The Frogmarch

"I've got to pull up my stakes and roll, man." --Jean-Jacques Libris de Kerouac

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sketches of Spain











On the Paris-Lyon TGV
January 1, 2008

No one speaks English, and everything’s broken…

The horrific sprawl of Madrid gives way to the dry plains of La Mancha, covered in dust and scrub and not much else, save the occasional roadside restaurant or cervezeria with a cipher of old leathery guys out front, or a converted windmill advertising queso. The kilometers peel off at about 160 each hour, and the Beemer runs effortlessly toward Granada as Tater and V nap while Boog watches his Cars DVD. It’s a peaceful moment, and one of the few times in our entire two-week trip to Spain in which everything goes right.

The beach at Puerto Cabopino, blissfully sandy rather than rocky, unusual for the Med—

The Alhambra, as advertised, even in cold rain—

The forest of columns in the Mezquita of Cordoba, like a scene from Lord of the Rings—

The remarkable setting of Ronda, itself like a Rivendell astride a deep and narrow gorge—

An unexpectedly good meal on the overnight train from Madrid to Paris

And, finally, the warm pains au chocolat handed to us on a silver tray by the SNCF staff as we staggered, shellshocked and hungry, off that same train--which pulled into Gare d’Austerlitz nine hours late, after an all-night-and-all-the-next-day ordeal involving a breakdown in the middle of nowhere. It was a Small Good Thing, and V said something I never thought I’d hear her say:

"I’m so glad to be back in France."

I won't go into the problems and hassles, because I don't believe in dwelling on such things after the fact, but suffice it to say that we won't be renting from Hertz again, and despite SNCF offering us a free round-trip ticket from Paris to Madrid in compensation, we may decline to take it.

But here are some nice pictures from our trip--these are all of the Alhambra in Granada. I have a bunch of others from the rest of Spain but will probably just include some of those in a giant photo-dump post.

Be sure to click on these to see them full-size... the detail is pretty spectacular.

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