Viva España

By Leroy Metcalf

“There is no night life in Spain. They stay up late but they get up late. That is not night life. That is delaying the day.” – Ernest Hemingway 

Beth and Leroy tie the knot. in Portland, Oregon.

After my wife and I were married last year, we had the pleasure of honeymooning in Spain. From seeing Spain in movies, to hearing amazing stories, I now had my number #1 location on my bucket list. Our first stop was Madrid.  

From the time we reached the city from the airport, I was blown away by Madrid’s architecture. The detail on the old buildings. The statues. The statues on the old buildings. Absolutely stunning!!! And I’m not just talking about government buildings or hotels. Even the office buildings were amazing. 

The Metropolis Building or (Edificio Metrópolis) is an office building in Madrid.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the amount of architecture in Madrid. Not me, though. I embraced it and wanted to see everything that there was to see.  

“I would sooner be a foreigner in Spain than in most countries. How easy it is to make friends is Spain!” – George Orwell 

Tons of restaurants are scattered throughout Madrid, and we definitely found one of its gems! A mission of travelers seems to be to try to find the most authentic food possible. Bingo! Let me introduce you to Celso Y Manolo. The fish. The beef. The flavors. The freshness. The atmosphere. The people. There’s so much to love about this place. And did I mention the drinks?? And yes, you’re reading that right. And it’s delicious! Plan ahead because reservations fill up fast. Case in point, our dinner reservation was at 10pm. And, damn, it was worth it! 

Drinks menu at Tasca Celso y Manolo in Madrid.

I cannot not talk about the people. The people were so inviting. So patient. And so….nice. Around every corner, every elevator ride, and every shared restaurant table, there was a conversation to be had. Maybe because I myself am an extrovert. Or maybe people in Spain are just really friendly. Or maybe it’s both. Regardless, though, it helped in making our trip amazing.  

During our stay in Barcelona, we stayed at the W Barcelona Hotel, located in the Barceloneta district in Catalonia. What a beautiful hotel. The views allowed us to see for miles, of both the city and the Mediterranean Sea. And although the hotel is almost 10 years old, it’s very modern. At the time of our trip, the hotel boasted of two restaurants, and also an amazing top-floor cocktail lounge and sky bar. It’s a great hotel, and they know how to treat their guests. If you’re looking for a great place to stay, look no further! 

W Hotel on the beach in Barcelona.

If you ever….no, no, no. WHEN you travel to Spain, make sure you take comfortable shoes. One of the fascinating things about Spain, is the many cobblestone streets. It kind of reminded me of Savannah, Georgia, but much more grand. It seems like a country stuck in time. But it’s beautiful. There are a ton of streets that are just for walking, which made the experience that more amazing. Imagine the number of tourists that would get hit by cars if they were too busy standing in the middle of the street taking pictures. Spain is a place to be enjoyed. To relax. To get comfortable.  

One thing I immediately noticed about Spain is that people don’t seem to be in a hurry. I’m not saying that they are not mindful of time. It’s more like, slow down and enjoy. And enjoy we did.  

El Born neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain.

Spain did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded all expectations. Unfortunately. though, we only visited Madrid and Barcelona. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s just that there are so many other places in Spain to visit. Next time.  

Ahhhh Spain! Hasta la próxima! 

Author’s note: Since meeting in 2010, George and I have become friends. We’ve shared meals. I’ve allowed him to take my quarters playing poker. We’ve fought across from each other in some serious battles of cornhole. And I had the pleasure of his attending our wedding last fall. Our friendship has stood the test of “meeting for a season,” which appears to be the norm these days. We can talk about anything under the sun, but all conversations tend to lead back to the Michigan Wolverines’ football team. We both know that elusive championship is coming. The question is when. 

Editor’s note: A chance encounter at a downtown bus stop those many years ago, prompted when I commented on Leroy’s U of M beanie, led to more conversation in a coffee shop and, eventually, to the activities and friendship described above. As a natural introvert, I admire Leroy’s friendly approach and appreciate being among those in his orbit.

Tomorrow:  Eric Scharf | My name is Eric. I am an addict.

12 thoughts on “Viva España

  1. Leroy, I think you missed your calling. You definitely have Rick Steve’s beat! Spain is my number one country to visit so I always enjoy reading tidbits of travel experiences to that country so thank you. And most importantly, congratulations on getting married!

  2. Congrats on your wedding and thanks for your tour of Spain. A cousin visits there often and shares photos on Facebook, and it looks amazing. Sadly, we missed it when we toured much of Europe some decades ago.

  3. Leroy,
    Barcelonians are probably still talking about that wonderful friendly American couple enjoying their honeymoon.

    I have a different poker memory. As I recall, at the end of the night, you are the one who leaves with everyone’s quarters.

  4. Leroy,
    I love what Bob said above. “Barcelonians are probably still talking about that wonderful friendly American couple enjoying their honeymoon.” Congratulations!
    Spain is on the top of my list right now! Tell me this: If my agenda is seeing architecture (I LOVE good architecture way more than museums, etc.), gorgeous landscapes and eating a baguette while sitting among both, would I want Barcelona or Madrid?

  5. LeRoy Congratulations on your wedding and the tour of Spain. You have made me sure to add it to my bucket list. Keep working at taking George’s quarters!

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