I have never had an urge to visit Scotland. The landscape is unattractive, the weather is mostly bad, and the traditional food is unappealing (Deep-fried Mars bars!). There are too many places that are more-appealing and more-attractive for me to waste any of the short time I have on this earth.
Scotland is mentioned often in the news these days, especially on those channels emanating from the “United” Kingdom, of which Scotland is a (partly) unwilling member. The current “royal” family owns a lot of real estate, which their ancestors plundered from the local people, not unlike what Americans did to the original owners of the country. Native Americans seems to have been given less rights and powers than the folks in Scotland, who are being given the chance to decide their future with or without English overlords. It is surprising that two peoples that hate each so much have been able to live in relative harmony for so long. Many English are deluded in believing that members of the “royal” family looking silly in kilts and tartans have endeared them to their neighbours to the north.
If Scotland leaves the “United” Kingdom, how great will “Great” Britain be? Not that it ever was. Or, at least, not for a long time. Perhaps, the split will send signals to people in other countries. Will the Flemish and Walloons, who dislike each other more than the Scots dislike the English, finally kill Belgium…which no one would miss. Will Catalonia split from Spain? Or will Bavaria become an independent country? Bavarians already feel superior to other Germans and think that they can go it alone. The list is long and the future uncertain…
I do not usually waste any emotion on sport teams or athletes. That said, I feel sorry for the Spanish soccer (football) team, who have been eliminated in the first round of the World Cup competition. I was happy when they won the last World Cup and the European Championship, because I liked their style of play and character of the players. All seemed modest and displayed none of the arrogance one associates with top players in sport.
Unfortunately, I could not avoid writing something stupid…
The Pain in Spain was caused by the end of their Reign
Another interesting program on BBC: The History of the Jews, which I watched, because I wanted to understand something I have never understood.
As usual with such programs, I learned a lot, but discovered one interesting fact. 1492 for Americans means the year that Columbus “discovered” America, supposedly being the first European to do so (long since proved erroneous, like so much in the history taught in American classrooms). This date means something else to Muslims, because that was the year that Christians “conquered” Spain and ran them out of town. This year was mentioned by Osama Bin Laden, when chortling over his success on September 11, 2001, which confused all Americans.
What I learned from the BBC program is that this year also has meaning for the Jewish people, because they were also forced to flee from Spain. It seems that Christians, who preach one thing, practice something else. They were far less tolerant than Muslims towards non-believers.
One thing is certain: if I had lived in Spain after 1492, I would have been in trouble. I would not have survived the Inquisition...
In this case, the title refers not to the craft of the photographer but that of whoever conceived and carved this slab of sandstone, which was seen at the Alhambra in Grenada, Spain.
The poor Germans, still suffering from starting and losing a war...
Italy and, to a lesser degree, spain were liabilities for Hitler. Now, a worthless army of yesteryear has been replaced by a failing economy in each country. Germans are being forced to pay high taxes and work for more years (than folks in those countries, to name just two)...which might be considered continued war reparations.
The recent bailout of bungled economies and banks in Europe is a fine example of the saying “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”. Many lived a nice life on borrowed money...and now get more...from folks that have been industrious and thrifty...and stupid.
This is summed up in one Daily Mail Headline:
“Italy claims second victory over Germany in 24 hours
after Euro leaders hammer out bail-out deal against Merkel's wishes’”
My impression of Spain, after two days in Grenada, is that this country has character, style, and pride. Although the economy is in the dumps, unemployment is high, and the future is uncertain, one feels none of this on the streets. People are well-dressed, the streets are clean, and no one seems glum. I compare this to similar locations in the land of my birth and some other countries, and Spain wins.
I formed a positive impression of the Spanish people after reading the history. After the brutality of the civil war and Franco’s repressive years, the people decided to live together in harmony and not seek revenge for past unpleasantries (real or imagined). This is unlike most peoples, who continue to inflict pain for past injustices. The Spanish seem to be more intelligent and have stronger character.
One more point: they eat well. I have not had a mediocre meal, even in a simple restaurant.
Of course, their working/business hours take some getting used to. Shops open at 9 or 10 and close for lunch/siesta at 12:30 or 1, not to open again until 5 to 8. One is often faced with closed restaurants, if one does not ask about opening hours. I’m sure that such hours make sense in the heat of the summer, but in winter, one does not need to avoid the mid-day sun.
Regardless of the season, be prepared to change eating habits. I recall my first trip to Barcelona, when I rushed to the hotel dining room at 7:30, fearing that I might miss dinner. It was not open, and I was informed by reception that service commenced at 9. Not wanting to wait, I went to bed hungry. Another time, I called for a dinner reservation at a well-known restaurant, only to be told that the earliest vacant table would be at 11 pm. Despite the late hour, it was a great meal: worth waiting for.
Beunos dias, beunos tardes, beunosweee whatever.
Surprise. I am in Spain. To be exact, Granada.
We flew here, compliments of Lufthansa, to watch Number One Son take off and land an Airbus. Granada is worth seeing, especially since it played a role in September 11, 2001. Osama bin Laden ranted something about the attack being revenge for 1492. Of course, Americans do not study history, so no one could understand what Columbus had to do with the event. Only Muslims, as well as a few Spanish folks, know that the Arabs were thrown out of Europe/Spain in 1492. Anyway, Granada has this big castle/palace, which was first erected by Muslims. It was plundered and occupied by Christians. Even today. one can discern the creative superiority of people known as camel drivers.
I like Spain. There is no sign of the 50% unemployment currently suffered by young people or any suggestion of the economic crisis one reads about. Restaurants are full, and the food is excellent. Shops are full, although displaying the same Sale signs one spots all over Europe. We had a fantastic eating experience in a tapas bar: it could not have been better. I like tapas cuisine.
We played tourist and visited the Alhambra, a Unesco cultural site. It is worth a trip to see the artistic talent of ancient Muslims/Arabs. It is easy to spot the difference between Arab craftsmen and Christian butchers. It could have been warmer, but was still worth the effort to make it up the hill (in a taxi: 6 euros) and trudge around the vast palace.
I could think of many more apt and provocative headlines, like…What a foolish waste of money, but that would be too long and, perhaps, not harsh enough.
In this day and age, it makes no sense for a country suffering from economic crises (or even one not suffering, for that matter) to spend $50 million (surely a fictitious amount, but it could be higher) on the visit of a fairy tale figure, megalomaniac, and person of questionable sanity. Spain suffers from severe economic turmoil; youth unemployment is reported to be around 50%. The country has massive debts, with little relief in sight. Spain may not be as bad as Greece, but it could be close (people are good at hiding numbers). But, some idiots feel that it is necessary to waste money on an anachronism and outrage. The Catholic Church is even worse than the British royalty, who at least pay some taxes and exploit fewer gullible people.
News of the arrest of one more Balkan War criminal has been competing with news of the FIFA "scandal" (something fabricated by the English media, having learned a lesson from some Fox News commentators). As mentioned earlier, I do not understand the Balkan War and do not want to think about it. Some people displayed the worst in human character; many suffered.
I want to mention some people that acted nobly or sanely or...something good.
Spain suffered through a long civil war and then decades of Franco's dictatorship. The country was split into rival groups, with one dominating the other. When Franco died, the country could have been plunged into sectarian strife and brutal reprisals. None of this occurred, at least not on the scale seen in other parts of the world. Hatred was kept under a lid of trying to achieve unity and peaceful coexistence. It may have helped that all were Catholics, which proves that religion is usually the root of all evil in this world.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.