Thank you very much, thanks. I’m Rick Steves andthank you for coming to this talk. I’d like to share withyou my favorite–about an hour or so ofinformation on Spain, and I want to welcome everybody who’s washere in person, and also welcome all of the people who are viewing on the streamingpresentation of this talk. This is our Spring Festival, and we’ve got lotsof great classes going on, and it’s just fun to be able to spend four monthsa year traveling. Make a lot of mistakes, take a lot of notes, come home and shareour favorite discoveries. So we’ll get right into Spain here. And you’ve gotthe handout that lists all the places we’re talking about. And I do wantto remind you when you’re thinking about Spain, we are thinkingabout a very–a country that is vast, and acountry that is diverse. I want to give you just a quick kind ofgeographic run down before we get into some specifics on how to travel in Spain,and then I want to talk about the highlights from a sightseeing point ofview. But when we look at the map of Spain, of course Spain is cut off fromEurope by the Pyrenees Mountains. And that way it kind of blocks it from a lotof history in a lot of ways. I got a degree in European history, but in somany cases it doesn’t go over the Pyrenees Mountains. The Pyrenees arewonderful place to travel these days, and you’ve got on one end Basque country.Right where Spain hits France is the region where people speak Basque, it’s aethnic region, very proud and and quite autonomous. And on the other end, wherethe Pyrenees Mountains hit the Mediterranean, you’ve got Catalunya. Andthis is an industrial powerhouse in Spain. And these days as Europe isuniting, the regions have more flexibility and freedom to wave theirflags, and Catalunyian, we’re going to learn in this talk, has been booming as aculture and as a language. And of course the powerhouse over there is Barcelona.In the center of Spain we have Madrid, one hour north of Toledo, which is thehistoric capital of Spain, and nearby are a number of good side-trips, includingSegovia in Salamanca. Traveling about six hours or four hours, depending on thespeedier train south, you come to Andalucía. And that is our quintessentialimage of Spain, I think. And Andalucía has three great cities, Córdoba, Granada,Sevilla. We’ll see all of that. We got the most touristy coast in thatcorner of the world, the Costa Del Sol, we’ll check that out. And from Gibraltar,on the very south tip of Spain, you can take a boat ride for an hour and go toMorocco. So you can see there’s a lot of variety in Spain, you’ve got somemountains down here, with some sort of atmospheric, and picturesque hilltowns,whitewashed hill towns, we’ll check that out. And then in the far northwest ofSpain, just across the water from Ireland, is a Celtic region called Galicia. That’sthe destination of Camino de Santiago. The capital there is Santiagode Compostela, and we’ll check that out with the pilgrims as they arrive ontheir trek that goes all the way from the Pyrenees Mountains to that northwestcorner of Spain. One of the longest stable borders in all of Europe is theborder between Spain and Portugal. And these are distinct countries. ThePortuguese are proud of their culture, and it is sort of a dead end in a lot ofways that geographically, and a lot of people don’t get past Madrid, but if youget as far as Spain, remember you’re very close to Portugal. I was just over inSevilla in Andalucía, and rented a car in Sevilla, and just drove for an hour and Iwas in Portugal. And it’s a huge opportunity to enjoy some variety, toenjoy a much less crowded beach resort, and so on. So when you think about Spain,also think about Portugal. So on this talk, I believe we’re going to start inBarcelona, and then we’re gonna head over to the center around Madrid, and thenscoot on down to the south, little side trip in Morocco, and then we’ll finishoff in the north in Basque country and in Galicia. We think of Spain as a placeof the fun in the sun on the beach, and that’s what most Europeans do. ManyEuropeans to go ahead all the way down to Spain looking not for a change inculture, but for a change in weather. And that is one dimension of Spain, but Idon’t go to Spain for fun in the sun, I go to Spain for the culture, and for thehistory, and for the people, and for the food. When you think about the story ofSpain, its many levels, it goes back
food. When you think about the story ofSpain, its many levels, it goes back obviously even before Roman times. Butfrom a sightseeing point of view, there’s plenty of Roman sites in Spain. And timeand time again you’re going to see buildings that were Roman, built on afoundation of Roman ruins, and then you had the Moorish, and then you’vegot the Christian conquistadors, and then the modern world.There’s all of these levels. This is in Segovia, where you’ve got aRoman aqueduct brought into the people of Segovia 2,000 years ago by conqueringconquering Romans. Of course when you’re going to Spain, you’re always going to behearing about the Moors. The Moors swept in from Africa, Mohamed came in theseventh century, established Islam, and that religion spread like wildfireacross the map. And today every–five times a day there’s a global wave of praise,with the call of prayer going all the way from Malaysia to Morocco. And in 711,the Moors, the Muslim Moors swept in from Africa into Spain, and they conqueredSpain, and they even moved well into France. For the next many centuries,Europe was united in trying to push the Moors back out. That was called theReconquista. The Moors, being the enemies of the Christians, don’t get a very goodshake from our point of view, but when you look at the Moors in an unbiasedkinda way, it was a very elegant society, highly cultured. In a lot of ways, thegreatness of Ancient Europe was lost to Europe in the Dark Ages, absorbed intoIslam, and given back to Spain and Europe through the Moors when they came in. Andyou will find lots of incredible Moorish accomplishments and examples of theirculture when you go to, especially, southern Spain. We’ll be talking about theMoorish time and that distinct Muslim style of aesthetics. Now a big part ofSpanish history is pushing the Moors back out, the Reconquista. You can imaginehow Europe was all excited about that. And when you see a place called “de laFrontera,” and there’s a lot of towns called “so-and-so de la Frontera.” Arcosde la Frontera, Vejer de la Frontera, and so on, that is a town that was on thefrontier. They pushed the Moors out, they planted the flag, “this is Christian now,”and it’s on the frontier, assuming that this is the frontier of the Muslim Moorsouth, and then pretty soon “de la Frontera” was embedded in reconqueredSpain, and it’s no longer on the frontier, but it still has that name. Great castlesbuilt during that period. When Spain was united, back Christian again, and Isabeland Ferdinand married their kingdoms together. You’ve got Spain being thesort of the celebrator and defender of the Catholic faith, the richest and mostpowerful country in Europe, in part because of all that discovers and allthe golden riches they brought in, and the El Escorial was the sort of symbolicheadquarters of the Inquisition. And this was Counter-Reformation in the 1500sand 1600s, and when you travel you’ll see a lot of thatCounter-Reformation stern, proud, political Catholicism in Europe comingout of the Spanish royalty. And remember the biggest war in Europe in the 1600swas the Hundred Years War. I think it finished in 1648. Afterthe Reformation, Martin Luther 1517, allsorts of chaos after that because Catholic no longer wasuniversal. Spain, being the self-appointed defender of the Catholic Church, lovednothing more than to go to Germany and tromp on Protestant. They had the money,they had the wherewithal, they had the political and economic reason to defend–and the faith I suppose, to defend the Catholic notion of Christianity. And itwas considered by a lot of people the First World War. Almost all the nationsin Europe were involved, and Spain was certainly a big player in that. Notfought on Spanish soil as much, but Spain’s interest in the rest of Europe,back when a few families really ran the whole show, and one of the biggest wasthe royalty in Spain. Lots of money, lots of power, lots of passion lots ofcreative people, lots of competition, that means lots of great art. And Spain reallyis underappreciated when it comes to art. And when you go to Spain I challenge you tothink of it with the same enthusiasm and gusto you would think of Italy. Weall love Caravaggio, and Botticelli, and Rafael. Find the Caravaggios andBotticellis of Spain in your travels, and it’ll behoove you. You’ve gotVelasquez, you’ve got Goya, you’ve got El Greco, much, much more worth checking out.And you’ve got the sugary, over-the-top,
