To the average Englishman who has never been to Spain the name of the country is merely the first link in a chain of ideas comprising bull-fights, castanets, mantillas and onions. There is also a widespread belief in England that the Spanish people are indolent and lazy, and that mañana, mañana (to-morrow, to-morrow), is the most frequently used phrase in the Spanish language.
This light-hearted essay is intended not only to enlighten you on all these momentous matters but also to show you that there are many other things in Spain. Above all, there are a great many Spaniards there and, perhaps to your own surprise, you will almost certainly take an instant liking to them.
But before I go any further I feel I ought to say something about the feature of Spanish life of which, as a high-minded Englishman—or woman—you disapprove most, to wit, the perfectly shocking practice of bull-fighting. You think it is cruel, inhuman, degrading. Perhaps so. We will see when we attend a bull-fight. But lest you enter Spain with a firmly fixed prejudice in your mind, allow me to point out one redeeming aspect of Spain’s favourite sport—the referee is never, never man-handled at bull-fights.…
Ponder that, and you will no doubt come to the conclusion that Spain and the Spanish cannot be so bad after all.
In purchasing odds and ends for your journey to Spain you may quite safely omit to consult Mr. Keating, in spite of all you may have heard to the contrary. The hotels listed by the Patronato Nacional del Turismo (State Tourist Department), particulars of which you will be given as we go along, are quite clean, and if you choose to go to strange places Mr. Keating will in any case wash his hands of you.
You will need a passport to enter Spain, but no visa. You will have to register with the police within forty-eight hours of your arrival, but that formality will be attended to by the staff of the hotel where you happen to be staying.
With the customs you will have no difficulty, unless you are a drug smuggler, which of course you are not. At whatever point you enter Spain the customs official who examines your luggage will probably apologise to you in English for putting you to this necessary inconvenience. If a customs official should take a fancy to you and desire to detain you for a brief chat, he—or you—may enlist the aid of the uniformed interpreter who is available at most frontier stations, as well as at some other places. There is no charge for this service, though it will not be difficult to persuade the interpreter to accept a gratuity.
You will meet with similar courtesy and helpfulness everywhere in Spain, unless you come up against one of the fat beggars in Madrid and ignore his request for alms. Otherwise the Spanish are charming hosts. But do not think that this is because you are bringing good English currency into the country. The Spanish are not a greedy race, and they do not care a tinker’s cuss whether you visit their country or not, but once you are there they treat you as men and brothers. When travelling on the Spanish railways do not be surprised if a native fellow traveller offers you a cigarette or part of his lunch, and be assured that this is not an empty gesture. They treat each other in the same way, though, for the Spaniard does not consider it “nice” to smoke or eat alone in the presence of others.
Talking of food reminds me of drink, and here is a tip that holds good throughout Spain. If you want the best red wine ask for Marchese de Murieta; the best white wine can be obtained at the Bodegas Bilbainas; while excellent beer is available everywhere.
From wine we ought to go on to women, but my remarks on Spanish señoras and señoritas are intended to run like a golden thread through the whole of this essay and cannot be condensed into a single passage. Here, where I am merely endeavouring to educate you to the right frame of mind in which to enter Spain, I will only say that it is best not to be too enterprising with the exquisitely graceful and alluring daughters of Spain. There may be a stiletto lurking in the background and there is certainly no mañana, mañana about the way stilettos are handled. If a mantilla and a tall comb happens to take a fancy to you—well, then it is entirely up to you whether you take to your heels or whether you take the risk of responding.
I will assume that you enter Spain at the Franco-Spanish frontier station of Irun (fares from London, by the way, are £10 6s. first class, £6 13s. second class, £4 10s. third class, and the time of the journey 16 hours). Being an early bird, you arrive early in the morning, and if you are also a hustler you will take the 8.10 train for San Sebastian.
On the other hand, you may choose to stop at Irun for a few hours, for a purpose that will be revealed to you below. Irun is in Spanish territory, but it is not Spanish. You are now in the Basque country, among a people whose language is as unlike Spanish as it is unlike any other language. The first thing that will strike you about Irun is the number of berets worn by the people. Here, as well as everywhere else in the Basque country, practically everyone wears a beret, and viewed from a certain height, as for instance from a hotel window, a street crowd looks remarkably like a narrow field of black mushrooms.
The second thing that will strike you is that the Spanish are “not so black as they are painted.” Black hair and a dusky complexion are not so general here as you might, have been led to believe, for there are many genuine redheads with blue eyes and fair complexions.
However, it is now time for breakfast. You can have excellent coffee, rolls and butter and pastries at the Hotel Terminus close to the station, or at the Palace Hotel. At the latter the maximum charge is 2.00 pesetas, at the former 1.25 pesetas. You had better learn here and now that all Spanish hotels catering for the tourist are officially graded, and all prices are fixed according to the magnificence or otherwise of the establishment. Thus you need not worry about being fleeced. The fixed charges, as well as the standard of service, are rigidly enforced by the competent authorities, and a hotel-keeper fears nothing so much as an entry in the Complaints Book, which he is obliged to keep and make easily accessible to visitors. Tips are also fixed at from 10 to 20 per cent. of your bill.
But why stop at Irun at all? Because you simply must visit Fuenterrabia, which is within walking distance of Irun.
Fuenterrabia is a small city set on a hill above the river Bidassoa on the coast. The streets of this ancient place are too steep and stony for wheeled traffic and the sun is almost shut out by the roofs and balconies of the picturesque old houses. It is here, in the hushed silence of Fuenterrabia, under the bluest of blue skies, with the heat of the day cooled by the breeze from a mother-of-pearl sea, that you first realise what it is to be in Spain.
Fuenterrabia has a beach and a casino, as well as a cathedral and a castle with many historical associations that may or may not interest you. But if you are lucky you will visit this romantic little place one day in July when the people elect the Alcalde del Mar (Mayor of the Sea). Then there is a picturesque procession of Basque fishermen headed by musicians and a lovely señorita dressed all in white. And later there is a banquet at the new Mayor’s house where they dance the Fandango, the Bolero and the Danza Prima, imitations of which you may have seen on the screen, with true grace and abandon.
I have warned you against being too enterprising with the daughters of Spain; by now you will have realised why. For I am certain sure that within half an hour of your arrival in Fuenterrabia you have fallen “madly” in love at least a score of times.
But that need not prevent you from enjoying your lunch at the Hotel Concha or the Hotel Penon. You will be served a gargantuan meal for the modest sum of 7 pesetas. As to the cuisine—which we will sample as we go along—it is mainly French at the hotels, though Spanish national dishes are available everywhere, and some of them are bound to tickle your palate, provided you can acquire a taste for oil.
San Sebastian is only 16 minutes by train from Irun. In spite of the fact that the town has been used by international politicians for their meetings you can still enjoy yourself at San Sebastian, which is by situation and architecture one of the loveliest places in Europe.
The horseshoe bay of La Concha, the fine beach, Monte Igualda and Monte Urgell at either end of it, and the pine-clad island of Santa Clara in the middle of the bay, cannot fail to enchant you.
