Jared in Spain – Part Deux

Hi all, just a quick update here. Just wanna say, I am sorry that my last note was full of negativity. I had a bad day and a series of bad experiences that led me to write what I wrote.

Anyway, Toledo was absolutely amazing. I felt like I was in ancient Spain. The city is so full of medieval looking buildings, that it was easy to imagine what life must have been like back in those times.

Toledo is famous for its metal making craft, and they produce all kinds of knives and swords there. So, I bought a sword. It´s a huge one…picture Conan the Barbarian here…and it´s a replica of the sword of Solomon…I saw it and knew right away that I had to have it. I know it will become a family heirloom someday, and I am very glad I finally bought a serious souvenir on this trip…the only other things I bought for myself were the chessboard in Turkey, and the Golem in Prague. So now I have a real biggie. I will have to put it on display somewhere in NY, so ya´ll can come gawk at it when I return.

I met some people from NY that I ended up hangin out with in Toledo for a few days. It was very spooky at night. Last night I walked outside the city walls and looked at the stars. There was a big medieval castle on the hill in the direction I was looking, and right above it was an eerie full moon. There were smoky clouds passing in front of the moon, so it felt like a scene out of Transylvania! Good moments. Ahhh….

Well, I said this would be short, but what else can I write about? I am back in Madrid right now, waiting for my night train to Lisbon Portugal. I am going to sleep in a Couchette for the first time…I made sure to reserve it well in advance so I know I get a place. I hear the beaches in Lisbon are really nice, so I might spend a few days just chillin there. A lot of people have been advising me to slow down and take some time off from my trip. I think that may be a good idea, so we´ll see about doing that. What do y´all think? Am I doing too much? Do you think I have set out on too long of a journey? I don´t know…when will I ever have the chance to do anything like this again? I figured I would hit as much as I can in the time I had, taste each country, get a feel for Europe…you know. But I guess the danger in that is getting burned out and losing the sense of wonder for the places you go. I suppose I am experiencing that a bit…I am sorry it has come upon me….

Lord of the Rings is an amazing book by the way…I finished the first part and then searched all over the south of France for an English copy of the rest of it..I found it in an obscure bookshop and paid $30 for it…but totally worth it. I suggest to anyone who hasn’t read this book to READ IT.  It is the most incredible fantasy adventure story I have ever had the pleasure to devour….

Well, guess that’s about all for now….


Jared in Spain

Torro Torro!  Passa da burrito…

Well, Madrid was eh. Sorry anyone out there who loved it…I don´t know, it just looked to me like so many other places in Europe that I have been to…but that´s been happening a lot to me lately. What can I say? Maybe it´s just overkill. But Madrid didn´t feel “Spanish” enough to me. Not what I expected. Pretty cosmopolitan…lots of restaurants and sex shops…and movie theaters.

I have been looking everywhere for some good chicken and rice, but all they have here is Paella…which is a mixture of seafood, and all kinds of other nameless meats, and rice. Since I don´t really dig seafood, I have been at a loss for good food. One place I went to, I asked “Esta Paello solo con pollo?” “Do you have paella with only chicken?” And he said “Si!”  And I sat down. He brought me a plate of rice and two chicken bones. As I picked through it, I saw remnants of shrimp and pieces of seafood. Clearly he had gone through his big pot of paella and thought he picked out the stuff I didn’t like. I was pissed.

Then, my hotel was a joke. Promptly at 9:00am, they began construction inside my hallway. Pounding and hammering all morning. I kept screaming out the window “STOP!!!” (with a few colorful exclamatory words), but no go. That was the final straw for me to leave Madrid. I went and checked out, haggled with the hotel guy who wanted to charge me more than we agreed on…but ended up paying what I wanted to pay. I headed for the train station, had a few hours to kill before the next train to Toledo. No, not Ohio. Toledo is a medieval town about an hour and a half outside Madrid.

One thing I have to complain about (I mean ANOTHER thing…) is that I simply cannot get away from cigarette smoke over here. EVERYONE SMOKES! I can’t believe it. No matter where I go, I find it hard to escape. And they do not have the laws we have about smoking in public places, so basically it’s free reign everywhere. Even on the train, which was supposed to be a non-smoking car, people lit up anyway. And the streets are littered with cigarette butts. Sorry smokers, but I don’t understand your addiction. It’s bad for everyone involved. You, because you smoke and I can’t begin to list the health hazards. Me, because I have to breath the second hand smoke. Everyone, because our world is littered with cigarette butts. Oy.

Anyway, I made it to Toledo, which is actually very impressive. It´s a medieval city inside its original walls. The streets are narrow and very old looking. Everywhere you turn there are medieval buildings, cathedrals, and churches. This is what I was looking for. It feels very Spanish to me. Everything is made from stone, so the whole city looks like a city of stone. There are a few synagogues left standing from before the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492, so I paid them a visit. Being of Spanish-Jewish decent, I found those particularly interesting. Also, I ate some good chicken.

Hasta manyana.