Greco, much, much more worth checking out.And you’ve got the sugary, over-the-top, Catholic propaganda artists like Murillo,painting all sorts of Madonnas and children, and sculpting Madonnas andchildren. And they’re–today you’ve got the galleries filled with great art, andyou’ve also got festivals. Every time I go to Spainthere’s festivals bursting out all over the place.When I’m filming in Spain, we’re trying to focus on filming adinner, suddenly there’s a big parade outsideand I just wish I had three cameramen, you know. You just–there’s thingshappening all around you. When you get into town, make it standard operatingprocedure to ask, “what’s going on tonight, is there anything happening?” There’s allsorts of festivals. They feel impromptu, but they’re part of this whole beautifulculture, this vibrant culture in the streets that you find in Spain.Springtime especially, around Easter and April Fair, all over southern Spainyou’ve got great stuff going on. The Catholic Church is very strong in Spain,and a lot of your sightseeing will involve abbeys, and monasteries, andconvents, and beautiful sweets cooked by nuns that have lots of egg yolksleft over, because they starch the sheets with egg whites. Tour guide tips. Youlearn about that when you travel in Spain. Now Spain had a very difficult20th century with their Civil War, and it was, you know, a decade before WWII.And it was a horrific thing, and today there’s a lot of scars left overfrom that Civil War. Every country has baggage, Spain has Civil War baggage,Franco baggage, and when you travel to Spain you’ll see lots of remnants ofthat. And the more you know about Franco and the Civil War, the more you’llbe able to clue into this stuff, which sometimes is a little bit subtle, but itbehooves you to know that. If you go to a Subway sandwich shop in Madrid, orthe Spanish equivalent, you’re likely to find four languages on the menu. Andthey’re all Spanish languages. This wouldn’t have happened a generation ago,but now as Europe is uniting, there’s a celebration of regions and ethnicdiversity. And when you go–this is an ATM machine for instance in Barcelona. Andthe top button would be Catalan for the cat–people of Catalunya, opposite that isEspañol, for most Spanish people, the next button on the left is Galego forthe Celtic people in northwestern Spain, and then opposite that is Euskara, for theBasque people, alright. So it’s important to rememberthey’ve got four real languages, not museum languages, real languages beingspoken in Spain today. One of the great ways to enjoy just the energy of Spain is to be out during the paseo. All acrossthe Mediterranean, this is a very important tip. And I–you need to take asiesta in the afternoon if you have to, like the locals, and the evening, when thesun goes down, people have made their money, everybody’s together, it’s amulti-generational festival. It’s out in the streets, strolling, be there. Astandard operating procedure when you check into the hotel, ask, “where do people ‘paseo’?”Get it written on the map. And they’ll circle where the people all stroll.And then you go, and the fun thing is, all the different generations are out. It’s in–in Salamanca for instance,the main square, my favorite Spain in– square in all of Spain,it’s a big Plaza Mayor, that’s what theyall have, is this big square, main central sq–meeting placefor the community. The men circulate cou–clockwise, the women circulatecounterclockwise, everybody’s checking out everybody, the old ladies who don’twalk so well anymore are there, they’re up in the windows looking down, disgustedat how trashy the young girls are dressing this year. It is a beautiful,beautiful thing. And you need to be out there strolling with people, andpicking things up. Have this sense of, “I gotta do it like the localpeople are doing, you know, dress like thelocals if you can,” eat when the locals eat, drinkwhat they drink, you go to– and a lot of times it’s a moveable feast,they’re going tapas hunting, you know. You go from bar to bareating ugly things on toothpicks and washing it downwith local wine.
european roulette download free game and washing it downwith local wine.
and washing it downwith local wine. I just love this scene, and it’s not amuseum, you don’t need a reservation, you don’t need to speak the language, youjust got to be out there, rubbing shoulders with the locals as they makethe scene, cruising without cars every late afternoon and early evening withthe passeggiata. If you just want to sit and make it a spectator sport youcertainly can. I’ve been saying this all my life andfor my favorite things to do is just sit on the bench with the old guys, and watchthe world flow by. Now you’ve heard of the crisis, and of course Spain is one ofthe four countries most heavily mired in debt. Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Greece.And they’re in for serious trouble, but that means serioustrouble if you’re hoping on a retirement and you’rea worker in Spain. Or serious trouble if you run aconstruction business in Spain. But as a tourist in Spain, I’lltell you, you’re going to be out on the streets in the evening andyou’re wondering, “what crisis?” I’ve been there each year for thelast several years, and it’s hard to find a place in the restaurants. So thetourism is a little bit free of that, it’s got a parallel kind of economy. Andthere’s a lot of people going into Spain, and people are out, they’re about, they’reeating, you will not feel the crisis as a traveler, except for related strikes andmarches. And there’s a lot of marches and there’s a lot of strikes, and that’s justpart of European democracy. It’s not a big deal, it’s kind of fun, it’s reality.You know, a lot of American travelers just can’t handle reality, you know, andthat’s–and there’s a place for them, that’s what Orlando is for. You can goto Orlando, there’s no strikes at Orlando, everybody’s happy. But I think it’sreally important that we go to Spain. And remember, when you see demonstrationson the news, they are designed to boost viewership and so on, I mean they’re justdoing what they can to get on TV, and the camera zooming right into it looksreally exciting. Don’t overreact to this stuff, don’t berisky, I mean, if there’s something falling apart you don’t want to go there, butgenerally you’re going to see demonstrations in Spain from now on out,and there’s still tens of millions of people living there, having fun there,eating, and drinking, and dancing, and doing all the festivals, just like theyalways have. I will tell you though, that when times are tough, thethieves get more aggressive. And when times are really tough, in theold days they would break your window at a red–at a stop sign, andgrab your purse in the backseat. That really doesn’t happen anymore,but I remember it was really tough in Spain a couple of decades ago. But still, if you’re a tourist, you aretargeted by thieves. It’s just common sense for a thief inSpain to target American tourists. Not because they’re mean, but because they’resmart, it just makes sense, we’ve got all thegood stuff in our purses and wallets. Don’t be vulnerable. You’re going to seeroving bands of a lot of times families, lot of children who are trained to dothis, they’re not going to mug you or knife you, they’re just going to get you ifyou’re sloppy. Wear your money belt, button it in, leave it at your hotel, don’t be paranoid, just don’t be sloppy. Igot so many friends who have gotten sloppy and lazy and been ripped off inthe predictable places around Spain. Ramblas in Barcelona, the Plaza Mayor inMadrid, anytime there’s a commotion, assume it’s a fake commotion. If an oldlady falls down an escalator in the subway system, step back. It’s probably a fake commotion. There’sthieves at work. If there’s a pushing match on the main square, you know, it’sexciting to get in there and see what’s going on. There’s pockets being picked.Shell game, people crowd around, pockets being picked. So just don’t be greenabout that. You are targeted because you’re a tourist. If there’s two thieves in town you’re gonnameet ’em. If you know what’s going on, it’s not a problem. Spain has a greatabundance of hotels. different kinds of hotels. I’ve got friends who run thesehotels, I’ve been going to these places
hotels. I’ve got friends who run thesehotels, I’ve been going to these places for 30 years, I’ve even got a room namedafter me in one place. The Rick Steves Periodista Turistico, the grandtouristic journalist, okay, and there’s my own room. Spanish people seem to be veryofficious, and if they have a two-bit celebrity in town they’ll have–the mayorwill be there to welcome you. And I’ve got–this is my room right here, it’sin Arcos. It used to have a footboard on the bed, I–one of my pet peeves is foot boards. I’m 6’2″ and the bed can be great, but ifit’s 6’1″ I’m not happy. So I went back and I said, “if you’re going toname this room ‘Rick Steves’ it cannot have a footboard,” okay, so now itdoesn’t have a footboard. But when you go around Spainyou’ll find a lot of funky, simple rooms– rooms like this, a lot of timeswith a view of the sea, and half the price you’d find inother places in Europe. I love the funky little family run hotels in Spain.There’s a lot of institutional kind of very efficient, and very artistic, andstylish youth hostels, and guesthouses, and private homes, and as agood budget travel you should find out about these. There’s Airbnb, there’scouchsurfing, there’s a all sorts of grades of kind of hotels, and then youget into the fancy, government endorsed sort of historic inns, the Pousadas andParadores of Spain and Portugal, which you pay extra, but you’re staying in ahistoric place with really over-the-top service and a stuffy clientele. There’sall these different things that you can choose from in your travels. Do rememberthat cities of Spain are quite congested with traffic, and they’ve gotclear signs in Spanish that say, “if you go past this line, you’regoing to get a $100 ticket.” Alright? And don’t drive into town whenyou see, “attention, there’s a camera,” because that probably means you can’t goin here unless you’re a bus or a taxi or have a reservation at a hotel. Now if youhave a reservation at your hotel, call your hotel or email, and can confirmthe ritual here to get to your hotel with your car, even in the Old Town. I’m thinking of myfavorite hotel, for instance, in Granada, they’re well within that no traffic zone,where only taxis, and local residents, and service vehicles can go. If you have agenuine reservation at a hotel you’re legit down there, but you’ve gotta driveto the hotel, and then they have 24 hours to fill out the bookwork and report youto the police so you won’t get a ticket. It’s routine,it’s a little bit nerve-racking from a tourist’s point of view, but they do itall the time. So recognize that, and be up-to-date on the downtown drivingrestrictions, ’cause they can be frustrating and expensive. You don’t getthe ticket on the spot, they mail it to you. You may think, “well how do they knowwho I am?” You rented a car, they know everything about you. And the car company’snot going to pay your ticket, they’ve got your credit card, alright.So it’s an interesting situation. When it comesto eating, I show this photograph because this is a restaurantat 7:30, when you might want to go to eat dinner. And if I’m researching myguidebook, and I got all my favorite restaurants at 7:30, the staff is eating,and it’s like this, and I feel like a fool. Don’t try to eat lunch at noon or dinner at7:30 or 8:00. Lunch is 2:00, dinner is 10:00. And when you know that, you’re goingto be okay, or, what I really like about eating in Spain, is tapas. Becausefrankly I don’t want to eat at 10:00, you know, I’ve got–I’m going to be up inthe morning, and sightseeing, and everything. I want a characteristic meal,I want local cuisine, and