When in Spain think Mexico not Europe

Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:15 AM
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When in Spain think Mexico not Europe

Well, just returned from 3 weeks in Spain and Lisbon and have to say I didn't love either place. I liked Barcelona and loved Madrid but didn't enjoy Lisbon in the least.

We rented a car for 10 days and drove from Barcelona to Madrid which I wouldn't recommend. The landscape is not much to look at, it's like driving through Fresno, rolling brown hills and scattered farms. My suggestion is to fly or take the train between the major cities and then do a few sidetrips from there.

The Alhambra in Granada was incredible but Granada was nothing special. Ditto for the Mezquita in Cordoba. The prettiest cities we encountered were Toledo and Segovia, both could be easy sidetrips from Madrid. On the whole, I found Spain annoying in that nothing opens until 10 AM, then most everything closes at 1 PM for a few hours. I never got my food and drink cycles straight with their insane restaurant/cafe/bar rules. Whether they'll serve you food at what times and whether drinks only is OK or you can have drinks but you must order dinner but the kitchen isn't open yet or they may open at 9 PM but maybe not---it's totally frustrating. I was basically hungry everyday and often unable to find a lunch at noon or a dinner at 7. The only constant appears to be you can have coffee and pastries all day long but not before 8 am because they don't do anything before 8 am, even at a Starbucks. And if it is 8 am and they are supposed to be open but aren't yet they shrug their shoulders and tell you they'll open soon, it's actually kind of funny at first.

Hence, my message title, think Mexico. The smaller cities are pretty rundown, grafitti is rampant, the siesta is alive and well which seems so outdated in a modern country. You can't even use the siesta time to catch up on laundry or go shopping because they are all closed in the middle of the day just 3 hours after they all opened.

And for the record, I have traveled as a tourist to over 30 countries in the past 12 years. My travel philosophy is to avoid escorted tours, I plan my own itinerary, I try to stay on the road at least a month at at a time, I like meeting the locals, I am an avid foodie, I try the local cuisine and I do plenty of research. Some places, like New Zealand, Norway and France I would return to in a heartbeat; other places, like Sweden, Thailand and Hong Kong, I highly recommend to any and all. But as far as Spain and Portugal goes, once is enough for me. My advice to anyone who asks me is go once and concentrate on the major cities. Last note, I never warmed up to Seville, after all I read about it I thought I would love the place but really didn't think much of it at all. We spent one night rather than the planned 3 nights and added Toledo and Segovia overnights instead, which I liked better.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:37 AM
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It is good to know I am not alone. Also a seasoned traveler who avoids cattle tours and travels to be part of the place I am in.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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Blimey! The last people who had as bad a time as you in Iberia were Kate and Gerry McCann.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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OK, you didn't like Spain. But what on earth got you driving to Madrid anyway?

And why would anyone WANT to eat lunch at 1200 or dinner at 1900? Eat at normal times (or if that's difficult, nibble a few tapas till lunch or suppertime) and it's impossible to be hungry in Spain.

I'm no mega Spain fan either. But it's nothing remotely like Mexico, and if you research it properly - which you really seem not to have - it can be almost as enjoyable as most of Italy or France.

Above all, when in Rome...

If you want to live just like you do in the backwoods of Iowa, it really is best to stay in Iowa.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Sorry -

To me Spain and Mexico are nothing alike - even the forms of Spanish spoken are different. And even the food is completely different - Spanish is much closer to French than to Mexican.

Mexico has a colonial history, remains of pre-conquest civilizations and huge masses of resort towns.

Spain is a modern western democracy which has a unique history in europe due to the Arab occupation and subsequent reconquest by Aragon and Castille, along with remains of the Romans, the Visigoths and a host of other peoples.

Andalusia is fascinating- from Seville to Granada, Cordoba, the White Towns and prehistoric cave sights.

To think that all this is like Mexico - you must have missed either one or both countries.