San Sebastian, too, is full of bérets. The young men wear trousers that sweep the ground, while most of the señoritas are bare-legged, but otherwise the “local colour” is tucked away in the old part of the town on Monte Urgell.
San Sebastian has a casino, but nowadays it is only used for tame functions—perhaps mothers’ meetings or the like—roulette being prohibited by law. But to console you for being deprived of this chance of losing your money, I will take you to the top of Monte Iguelda by the funicular railway. However, we are not here for the sake of the undoubtedly magnificent view but in order to enjoy ourselves on San Sebastian’s “Coney Island.” There are all sorts of bars, gambling devices and shooting ranges on Monte Iguelda. You can also dance in a long yellow room with green pillars, have a toboggan ride, win a live duck or chicken and, of course, have one over the eight. Even then, however, the waiter will neither overcharge you nor accept a tip, for—you had better remember this—the Spaniard is a caballero, a gentleman, and he will never try to “do” you.
As Monte Iguelda is a place where you will probably need a great deal of change, I might mention here one difficulty that you cannot escape in Spain. It is due to the fact that Spanish silver and copper coins are large and heavy, and as the smallest paper money is 25 pesetas, you must always carry a load of metal in your pockets. You will know what you are in for when I tell you that the most popular coin, the 10 centimo piece, is as large as a penny, while the douro, worth 5 pesetas, is a veritable cart-wheel.
On our return from Monte Iguelda we may visit an open-air café, of which there are many in every Spanish town. San Sebastian’s cafés range from luxury to “so-so” establishments. The most popular drink at the cafés appears to be thick chocolate, which is really delicious, unless you order it at a café belonging to the “so-so” category, when you will get chocolate thickened with flour. The chocolate is served with a roll of sugar which you are supposed to suck. You will also get a hot confection, yellow in colour and twisted in shape, which is quite good.
Lunch time, by the way, is at about 2 o’clock—and never before 1—all over Spain. You can lunch in San Sebastian at any of the scores of good hotels and restaurants, but for your guidance I will take it upon myself to recommend the Hotel Maria Cristina (maximum charge 14 pesetas), Hotel de Londres (maximum 10 pesetas), and the Hotel de la Paz (7 pesetas).
Dinner time starts between 9.30 and 10.30 p.m. If you wish to taste the best of Spanish cooking dine at Rodil’s in the old town on Monte Urgell. Rodil’s is a picturesque place, with check tablecloths and typically Spanish appointments. Their grilled sardines, caught the same day, are delicious. The locally smoked ham, the sliced sausages and the eggs fried in oil and perched on a mountain of rice, are some of the other specialities you will get here. The portions are colossal and you must have the appetite of a navvy to do justice to them.
From the fact that dinner is so late you will have concluded that the Spanish do not believe in the “early to bed early to rise” principle. Thus, after dinner you may repair to La Perla del Oceano, which is a dance-hall cabaret overlooking the plage. Unless you arrive somewhere round midnight you may find the place almost empty. At La Perla you may watch cabaret turns, dance and, of course, drink till morning. And if you are determined to disregard my warning, you may also chum up with one of the ladies.
But you may consider La Perla too tame. In that case go to a music-hall, where you may see some really dazzling turns. Your wife cannot possibly be sufficiently broadminded to accompany you, otherwise her mind would be too broad to be contained in its usual habitat, for the aforesaid dazzling turns are performed by pretty señoritas who either undress on the stage or appear in the altogether. You sit in the auditorium at a small table—as at a café—sipping a more or less expensive drink and watching the performance, possibly through smoked glasses. If you take a fancy to one of the nude señoritas you may “engage” her for as long as you choose.
The place is thoroughly Spanish, with shawls and all the other etceteras, except that the performing señoritas are generally artificial platinum blondes. There are two or three policemen in the auditorium to see that everybody behaves with due decorum.
In parenthesis, the guardia civil is also in evidence on the beach to see that your bathing dress is not too scanty.
After the music-hall you may go to a café. They are open all night, and after a certain hour they are invaded—in a most ladylike manner—by professional ladies who, under the eyes of the police, offer their company to the male patrons. It is part of the etiquette of such encounters to offer the lady a cigarette.
Talking about cigarettes reminds me that tobacco is very cheap in Spain, but ready-made cigarettes are not commonly sold at the tobacconists’ shops. Unless you wish to pay fancy prices for imported English brands you must roll your own cigarettes or ask expressly for cigarillos ya hechos. (If you pronounce this thigariyyos yah hechos you cannot go far wrong.) Canarias are not a bad example of the few Spanish brands of ready-made cigarettes.
To return to San Sebastian, you can indulge in every sort of sport in this lovely place in addition to “star gazing.” There are horse-races, motor races, yacht regattas, tennis tournaments, golf matches, pelota games (about which more anon) and bull fights. But we will not attend a bull fight until we reach a more typically Spanish town.
Of course, San Sebastian also has some famous buildings, etc., but you will see those in any case, so there is no need to call attention to them. On the other hand, there are countless excursions that can be made from San Sebastian, to some of which I must refer. You can take a beautiful half-day trip to Zumaya, returning to San Sebastian via Tolosa. Loyola, the birthplace of Saint Ignatius de Loyola, is also within easy distance of San Sebastian, and so is the Pass of Azarete, from which you get a breath-takingly lovely view. Details of such trips can be easily obtained at the office of the Patronato Nacional del Turismo, where at least one clerk will be able to converse with you in English. But if you wish to see picturesque and amusing things, try to see the environs of San Sebastian on a Sunday, when the people go to church in their colourful Sunday best, and thereafter enjoy their leisure in various interesting ways. Above all, you will be able to convince yourself that the institution of chaperons still exists in Spain. The chaperons are invariably heavyweights, and they invariably carry a dainty fan which they handle with the skill of a conjurer. But pray do not shed tears over the sad fate of the Madonna-faced señoritas who are thus guarded by their elderly female relations, for the said female relations are more amenable to reason than they used to be, as you will see further on.
I assume that your visit to Spain falls in the summer, when it is uncomfortably hot in the interior, so I will keep you within range of the sea breezes from the Bay of Biscay. But before we go on to Bilbao I must tell you a few things about the Spanish railways. Firstly, the stations all over Spain leave much to be desired in the matter of cleanliness. Irun and San Sebastian are no criterion, the former being a frontier station, and the latter the most “Europeanised” city in the country. Otherwise—well, it has got to be said—the railway stations are so dirty that you could not be blamed for assuming that they have been deliberately made so for some obscure and mysterious reason. Secondly, the railways are run by various companies, and you never know what trains have first- and second-class accommodation only, or first- and third-class only. Thirdly, the trains do not run punctually, though that is not a serious matter, since, being on holiday, you are not in a hurry. And fourthly and lastly, you have to wait in a queue for a long time before you can book your ticket, while the booking clerk, presumably, is quarrelling with or making love to his sweetheart. However, it may tickle your sense of humour to know that you are not allowed to use the waiting-room until you have booked your ticket, and you cannot book your ticket until a few minutes before your train is due to depart.