what I do is, I eat in bars, and I eat tapas. This is awhole different universe from restaurants. The food is just as good, it’s just aslegit, you can sit down, you can have a menu and everything, but it is tapas.And they’re open all day long, you can eat at 5:00 and have the same service,and you don’t feel awkward. Now tapa skills are reallyimportant, and I should mention, everything I’m talking about todayis in my Spain book. It’s really important to recognize–obviously in this little one-hour class, I don’t have time to get into all thespecifics. If you have my Spain book, this will give you five pages of phrasesand skills just for eating and tapas. It will give you all the specificson the different kind of hotels I was talking about, and the deal about drivinginto town, and all the specifics are in this year’s edition of Rick Steves’ Spain.A tip–any Spaniard knows, a good bar gives a tapa like this for free whenyou buy a glass of wine. Now the tourist is going to say, “I’ll have a glass ofwine, and I’ll have some patatas bravas, and some peppers, anda little bit of that calamari.” Well then you’re not going to getanything free. The Spaniard will say, I’ll have a glass of wine,” with an expectationof a free plate of food. After the free plate of food comes, then you say, “and canI see the menu to order some more food,” you follow me there? This, for a lot ofpeople, is like a light meal, and the glass of wine costs two dollars.That’s budget travel. Know your vocabulary so you get a good glass ofwine. Life is too short to have a one dollarglass of wine in Spain. I want to splash out for a two dollar, or if I’m in a goodmood, even a three-dollar glass of wine. You just need to know afew words, “crianza.” That’s gonna–“vino tinto” isgoing to get you a table wine. It’s the cheapest thing youget–it’s cheaper than bottled water, really. You want to know how to geta good wine, and if nothing else, just ask for the more expensive one. It’s for locals, and they’ll pay triplefor good reason. The tapas scene is wonderful, and I just–it’s this–it’s–forme, it’s endlessly entertaining, and I love to eat, and it’s so Spanish, you’resurrounded by people. Now when you- -talking about tapas. Tapas, they don’tmake a lot of money on tapas, they’re little two or three dollar tiny plates.They’d rather sell you a “ración,” or a portion, or a half a “ración.” These arebig plates of the tapa stuff designed for small group. If you don’t know your language skills andyou ask for “jamón,” you’re going to get a plate of jamón instead of a tapa of jamón.So you gotta know how to ask for it. You can look at the menu, “raciónes”means big tapas. “Bocadillos” is another thing you see a lot, that is sandwiches.And “bocadillos” is everywhere. So know what your options are, when you go to arestaurant you will generally have your– you sit outside, sit at the bar, sit atthe terrace, you’ll have the tapas, you’ll have the “raciónes,” you have thehalf “raciónes,” you’ve got all these different opportunities. It’s all there, and it’s just fun to beable to master that. I like it because a lot of times they’ll say, right there,what are your prices, and these would be little generally open-faced sandwiches,and little plates of goodies, and they’re just a couple of euros each. Soit can be a real fun way to have an adventure. I like to know what myfavorite tapas are and just make that be my standard. Pimiento de Padrón isbeautiful peppers, beautifully cooked up, and there’s–you can have them here butthere’s nothing like having them over there, and they’re sort of like peppersroulette, one of them is very, very hot. And the Spaniards just love this. But Ijust love to have a drink and a plate of peppers roulette, and it just adds alittle adventure to my day, okay. But whatever you know that you like,remember also, Spain celebrates its many different regions. And if you know alittle bit about Asturias, and Navarre, and Catalunya, and Basquecountry, and Galicia, Andalucía, you can go to a bar and say,”that’s clearly this or that region,” you know, if they pour the winein a theatrical way and it falls down into a copper–or no, pottery cup,you know that would be from one part of Spain. If they’ve gottoothpicks and they just add up the toothpicks on the plate at the end ofthe meal, that’s from another part of Spain, and after a while you get the hangof that. But each bar has its characteristic, and you need to bully upto the counter and assert yourself, because tourists will be shovedinto the eddies and never get anywhere. And it’s just not a rude thing, it’sjust the cultural thing. You gotta hold your spot at the table,reach in there and say, “pardon,” you know,and point, and be aggressive or you’ll never be served. It’s not bad service,it’s just you don’t speak the language so you’reat a disadvantage, and you got a muscle in there andand get that. I like the kind of bars that have all the toothpicks because youcan just add it up. And they come back whenever something is newly cooked,they prance out with this new plate of stuff, and you just have to go, “yes,” andthen, “yes.” And then when it’s all–you don’t worry about the money, they don’tworry about the money, and at the end you just give–you got eighttoothpicks so you owe ’em 16 euros orwhatever, you know. So find out what the toothpick costs. Andit’s just a fun situation. I think that’s Basque, if it’s got toothpick situationit’s a Basque bar, and Basque is famous for its gastronomic tapas. So imagine you’rejust here hanging out with people talking to the baristas there, andyou got all these different open-faced sandwiches, and little tapas, and they allcost the same. That’s a fun dinner for me. Ah, very fun,yeah. And I’ve got great guides that have helped me, and on our tours we got thesewonderful Spanish guides, and they’re just all into food. With my guidebook,you’ll have what you need so you can eat your way through Spain very well. And Ido want to stress that things have gone “gastro” now. There’s very high-endgourmet ta–bars that serve gourmet tapas. Don’t always just go for what’s on thetable, you’ll see on the chalkboard stuff that they would like to cook. And theycook it in five minutes, and it’s there, and it can be a gorgeous meal in in barfood kind of price. All over Spain you’ve got simple, industrial-strengthcafeterias, where you can sit down and have your basic meal, and remember, yougot super cheap sandwiches to go, and so on that’s Che–it’s just amazing, comparedto the rest of Europe, how cheap it can be to travel in Spain. I do want to remindyou that “jamón” is the national dri–food, and you can pay–you can get a cheapplate of ham, or you can pay triple for the “jamón ibérico.” I generally don’t gotop-end on many things, but when it comes to ham, order less and get the very best.At least experience what good “jamón” is all about, okay. Becauseit seems counter-intuitive, why would you pay $10 for a plate ofham when you could get it for $3? Well because it’s five times as good, the$10 plate. So give it a whirl for sure. And your dessert,traditionally, would be churros–or notyour dessert but your late-night snack or your breakfast, greasydonuts dipped in pudding-like chocolate. “Churros con chocolate.”I just love that, mhm. Spain is getting hot. They’ve moved the bullfight hours laterinto the evening because it’s too hot to sit in the stands in the late afternoon,and they put canvases over the streets in southern Spain to protect people fromthe heat. It is brutal in the summer. And you might want to seriously considertraveling in shoulder season if you can. And most hotels will have air-conditioningthese days, but it’s quite hot in Spain. Also remember, you’ve got discountairlines letting you fly from, you know, Galicia to Barcelona for $100. FromBarcelona down to Malaga for $100. And you can go cheaperyet if you play the game, but I just go forthe standard–well I just, you know, find the reasonablefare, but it’s just so fast, and convenient, and safe to fly within Spain.Spain also has its Ave Train System, which is one of the bullet trains ofEurope. It’s like three hours now to go from Madrid down to Sevilla, and you canstop in Córdoba on the way. That used to be an eight-hour trip. So you’vegot these super-fast trains, it comes with security, Spain had a horrible–it’s gotits own 9/11. They had that horrible bomb in their train system–or in their subwaysystem in Madrid, consequently today you’ve got a lot of security. And getused to putting your bag through a x-ray machine to get onto an airplane, and bethankful for that. There’s a lot of soft targets, and Spain does a very good jobof its security. Driving around the countryside of Spain canbe a delight, I’ve never been impressed by itbeing a lot of traffic, I find wide open roads, and beautifulvistas. And remember Spain a few years ago–or a few decadesago had no freeways at all. Today it is laced by super freeways,it’s part of the EU. When you’re in the EU, you’re either anet receiver or a net giver. Spain would be a net receiver,they give in less they get out, they get a lot of money from the EUto build their road system so they can be part of that big 400 million personfree trade zone, and work with France and Germany. The good news about that is,you can drive around Spain quite well these days on the new freeways. Alsoremember, it’s hot, it can be overwhelming, you’ve got too much to see with toolittle time, and there’s–maybe there’s even three or four of you in your group, taxis are a good value. Hop in a taxi. Ifthere’s four of you especially, you should go almost everywhere by taxi. It’s the same cost as a bus.Four bus tickets, one taxi rider. So–andyour time’s worth a lot. So don’t–we alwaysthink taxis are for people who havelots of money. I think your time is a precious resource,so you’ll find taxis, and in Spain a lot of times it’s hard to flag them down, yougo to the taxi stand. It varies from town to town, but either go with the taxistand or flag them down, but use those taxis, as well as public transportation.Also, getting in from airports is quite easy, every Airport that I’ve been to inSpain has a convenient bus shuttle into the town center. I’ll be flying intoBarcelona in a few weeks, and I’m not even gonna take the taxi. Even if I hadall the money in the world, I’m not going to take the taxi. Four times an