Splendid Spanish Sights

Jeukhei Luhngpouh Dou Mchih Taaiji: even if you wear a dragon robe, you won’t look like the crown prince

In ancient China, ordinary people used cotton clothes while high-ranking leaders wore official attire.  The king and crown prince, though, could put on a dragon robe (luhngpouh).

Before traveling to Spain, my husband and I debated about clothing choices.  Should we wear shorts, or would that be too odd and informal?  I settled on a combination of shorts, jeans, and skirts.  What about sneakers?  I chose black ones instead of glaring white tennies.  Despite our desire to blend in, we knew we’d stick out as foreigners (jeukhei luhngpouh dou mchich taaiji).  Asian people don’t wander around in hordes in Spain.  We did, however, discover pockets of Chinese in the big cities; these people owned Chinese restaurants and ran small convenience stores.

For the most part, since we looked different, we milked the tourist ticket.  Here are my top sight-seeing experiences from Spain, broken down by location:

-The Reina Sofia Museum: I went to Madrid excited to see The Prado, but when I visited (during the museum’s admission-free evenings), the throngs of people stifled me and the whirlwind of paintings overwhelmed me.  On the other hand, I visited the more modern Reina Sofia and enjoyed the experience.  I saw Picasso’s famous Guernica, but I liked visiting the top floor the most.  There I could view history intertwined with artistic efforts, as the painters and sculptors struggled to define themselves post-World War II.    
-Buen Retiro Park: This popular park serves as an oasis for the city.  I liked breathing in the fresh air and walking amongst the lush foliage.  Also, it housed two interesting buildings: the Palacio de Velázquez, which exhibits works from the Reina Sofia (we also received free tickets to Reina Sofia from there) and the Palacio de Cristal, a glass pavilion inspired by The Crystal Palace in London.    

Manzanares El Real
Located 30 miles north of Madrid, Manzanares boasts a restored and decorated 15th-century castle.  How many chances do you get to walk around an ancient castle?  It also excited me that the Marquis of Santillana, who lived there, wrote poetry, including serranillas (some examples in Spanish can be found here), and may have inspired Cervantes’ portrayal of Don Quixote. 

-The famous architect Antoni Gaudí lived here and designed many buildings in the area.  Although renown for his work on La Sagrada Familia, I actually enjoyed Casa Batlló more.  I liked the fact that Gaudí finished the entire work, while the Sagrada Familia continues to be built by other artists.  I enjoyed Gaudí’s use of undulating lines, ergonomic features, and modern practices (like decorating the roof with recycled materials).

Inside Casa Batlló

Park Güell, also designed by Gaudí, incorporates artistry into its serenity.  It also displays a riot of colors, particularly with its famous rainbow-colored lizard statue.   

Montserrat took 1.5 hours by bus to visit.  It’s a gorgeous mountain backdrop full of serrated mounds (montserrat means “jagged mountain” in Catalan).  There is also a Benedictine monastery there, a sacred trek for those who want to touch the black Madonna.  We visited the ornate basilica and listened to the sweet singing of the boys’ choir.  However, I much preferred taking the funicular to the top and hiking around.  An exciting outdoor experience, we ended up taking trails that progressed from stone steps with metal handrails to jagged rocks with a rope line threaded through metal loops to boulders with scattered tree branches as handholds.     

Hope you enjoyed traveling vicariously with me!  Next time I’ll highlight the best experience of my Spain trip.

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  1. I love that inside shot of Casa Batllo. Barcelona is high on my list of travel ‘to do’s.’

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