But apart from the above defects the Spanish railways are perfect.… At all events, they are cheap, probably far cheaper than any other railways in Europe.
Bilbao is not one of the show places of the country, but it is worth a brief visit. In fact, it is the Manchester of Spain, with a busy port and important industries, excellent hotels and quite a number of beggars, including children. But comparison with Manchester need not deter you from having a peep at Bilbao, which is magnificently situated and has never been mentioned in the same breath with the nether regions. Bilbao has an English colony and an English church—two facts which I mention without comment.
By the way, if you decide to spend a night in Bilbao and are lucky enough to be staying at one of a chain of hotels, the manager may give you a recommendation to the rest of the chain in other places, where you will then receive a worth-while rebate.
Before we leave Bilbao—if you decide to go there at all—I must not forget to mention that this city contains the most notable sight in all Spain, to wit, a large number of Spaniards who actually work!
The train journey from Bilbao to Santander takes some three and a half hours, and as the Spanish railway companies are anxious to enable their passengers to see the scenery, your train will travel slowly enough to allow you to enjoy some truly magnificent mountain scenery on this route. In addition, you will see grapes, grapes and grapes everywhere.
Santander is another of those places that you wish to omit from your itinerary, in this instance because it is the second most fashionable seaside resort in Spain after San Sebastian, and therefore in many respects like the latter. However, to my mind Santander is the more romantic of the two. It really consists of two towns, Santander proper, which is the old part, and the suburb of Sardinero, which is modern and has one of the loveliest beaches in Spain. Santander, apart from glorious weather, and romantic moonlit or starry nights, possesses all the usual amenities of the seaside resorts of its class, including a tennis club which is also a dance club and which the foreign visitor is allowed to join. Another thing that might interest you about Santander, particularly if you come from “ayont the Tweed,” is the fact that although hotels all over Spain are allowed to charge up to 50 per cent. over and above the listed prices during the principal season and on special occasions, Santander hoteliers hardly ever take advantage of this privilege.
Among Santander hotels I can recommend the Hotel Real (luxury), the Royalty (medium) and the Continental (inexpensive), but I only mention these by way of example, for all Spanish hotels under the Patronato Nacional del Turismo are really excellent in their respective classes. By the way, there is one thing about Spanish hotels that you ought to know. If on going to bed you put your shoes outside your door, you can be quite certain that they will not be mixed up with other people’s shoes, no matter how small or large the hotel happens to be. Such accidents cannot possibly happen in any Spanish hotel, for the very good reason that there is no one to clean the visitors’ shoes. On the other hand, there are shoeblacks at every corner in every town of any size, and you can have your shoes cleaned for a few coppers.
But to return to our muttons, you can make some memorable excursions from Santander. The local office of the ubiquitous Patronato Nacional del Turismo will tell you all about the routine side of them, and I need only call attention to the most interesting trips.
One is to Santillana del Mar and the Caverns of Altamira. Santillana is an archaic little town, and the Caverns, about 2 miles from the former, contain the most remarkable prehistoric paintings.
If you are interested in mountains and mountaineering, you might also care to visit the Picos de Europa, the highest mountains in Northern Spain, but practically unknown to the traditional tourist. You can reach the Picos de Europa by train and bus combined, as the Patronato Nacional del Turismo office will tell you.
And by the way Santillana is not just another show place. Firstly, your bus passes under arcades of eucalyptus trees—which is sufficient to indicate that this is a lovely journey. Then, when you reach Santillana, you will see the first lemon trees in your experience and a quaint, small world that is run almost entirely by donkey power. In fact, if you have never seen “the lion lying down with the lamb,” here in Santillana you will see the donkey lying down with his master, for the people live under the same roof with their domestic animals.
And here is a useful tip. If you know how to handle a camera you can pay for your holiday and make a bit towards the next, by taking photographs at places like Santillana.
Oviedo and Gijon are the last places you will touch—if you like—along the northern coast of Spain. Oviedo used to be known as a “holy” city, but that need not frighten you away. At the moment it is—or was just after the last revolution which started there—in an unholy mess, and all the sights, except the cathedral, have been smashed up. Gijon is about half the size of Oviedo and is really a lovely place, whose inhabitants are too busy lounging and talking football to start revolutions. Gijon, after all, deserves a visit if you want to know not only Spain but also the Spanish. It is the general belief in England that Southerners are very strict in the matter of morals, that is to say, feminine morals. Well, the following scene, which you may sometimes witness at Gijon as well as at other Spanish towns, may be interpreted either as a contradiction to or as a confirmation of that view. Of a summer evening part of the main street is closed to traffic, a policeman driving a painted stake into the ground at each end of the space to be cleared. All the eligible girls of the town, wearing their best shawls and etceteras, walk up and down the clear stretch, accompanied by their mothers or sisters. On each side there is a cordon of young men, for whose benefit the young señoritas exhibit themselves. The show lasts for about an hour, during which one young man after another detaches himself from the cordon, and walking up to a chosen damsel invites her for er … for a walk. Thereupon the chaperon—didn’t I say that they were amenable to reason?—vamooses. And when the majority of the young caballeros—and señoritas—have been “suited,” the policeman collects his pretty stakes and the traffic restarts. Of course, it sometimes happens that two caballeros take a fancy to the same damsel and walk up to her simultaneously. In such cases one of the young men may gracefully retire, but he may also choose to provide an interesting spectacle for the crowds who, with their hands perpetually in their pockets, spend their time loitering in the streets.
Thus authority in Spain appears to be deeply concerned about the future of the race, and in this connection I am reminded of an interesting story I heard from a Spanish friend. As you will see for yourself in the part of Spain where we now are, there are remarkably large numbers of children of the baby class everywhere, but particularly in the villages. My friend explained that this was due to a rumour that was current among the people a few years ago to the effect that all fathers were going to receive so many pesetas per week for each child. The people were eager to obtain “something for nothing”—and there you were. Then, when it was found that the rumour was only a rumour, the people ceased to take an interest in the increase of their country’s population.
I do not know whether this is true or not, but it deserves to be true.
Gijon, by the way, is the home of Spanish football. You will find that football is becoming increasingly popular all over the country, to the detriment of bull-fighting. You can see good football matches each week in most Spanish cities, and the best Spanish footballers are quite good even according to English standards.
Burgos, in Old Castile, can be reached from San Sebastian in a few hours. If you are interested in art treasures of all kinds—churches, archeological museums and the like—you can spend an enjoyable day, or year, at Burgos.
But this is by the way, since you will find all the information you require about Burgos in the ordinary guidebooks.