hour forthree dollars you got this bus that takes you right to Plaza Catalunya,and most of your hotels are within a couple of blocks of Plaza Catalunya. Sothat’s the quick cheap way to get downtown. We have a very, very popular tour programwith 35 different itineraries, all of Europe, and our Spain itinerary is one ofthe most popular, and basically this is what we think is the best two weeks inSpain. And I’m gonna take you on this tour right now in the next 15 or 20minutes. You fly into Barcelona and then you take the train, or you flyto Madrid. From Madrid you can side-trip to Segovia, and then go down to Toledo. Bythe way, the little numbers are how many nights I would spend in each spot. FromMadrid and Toledo, you head down into Andalucía and Granada for the Alhambra,and then over to the Costa Del Sol, and stop in Ronda, the best of the hilltowns, and Arcos, a beautiful old town. And you finish with the real culturalcapital of southern Spain, Sevilla, and fly home from there, or you could takethe Ave Train in three hours back up to Madrid. But that’s how I would spend twoweeks in Spain. Of course you could spend lots, lots more time, but we’ve gotlimited time, we Americans have the vacations in the rich world. Okay. I’m gonna whip through a bunch ofsights now, and we’re going to start in Barcelona. And I spent a lot of time justin general travel skills, because I think in Spain it’s important to have thesecultural skills so you–because if you know how to order tapas, if you know howto use the public transportation, if you know what your hotel optionsare, Spain is one place where those kind of skills really,really do make a huge difference. Okay, Barcelona is an industrial andeconomic power house. It’s the cultural capital ofCatalunya, a proud region, kind of halfway between Spanish and French. They werekept down during Franco’s time, but now the people in Catalunya can speak theirlanguage first. Their kids speak Catalunyan at home, and they learn Spanishat school as a second language, okay. It’s an exciting time in Catalunya, and whileyou’re there, of course they’ll speak English or Spanish, but it behooves youto learn a few words in Catalunyan, it just endears you to the locals, ifnothing else. “Visca Catalunya.” It’s like viva–“vivaEspaña, visca Catalunya.” Now it’s Cata– Barcelona, like many cities, has an oldtown, you can see in the middle here this jumble of streets, when you look at themap. The jumble of streets is the medieval town, and then you’ll see acircular boulevard. There’s always a circular boulevard circling the jumbleof streets, that was the medieval wall. And of course in modern times, the jumble ofstreet stays the same so you have the congested, labyrinthian Old Town. You gotwhat was the bou–the circular wall now torn down, providing a GrandBoulevard that circles the city, and then beyond that you’ve got the modern gridplanned town. That’s how cities are all over Europe. And the grid plan townup here is called Eixample, which means the “extension.” So you havethe old medieval Gothic Quarter and then you’ve got the Extension. You want todecide where you want to kind of hang out. The Extension is elegant, and broad,and wonderful pedestrian boulevards, the Gothic Quarter is a characteristic, andfull of beautiful little shops, and wonderful adventures, and the Ramblas isone of the great boulevards of all of Europe. The Ramblas goes from the center,Plaza de Catalunya, that’s the sort of the Times Square of the Catalunyan people,really, and it goes all the way down to the harbor. And that’s what you wouldstroll, that’s a pedestrian street, the Ramblas, with the greatmarket halfway down. The salty old harbor has been all fixed up after the–they had a grand exposition, and I think a World’s Fair there, and now they’ve gotthe–what used to be an industrial wasteland is a whole series of elegant,trendy bars, and beaches, and fun zones, that you can get on a bike and enjoy. Infact, biking around Barcelona is more and more popular than ever before. This is the Ramblas of the sea, thatgrand boulevard I mentioned goes down to the harbor, and then it actuallycontinues out into the sea, with lots of trendy little shops and restaurants. Andthis is that strand where you’ve got fancy places to live, fancy places to eat, and drink, and play,and enjoy wonderful beaches. Wonderful beaches by the way, in Barcelona.Barcelona is one of three or four ports in the Mediterranean where cruises startor finish. It’s interesting, you could have the greatest cruise port in theMediterranean, but it might not have the capacity to handle three thousandtourists coming and going in a embarkation kind of way. Barcelona may be the biggest, and that’swhere I started my cruise, and Barcelona’s port is just a five minute taxi ridefrom the Old Town, and it is very handy to the Old Town. if you are taking acruise, give yourself a few extra days before orafter in Barcelona. It’s one of the great cities in Europe, and you’re reallyappreciate to have that extra time. By the way, we wrote a new book–one of ourmost popular new books is the Rick Steves Mediterranean Cruise Portsguidebook, and it just retools all the existing chapters we had for allthose great cities from the country books, puts ’em together in a way thatspans the Mediterranean. Ideal for cruisers that just have one day inBarcelona, and then one day in the co– in the the French Riviera,and then one day in Rome, and one day inDubrovnik, and and so on. Now in now old Gothic Quarter, thecenterpiece is the cathedral. And the cathedral is very historic.And in front of the cathedral, after Mass,it’s something you’ll want to check out, it’s the precious,patriotic, national sardana dance. And the traditional old–old-timersespecially, get together in this beautiful, kind of slow-moving circledance with music, and a lot of people gathering around. Andit’s celebration of Catalunyan culturewith live music. It’s free, it’s after Mass on Sunday, don’tmiss that while you’re in Barcelona. I mentioned the Ramblas, but there’s anumber of wonderful shopping boulevards all through Barcelona, old Barcelona,where you can stroll and be out with the people. As you’re going down, gently downthat great Champs-Élysées of Catalunya, the Ramblas, halfway down is the Boqueria.And the Boqueria is touristy, but just vibrant, and lots of fun. In researchingmy book last time I was there, I found a local style market just 15-minute walkaway, that’s more typical of locals, but still, the Boqueria isthe place to go, it’s the–it is your–you know how every town in Americahas a great, sort of, farmer’s market kind ofscene, this is one of the ultimate in Europe. And we’ve got thesecharacters in the market. This guy’s name is Juan, Juan. And he’salways got a big smile and a couple of thumbs up foryou when you drop in. He’s in my book with this photograph, sonow everybody comes with the book, and he smiles and does his thumb up. So when hesees you, he’ll give you a big smile and thumb up, and it makes a nice photograph. Alot of people, that’s what I like about our guide books, is we connect peoplewith people. So when you’re thinking about Barcelona, remember you’ve got thatExtension where the broader streets are designed with broader sidewalks, evenwith the corners of the buildings cut off so the intersections are octagonsinstead of squares, so it has more airiness. And you can enjoy that whyyou’re exploring Barcelona. And when you get into the Eixample, you’ll find alot of wavy Art Nouveau kind of buildings. Every country around Europe hasits own Art Nouveau, that was the art from, you know, around the turn of thelast century, a little more than a hundred years old. And Art Nouveau isthis wavy, organic kind of answer to the Eiffel Tower art. The Industrial Agebrought along all this straight stuff, and some people wanted to be more curvy andorganic. Antoni Gaudí was the leading Art Nouveau guy in Barcelona andCatalunya, and that style in Catalunya is called Modernisme. You’ll find Modernisme,and it is the, you, know it’s these chimneys sort of playing volleyball withthe clouds kind of stuff, and they’re all open to the public. Casa Milà is one of the most famous.There’s a whole string of these called the Rue[Block] of Discord, where everyrich guy hired a different Modernist architect, and enough of this conformity,everyone’s going to be, you know, breaking rules and and making a scene. There’s a park, an entire–it wasgoing to be a planned retirement community but it became justa park, called Park Güell, and it’s worth going out there.Wonderful, you know, mosaic kind of art, and then, you know, you gotta have a churchin the Modernist style, and this is the Sagrada Família by Antoni Gaudí. Andthis is a work-in-progress, it’s expensive to pay your admission,it’ll cost you $15 or $20, but you’re contributingto the ongoing construction. In the Middle Ages, people tookcenturies to build a church. They’re taking a century to build thischurch, and when you get there, it really is one of the outstandingarchitectural experiences in Europe. If there’s any building I want to seefinished in Europe, it is the Sagrada Família by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona.And you can go in there and see the guys doing the construction. You can see them,you know, through glass windows, doing all of their fancy architecturalwork. And you can go inside now and actually worship, its consecrated, andthey are holding Masses there, and it’s amazing that it’s weather-tight, and it’swell on the way to becoming finished, and that’s the great churcharchitecture of our age, really. And you can see these organic forms thatare just so delightful, when you look at it from–as Gaudí did. Outside of Barcelona is theplace called Montserrat. That’s literally the “serrated mountains.”You see the mountains are jagged. We would have the Grand Tetons, theyhad the Serrated Mountains, Montserrat. And that’s where the soul, thethe spiritual soul of the Catalunyan people resides. Up there there’s a BlackMadonna, and people have been going up there for centuries to celebrate theirfaith, and their Catalunyan culture. It was almost outlawed during Franco’stime, today it’s wide open, you can get up there with pilgrims, youcan get up there with tourists, and it’s a beautifulopportunity. Monserrat. Farther north from Barcelona is