Sunflowers in Spain

Day Five in Spain. I thought I would be over jet lag by now, but no, it hovers. I think this is because all your plans for getting on European time are defeated by a further happentstance: Dinner is not served until 9:00 p.m. and at midnight the children are still kicking soccer balls in the plaza and the sangria is still flowing. So, what to do, if you`re used to getting up at 6:00 a.m.? A: Stop it!

In Madrid, you mustn´t drive a car. No one should really drive a car, because you must drive down narrow streets at the speed of light, and pedestrians languidly step onto the curb just in time. But we left the city yesterday and headed for Segovia, where we motored through beautiful rolling hills reminiscent of the hill country of Texas. For us Segovia began with the almost mythical looking Roman acquaduct, and ended with the Alcazar, the old Castilian fortress famous castle so famous that the Disneyland ride was based upon it. This castle crowns a stèep hill that rises seemlessly into chunks of rock, then shaped stone, then castle, as though it preposterously grew there.

We stopped in Avila, a walled city that, from a distance, looks like it cannot possibly be so perfect, with its 88 round towers set into the wall. This is the most beautiful sight in Spain! No wait, it´s the San Jeronimo el Real, or the Jardin Botanico in Madrid . . . You just have to give up. This is Spain.

The worst thing so far: No matter how careful you are to tell your credit card company that you will be traveling out of the country, they Always deny a major purchase just at the moment when with your halting Spanish you have finally arranged it! (Beautiful purse, though! Many Euros. Sadly, many more dollars.)

Arriving in Salamanca at dusk we were barely seated on the acknowledged most beautiful plaza in Spain, the Plaza Mayor, when the lights of the walls around the square began to come on. Colonnaded, sculpted, and ricocco, the plaza is the hub of the city and magnificent with people watching and artistry in stone.

Not to forget another unforgettable sight: broad fields of sunflowers in glorious bloom in the wide plains around Salamanca.

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