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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:48 AM
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I've just noticed the nick of the OP
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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<<< The Alhambra in Granada was incredible but Granada was nothing special. Ditto for the Mezquita in Cordoba. >>>

I wouldn't trust the opinions of anyone who thinks the Alhambra (bare shell of a building) is better than the Mesquita (Spanish cathedral in the middle of the weirdest mosque in Christendom)
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 11:55 AM
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I take it you will not be returning to either Spain or Portugal any time soon.

If you change your mind, then, as already suggested, do a little more research. There is always something new and exciting to discover and experience.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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I could (sort of) understand where you are coming from -- until I got to the "nothing opens until 10 AM. . . most everything closes at 1 PM for a few hours. . . . . insane restaurant/cafe/bar rules. . . . .they may open at 9 PM . . . . . I was basically hungry everyday and often unable to find a lunch at noon or a dinner at 7." bits.

Did you do ANY research at all? That is the way shops/meals work in Spain. What on Earth did you expect??
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:08 PM
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Parrothead-

Can you share your impressions of Lisbon as well?

Thanks
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:12 PM
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Blimey! The last people who had as bad a time as you in Iberia were Kate and Gerry McCann

I'm more reminded of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsbottom's visit to Blackpool.
"They didn't think much to the ocean
The waves, they was fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks... nobody drownded
'Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all"
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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I totally disagree---Spain is nothing like Mexico. I am not sure of your expereriences in both but after 4 trips to Spain and 2 to Portugal we will be going back next year.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Great, Josser... Now I'll have Stanley on the brain for the rest of the day. Thanks. Go and see what the tigers can do!
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:24 PM
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Funny I never had Spain on my agenda, but since I LOVE Mexico, maybe I should have a change of heart about visiting Spain?
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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For folk confused by Josser's comments

http://people.bath.ac.uk/su3bugs/songs/song/alblion.htm
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:28 PM
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I found your post very interesting, Parrothead. I absolutely love Mexico and have traveled there many times over the years--mainly to colonial towns. However, I've never been drawn to Spain as I've always had the idea that it's very similar to Mexico--so why spend all that time and money to get there when Mexico is right around the corner? The three things that appeal to me about Spain are well-reprented in Mexico: The Spanish language, amazing ecclesiastical architecture and cafe-lined central plazas.

As I've only spent a few hours in Madrid (on a layover) I plan to eventually make it back someday. Then I'll find out for myself. (By the way, I witnessed more angry, near criminal behavior and felt more unsafe during my four hours in Madrid than I have in my many collective weeks in Mexico.)
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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<<< I've never been drawn to Spain as I've always had the idea that it's very similar to Mexico >>>

It's like saying you won't go to the UK because it's similar to Canada
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:35 PM
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<<I found Spain annoying in that nothing opens until 10 AM, then most everything closes at 1 PM for a few hours. I never got my food and drink cycles straight with their insane restaurant/cafe/bar rules>>


Lol - of course Spain should abandon it's traditional meal times for the duration of your visit.

At least htey opened a Starbucks for you
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 12:54 PM
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alan, it's more like a Mexican saying he isn't drawn to the UK since he can go to Canada. It's not that outrageous a statement since both places are big on Anglo-Saxon culture, and both places may be quite similar in his eyes. Given the huge number of places there are to visit, he might choose France and Finland over the UK, since he's been to Canada.

I did say I want to go to Spain. But I might have been there already if it weren't for Mexico's proximity. That's my point--not that Spain's not worth visiting.
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Old Oct 4th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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parrothead:

you are entitled to your impressions of course but not to present extremely misleading info in your thread headline which everyone reads whether they open or not

And to correlate Spain to Mexico is totally absurd.

You've obviously never been to Mexico, or at least the real Mexico outside the walled compounds of seaside resorts like Cancun, etc.

For if you would have gotten outside these enclaves of foreign tourists you would have seen the reason millions of Mexicans are seeking to enter the U.S. illegally and legally

poverty is rife - paved streets and sidewalks lacking or broken in many towns

folks living in Mexico City by the millions apparently in shacks and shanty towns.

I have no problem with your opinions and impressions of Spain/Port and it's refreshing to read something than the usual "Oh it was so wonderful... planning next trip already" stuff but
you have given Spain a bad wrap by calling it a third-world country.
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