Gaudícountry–or Salvador Dalí country, and he’s the great surrealist, and you–flamboyant promoter and so on. And you can go–in Gaudí country you can go to hishome, Cadaqués, and you can go to the place where his mausoleum is.And his mausoleum is actually turned into a museumfilled with his art. You stand on the tomb ofSalvador Dalí, surrounded by all of his edgy, you know, politically incorrect, funart, and it’s really quite an interesting experience. This is actuallyDalí’s home right here. I’ve been to the homes of lots of deadpeople over my lifetime, and this is probably the most interesting home I’veever toured. They only let about 10 people go in every 20 minutesbecause it’s small and intimate, but yougo in with a guide, you have to make a reservation.If you’re interested in Dalí it iswell worth the trouble. Cadaqués, the hometown of SalvadorDalí, celebrates liberty. They’ve got a double dose of liberty there, and a lotof people just really enjoy Cadaqués. His home is a delightwith his–with his–what do you call it–hisartistic–your partner that is your inspiration–muse,his muse, Gala, yeah. So Gaudí had his–or Dalí had his muse.And he and Gala had a wonderful, wonderful domestic pad from where theydid their creative stuff. Of course Dalí eventually died, and this is themausoleum filled with tourists enjoying all of his work. And that’s something youwouldn’t want to miss also. Here’s like, the famous furniture set, and when youlook at it from the right angle it’s Mae West, okay. Okay, Madrid, the modern capitalof Spain, and this is the center of Madrid, this is the Puerta Del Sol. And this is looking out the windowof my favorite hotel. I really like to stayright on the Puerto Del Sol. Look how pedestrian-friendly this is. It used to be one big parkinglot, now everything’s underground, everythingis controlled. It used to all be parking on the sidewalks,now they have these bollards, these posts that keep the traffic off ofthe sidewalks. Madrid in Spain has come a long way from the chaos of 20 years agoto where they are today, and this is the center of Madrid. You walk that way for15 minutes, you get to the second most impressive palace in all of Europe, theRoyal Palace. You walk 15 minutes in the other way, and you get to thegreatest collection of paintings in all of Europe, the Prado Museum. And allaround you you’ve got wonderful culture. You go downstairs and youhop on the metro, and you can go anywhere intown for a small price. So here we have the map, in thecenter you’ve got the Puerto Del Sol. 10-minute walk from there is the PlazaMayor. I mentioned these cities have a square–a square square, a circle with acolonnade, it’s sort of like an inside-out Coliseum. And it is the Plaza Mayor,that’s the main square. And all of the sights you can walk to in this area, andit’s bookended on the left by the Royal Palace, and on the right by the Prado, thegreat collection of paintings, and as you can see with all the green here, there’slots of parks in the city. Now when we’re looking at Madrid, we’re finding it’spedestrian-friendly, and as I mentioned, is important to be out when people areout, brutally hot in the day, be out in the evening strolling around. Remember inMadrid like any Spanish city, there’s districts that are famous for theirtapas. You want to find the right area, and then have those–the roulette ofthe hot peppers, okay. And with the new–it feels affluent to me, I know Spain’shaving a tough time, but all the fancy trendy restaurants outdoors I find arevery very appealing, and you’ve got plenty of chances to eat well, you’ve gotlots of traditional bakeries to pop into. Find out from your guidebook, and Icover these a lot in my guidebook, what local pastries you want to eat, andeat ’em literally hot out of the oven. That’s as important is going to themuseums. Pop into the bakeries, eat what everybody’s crowding up to eat. Use thepublic transit system, you’ll see the security, you see the security officerthere at the door of this subway, they had that bomb, that terrorist attack, intheir subway system, and there’s even a memorial for it inMadrid, and they are very careful not to letthat happen again. The grand palace of the Bourbon family,the king of the Spanish Empire, ruled, you know, a good part of Europe in his day.And because of the importance–the rich– the most powerful man in Sp–in Europewas the King of Spain for a while. That’s why they have so much art thereand so many grand buildings. You’ve got a lot of the best art from theNetherlands, because the Netherlands used to be called the Spanish Netherlands.You go through the Palace, you see theelegance of that Palace, it’s really worth checking out. And thenI said, on the other side of town you’ve got that Prado Museum, and here you’vegot the masterpieces of Spanish culture, like Velazquez, plus the art that the Kingof Spain had access to because he was so powerful. If he liked the best paintingsfrom the Netherlands, like Hieronymus Bosch’s great Gardenof [Earthly]Delights, he gets it, right therein his palace, and now it hangs in the Prado. So you can seeall of this great art, you can also see the masterpieces of Goya. I love Goya,the first painter with a social conscience in a lot of ways, and hismasterpieces are there in Madrid at the Prado. The most important painting of the20th century, many would say, is Guernica by Picasso. He painted this afterGuernica was bombed by Hitler, who was helping Franco keep people down in thisfeisty little town in Basque country, Guernica, and Hitler saw itas a chance to have some aerial bombardment practiceleading up to WWII. So Hitler said to Franco,”yeah, I can help you out, I got this new idea to dropbombs out of airplanes, what town do you wanna try it out on?Guernica would be a good one to shut up.” So the German planes came and theyjust really leveled Guernica. It was a unprecedentedkind of slaughter with an aerial bombardment,everybody was appalled. Picasso dropped what he was doing, and hemade this grand collage kind of painting in exile, and this was the painting thatwas featured in a big World’s Fair, and it really became thepacifist’s piece of art of the 20th century. And what it does is it tries toput a human face on what is written off as “collateral damage.” The Guernica isincredible and it is, in a lot of ways, the Spanish national piece of art, andit’s in a museum near the Prado called Reina Sofía, which takes the Pradointo the modern age, much like the Orsay would take the Louvre into themodern age in Paris. If you like modern art don’t miss Reina Sofia, just a fewblocks away from the Prado. Bullfights are a big deal in Spain. If it was just atouristic spectacle I wouldn’t promote it, and I don’t even feel like I’m promotingit, I’m just saying what it is ’cause a lot of people think it’s wrong to eventalk about it. But it exists. When you go to a good bar in Spain, the bullfight ison TV, just like we’ve got baseball on TV. And it’s just–people live for this. Whenyou want to know what’s going on with the latest bullfight in Spain, you don’tlook in the sports section of the newspaper, you lookin the culture pages. Because a bullfight isconsidered an art form. So if you want to see a bullfight, they’remost Sundays from Easter until September, and the biggest ring and the best matadorsare in Madrid. And you go out there, and there’s lots of spectacle, and thenthere’s six, or seven, or eight bulls and each bullfight takes 15 or 20minutes, it’s a lot of, lot of brutality and killing and afterfour or five bulls I’m ready to go. I remember leaving after four bulls, justwith a bunch of mothers who were leaving with their crying children, and I wasgoing out feeling like, about as strong as those kids, you know. And I rememberone little kid looked at me and just went, “nasty,” you know. It was just nastystuff, they kill the bulls. It’s a thing that’s been goingon for a long time, but if you want to check it out it’s kind ofpredictable — the bull always loses. And they drag him out and theybring out another bull. You need to buy your ticket,and you can–you can– there’s two kinds of bullfights,if you see “novillada” that would be rookie matadors comparedto the serious bullfight, and the prices would be about double for the seriousbullfight, but for most amateur viewers like us, it’s probablynot that big a deal. If you don’t wantto go a bullfight, if you have a problem promotingit with your patronage and so on, but if you’re curious, you can go to a bull bar.I list these in my books because there’s all these old-timers that are intobullfights, just like old timers here are into Babe Ruth. And yougo to the bull bar, and you got all thetrophies all around you, says who killed him, how much heweighed, and there’s the knife that went into his head to knock him off, andthen there’s photographs. What’s really interesting to me isthere’s photographs of matadors who did not do very well.And I like these photographs because it justbalances it out. But I mean there are incredible gorings, and there’s always aphotographer there to get them. Now this guy, he really messed up. And he looks like, like he’s toast, buthe actually survived and there’s the whole story of this. But I–maybe it’sjust like voyeurism, but I really find these bull bars fascinating, because youget a close-up photographic look at all of the most spectacular bullfights. Yougot Robert F. Kennedy, and Che Guevara, and Castro, and, Hemingway, and Franco intheir macho poses with the matadors and everything. And if you want to wrapit up with a little munchy, you can go have bull tail soup, okay. That’s a delicacy which I think you onlywant to eat once. You get on the train and in about half an hour from Madrid, youget to Toledo. Toledo is the historic, spiritual, and artistic capital of Spain.It would be the modern capital of Spain except it was built smartly in theMiddle Ages, in a hairpin turn of the Tagus river. If you’re building acapital city that’s perfect ’cause you got a fortification, a moat and cliffs onthree sides, you just build one hurky wall here with a nice grand gate, and youget yourself a perfectly fortified capital city. That was Toledo untilthe king of Spain became the most powerful man in all of Europe, and theyrealized, “we need–we’re not in danger of being invaded in our capital, we don’thave our city fortified any longer.” They