Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Trip to Spain

Under the pressures of the 3rd year of the PhD-trying to complete the project, getting articles published in journals, applying for jobs/postdocs, etc.-we were in need of a getaway.  Couple this with some credit card reward points redeemable for travel, and the call to Spain, with her warmth and affordability, was quite difficult to resist.

I’ve read that over 200,000 Brits have relocated to Spain- there certainly were more than few in the built up areas along the coast.  In the grossly overdeveloped area of Torremolinos (pictured below) every restaurant, regardless of what type of food they served, had on the menu something like “English Breakfast,” “Bangers and Mash,” or “Fish and Chips”.  Why move from the UK to Spain only to eat (bland) British food?  Notice in the picture below, the high-rise condo building- these were everywhere along the coast and were, frankly, tacky.  Equally tacky was the ubiquity of inebriated Englishmen, so much so that I couldn’t resist modifying a classic poem:  “Brits, Brits, everywhere; and most of them are drunk.”  After the first day we soon learned to avoid these trappings and venture into the less touristy, more Spanish areas (i.e., away from the coast).  IMG_2356

The village of Ronda provided a wonderful day trip- perched in the mountains to the west of Malaga, all the buildings are whitewashed, and the effect is very vivid.

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However, the most stunning feature of the town is certainly the bridge over the canyon that divides the city.

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Also in Ronda is the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain.  Although I have ethical positions than would prevent me from attending an actual bullfight, visiting the empty ring and connected museum was enjoyable.

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The food fantastic!  We ate every meal seated outside at a cafe/restaurant.  Although the tapas did not disappoint, particularly noteworthy was the paella, which all 3 of us found delicious.

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There is apparently some tradition of hanging (cured?) pig’s legs in certain types of restaurants, as we saw several of these. 

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Another highlight was the city of Granada, with the Alhambra, a Moorish palace and fortress build in the 14th century.  The walls of the Palace are lined with ornate and intricate carvings that incorporate bits of Arabic.

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The Alhambra provides a stunning view of the city of Granada and the surrounding mountains.

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And for all traveling and schedule changing we inflicted upon Kate, she did very well.  I even couldn’t resist a Spanish Flamenco dress…

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