H and I had our first ever driving holiday to Spain ten years ago. I made a travelogue scrapbook for that trip with maps showing our route, tickets of boat trips made, flyer of a Flamenco show we attended, brochure of the hostels/campsites we stayed in.. and many more. I am looking at the scrapbook as I type and it brings back happy memories
I will post extracts of our travelogue and some (poor quality) pictures as we only used a video camera that time and the pics were just digitally captured from the video recordings.
Map of Spain divided into her 17 autonomous communities + 2 autonomous cities.
The white broken line on the map indicates our route. We started in Catalunya, proceeded to Valencia, then Castilla La-Mancha and finally Andalucia.
12 August 1999……. we were on our way with the intention of getting to Granada (Andalucia) that day – some hope! We began to realize just how damn hot this country is! While trying to find our way out of Valencia, H made plenty of mistakes on the road. We had no intention to go inland but we just found ourselves heading towards Albacete (Castilla La-Mancha). Meanwhile, the day seemed hotter and hotter and we saw more and more olive trees.
Olive trees as far as the eye can see!
Inland Spain this time of the year is dry and the heat is vicious! There are no shades to stop by and we were just driving in the middle of boundless and never-ending olive groves. The sun pounded us down all day, unrelenting. We were getting dehydrated so we kept stopping for water.We soon realized with the progress we are making that we would not make it to Granada. We started looking for hotels at around 6 pm but only succeeded in finding small villages with smouldering piles of evil-smelling ash – unbelievably disgusting! How can people live in a place like this?
One thing that H and I still talk about to this day is the desert-heat-olive-grove-country that is Albacete. And since all we saw were olive groves upon olive groves (Hey..Spain must be the world’s largest exporter of olives or olive oil!), we made fun that if we did decide to buy our first home there, the mailing address could easily have been:
Mr and Mrs H
The Olive Cottage
It was around 2pm that seering hot day on the road when the first sight of civilization came upon us. A village comprising of white washed houses. But where are the people? There is not a single soul around.
(I learned later that in Spain, people take their lunch at 2pm, have their siesta, then go back to work at 5pm. Don’t expect to see humanity between 2pm and 5pm, sometimes until 6pm. Dinnertime is at 10pm. If you get hungry before that, better find a Chinese fastfood!) Badly in need of rehydration, you cannot imagine how delighted we were when we saw a bar, its facade so typically rural Spain! Upon entering, I saw three men sitting on high stools by the counter, two in their cowboy hats as if the scene is in the Wild West. Nineteen ninety-nine (1999) was my first time to travel to Europe and also my first time to enter a bar so the sight of men holding bottles of beer kind of intimidated me, so I asked H if it was safe to be in the same room as these men. “Of course it is safe! you have nothing to worry about!”What was fascinating about the bar was the several gigantic hams hanging from the ceiling! Like any ignorant Pinay whose full knowledge of a ham that size was only limited to the Chinese hams I saw in Chinatown (in the Philippines) and they are actually smaller and fewer. The Spanish version and the huge number of them hanging just one after the other really blew me away!
A ham kiosk in a Barcelona market. The arrangement of the hams is exactly the same as the one I saw in the bar in Albacete
The 14th century Alhambra Palace sitting on a hill overlooking the city of Granada.
I still have the entrance ticket on my album and it shows we paid 2000pesetas for the 2 of us (in 1999), wonder how much is that now?
The Alcazaba which is part of the fortified wall of the Alhambra. The mountains you see are part of the Sierra Nevada range
The hostal where we stayed. We can see the view of the palace from the terrace where we were served breakfast (included in the price)
At the back of the hostal’s business card is the map showing how close they are to the Alhambra Palace
The old town of Granada where we walked past a workshop of a guitarmaker. H fell in love with one of their guitars that he bought one at 39,000pesetas. It almost melted and its strings went haywire because we left it at the backwindow of the car never realizing how the sun could bake it like a cake!
On our first night in Granada, we went for tapas in one of the restaurants in town. Different kinds of eatables were served on a chopping board which H and I shared. Although they were meant for 2 people, we enjoyed it so much that we asked for another one!
This is the restaurant where we had our tapas. Big paprikas tied up in bunches hang on the terrace. It was so charming. I don’t know what those dots on the wall were.
While we were having our tapas, we could hear traditional dance music being played on the square. Then people started dancing, and the (dusty) square was getting filled with locals and tourists alike, dancing to the beat. H and I, after thoroughly enjoying our tapas, went to join in the fun!
That same night, we went to watch a flamenco show. That was one of the most unforgettable moments of our Spanish trip! As the dancers moved and danced at the pulsing rhythm of the guitar and their faces cringing with orgasmic-like expressions, I was totally enraptured, almost crying in awe! Huh! I love to dance it myself!