On the other hand Corunna, which is within easy distance of Gijon, is interesting, in that it is the Spanish Blackpool. It is here that you land if you travel to Spain by steamer from Southampton. Corunna is crowded in the summer by foreign, as well as Spanish, visitors who, naturally, also bring their children. Corunna (or Coruña) is accordingly an inexpensive holiday resort, and the majority of the thirty or so hotels listed by our old friend the Patronato Nacional del Turismo have very low maximum charges. The interesting thing about this place, from your point of view, is the fact that it brings you into close contact with the Spanish people, particularly the middle classes and the lower middle classes. I am sure you will find them charming. If you make friends with a Spanish family and happen to admire one or other of their possessions, they may promptly offer it to you as a gift. It goes without saying that you must refuse. Whatever the subject of your conversation with a Spaniard may be, it will inevitably veer round to lotteries, which you will be offered by vendors wherever you go. The Spanish are great gamblers, though only in a small way, and you are sure to be dragged along to a pelota match (something like tennis), which no one attends for any other reason than to bet on the result.
If you sneeze in the presence of a Spaniard, particularly a woman, do not be alarmed if you hear the exclamation “Jesús” or “Jesús, Maria y José”; they are not swearing at you, merely wishing you well.
A more important thing that you must know is that the Spaniard is passionate in his political beliefs, and you had better not discuss politics with your native friends. True, there may be an advertisement of some kind in your hotel room to the effect that this or that political party are traitors but that is not really intended for you but for the native visitor.
To say that Corunna is a lovely place, particularly in summer, is superfluous; to detail its charms would be more superfluous still. But you may be interested to learn that the women of Corunna are reputed to be the smartest in all Spain.
When in Corunna you are bound to hear about Santiago, the “Rome of the West” and probably meet pilgrims—probably Irish—going there.
Now, although Santiago has little more to offer than beautiful architecture and art treasures, you ought to visit this ancient city. It is different from the usual “museum” cities, though it is difficult to say why. It has an atmosphere of its own, and it shows you a different aspect of Spain from anything you have seen so far. It is a city of eloquent silence. The streets are too narrow to allow of vehicular traffic and there is a reverent note even in the echo of your footsteps.
Santiago is surrounded by mountains, with Monte Pedros on one side and Pico Sacro on the other. The streets are paved with huge, uneven blocks of the same grey granite of which the great cathedral and ancient houses are built. The cathedral is the finest Romanesque church in Spain. In addition, there are forty-six other churches, scores of chapels and many convents. According to tradition Santiago owes its foundation to a miracle. During the reign of Alfonso II a star appeared one night over an oak tree near Padron (a few miles from Santiago) and, followed by devout watchers, revealed the burial-place of St. James, martyred eight centuries before in the Holy Land. The bones of the saint were transferred to what is now Santiago de Compostela (“Field of the Star”) and during five or six centuries attracted pilgrims from all over Europe. Santiago to-day is a characteristic city of Galicia. It has the rainiest climate in all Spain, and its arcaded streets are overgrown with grass and flowers and even cabbage plants. Santiago is also the centre of an excellent trout-fishing country.
The inhabitants of Santiago—and Galicia as a whole—are of the same race as the Portuguese, but you will see no difference between them and the Spanish. The uniformed guide-interpreter who takes you round the sights is just as voluble, the beggars just as insistent as elsewhere in Spain, and the policeman on the Plaza del Hospital, the finest square in all Spain, smokes cigarettes while on duty just as nonchalantly as in Gijon or Oviedo.
The new quarter of Santiago is abominable, and you will lose nothing by giving it a wide berth.
The hotels, as everywhere else in Spain, are good. If you are lucky enough to be at Santiago on July 25th, when the principal pilgrimage of the year takes place and there are colourful ceremonies at the cathedral, you can stay at the Compuesta or at the Suizo.
As you perhaps know, King Edward VIII, as Prince of Wales, visited Santiago; and the giant censer, which is otherwise only used on July 25th, was swung for his especial benefit.
Vigo, Spain’s most important Atlantic port, is some three hours by train from Santiago. Vigo is a place of romantic and enchanting beauty, and if breath-taking scenic loveliness means anything to you, you can have your fill of it here. That is all there is to Vigo, and it is not really different from other southern ports. But it has a fish market that is even more picturesque than Billingsgate, and that is saying a great deal. That it is far, far dirtier than London’s famous fish mart is a fact that only adds to its colourfulness.
But you can make many lovely trips from Vigo, by train, bus or boat. By the way, boating on the rias (small bays) and allowing the Spanish sun and the Atlantic breeze to give you a healthy tan, can be very pleasurable, and costs next to nothing. The Patronato Nacional del Turismo office on the quay will give you all the information you require in connection with boating trips.
The best excursions include a one-day trip by private car (about £4 for four persons) along the south shore of the Bay of Vigo to Redondela and along the north shore to Cangas, then to Pontevedra, the Isla de la Toya and the small port and fishing village of Villagarcia.
If you want to stay at Vigo the Hotel Universal will accommodate you as well as any other, and it possesses the advantage that it overlooks the Ria. In addition, it is inexpensive.
I advise you to go from Vigo to Leon by road, no matter how you contrive it. If you can hire a car, so much the better, if not, then walk. The roads are not merely good or excellent, but magnificent.
By now Spain will have “grown on you,” but if you walk from Vigo to Leon it will get into your blood. You will establish contact with the common people and understand them with the understanding of affection. You will pass through lovely villages and through constantly changing scenery. You will walk for miles and miles through vineyards laden with bunches of grapes such as you have never dreamt of. You will meet peasants driving primitive ox carts, sturdy yet graceful peasant women carrying enormous weights on their heads and stepping along lightly, without a trace of effort or strain.
And you will realise that ceremonial is not confined to classes but is general throughout Spain. There is a ceremonial in everything, in the way you are greeted as well as in the manner you are received at a humble home.
The journey from Vigo to Leon will be all the more enjoyable the less you know about it beforehand. It will give you a pleasant surprise at every turn. There is only one surprise you will be spared, and that is bad weather. The road leads up hill and down vale and sometimes you will be walking—or driving—thousands of feet above sea level, where the weather may be rather cool, but most of the time you will have bright blue skies and the sort of heat that is never oppressive.
And everywhere you will meet with exquisite courtesy and a wholehearted helpfulness that you will be bound to recognise as the genuine thing, for the simple reason that it is genuine, and it often happens that a gratuity is definitely refused even by poor peasants.
Leon has a cathedral that you must see even if you are otherwise not interested in churches and their architecture. It is the most remarkable cathedral in all Spain and its 13,000 square feet of stained glass is a truly magnificent sight, and when the sun shines through it the whole cathedral is bathed in wonderful colours. All sorts of biblical and other subjects are depicted on the stained glass, and ho matter what your tastes are you can spend many enjoyable hours admiring this fairy tale magnificence.
The rest of the sights you will find described in the ordinary guide-books, and I will only add here that the Hotel Oliden is an excellent place for meals.
A few miles out of Leon there is Manzilla, which you must visit if you wish to see a real Moorish village. It looks like a piece of Africa with its baked mud-houses and the open market-place crowded with black-clad women. Manzilla is full of mules and its agricultural community provides endless subjects for the camera.
Valladolid is a few miles from Leon. Here, if you are interested in such things, you can visit the house of Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote, in the Calle de Miguel Iscar.
