Monday, May 21, 2012

Spain: The Undiscovered Country

I leave for my trip to Europe in just under three weeks now. Until recently, however, I was more excited about the Amsterdam leg of our trip, which felt a little strange to me. As I have already been, I looked forward to hanging out with Peter in Amsterdam, walking alongside the canals and picnicking in Vondelpark or Oosterpark.

Then I realized I had experienced this before. When Peter and I began planning our trip to Spain, we immediately thought of Madrid and Barcelona, and then my mind went more or less blank after that. The Eiffel Tower has come to symbolize not just Paris, but all of France; the Coliseum that of Rome; and Tower Bridge or Big Ben those of London. Yet when I think of Spain (or Germany, still), no one landmark comes to mind. Then, when I read the following passage, it all kind of made sense to me:
It's true that Spain'scapital doesn't have the immediate cachet of Rome, Paris or even that other city up the road, Barcelona. Its architecture is beautiful, but there's no Colosseum, no Eiffel Tower, no Gaudi-inspired zaniness to photograph and tell your friends back home, 'this is Madrid'. But this city is an idea, a way of living for the moment that can be hard to resist.
-- Anthony Ham, "Madrid Encounter," Lonely Planet, 7. 

Now, only a few weeks away, my excitement for Spain is building as I talk to friends who have been there and our plans for our trip come together. Ernest Hemingway had considered "The Undiscovered Country" before finally settling on "For Whom the Bell Tolls" as the title for his novel set during the Spanish Civil War.* I feel the former is an apt description for Spain.


Remember to participate in the postcard challenge if you want some Spanish (or Dutch) snail mail love from me.

*Allen Josephs, For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway's Undiscovered Country, (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994), xix.

No comments: