Thursday, January 3, 2008
Just back from a weeklong family vacation to Spain -- Madrid, Sevilla, and Granada, to be more precise. I'd never had a particular yen to go to Spain before (and I honestly can't say why) but the price of the flights was right and I figured we might have a shot at a little more warmth and sun than staying in Paris or heading north. We definitely got the sun (probably an hour and half more daylight plus clear blue skies) and the warmth (a good 10 degrees F warmer than Paris) and had an all-around memorable trip. Highlights included the parks and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Alcazar and cathedral in Sevilla, and in Granada, the view of the Alhambra at sunset with the snow-topped Sierra Nevada mountains beyond. Plus we enjoyed many hours wandering the streets in all three cities. We ate well too, feasting on Spanish specialties plus Thai and Middle Eastern food, all of which were priced at about half what one would pay in Paris.
I must note that it hadn't been for Torquemada, the Jews might have had to leave Spain anyway because ham (jamón) appears to be a national obsession, served breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hams with the cloven hoof still attached were for sale everywhere; my two favorite shop names were the Museo del Jamón and Paraíso (paradise) de Jamón, both in Madrid. My potato chip survey uncovered Lay's jamón jamón chips. (So good you have to say it twice, I guess.) Squid is the other national dish but apparently there's no money in calamari chips.