Do not be surprised if you meet in the street a group of young Englishmen, or elderly Englishmen for that matter. For Valladolid has an English Theological College! How it came to be there I do not know, but it is there, professors and all.
You know, of course, that it was at Valladolid that Christopher Columbus died in poverty and squalor.
The English students at Valladolid will probably tell you where you can see a portrait of God. There is a library in the city which contains one of the oldest published histories of the world, and it is in that volume that the portrait is contained, together with other interesting pictures of the creation of the world, etc.
Then on to Salamanca, of which you must have heard in connection with a famous battle fought around there by the Duke of Wellington. Here again the ordinary guide-books will tell you all about the “sights,” and I will only mention one interesting thing about Salamanca—there is an advertisement in its tall cathedral informing the world that you can be confessed within in sixteen different languages.
Salamanca has a university that you may be interested to see, the more so as it is very easy to get one of the young caballeros who study there to show you round, which is far more interesting than engaging a guide.
The fact that Salamanca possesses a private wireless broadcast station reminds me that radio is so widespread in Spain as to become a nuisance. You seem to be hearing radio loudspeakers all day and all night everywhere, except in the smallest villages.
Another much more pleasant characteristic of Spanish cities is the fact that they are beautifully illuminated at night. You have noticed this at San Sebastian and Santander, but these places would be no criterion, since they are fashionable resorts and would be expected to have such displays. But it is the same almost everywhere in Spain, and apart from being attractive it makes it easier for the foreign visitor to get used to the late hours the Spanish keep.
Salamanca, of course, has many hotels and they are incredibly cheap. For instance, the Hosteria Vasca, where there is running hot and cold water and a telephone in each room—the latter is a rarity in Spanish hotels—will give you full board residence at a maximum price of 15 pesetas per day, or less than 10s.
If you are interested in cheerful “sights” you may visit the Death House, where the Inquisition used to store the dead bodies of their victims pending disposal. The Shell House, which has nothing to do with petrol, is a large building whose walls are covered with large shells or scollops. There is supposed to be an ingot of gold behind each shell, but the inhabitants of Salamanca dare not test the truth of this rumour in case it turns out to be false.
Salamanca, by the way, is in Banana Land. There are bananas everywhere, and at every turn you are invited by a banana seller to have one.
Salamanca’s bull farms may be visited by the foreign tourist who has a good guide. They are smallish but vicious beasts that they breed there, and if a record were kept of all the matadors gored by them.…!
Avila is a small city within 40 miles or so of Madrid. It is really too hot in summer to go there, but we are on our way to Madrid—which we simply must see, however hot it is—and it will do no harm to stop here for a few hours.
Avila shows many signs of the Moorish occupation, which, however, you must see for yourself. The most interesting thing about it is the battlements, and if the weather is only tolerably hot you can walk round them, though you can always do so in the evening. If you are lucky enough to be at Avila on market day you will see picturesque crowds of villagers who bring their goods to market in panniers carried by donkeys. Broad-brimmed hats, long capes, short breeches is the wear of the men; the costume of the women is uninteresting. If your eardrums are quite sound you may walk round the marketplace and listen to the shrill cries of the sellers, which from a distance sound like the screams of a hundred thousand people who are being murdered.
Before you leave Avila you must visit the tomb of Tomas de Torquemada, the first Chief Inquisitor of Spain, a kind gentleman who was so anxious for the salvation of the souls of the Jews that he burned their bodies.
And now to Madrid!
Before you enter Madrid you must know a few things that will save you a great deal of annoyance during your stay in the city.
First, there are the crowds of beggars, whom even the recent strenuous efforts of the Spanish authorities have failed to suppress. On no account must you give alms to any of these gentry, young or old. If a beggar approaches you you must completely ignore him, as if he did not exist. To speak to him is fatal, even to turn your head and look at him is a mistake. Madrid beggars are very persistent and a special technique is necessary to shake them off. But you can easily acquire this technique if you start early enough.
You need not be sorry for any Madrid beggar. Begging is regarded as a profession like any other, and you will see that these pests thrive at it from the fact that there are so many fat beggars in Spain.
Second, beware of Madrid’s shoeblacks. For some unfathomable reason the Spaniard takes pride in brightly polished footwear, and if you sit or stand anywhere where you can easily be approached a shoeblack—or half a dozen of them—will appear from nowhere and start polishing your shoes without a by-your-leave. Of course, the shoeblacks are caballeros as compared with the beggars, and may sometimes even amuse you with their antics, but they are nevertheless a nuisance. See to it that when you go to one of the many open-air cafés you sit somewhere in the interior and not on the edge of the terrace, otherwise you will not have a moment’s rest from the shoeblacks.
Thirdly, and lastly, there are the cinemas. Although you are not likely to want to visit a cinema in Madrid, particularly in hot weather, it will do no harm to warn you that there are few picture houses in the Spanish capital that you can visit without the risk of carrying away fleas—and worse—in your clothes.
Madrid is almost in the exact centre of Spain, but although at times it can be grillingly hot, that is not always the case. Madrid lies 2,000 feet above sea-level, and the heat is therefore always bearable.
The Spanish capital is one of those cities about which, when you have been there once or twice, you find it difficult to start your story, but once you have started you do not know how to stop. Perhaps the first thing I ought to tell you about Madrid is that it has good W.C.’s. Up till now you may have cursed the Spanish a great deal for the defective sanitary arrangements almost everywhere, except at the best hotels. Here in Madrid you will have no cause thus to imperil your immortal soul. There are satisfactory W.C.’s not only in every hotel, but also in every private house. It is said that this was enforced in Madrid by a. previous government.
Let us hope that there will be no revolution when you arrive in Madrid. But even if there is you need not worry. You see, the universally held idea that the Spanish are an excitable race is wholly erroneous. They are calm enough even according to the standards of the traditionally phlegmatic Englishman, and that is precisely why they indulge in a revolution every now and then. It is fun. It wakes them up a bit, even if only for a little while. You, a foreign tourist, may watch a revolution from a café or from a hotel window, without interference from anyone, though the Madrileños do not—as yet—go so far as to organise revolutions for the especial benefit of foreign tourists. At all events, you will find that a little shooting in the streets and a few bomb explosions does not upset anyone, and the idlers at the cafés do not even pause in the act of stirring their drinks at the sound of a nearby explosion.
So that is one side of the Spanish character you did not know.
Madrid, next to Berlin, is the youngest of European capitals, and some say that it is the ambition of the Spanish to make it into a replica of Paris. That is not true. Madrid is a far gayer city than Paris, and it is after all the mood of the inhabitants that lends individual character to a city.
The general street scene suggests that no one is really working, except the beggars and the gentry who peddle shoe-laces, braces, walking-sticks, postcards, and so on and so forth. The rest of the population, with few exceptions, appear to be idling away their time in the open-air cafés, talking politics or “romancing.” In no other city in the world can you hear so many tall stories as in Madrid. Also, you sometimes come up against tall facts, so to speak. For instance, some of the restaurants are closed in summer, just when they could reap a golden harvest.
