Thursday, February 15, 2007

Now That I Am Back, Some Observations on Spain

This was actually my second time to Spain, but the last trip was nearly 15 years ago. Some things I noticed this time around:
  • I think of all the EU countries I have been to lately, Spain seems the most entrepreneurial. Its business community doesn't have that statist feeling of France, and now Germany.
  • It is also a young country (demographically) compared to most of Europe, something I had read about before but is actually noticeable just walking around or when using public transportation.
  • The Spanish are also among the friendliest people I have met in Europe, although on this trip I have to give the Dutch the nod as the friendliest (I had a short stop in Holland).
  • The nice thing about being in Spain is that I can actually understand most of what is spoken. I can't speak Spanish, but I can understand a lot of it.
  • Prices are relatively expensive, partly because of the strength of the Euro to the dollar.
  • By day 3 I was WAY tired of Spain's "fast food", which is ham or salami on a baguette. It tastes okay, but sometimes I wanted a hot lunch.
  • Rioja wines are vastly underrated on the world stage.
  • Coffee rocks in Spain. If you order a "cafe" you actually get an espresso. Of course since I have cut down significantly on my caffeine (I actually cut it off when I am not jet lagged), I didn't have it too often. There is no such thing as "decaf" there.
  • I saw one Starbucks there. I never went into it.
  • Barcelona has outgrown their airport. There is one restaurant that serves hot food and it seats 20 people.
  • When I was there in the early 90's, Gaudi's Cathedral (Sagrada Familia) had cranes on it doing work. Fifteen years later those cranes were still there (but apparently it is a work still in progress).

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