There is something about Europe. Every time I have returned more alive, happier and somewhat unwillingly. It introduces me to aspects of life that I thought didn’t exist!

Travelling to Spain, earlier this month, was no exception either. I experienced a bit of anxiousness and wanted to unwrap the wonders I would soon witness. And even with my basic research and preparation in place, the Mediterranean country took me by surprise in a number of ways. For these and more, I will be returning to Spain sooner than I know it.

Valencia’s cheerful marathon

The concluding marathon.
The concluding marathon.

‘Running has become fashionable these days,’ Juan, my host in Valencia, informed me. That was only a precursor to what I saw the following morning.

As I stepped out from the car, I saw hundreds of runners and a smaller percentage of people cheering for them. This 5K run visually explained what Juan meant the previous night. Even though most European cities have adopted a healthy lifestyle, in Valencia, these Sunday marathons have encouraged the people to come out of their homes and add vigour to the otherwise silent city.

Friendlier than Italians

Looking at Segovia, seamlessly.
Looking at Segovia, seamlessly.

Don’t hate me for this, but I thought the residents here were warmer and friendlier than Italians. And I compare them with Italians, because I have not known anyone else more enterprising, social and polite. (Hmmm, may be barring the people of Himachal and Uttarakhand in India).

Read: Photo Story: Florence, Italy

High-speed connectivity

Renfe Ave journeys.
AVE journeys.

Forever impressed by the cleanliness and punctuality of train journeys in Europe, travelling across Spain with AVE, operated by Renfe, was an excellent experience. Spain’s high-speed trains impressed me by the distances it minimised. The longest journey I did was from Valencia to Córdoba, covering a distance of 523 kms all in 3.5 hrs and the shortest Segovia to Madrid, a distance of 90 kms in 30 mins—an incredible feat!

Breaking bread

The finer things in life- bread and wine.
The finer things in life- bread and wine.

Bread is not my favourite accompaniment and you almost never serve olive oil to a Bengali! But as I’ve recently learnt, the two taste delicious together; also kills starvation and starts interesting conversations. Nothing like breaking bread with a group of strangers.

Flamenco isn’t rocket science

Posing with our flamenco teacher, Victor.
Posing with our flamenco teacher, Victor.

At some point in our lives, we’ve done some random dance moves, in an attempt to mirror flamenco. Mine were finally put to rest in Seville. A quick lesson in the rhythmic dance form made me realise it wasn’t impossible to learn it. Driven by passion and edgy storytelling, I wish I had more time, better footwear and accessibility to pursue it further. It also reminded me how good it felt to laugh at myself!

That place called Córdoba

Córdoba, you beauty!
Córdoba, you beauty!

Reaching Córdoba post sunset did not deter my infatuation with it. The next morning, I grew to fall in love with it. From the illuminating dinner conversations in a bodega to the elusive sunlit walk in the alleys, to the rain-soaked farewell from the town, I felt Córdoba escaped me even before I touched it. It reinstated my feelings of calling an alien place home, where sunshine and rain are found in equal measures. Just like real life, like real relationships.

The magnificent Moorish architecture

My favourite ceiling in the Palace of Peter I, at Royal Alcazar, Seville.
My favourite ceiling in the Palace of Peter I, at Royal Alcazar, Seville.

Andalucía flaunts Moorish architecture in most historical sites. The Mezquita (Cathedral-Mosque) of Córdoba and the Palace of Peter I in the Royal Alcazar of Seville standout in my memory. I was smitten by the latter. The intricate inlay work, diversification of motifs and geometric patterns and use of courtyards and fountains are key features of this Islamic architectural style.

Read: Photo Story: Paris, France

What elements are your España moments made of?

Note: I was invited to this media trip by Tourism Office of Spain and Turkish Airlines. 

To see more photos from my journey Like my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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13 thoughts on “The Spanish Surprise”

  1. Your post reminds me of my dream to go to Spain and to practise Spanish (I learnt the language for a year many moons ago!)…sigh, some day, some day. Btw, lovely photos you have there :-)

  2. “It introduces me to aspects of life that I thought didn’t exist!”
    I think Europe has that effect on you. I was in Vienna some years back and although we keep talking about work-life balance, I saw it on display everywhere I went around there. The respect Art in that city is impressive.
    They have 5K runs every Sunday? Wow!
    Cordoba seems like an interesting place, with its Roman/Moorish past. Please tell me you are doing a separate photo post on Cordoba as well. Would really like to know more about the place. BTW what is a bodega?

    PS: BTW I’ve finally written that long due piece on The Valley of Flowers ( Do go through when you’re free. Would like to hear your feedback:)

    1. Europe does have that effect on us. If there is a destination I am absolutely in love with, it is Europe.

      Cordoba was my pick in Spain. It doesn’t get brighter and warmer than that. My photos from Cordoba is up. Seen them?

      A bodega is a Spanish wine cellar that serves food as well. When in Spain, eat in a bodega ;)

    1. Oh yes! Cordoba was unbelievably alive. Hope you visit soon :)

      Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate it.

  3. Warning you! Oh you have touched a nerve!

    I love Spain beyond explanation. Have been to all these places except Valencia. So I was nodding my head while reading this.

    Look forward to more stories. Soon!

    1. :D Glad you thought my post was relevant to your visits. Spain seems to have something for everyone. It’s so lovely. Can’t wait to go back :)

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