Talking about restaurants reminds me to recommend you a few: Lhardy, on Carrera de San Jeronimo, Tournié on Calle Mayor (French cooking), Molinero on Avenida del Conde de Penalver, and the Buffet Italiano (Italian cooking) on Carrera de San Jeronimo, are all good, while at the Casa Botin, which is a typically Madrileño eating-place, you can either indulge in a memorable gastronomic experiment or lay the foundations of chronic dyspepsia. However, you may find several of the above places, with the exception of the last-named, closed, in which case you will have to feed at the Savoy on the Prado or at any other of the hundred or so hotels and restaurants listed by the Patronato Nacional del Turismo. In fact, if you believe in the safety-first principle you can do no better than ask for a list of hotels at one of the P. N. T. offices. The list will probably include, among others, the Hotels Londres, Florida, and Regina.
In Madrid, in particular, you will hear that the duros, or 5-peseta pieces, are mostly counterfeit, and you will be advised to ring every one of them when you change a note. There may be something in this, but I have never met any foreign visitor to Madrid who could confirm this from personal experience.
Madrid being a comparatively modern city, it has few notable sights, that is to say, sights that would be included in a conservative guide-book. But if you wish to do a round of the city you can start from the Puerta del Sol, an irregularly shaped central square from which ten streets radiate, including the Calle Alcalá and the Carrera de San Jeronimo, both of which run into the Paseos, and the Calle del Arenal and the Calle Mayor which will take you to the Royal Palace. The Calle Alcalá and the Gran Via (a general name for three boulevards) are the most modern thoroughfares in Madrid. Of course, you will have to visit the Royal Palace, the Prado and the Armeria Real. At the Prado you will see pictures by Velazquez, Goya, El Greco, Murillo, and so on, but, frankly, unless you can spend several days at the Prado, and unless you are able to appreciate and have a taste for great painting, a visit to the Prado is a waste of your time.
The Armeria Real contains a magnificent collection of lethal weapons and armour.
But what may interest you far more is the fact that all the shops in Madrid are open till 10 o’clock in the evening; and you need never hurry with your shopping. There are no luxury shops in Madrid, unless they are tucked away out of sight of the average wideawake tourist. You may, and should, bargain at all the shops. However, Madrid is not such a good shopping centre as, for instance, Paris. If you are taking my lady, see that the Spanish shawl she buys is really Spanish and not imported. If you are out for low-priced antiques, look the article over carefully to see whether its place of origin is not Birmingham. But you can pick up a few lovely things in Madrid at no greater cost than their true worth, such as lace shawls and mantillas of Granadine workmanship, pottery, faience and ceramics, wrought-iron articles, rugs, etc. If you like that sort of adventure go to the Sunday market in the Rastro, which is Madrid’s Petticoat Lane and quite interesting.
If you propose to spend real money in shopping, it will pay you to engage a reliable guide recommended by the Patronato Nacional del Turismo. You will save a great deal more than the guide’s fee. However, some guides have an arrangement with certain shops whereby they are paid a secret commisssion which, of course, is added to the price. If you notice anything like this report at once to the P. N. T.—for the sake of other tourists.
On the other hand, if my lady desires a shampoo, trim, wave, singe, etc., she may confidently enter any hairdressing establishment in the principal thoroughfare in the knowledge that she will be served with the greatest possible speed, efficiency and courtesy at a ridiculously low price. Madrid’s hairdressers are true artists and take pride in their craft.
Barbers are also excellent. It may be accepted as a general rule that although the Spaniard is not exactly a glutton for work, once he undertakes a job he performs it as well as possible.
Taxis are quite cheap in Madrid, but the foreign visitor has no need to use them. The buses, where you travel in the company of native Madrileños are much better. From their conversation you will gather what lies uppermost in their minds, and even if you know no Spanish, or only a few words, the most frequently repeated words and phrases are bound to stick in your memory. For instance, a foreigner staying in London is bound to hear the phrase “All the winners!” so often that he becomes curious and finds out. And from the interpretation of this cry of news-vendors he will easily conclude that the English are not indifferent to horse racing. The word you will hear very frequently in Spain is corrida or the name of a toreador or a toreadorette, if I may be permitted to use the word. For there are now several lady toreadors in Madrid, which represents the thin end of the wedge in the emancipation of women in Spain.
We now ought to go to the bull-ring, but before we do so let us go over the more normal amusements that are available in Madrid. First of all, you must know that the Spanish year consists of so many holidays and a number of working days designed to afford a change for the people of the Peninsula. There is, of course, general merry-making on holidays, in addition to fiestas every other day in the summer. Throughout the week before Lent—carnival week—there is riotous, but always picturesque and charming, merry-making on the Paseos. On Ash Wednesday a boisterous ceremony accompanies the “Burial of the Sardine” beyond the Puente de Toledo on the southwestern edge of the city.
On working days—or shall we say non-holidays?—you sleep half through the day, then, having eaten the regulation number of meals, you go to a café or to a cabaret. I have already described the Spanish cabarets elsewhere, but in Madrid they are naturally smarter than in the smaller cities. The locale is more gorgeous, the ladies prettier and far better dressed—or better undressed—and, of course, far, far more expensive.
But lest you should think that women of easy virtue are common in Spain, let me inform you that what I said about the reasonableness of chaperones in connection with towns in Northern Spain does not apply to Madrid. Here respectable girls are always strictly chaperoned and a girl of the upper middle class may not go out alone even during the day.
By the way, dowries are not part of the marriage customs in Spain. A girl is supposed to receive her share of the family fortune when her parents die, so that if a young caballero falls in love with her he must marry her without a dot and risk it whether his parents-in-law are long-lived or not. None the less, romance still flourishes in Spain, and you may be kept awake all night by the guitar of a young man serenading his sweetheart near by And you would not have the heart to protest, would you?
Madrid has the largest bull-ring in Spain, with seating accommodation for more than 50,000 people. The average Englishman would refuse to attend a bull-fight, and rightly so. Why should he watch cruelty of a different kind from what he is used to? But we, you and I, are in this dilemma, that unless we attend such a degrading show at least once we shall be unable to tell exactly how degrading it is, or to reflect afterwards on ways and means of converting the Spanish people to our own point of view. Therefore we must join the crowds of people who are streaming towards the bull-ring from all parts of the city.
You will have received gratuitous advice from your waiter, the page-boy, the man who sat next to you in the café, the barber who patronises you, and from several other people whom you have never met before, what particular bull-fight to attend, what seats to book, and so do. Or, if you are able to read Spanish, you will have read the bull-fighting column of the Heraldo de Madrid or one of the special bull-fight rags. You also know that matadors are heroes, who differ from butchers in that they kill the bull in a fair fight, and are therefore rewarded with huge sums. Perhaps you have been fortunate enough to see one of these heroes with your own eyes, as they whizzed past you in their huge and luxurious Hispano-Suizas.