moved it one hour northto Madrid where you have a modern capital.But Toledo remains the artistic, spiritual, and–and–andartistic capital of Spain. And it’s perfectly preserved, and I just loveToledo. It’s one of my favorite cities in Spain. The cathedral is massive, but you’llhardly know it because it is jammed with all the buildings around it, with hishiggly-piggly medieval street plan. You step into the cathedral and it’s–it’s–ifit billed itself as a museum it would be among the best in Europe.There’s so much great art in the sacristy, including lots of El Greco’s inthe sacristy of the Toledo Cathedral. You want to treat that Cathedral inToledo like one of the great artistic and cultural sites in Europe,and an opportunity to see El Greco in his hometown. There’s lots of El Greco in the Prado.If you like El Greco–he was one of– in a lot of ways the first modern artist,he has this elongated, dreamy kind of a style, and learn about El Greco’cause he’s a great painter–he’s Greek, that’s his nickname, the Greek, El Greco.He moved to Venice during the Renaissance in Venice, and he didn’tplay the rules right there, and he didn’t get much work, so we wentto the Wild West in Europe, to the court of the King in Spain, andthere he got in good with the King, and he performed well, and he became thegreat painter of the King in Spain, and you see a lot of his work when youtravel around Spain. In the other direction from Madrid, about an hour away,is Segovia. Segovia is famous for its castle, its roast suckling pig and, itsroman aqueduct. And I just love this Roman Aqueduct, I love–you can climb up tothe top of it, or you have in the past anyways, and you can see this hugestructure built to bring a little trickle of water into the town usinggravity, instead of peasants having to carry the water into town. And theseaqueducts would go for miles and miles, brought in by the Roman engineers so thecities could have running water. And you can check out the roman aqueductwhen you’re in Segovia, a reminder that Spain was part of the Roman Empire andhad a lot of stability during the Pax Romana. You can enjoy just the exuberanceand the liveliness in the streets when you’re in Segovia. It’s a small town, cozyalternative to Madrid, and if you’re really looking just for a work-a-daySpanish town, that might give you a nice counter to Madrid. And you’ve got thisfamous Segovia Castle. I want to remind you, you, whenever you seeanything as pointy as this castle, it is not medieval. It is faux medieval.Rebuilt in modern times, or in the 19th century during the RomanticAge, in an over-the-top, ultra pointy, neo-medieval way. This castle was burned down, and thenin the 19th century they rebuilt it, and they just put in all the wild spires andso on to make it look, like they thought, in a romantic notion ofGothic architecture. And it’s a beautifulcastle to check out. But I just want to remind you, sometimesthe–not to burst your bubble on that–but sometimes the most pointymedieval stuff is fake medieval from the 19th century. By the way, we’ve made–must have made eight different TV shows in Spain, and several shows on Portugal,and they’re all available if you’d like to get our DVD, if you wantto see ’em on public television. And in our new website now, we’vegot all hundred of our TV shows available for viewing atanytime on your computer. It’s free, you just go to ricksteves.com,and then you check out the TV section, and you type in Spain,and you see eight shows, and you click,and you’re right there. We’ve also got eight years ofradio interviews. Every week we have a one-hourshow on public radio, and we’ve taken these–all the archives areavailable in the radio section on our website–but what’s really fun for me asa travel teacher is, we’ve taken eight years of radio interview shows, we’vedeconstructed all the shows, and we’ve collected the interviews incountry-specific playlists, and we offer these on my free app, along with guidedtours for all the great cities in Europe. So we got 40 or 50 different guided tours,absolutely free, plus all the interviews. It’s Rick Steves Audio Europe, you don’tneed the book, it doesn’t cost anything, you can listen to it offline when you’reover there, but get this app on your mobile device, and you’ll have a lot ofinformation as–in my radio show, I don’t need to be the tour guide, I just get tobe the curious traveler. And I’ve got these incredible guests, and I get topick their brains, and then we design that interview in a beautiful way,making both of us sound brilliant, and we then air it, okay. So you canget all that information for free. Remember the TV show’s onthe website, the radio show’s at ricksteves.com, and the app,Rick Steves Audio Europe, free for Android or iPhonesat the app store. When you go to Segovia besure you have an appetite, because you’re going to want tohave some roast suckling pig. Roast suckling pig is little tiny baby pigsthat have only been having mother’s milk, and that’s why they’re so tender, and thenthey kill them, and they cook them, and they feed them to humans, okay. There’s roast suckling goats also. AndIt’s a spectacle, it’s a– just a delight for a lot of people.So if you’re–if you’re carnivorous youdon’t want to miss that. Salamanca is a great city, it’s auniversity town, and this photograph reminds me that it’s kinda like Where’sWaldo, whenever you take a picture with a wide shot in Spain, look around andyou’ll probably find somebody taking a pee in a corner. Right in the middle,under–between those arches there’s a man– and I didn’t realize that for years, butthen a lot of times in Europe you just find that somewhere low key area.So be careful. Salamanca has that main square I talkedabout, the greatest square in Europe, the Plaza Mayor, and that’s where the–myfavorite paseo scene is in Europe, and as in any paseo thing, if you’d rather notget the exercise you can sit down, pay the extra, it’s gonna cost you fiftypercent more something like that, to eat out on the square instead of at the bar.If you just want to slam down a cup of coffee for a dollar, go to the bar. If youdon’t mind spending three bucks, sit there and enjoy it for a while, there’sno hurry, you’re paying for the realestate as well as the coffee, okay, so don’tcomplain about the high price. It just costs more touse the table and sit there all day, andyou’re welcome to sit there as long as you want. A greatthing about this university town is its tradition of strolling troubadours. I wishwe had troubadours in our society, I think they went out back when we werekids, you know, but the troubadours in Spain are all over theplace, they’re called “tuna bands.” And thetuna bands play for weddings, they play for graduations, andthey stroll the streets playing for anybody who will give ’em a couple euros,and it’s just a lot of fun, you’ll see that in your travels. As you drive acrossSpain, you’ll see big huge bulls on the horizon. And they’re all over the place,these are actually advertisements for some sherry company, if I understandcorrectly, but now they’re just kind of icons of Spain. And La Mancha is thewindy, vast interior of Spain, and it’s got lots of windmills, and it’s got lotsof castle remnants, and reminders of the Reconquista. You knowthat central part of Spain is called Castile, isn’t it. Castile, that means the land of thecastles. And all these castles, most of these castles, were built by theChristians coming down and re-establishing theirterritory as they pushed the Moors ever, ever south.If you ask a European what happened in 1492, theywon’t think about Columbus sailing the ocean blue. 1492, that was the year wefinally kicked the Moors back into Africa, and we recaptured Spain. ReconqueredSpain, Reconquista. And a great city for Reconquista history is Granada,because Granada is the famous last home of the Moors, where they had their lastpalace, the Alhambra. And people go to Granada today, a small town today, but inits day it was a very, very important city because this was where theSpaniards and the European Christians defeated the Moors. That was theirpalace, the Alhambra, and down below you’ve got a–sort of an Arabic-Moorishkind of town, and the sprawling modern town, and this is where Isabella andFerdinand, the Catholic Monarchs, the greatest Kings and Queens of Spain usedas their capital. That’s where they’re buried, not because Granada was moreimportant than other cities, but because Granada was symbolically the place where they kicked out the Moors, andthey’re going to plant their flag there, they’re gonna bury their kings there,they’re gonna have their palace there, they’re going to inhabit the Moorishpalace and turn it into the Royal Palace. That’s what you do when you conquersomebody, you take over their palace and you use it for your troops, and yourpresident, or your king, or whatever. So Isabella gave Columbus the orders to goexplore the–find the New World, or go around the world, or get to the east forthe spice trade from here, and this was an embarkation point for a lot of thesailors on the river in in southern Spain, it was actually from Sevilla Ibelieve. And when you go to Granada you can see the tombs of Ferdinand andIsabella. Ferdinand and Isabella, they married each other in the middle 1400s,1460s I think, and that was really marrying together two great kingdoms, andthat created essentially what we have today as Spain, okay. And when that happensbeen really arrived. Ferdinand and Isabella, and they were so passionateabout their Catholicism, they’re actually nicknamed the Catholic Monarchs. Itreally was an alliance with Rome that way, and you will learn a lot about thatwhen you’re traveling in Granada. Looking out from the Alhambra, that Moorishpalace, across the canyon, you see the Albayzín. And this is a labyrinthian,Moroccan, souk kind of marketplace city. You can lose yourself in this area, it’sa fascinating place to explore, and it does have that whiff of Arabia there.Also in the hills nearby is–are the Gypsy caves, Sacromonte. Famous forripping off tourists, it is–no, no, you don’t want to go there with any rings on,or–or leave your wallet in the hotel, seriously. But if you want to venture upthere, you can go to touristic flamenco shows. And they’re going to water downyour wine, and they’re going to try to overcharge you, but it’s–in a way, in aquirky kind