A lifetime of good fortune in travel customarily tempers my temptation to excessive accolades for any one travel destination. However, I must admit I fell hard for Spain the first time we met.
As a young boy I spent a summer or two on Walloon Lake, Michigan. Standing on my Grandmothers deck looking to my immediate left I could easily see the cottage and deck where Earnest Hemingway wrote several of his short stories.
It has been written he often wrote about Europe while in the U.S. and vice versa. Some of his “Indian Summer” stories were set on the lake. My father, a serious writer, insisted I read everything Hemingway wrote. My favorite was at bedtime when my Dad would read me Hemingway. This was followed by a squeeze of my big toe hiding beneath the covers and I was asleep. Out of respect he refused to have his back to the Hemingway ‘s cottage while reading.
I don’t recall writing in – so – much as a postcard while on Walloon Lake. However I’ll never forget the images of Spain seared into my young brain by the master himself, our family’s summer – time neighbor. Regretfully I never saw nor met him. I was a young boy, he an older man, he died soon there-after.
Espana. I’m instantly seduced by her beauty, style, and simplicity. I’m completely captivated. Indeed the quickest way to mans heart is through his stomach. I’ve never been more delighted as when first introduced to the gastronomy of the Basque country. More than the food itself, it’s the actual way one eats. Stunned by her music, art, people, culture, geography and history I was left to my own devices to make sense of it.
Please forgive me if my words fall short as I would you, for this is no little literary bite- sized chew. Just as an ocean never refuses a river, Spain never refuses to welcome a traveler. Her arms are open wide, organized for guests to get the most out of their visit. She beckons travelers to explore her mountains, oceans, cities, and pastoral countryside. The Spanish people (Spaniards) know how to live.
She whispers in my ear, we can swim in the ocean, watch the surfers, tan on the sand; play the day away. Ride bikes, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, sail, swim. Work out at the gym on the beach. Perhaps tennis on indoor clay courts, what do you say?
Let’s walk down by the river, visit some museums, galleries, window shop. We can promenade in the park, along the boardwalk, feed the peacocks, and then sit on the dock tethered with boats and listen to what they say. Maybe we’ll pause for shade under an old tree giant and sprawling, read Hemingway, Joyce, and Twain. Perhaps take in the fisherman with long cane poles that stare patiently into clear water. Feel the sunset bath us in golden light.
We can walk anywhere, which direction is hard to say, we’ll wander, cobble stone on narrow streets and winding alley ways. Colorful flowers peek down from planter boxes hanging off balconies framed in wrought iron. Stopping at street side cafes one after the other old and new, small drinks one or two and of course pinxtos. Listen to the 12 string guitar, leaky accordion, and toss a Euro in the hat. Watch people pass by and unpack their day. We’ll talk, laugh, dance, and embrace; the night will hold us as long as we wish to stay. At midnight lets take off our shoes and walk around Playa Concha Bay, cool sand in between our toes, moonlight no flashlight, low tide; feels acres wide. Let’s savor our rhythm and this precious time
Today such whispers are but echoes in my mind. A Spanish Olive trapped between my forefinger and thumb, good wine. Spanish music floats up into the air. I’m happy. I now belong to you and you to me.