from our hotel room.

Basque fishing village of Lekeitio seen from our hotel room.


Part of the day's catch in Lekeitio. Part of the day’s catch in Lekeitio.[/caption]

The town center of Chinchon, Spain.  Once a ring for bull fights, now centered by the statue of a horse and surrounded by outdoor cafes a

The town center of Chinchon, Spain. Once a ring for bull fights, now centered by the statue of a horse and surrounded by outdoor cafes a

Valle de los Caídos (Valley of the Fallen) El Escorial, Spain Monument to honor the dead of the Spanish Civil War.  It is a huge cathedral hewn out of a mountain with a gigantic cross at the top.  The cross arms can be reached by elevator.

Valle de los Caídos
(Valley of the Fallen)
El Escorial, Spain
Monument to honor the dead of the Spanish Civil War. It is a huge cathedral hewn out of a mountain with a gigantic cross at the top. The cross arms can be reached by elevator.

Goodbye Spain.