Now, on a hot Sunday afternoon, you are sitting on one side, the shady side, of the vast amphitheatre, with the golden sand of the arena below you and serried rows of the poorer class of Madrileños opposite you, on the sunny side, with faces bathed in perspiration. To the right and left of you there are crowds of well-to-do Spaniards, the men in wide-brimmed sombreros, the ladies in white mantillas. Everyone is talking at the top of their voices, yet they are out-shouted by the aguadores, or water-sellers, who with great jars and jingling glasses push their way through the throng. Then there are the people who sell oranges, newspapers, fans, shellfish of all kinds, pictures of the heroes of the day. Talk, laughter, the electric atmosphere of anticipation—they are about to see blood spilt, it does not much matter whose blood. Everybody is here, and everybody shares this mood of excited anticipation. If you stop near the passage way you will see respectable daddies and mummies with their children pass through, as well as municipal or political dignitaries and perhaps some of the ladies you saw at the cabaret the previous night. One must be less than human not to be carried away by the electric atmosphere, which increases in tension as the time of the show approaches.
There is a long-drawn cry from the crowd, then silence. Suddenly a trumpet call rends the air, then again silence. The arena is cleared and from behind a door in the barriers comes a fantastic and splendid procession. First the three matadores in coloured satin and gold, followed by their cuadrillas, capeadores, banderilleros, with the picadores on horseback, and last of all the chulos, whose task it is to carry off the dead bull. The procession stops before the president and salute him.
By the way, the president is the person who gives various signals, acting as a sort of conductor of the bull-fight. He may be a prominent politician or a municipal dignitary, and he is generally guarded by an army of policemen. I observed above that the Spanish do not man-handle the referee at bull-fights. That is because there is no referee. But they would man-handle a president who gave the signals wrongly but for the presence of the aforesaid arms of the law.
The president flings a key into the arena, which the alguacil catches and delivers to the torilero. The latter runs to a great door and flings it open, while the rest of the men in the arena rapidly doff the more gorgeous parts of their splendid raiment.
Dead silence. Very quietly a bull enters the arena, and looks about him stupidly. He is obviously bewildered by the brilliant light and the medley of colours. A thunderous roar goes up from the vast multitude. They are applauding the bull, but the bull does not understand their applause.
After this the fight may proceed in various different ways. Usually, however, the bull charges the picadores who, as you will remember, are on horseback. They carry spears with which to repulse the bull, but their real skill lies in swinging the horse aside. Sometimes it happens that they fail, and then the horse—always frightened to death from the first—is gored. If you have never heard a wounded horse scream, and particularly if your nerves are not made of steel, I hope you will never hear it. The wounded horse—it depends on the nature of the wound—plunges, then falls on its knees and rolls over. In that case the chulos rush up, help the picador to his feet, then proceed to beat and kick the poor horse in an effort to make it rise. If they do not succeed, they despatch the horse and later they carry it off the arena. But the picador ought to have drawn blood from the bull, and having missed he is hooted by the crowd. If the horse is not very severely wounded, even then you hear that terrible animal shriek.
The object of this first round, during which one or other of the picadors is bound to register a hit with his spear, is to excite the bull.
The second round is fought by the banderilleros, after the picadores with their mounts have left the arena. The banderilleros are armed with darts about 3 feet long, and it is their task to land three pairs of these in the bull’s neck in order to make him angrier still. The banderillero stops a few paces from the bull, stamps his foot and jeers at him; when the bull charges he steps aside and plants his darts.
When either a picador or a banderillero is in danger the matador will try to distract the bull’s attention by waving his red cloth.
But it is in the third round that the matador plays his star part, and there is more skill and less cruelty displayed in this round than in the preceding two.
The matador steps in front of the president, bows and declaims a traditional formula, swearing to kill the bull even at the cost of his own life. The speech is invariably applauded by the spectators who are now in a state of wild excitement that—well, it is not good to see. The women, if anything, are worse than the men, and their sadistic screams are a torment to hear. Some women appear to hide their faces behind their fans, but it is quite obvious that they are thrilled to the marrow.
The matador, in gold and brocade, steps forward, all alone. His muleta, the red cloth, conceals his sword. The maddened bull charges. Sometimes you think, and so does the crowd, that the matador’s last moment has arrived. At such times the spectators stand up, moan, neigh and exhibit every sign of intolerable excitement. But the matador always manages to fling the muleta over the bull’s head and to step aside. Very brave and all that sort of thing, but if you know anything about showmanship you will immediately realise that the pig-tailed gentleman—all matadores wear a pig-tail—deliberately arranges matters so that he should appear to be in danger of instant death.
In the end the matador kills the bull with his sword.
Of course, one bull is nothing. The usual number to be killed in one afternoon is four or five. Also, there are all sorts of trumpet calls and other ceremonial signals. Similarly, there is abuse of the president, or of the picadores or banderilleros if they make a mistake of any sort. And when the last bull has been killed the more courageous members of the audience rush into the ring and kick the dead bull.
Needless to say, the matador is hero-worshipped by all, something like a cross between a matinee idol and a boxing champion in European countries.
When you are in Madrid you must do what is done so far as to visit El Escorial. If you do not, people will shake their heads in disapproval, though if you do some others may shake their heads in pity. El Escorial was built by or for a Spanish king and took twenty years to raise. It is really, at all events mainly, a burial-place, and it contains scores of tombs, both full and empty. It has 120 miles of corridors, eighty-six staircases, eighty-eight fountains and hundreds and hundreds of doors, also a number of tapestries which you may or may not admire. Still, one never knows, you may enjoy a visit to El Escorial.
But Toledo is a very different matter. You can reach it via Aranjuez by train in less than two hours, and I am sure you will not regret whatever time you spend there. I have no hesitation in saying that Toledo is the most interesting town, not only in Spain, but also in the whole of Europe.
Toledo’s history is the history of Spain, and you see traces of every phase wherever you look. Toledo is all the more beautiful and impressive because it is in barren country. It stands aloft on a rugged precipitous hill, with the gorge of the Tagus surrounding it on three sides.
For some reason that no one seems to know you are more likely to meet Spanish gipsies in this region than anywhere else in Spain—at least that is the experience of many people I know.
It is hardly necessary to tell you what to see in Toledo. On the one hand, you may prefer just to be in Toledo; and on the other, you cannot help seeing majesty, beauty and loveliness wherever you go. As you probably know, Toledo figured very importantly during the Moorish occupation of Spain, when it had 200,000 inhabitants and was the centre of the only important Hebrew civilisation of modern times. Long before that it was a Roman town, the capital of the Visigothic Empire. From the Moors it was captured by the Cid—Spain’s national hero—and was thereafter for 500 years the capital of Christian Spain. To-day, with only 23,000 inhabitants, Toledo reflects all this; and more, in every building, every stone.
Picking out a few of the sights at random, you will be interested to see the two synagogues, S. Maria la Blanca, founded in the twelfth century, and Del Transito, built by Samuel Levi, treasurer to Pedro El Cruel, around 1366. Both are interesting examples of the Moorish style. The two synagogues were seized by S. Vicente Ferrar in 1405. This saint roused the people of Toledo to fury until they massacred all or most of the Jewish inhabitants. The small but lovely mosque is still in existence, and now an “ancient monument” in the hands of the Spanish Government.
