No, I cannot figure out how to make a tilde over the "n" in Blogger. Sue me.
But, ladies and gents, I've taken the first small step on this year's vacation adventure and purchased two guide books on Spain! Hooray! I chose Frommer's and Lonely Planet, because I like to mix up the high- and low-brow travel.
After several months of hostels and most likely lots of dirt acquired on her round-the-world backpacking adventure, my traveling companion will be treated to a night or two in a decent hotel. I'm not sure I want to throw myself into hostels from the get-go in the middle of the hot Barcelona summer.
Unlike the last time I tried to go to Barcelona, this time, I will make reservations. Last time, my college buddy and I were backpacking post-graduation, as one does sometimes, and decided to go to Barcelona in July. There were less rooms at the inn that we'd hoped. Even Jesus had better quarters with that manger thing. The one room in all of Barcelona we could find was in a building identified with the word "Hostal" on a buzzer. Nothing more. And when we opened the door, the first floor was a decrepit lobby full of newspapers and rats.
We abruptly left the building, and after finding an internet cafe and making plans to meet someone in Italy, we found the only place to sleep that night in all of Barcelona: the overnight train to Madrid. But I digress.
Because I've been to Madrid twice, I'd like to see some other parts of Spain, starting with Barcelona and perhaps winding up in Andalucia. It will be July, it will be hot as b*lls, and I think I will probably love it.
Gambas al ajillo por favor? :) See! I can do it!
I also looked around for some good Spanish literature to get me in the mood, but all I can find is Don Quixote. Spain apparently really did have a Golden Age and then give up.
The books should arrive next week and I can begin plotting the trip. What to see. Where to stay. I'm leaving nothing to chance, having seen the wily ways of the backpacker set, and don't want to wind up sleeping on the overnight boat to Morocco by default. Although that could actually be kind of cool, in my imagination it would involve some kind of robbery and maybe some muffled pleas through some kind of gag that I could get what they wanted by calling the embassy...
(I've been contemplating writing some fiction lately.)
It may turn out the whole trip is 10 days in Barcelona and its environs, but that wouldn't involve frantic European train travel, which is in my opinion, second only to sampling actual European food. In my memory, dinner was always better in Lyon. Unless I was in Paris. Then dinner was better in Paris.
I'm sure I'll go on about this at length for the next several months as I buy what will likely be an excruciatingly expensive plane ticket, pick hotels, map out a schedule and then decide what to pack. Feel free to toss ideas or experiences my way!