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Friday, July 16, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Childhood Vacations

We traveled a fair bit when I was growing up. And there are a number of trips that stand out in my memory; a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming when I was 6 where I first learned how to ski; South Dakota and Mount Rushmore at 8; England with my grandparents at 16. But I'm going to focus on one we took while we lived in Heidelberg, Germany when I was 9-10. Because of the close proximity in Europe, making trips to other countries is as easy as it is for me to visit another state here. (And given how small Maryland is, that is pretty easy.) So when we lived in Heidelberg, we took a number of long weekend trips around Europe. One that stands out in my mind is a trip we took to Barcelona, Spain. It was an amazing and eye-opening trip.

Highlights of our visit in Barcelona:

We dined at a restaurant that put on a flamenco dancing show while you enjoyed dinner. While there was nothing risque about it, my parents would never have taken us had there been, it certainly felt naughty to my sister and I. The male and female dancers, twirling around in exotic dress, in a dark cabaret type restaurant. We were prudish American children, after all, unused to late dinners and still fairly new to European openness.

We went to a bullfight. Which I can sum up in one word: horrific. The toreador dances around, attempting to stab the bull through the heart with a long sword, but first piercing it with numerous spears to weaken it. Although supposedly there is the possibility of a bull that fights particularly well being granted clemency and living out its life munching clover and servicing the local cows, it is very, very rare. In the vast majority of cases, the bull is killed. Which is what happened to the two unlucky beasts we saw. We left after that, with more than half of the show left, mortified. I know this is a tradition deep ingrained in Spanish culture, but I just couldn't, don't, understand it.I suppose I can put a check next to that in my bucket list, but I'm not necessarily happy about it.

McDonalds in Spain is not like McDonalds in America. Yes, it's similar, but tastebuds there are different from ours here. We ordered fries and cheeseburgers and were heartily disappointed. Even Coke tastes different. I guess Germanic McDonald's are closer to American ones, because I don't recall that being an issue at the ones we visited there, but woowee were we not happy with our meals.

Probably the highlight of our trip, quite ironically given our response to the bull fighting, was the Barcelona Wax Museum. And in particular the horror section. Beheadings, amputated limbs, gruesome disfigurations. Gore, gore, gore. We loved it.

I was a child. And I saw the city through a child's eyes. I missed the unusual and interesting architecture and if we went to any other museums, they are lost in the archives of my memories. I have not returned to Spain since then, but I would very much like to. To revisit it with an adult's eyes and interests. Someday. I'll make it happen.

Tell us about your favorite childhood vacation in the comments or link up DIRECTLY to your post.

1 comment:

  1. The bull thing would have been way too much for me as well. I'm also fascinated that McDonalds could taste so different and so bad. One of my strongest memories from visiting London was that the Burger Kings there served something called Baked Bean Dippers.

    Back to Spain though . . . you should consider reading The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Byrd.