of way, it’s all in good fun. You know, you’re rich and they’re poor, andyou’re going to venture into their territory and let their women dance foryou, and they’re going to see how much money they can take out of your pocketbefore you go. So if you want to go there, I don’tnecessarily promote it, but I go there and I find it very interesting. You got that option. You’ll have thatlittle bit of hippies and Gypsies coming in from the hills into that Albayzínarea. And it has this Moroccan, smoking dope, you know,Blackfeet, they’re called the Pies Negra, the rich kids who went to Granada andthey don’t wear shoes anymore so they got black feet. Andthere’s these Bohemians, and these counterculturetypes, and it all mixes together in a delightfulkind of way. Get a local guided tour. All over Spain you can get good localguides, and they’ll take you around, and they’ll explain things to you. This is oneof my favorite guides in Granada, and she reminded me Granada is the most Muslimcity in Spain. And the first mosque to be built since the Reconquista in Spain wasright here, and it’s built not for Muslims– or for Moroccans that came in,but it’s for Spaniards who decided to worship as Muslims. Ten percent of thecity, or something like that, is Muslim, and they have a call toprayer, and the local people said, “you can’tamplify it because it’s annoying,” so everyday, five times, the imam goes to the topof the tower and he hollers out the call to prayer, insteadof amplifies it. But there’s this dynamic in Granada that is worth checking out. Atthe balcony, overlooking the city as the sun goes down on the Alhambra, with theGypsy musicians playing, and a glass of wine and some nice munchies, it’s a beautiful moment. When you’re inGranada, get romantic about the viewpoint, about the culture, about the history.Remember when you go to the Alhambra you’ll need a reservation, there’s a number of sights in Spain thatrequire reservations because of their popularity, and Granada’s Alhambra isprobably the number-one frustration that way. When you get your reservation, andyour guidebook to explain exactly how, you’ll know how to get there withoutwaiting in line, and you can enjoy that sumptuous palace that,until, you know, the 1400s, was the laststronghold of the Moors. The garden, called the Generalife, it’sspelled like “general life,” Generalife, is the Moorish idea of what heaven lookslike. Lots of lavish gardens, and running water, and so on, and you can go there andimagine the Moorish Sultan, or whatever, hanging out there. Now, south of Granadayou get to the Costa Del Sol. Generally I do not like the Costa Del Sol. As I saidearlier, filled with Europeans from the rainy north going down there for a changein climate, but not a change in culture. Consequently, got a Belgian town, withBelgian radio, and Belgian newspapers, you got an English, you got an Irish, you got aGerman town, and they’re all on the Costa Del Sol with their timeshare condos, andit’s just–you know, it is what it is, you can go there, it’s kind of quirky. Local people are kind of frustratedbecause they can go to a restaurant and not find any Spanish onthe menus, literally. Now I’ve looked inthe Costa Del Sol from one end to the other, andthere’s one town I really like, and the town I really like is Nerja. N-E-R-J-A.And I absolutely love Nerja. It’s got this–a little bit ofEnglish expat feeling. It’s got a wonderfulbeach, it’s not as commercialized as the others, it’s gotwonderful local style bars, it’s easy to get to from Granada, it’s got goodtransportation connections, and–this is the Balcony of Europeoverlooking the Mediterranean coast there, it’s agreat place — Nerja. And this is the promenade in Nerja,and the beach at Nerja. Okay, so we’ve been from Barcelona, and then we wentover to Madrid in the center of Spain, we side-tripped to Toledo and Segovia, then weheaded south to Granada in Andalucía, now we’re heading on–we’re on the Costa DelSol on the Mediterranean coast, we’re gonna go to the hill towns ofAndalucía, and then we’re gonna finish in Sevilla. Later on we’re going to go northto Basque country and to Galicia. Sevilla is the capital of Andalucía. To me it’s–along with Barcelona and Madrid, the most important city to see. Sevilla has a hugecathedral and a giant bell tower. And the bell tower of the cathedral used to bethe minaret of the of the Moorish mosque that stood there first. When you go inside the cathedral, you’llfind the tomb of Columbus, and you’ll find a lot of gold leaf. Remember, Spainreally prospered with being able to harvest the gold from the new land. The irony is, Spain had it easy during theAge of Discovery because it just looted all the stuff from the new land, itdidn’t need to be on the ball with the coming of the modern economy, andIndustrial Age, consequently, I think because Span had itso easy during the Age of Discovery, it fell way behind and it was one of themore poor countries after that. Nevertheless, when you go to cities likeSevilla you’ll find great art and beautiful jewels in the sacristies ofthe church, and lots of history. This is the minaret of the mosque. When theChristians came in they decided to tear down the mosque and build a church righton top of the mosque. They kept the minaret and turned it–they just puta Christian saint on the top, and it becomes a Christian monument.When you go around you’ll find theAlcázar, the old palace. A lot of that Moorish architecturewas embraced by the Christians, who conquered the Moors, and you findChristian palaces that have the same kind of Moorish architecture. And a goodexample of that is the Alcázar there in Sevilla. Seville is famous for itsfestivals. In the spring you’ve got holy week, the Semana Santa, leading up toEaster, and Seville does it in the highest, fanciest way, and you’ve got theSpring Fair. April, May, a big time for two week-long festivals in rapidsuccession. The Spring Fair is all about horses, ladies in polka-dot dresses, andsherry wine. And it’s just–everybody’s out partying all over southern Spainduring spring time, they each have their different spring fairs. Andthey have places called “casetas.” A caseta is a tent where a big family orbusiness hosts a party every night for a week. And it’s just–you know, big shotsspend the money, and they have the music, and the food, and everybody goes there. It’s like, you go out to the fairgroundsand it’s like a hundred wedding parties going on at the same time. All theseprivate little tents, private parties of all these leading families. As a tourist,if you’re clever with your social skills, it’s very easy to get invited in. Then he got all the drink, all the food,all that drunk locals you could ever want, alright. So it’s a–it’s just an amazingscene and it’s worth checking out if you’re there during this period. Anytime a year you can see the latestflamingo skirt or dress fashions in the windows as you do your shopping, andevery night there are four or five different flamingo shows going on inSevilla designed for tourists, and all very good. All very good. Be there during SemanaSanta and you’ll find the floats that are from inside the churches out on thestreets, being carried through the streets. And it’s just an amazing sort ofreligious passion and traditional festival coming out. This is Concepcion,she’s a friend of mine that does tours every day, taking people around inSevilla giving cultural insider tours. She can take into the museums and youcan better understand that Catholic style art, like the art of Murillo. Andremember in Europe they have the other side of the river, the wrong side of theriver, like we have the wrong side of the tracks. And in Sevilla you go over theriver into the Triana district, that’s where you find the crusty locals, the bestrestaurants, the people just out in the streets, the ladies getting together, andit’s just a cool scene. I love Triana when I’m in Sevilla. Córdoba is the thirdmost important of the three big cities in southern Spain. It’s got a Romanhistory going way back, and then of course it’s the home of the Moors and isfamous for its giant mosque. And inside the mosque is a huge cathedral. When theChristians came they kept this big mosque and they built a church withinthe middle of it. And it’s called the Mezquita, the mosque, and it’s well worthchecking out. Córdoba is a good example of the flowery, philosophical,poet-filled culture of the Muslims when they came into Spain, and you’ll get a bigdose of that. And remember you’ve got plenty of patios that are–peopledoll up their patios, and they open them to the public,and that is worth checking out. Southern Spain is called the Route of thePueblos Blancos. All sorts of beautiful whitewashed towns, my favorite would beArcos de la Frontera. Arcos de la Frontera, it’s a bigger town, a good homebase, and from there you can tour the other towns. Again, in these towns, peopleare proud of their balconies, their little courtyards, and they open ’em up tothe public, and they leave their doors open, or the gates are there and you canlook in, and that’s something that’s fun to check out. Ronda, maybe the most famousof these whitewashed hill towns, is built straddling a gorge. In more modern timesthey built a bridge across that gorge, and today you can visit the new town andthe old town. Ronda is famous for its bullring, theoldest bullring in Spain, there’s a wonderful museum there, and you can gointo the arena and just learn a lot about it while you’re there. Gibraltar is an odd thing, it’s a littlehunk of Britain right down there in the south strategic point, this rock facing arock on the other side in Africa called The Pillars of Hercules, or somethinglike that, and today you can go into Gibraltar if you like. There you got it,right there, the rock. It’s honeycombed with tunnels because it was of militaryimportance, it’s been reclaimed, there’s twice asmuch land now as there was in the old days. When you get there, you park inSpain and then you walk across an airstrip, very carefully looking bothways, to get into the country. And then you’ve got the British town. It’s amilitary town that’s been decommissioned, it’s a tacky, British tourists beachresort town, it’s sort of low-end English holiday-going. And I find it’s kind ofquirky, and it’s a fun little break from Spain. If you’re interested in old Britishhistory you get