Week 1

Segovia, October 14, 2000

Hey, the Spanish keyboard is almost the same as ours!

(As opposed to The Infernal French Keyboard)

Spain is great, particularly the food – once you get used to the restaurants not opening until 9 pm! Last night we ate in the best restaurant in Segovia. Their recommended wine cost $7; and yes that was for a bottle. The previous night in Avila a huge steak cost $13. (For where we're going and when see The Itinerary)

Unlike most foreign countries where we´ve been lately, English isn´t widely spoken here, even in tourist-related industries in major cities. And even though I can recognize quite a few words that are similar to French when I see them in print, spoken Castilian Spanish is virtually incomprehensible. It's surprising how much the "lithping" s sound (not just for s, but also soft c and z) and the ch (as in "loch") j sound transform what I'm expecting to hear. Fortunately, Betty Lou´s Spanish, aided liberally with sign language, has carried the day. And in fact we've sometimes been able to communicate in French, which was also useful to us on our first trip to Italy over thirty years ago.

After a warm beginning, a cold front has moved in for a few days. We were prepared, unlike a shivering couple we spotted in Avila, which is nearly 4,000 feet above sea level.

However, our technique is layering, unlike those in the distance who packed their winter gear one reason we can travel light. Unfortunately, this was during the holidays – I´m sure they were buying some warm clothes when stores reopened.

Avila celebrated with an impressive fireworks display followed by a concert in the square. Rock, sing-a-long, line dancing – something for all ages. It was strange seeing families driving in with their 8- and 10-year old children at 11:30. (And tonight a family with a 5- and 2-year old was seated next to us as we were having dessert – at 10:30!)

Internet cafés don't seem to be that common here, particularly in the provinces. A Segovia tourist bureau person pointed out the location of one on a map, all of whose machines were non-functioning when we arrived. Fortunately Betty Lou saw a flyer on a window telling of a nearby recently-opened operation in a Kinko´s-type place. However, since they had an introductory offer of 15 free minutes, the gamers had taken over the place when we stopped in before dinner. After dinner – i.e., late – we've been able to find a spot. However, now they´re ready to close ...

© Copyright 2000 Jack Ludwick - All Rights Reserved