The pictures from Spain
Is there anybody who has never heard of bullfighters and the Corrida? Today, Spain faces a problem, as animal rights activists spoke up and consequently close the arenas. Certainly, the way of fighting with the bulls should definitely be changed, as they suffer too much now, nonetheless the Corrida is still a very important aspect in Spanish culture. Unfortunately, it is hard to kill two birds with one stone. Now, people figured out that they can hold some of the spectacles in the south of France. Bullfighters are often associated with machos, typical Spaniards, who are masculine, brave and gallant. After Corrida, there’s flamenco show, and afterwards Don Quijote created by Cervantes, with his men Sancho Pansa and windmills in Castile. Halina Popławska mentions about the immense beauty of this land in her book “Spanish romance”, “Castile… heart of Spain beating strongly, under the sky so bright and clear that when you look up, it paralyzes you with the infinity of the universe.” Besides that, when you say “Spain” to your head immediately comes the picture of homosexual director, Almodóvar, and the former Prime Minister, Zapatero. That’s it… Is there anything more about Spain, a country which recently plunged into the economic crisis, however not as severe as in Greece?
In 2008, its premiere had a movie entitled “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona”, directed by Woody Allen. Just as in the latest movie “Midnight in Paris” the emphasis is on showing the title city in the possibly most beautiful way. You can feel the ambience of Barcelona, and get to know the most famous objects and lesser known streets. The pleasure may come especially when you watch the film as a simple reminder of the trip to the City of Gaudi. If not for the story itself (the narrator itself may seem a little bit annoying, just as the sense of a cheesy romance) it is worth to see “Vicky…” simply for the way it pictures the city. You will definitely want to visit Catalonia then.
Gaudi inspires, absorbs. The life of Art Nouveau architect is not fully understood. Besides the fact that the beatification of Antonio lasts for over twenty years, there are suspicions that Gaudi led a double life, that he was a Freemason. Sagrada Familia, one of the most famous temples in the world, has not been completed during the Gaudi’s life – he died in 1926 – and well, it never happen to be completed. Nevertheless, it is admirable. The figures shown on the temple are not chosen at random – there is certain logic, as the figures tell the history. Interior holds a specific ambience. Sagrada is a basilica, isn’t it? But honestly, people don’t care that they’re in the temple. Now they go to Sagrada mainly because they want to shoot some photos. Does anyone at all go there to pray or contemplate? Does anyone kneel down to God? Everyone rather sit in the pews, talk, stroll around…and take photos, of course.
Don’t forget about Park Guell
Park Guell is a good place to rest, however you should try to hide away from the spots that attract tourists the most, and find some sweet spot somewhere on the lawn. The monuments look like they were from some fairy tale – colorful, peculiar, and very magical. The author must have had a truly vivid imagination. It’s best to visit the Park possibly very early, then you have the opportunity to take pictures with salamanders, which are constantly occupied by tired tourists. It would be a sin not to see Casa Mila, located few steps away from the Park, and Casa Vinces, situated a little bit farther, nonetheless you necessarily have to look inside. Only a small part of the whole beauty is visible from the outside.
The Four Cats
There must be something special about the cafeteria “Four Cats”, in Catalonian “Els Quatre Gats”, as I came up against this name in two randomly chosen books. It’s important to firmly stick to the Catalonian name and not translate it into Spanish “Los Cuatro Gates”. Zafon mentions about this café in his popular novel “The Shadow Of The Wind”, as well as Martin in “The painter of Shadows” (one scene from “Vicky, Christina, Barcelona” was also set there). The café has already had its five minutes, it had been visited by many famous people, including Picasso, the representatives of the Spanish modernism, literary evenings were also organized there. The prices are not too exorbitant though, it’s pretty sensible to spend few Euros on Coca Cola in a place so cozy and nice. The décor surely stirs the imagination. Pictures from distant times, elegant tiles, huge glass doors, the abundance of plants and glasses… The moment you leave the place is the moment you start miss it.
The Capital City
Madrid has a completely different ambience than Barcelona, there’s more noise, traffic jams are bigger, and there is a whole lot more of people. It has an area about six times bigger than than the Capital of Catalonia. The spots that should be visited necessarily are for example Museo del Prado – but let’s pay a little bit more to hire a guide who will tell us many interesting stories, for example about a famous masterpiece by Velazquez “Las Meninas”, but also a minor, seeming even uninteresting works. And “Palacio Real” of course. In the Royal Palace in Madrid, you can get dizzy with the enormity of gold and purple. Talking of Madrid, you cannot forget about shopping. You have to look carefully. The sign “rebajas” (which means the discount) can be seen everywhere, but you have to be careful, as not every place is worth visiting. But surely it is cheaper in the stores of esteemed Spanish brands like Zara, or Stradivarius.
Those, who are tired of the crowd in capital, can make their way straight to the little village Calatañazor, but well, not only there, because it’s not worth to go 200 kilometers only to see a village (however interesting). Calatañazor is different - we won’t find anything like that in Poland. The streets with little cottages built centuries ago. Inside those little houses are shops with local products – people have to earn a living somehow. We can buy clothes, honey, soaps, various canned food, but also “civilized” ice-creams there.
The ruins of the castle. Wonderful scenery. People so kind and very willing to have a chat with anybody, but only in Spanish, as majority of inhabitants are elderly people. Calatañazor has got that something that every time you think of it, a smile on your face appears. You will remember this town for a lifetime.
A town little bit bigger, but in which you also feel the past, is Soria, located near Calatañazor. Soria is mainly about poets, you literally feel the spirit of Antonio Machado here. The town seems like it’s talking about miserable love between Antonio and his muse and inspiration, Leonor, who died too early.
Costa and Tossa
Costa Brava is one of the places, which tourists just dream of visiting. As the name says it’s “brava”, which means “noisy”. The coast is extremely popular and you rather won’t experience the peace and quiet here. The water here is warm, the weather – excellent, and the parties – oh, parties are on the first place. Another picturesque town on the coast of Mediterranean Sea is Tossa del Mar. Big waves, rocky cliffs and just a handful of residents. As time goes by, Tossa evolved into a place extremely well known among tourists, and is essential to visit. West coasts of Spain differ a lot when it comes to the nature. Rarely visited, possibly due to worse swimming conditions – there’s an ocean, and the water is colder, the coast is sharp and steep. If you are looking for a peace – better choose the western part.
Spain can be described with one word – “variedad”, which means “diversity”. Each of the provinces of Spain differs very much. Here we have the Basque Country, which is isolated, there’s Catalonia, there’s Castile with windmills, also Madrid, and the Gypsy Andalusia. It is impossible to try every flavor of Spain, though those flavors are impossibly interesting, and it’s worth to try at least some of them.