a lot of it there as you climb through the tunnels ofGibraltar. And if you want a tour, there’s a man named Bland who doesn’thave very good marketing sense compared to his ego, and his company’s calledBland Tours. And you’ll find lots of Bland tour buses there to show youaround Gibraltar, and it’s actually more interesting than it sounds. They do this circular tour, and they goup to the top of the rock where you can meet the famous Apes of Gibraltar, andthat’s a lot of fun. Tarifa is the best town in southernSpain for jumping up over to Morocco. Don’t go to Morocco from Algeciras–or fromGibraltar, go there from Tarifa, very important. The boat ride takes about anhour and a half to get there. You get down to Tangier, Tangier used to be thearmpit of Africa, now –like a, sort of a Tijuana of Africa. And like Tijuana it’sgetting its act together, and Tangier is now a delightful place to travel. I thinkone of the most exciting days you can have in Spain is leaving Spain whenyou’re in the south to take that hour-and-a-half ride over to Morocco, youdon’t need a visa, and it’s just a day trip, and you have a chance to wanderaround Tangier. You can get a good local guide if you like, this is my friendAziz, he’s in my guidebook, and you can get other guides too. And you wanderaround, enjoying the markets and the scene. I’m going to go very fast now,excuse me for my time limit, but we’re gonna take a quick look at Basque countryand Galicia up in the north of Spain. One of our more popular tours for a–sortof a return traveler in Europe is our Basque tour. And it’s two days in theFrench part of Basque country, three days in San Sebastian, and two days inBilbao, the big industrial capital, with Guernica nearby. San Sebastian is the bestresort, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, over here by Bayonne is my favorite town in France. Butthe point is, this is Basque country, when they drew the line separating the Frenchand the Spanish people, they forgot about the Basques. They have a completelyunrelated language, and it is worth checking it out. And it is resurgingnow, more people are speaking Basque this generation than last generation. This isthe beach in San Sebastian. And people just love this beach, but I go to SanSebastian for the gourmet tapas. When you go to San Sebastian you–especially ifyou hire a local guide, then you’ll know exactly what to eat, but you just–everynight you’re out there, wishing you had a bigger stomach. Now if you have a tough time with your appetite, you can go tothese shops in Spain that sell all the gear for marijuana. We’re talking a lot about marijuanapolicy reform in the United States. In the United States we are not going theway Spain goes, we’re going to tax, andregulate, and let people sell it in liquor kind of stores. In Spain, they say,”we don’t want anybody buying or selling marijuana, you can grow it on your own.”And there can be shops that give people the seeds, and the gear,and the fertilizer, and the instruction,so that you can home-grow, and if you don’t want to goyourself you can join clubs, and then you can get three or four plants here orsomething like that. But it is interesting when you travel in Spain,you’ll find marijuana leave outside of buildings, and you can step inside andlearn a little bit about how Europeans deal with drug policy in a pragmaticharm reduction kind of way, and if you’ve never really had a chance to talk tosomebody about growing marijuana, there’s a place there that would be a–give youan extra dimension to your trip. Also another part of your experience in Basquecountry will be to learn that this is not Spain. When you go to the ATM machinethere might be a sticker up above that says, “no this is not Spain,this is Basque country.” You’re gonna get,you know, you’re gonna use Spanish to get this money maybe,but it’s a proud independent country. This is where Guernica was, Guernica iskind of a hardscrabble little town, but it’s the historic capitalof the Basque people, and a visit that isquite interesting. Bilbao is famous for its GuggenheimMuseum, and it is a wonderful museum. The building itself, I find every bit asinteresting as the art inside. It’s state-of-the-art, cutting-edge,avant-garde art, with a Gehry-designed like, you know, a modern art gallerybuilding. And the whole city has got modern art, Bilbao is a fun place to checkout. One very popular town in the north of Spain, on the edgeof Basque country, is Pamplona. Pamplona isgood any time of year, but it’s especially interesting duringthe Running the Bulls. Each July they have the festival of San Fermín, and itlasts for about a week, and every morning around eight o’clock, the bulls run. Thatseems early in the morning but it’s not, it’s late at night. People are up allnight long. And we were there filming, if you want to see you can Google”Pamplona Rick Steves,” or you can look at our Basque show and see what we we film,but we had a great time there filming the Running of the Bulls. And, you know,I’m not that into the big, wild, drunken brawl festivals of Europe, but this wasreally good. I really, really had fun inPamplona. They know how to do it, and it’s night after night, this incredible party,everybody cleans up, they take away the broken glass, they drag away theinjured people, and then they do it again. And I just thought it was fascinating,and it was a lot of fun, there was a very positive vibe, and if you’re interested inthe Running of the Bulls, the only count– complication for you is finding a room.If you can find a room, you got it made. And it finishes–every bull runningfinishes with an amazing bullfight down at the arena. Lots of revelers fromall over Spain and all over Europe, and they’re on their feet for a whileand then they take a little break, and then they’re back on their feet again. Asyou travel out from Basque country, you’ll get into Rioja, wine country.And cutting-edge architects like Calatrava have been commissioned to designbeautiful centers for wineries showing off their goods in northern Spain. TheCamino de Santiago cuts across Spain from the Pyrenees, all the way to thenorthwest corner, Santiago de Compostela. And for 1,000 years, pilgrims have beenhiking, many of them from Paris, all the way to here, in their religious quest ortheir personal quest. These days it’s not just Christians, it’s people of all walksof life, seekers wanting to get away from– or wanting to recalibrate, it’s a beautifulthing. You’ll stop in very important cathedral towns along the way. Leon has a amazing cathedral, this isthe symbol of the Camino de Santiago, it’s the scallop shell. And itstarts up in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, up in the French part of the PyreneesMountains, that’s the kick off point for a lot of people, and then it’s a 30-daywalk along the way, you follow the scallop shells. And when you go to the–Camino de Santiago just means “the way–” You’ll find a evocative bridges, and lotsof people with backpacks, and all of them have that scallop shell dangling fromtheir backpack. Beautiful vistas, vast open spaces, cathedrals dot, you know,spires on the skyline. It’s a long hike, and every time–I’ve never done the hikebut I’ve spent a lot of time there researching and talking to people, everybody on that hike is having alife-changing experience. If you ever have 30 days that you want to reallyinvest in your inner well-being, consider seriously this Camino de Santiago. It’s dirt cheap because it’s just–youstay in these refuges for five or ten dollars at night, and everybody eatscommunally, and it’s just a beautiful up- with-life kind of thing. You get stampson your little Camino passport all the way along, and then you finally get toSantiago de Compostela. This is the cathedral, the culmination of that hike,where for 1,000 years pilgrims have come from Paris all the way to there. And Ilike to be on the square in Santiago de Compostela at ten o’clock in the morning.That’s–it’s just–that last leg from the last refuge into the finale is justabout a two-hour walk. And they walk in, and these guys are just sunburned, andragged, and exhausted, but at the same time exuberant. And when you seethem finally reached that square, they put their foot on that scallopshell that’s into the pavement, and then they look at the cathedral, andthey’re just overwhelmed with joy. And you just have to hug them, just likeeverybody’s hugging everybody, it’s just a gorgeous experience as you have thatfinale of the Camino de Santiago. You meet characters like this, and they justreally are beaming, and it’s worth checking out. There’s so much excitinghistory and culture that you can experience when you travel in Spain,knowing what you’re looking at. And Galicia, it’s the Celtic part of Spain,remember if you set a boat out north from there you’d get to Ireland. They’reCeltic sisters and brothers. This is a very colorful area, it’s got barnacles,percebes, which are one of my favorite munchy treats anywhere in Europe.Barnacles, you’ll find ’em in Portugal and in Spain, they’re quite expensive,order just a little bit, but percebes is the word, barnacles, it’s–they eat itlike beer nuts, you know, with their beer, and I just think that’s a real treat. Andremember, in Galicia, it’s that mix of Celtic and Spanish culture, it’s kind ofwhere Riverdance meets flamenco, okay. And I just stumble into, you know,dance clubs having their practice sessions. Walk in, you’re more thanwelcome, and you get a sense of that proud culture. So once again, Spain haslots to offer. This is–we do a tour which is a–we do a tour which is a “My Way”tour, it’s an unguided tour which gives a consultant or an escort, the hotels andthe bus transportation, but you’re on your own, and it’s a lot cheaper than theother tours. And this is about 10 days, and that’s what we would do. The fullyguided tour is about two weeks, and that’s what we’d do, and we justdid that in this slideshow. And we’ve also got a little seven-day tour, whichis Barcelona and Madrid with a side- trip to Toledo. Look at our tourpromotional material even if you’re not considering taking our tours, so you cansee a well-tested itinerary, and know if that would be right for you. Okay. I hope that gives you some goodideas for your Spanish adventures, and thank you very much for joining us today.Happy travels. Thank you very much.