As we crossed the border into Spain, it became clear that the border was not only a political boundary; it was also an architectural boundary. I don’t think that I can pinpoint the differences but the buildings in Spain are different. (It is like driving to Toronto from MI. As soon as you get across the bridge, you start noting that the houses and buildings are different. Different colors, different bric-a-brac…)
Even though the Romans spent a lot of time in Spain and all places Mediterranean, it is clear that the Moors had a huge influence on what has become Spain. On our way here, we stayed at a hotel in Tortosa that was originally built by the Romans. At the fall of the Roman empire, it became/was rebuilt as a Moor castle and then the Crusades changed all of that ending the four hundred years of Moslem rule and bringing Christian rule to that area of Spain. The castle is now a “Parador” hotel – a very nice hotel – but no religious overtones to it.
We ate at the hotel restaurant and had wonderful meals. The entrées and main courses were beautifully presented and perfectly prepared. The wait staff was very attentive but never intrusive. (This is starting to sound like a TripAdvisor review.) The wine I chose – a “Muga” Rioja reserve – was excellent. Rioja wines are usually a blend of tempranillo and Grenache grapes. I did not know this wine. I chose it because it was from the 2010 vintage which was rated very well. (I can hear my friend John commenting on me tripping into the outhouse and coming out with a new suit… or similar expressions to underscore my luck in choosing wine.)
Last night we arrived at our destination. We will be in Alicante for about two weeks. The sun, the sand: we could get used to this. Tomorrow our friend from Chicago arrives. I plan to make Cioppino and take advantage of all of the fresh fish one can get in the fishing village just north of Alicante. – and serve the Cioppino with some good Rioja wine…
Now I need to learn how to say “Life is good” in Spanish.