Our readers share tales of their ramblings around the world.
Who: Dana Scherer (author) and Mark Cattell of Alexandria, Va.
Where, when, why: A funny thing happened on the way to the Iberian Peninsula. After decades of putting off travel, I finally planned my first solo excursion, a year out, in late 2015. Although I had studied Spanish for more than 13 years, my only experience in Spain was a week-long trip 25 years ago as a college senior. However, after I made my reservation with Tauck Tours, I met and fell and love with Mark. We got married in May, and the solo trip turned into our honeymoon. (Fortunately, Mark speaks Spanish as well.) We spent a total of 2½ weeks in Portugal and Spain in October.
Highlights and high points: The food, the architecture and views particularly stand out. I have an especially fond memory of the gold and silver droplets of reflected sunlight dancing over the Mediterranean Sea in Marbella during the late afternoon.
Cultural connection or disconnect: Once we arrived in Seville, Mark and I agreed to only speak Spanish whenever possible. By the time we dined at Robles Tapas Bar, we were at ease. The tapas were amazing, especially the smoked salmon and tomato. We mentioned to our server, Antonio, that the food was comparable to that of a world-famous Spanish chef in the district, José Andrés. A pair of men sitting at the bar next to us turned around and said “Viva Sevilla!” Antonio requested that we mention him to Señor Andrés.
Biggest laugh or cry: Mark and I had a deep, emotional connection with each other in Madrid looking at the art of Francisco Goya at the Museo Nacional Del Prado, and Pablo Picasso at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Both Goya’s “The Third of May 1808” and Picasso’s “Guernica” depict the raw, emotional, loss of innocence and tranquility. The emotional truth of Spanish paintings from a different era illuminated the universality of the human spirit.
How unexpected: We could see in the architecture the interrelated history of the Moors, the Catholics and the Jews. It was especially interesting to visit the Jewish quarter in Cordoba and the temple in Toledo, and to see evidence of such a vibrant community before its expulsion in 1492. It’s one thing to read about the “Golden Age,” but quite another to see its embodiment.
Fondest memento or memory: We’re still enjoying the olive oil we brought home! Now, whenever I see anything olive-related, I’ll think of the groves of trees it came from.
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