Toledo has a magnificent cathedral, and if you happen to time your visit for Holy Week, you can witness religious ceremonials of great pomp and splendour.
Most of Toledo, including some of the churches, bear traces of Moorish influence, and nearly all the houses are Moorish. There is a long entrance passage with an immense door studded with nails. Beyond this passage you come to the patio, or court, in the middle of which you will generally find a well. In the hottest months an awning is stretched over the court, and it is here that the owner and his family rest or sleep during the day. You can easily see the interior of one of these houses if you make yourself agreeable to one of the natives.
If you wish to carry away a souvenir from Toledo you will probably buy a penknife or a similar trifle made of Toledo steel, which is reputed to be the best in the world, due, it is said, to a mysterious property in the local water.
On the other hand, if you are interested in art, you may go to San Tome, in the Moorish quarter, and see an organ decorated with stained glass and paintings by El Greco. But, of course, the whole of Toledo is crammed with works of art of one sort or another, and you can see many El Grecos at the Casa del Greco and the Museo del Greco.
Vehicular traffic is rather difficult in Toledo, as most of the streets are very narrow. On feast days, in particular, the town is thronged with visitors and it is hardly possible to walk in the streets.
But side by side with all the sacred and beautiful things in Toledo there is also a bull-ring. As you will remember, the first bull-fight of the year takes place at Easter, after due spiritual preparation.
You may also visit in Toledo the cattle market, where you may sometimes see a bigger concourse of donkeys than anywhere else outside Spain.
You enter and leave Toledo by the Puerta del Sol (“Gate of the Sun”)—and it is. It is also a fine example of Moorish gateways of Toledo.
Toledo has a number of good hotels, and although the city is a world-famous show-place, the Patronato Nacional del Turismo has seen to it that you are not overcharged. There are no luxury hotels, but the Hotel Granullaque, where you get food and accommodation of the usual good medium standard, charges a maximum of 25 pesetas per day, and other satisfactory hotels even less. During Holy Week, however, the hotels raise their prices.
Before we leave Toledo I may mention that the city has a miniature Woolwich and also a miniature Sandhurst, so that the Spanish Army is fairly in evidence in Toledo.
But we have not yet finished with Madrid. You return to the capital from Toledo the same way as you came, or if you want an alternative method the P. N. T. on the Plaza de Zocodover will advise you.
It is from Madrid that you will go on to Saragossa, but before you do so you must sample a few specialities. The exasperating efficiency of the P. N. T. in reorganising practically all the hotels in Spain on almost Northern European lines makes it difficult for me to suggest adventures in the matter of food and drink, but here are two things you might like to try. There are cervecerias in Madrid which are so called because of the typical Spanish beer, cerveza del aguila, sold in them. As I have already said, you can get excellent beer everywhere in Spain, but these are not really Spanish beers, as most of the breweries in the country are owned either by foreigners or by Spanish brewers who have been trained in Germany. Cerveza del aguila is quite a good drink, and the cervecerias will also serve you with snacks, including shell-fish, fried potatoes, cold meats and pâtisserie. Cerveceria Inglesa, 28, Carrera de San Jeronimo, is a good place to try the Spanish beer, but there are many other cervecerias all over Madrid.
The horcheterias sell, among other things, horchata, a Valencian speciality made from a ground nut. But the word horcheteria has become popularised and is now applied to many cafés. At the Bar Flor in Puerta del Sol (already mentioned) the speciality in question is served by Valenciano waiters. Other horcheterias are the Café de Pompo in the Calle de Caretas and the Café de Gijon, and others in the Paseo de Recoletes.
The Metropolitano or Underground Railway is nothing to write home about, and you will find the trams far more convenient.
Before we go on to Saragossa, let me say a few words about the language difficulty and explain why I have omitted—and will continue to omit—to give you a few phrases in Spanish.
As far as English travellers are concerned the language difficulty in Spain amounts to this, that whereas at the better class hotels, at the important stations and at the P. N. T. offices you always find someone who understands you in your own tongue, if you venture abroad you are reduced to pantomime. To give you a list of phrases in Spanish that would see you through would be impossible in the limited space at my disposal; that would require a whole volume. To give a short list and pretend that it includes all you will require in Spain would be to mislead you, and perhaps lead you into trouble. I have travelled in a number of countries whose language I did not know, and perhaps one experience I had in Belgrade will demonstrate that incomplete phrase books can be a snare and a delusion. I left my hotel alone and went for a stroll through the city, noting down the name of each street through which I passed, in case I lost myself. This was, in fact, what happened, but my list of streets did not help me in the least. I thereupon got out my phrase book, looked up the phrase “Will you please direct me to …” and, not trusting my Serbian pronunciation, I wrote this down, together with the names of the streets through which I had passed. The first person I showed this to gave me a fierce scowl and went away. The second assumed a threatening attitude. I then took a taxi back to the hotel—though I could ill afford such luxuries—and when I asked the omniscient head porter to interpret the meaning of what I had written down I was appalled to learn that I had addressed a most filthy curse at the two people I had accosted in the street.
You will find elsewhere in this volume a short list of the indispensable Spanish expressions and phrases; but beyond that you must rely on what you pick up as you go along, and, above all, on pantomime and the wholehearted desire of everyone in Spain to help you.
If you look at the map you will observe that I am taking you on a circular tour in Northern Spain. In fact, this is a tour recommended by the Patronato Nacional del Turismo as suitable for the summer season, and I know from experience that it is an excellently planned itinerary. It takes account of weather conditions during the usual holiday months, and it includes a great deal of what you will enjoy seeing in Spain.
Saragossa, or Zaragoza, is one of the most famous cities in Spain. It is the capital of the province of the same name and was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Aragon. Of course, you know about Saragossa from your history lessons at school and associate it with the name of Charlemagne, who, in 777, was invited by Sheikh Soliman, chief of the Berbers of Catalonia and Aragon, to help him against the Caliph of Córdoba. It was as a sequel to this affair that the famous battle of Roncesvalles took place and the Frankish nobles who fell in it included your old friend “Hruoland, warden of the Breton March,” whom you must often have met in the guise of a prodigy of the Middle Ages named Orlando, Roland, etc.
But to return to Saragossa. You will be interested to visit the Aljaferia, the palace of the Berber sheikhs and of the kings of Aragon. Its Torreta del Trovador is the traditional prison of Manrico in “Il Trovatore,” while the Audencia was once the residence of the Condes de Luna, one of whom was the villain of the opera.
Saragossa has a university, which is always interesting to the traveller of imagination, for young university students are always pleased to show you round and they know. But if you are not particularly well off see that your visit to Sargossa does not fall between June 24th and 28th or on October 12th, on which dates popular fiestas are held and the hotels, which are crowded out, accordingly charge much higher prices than usual. At the same time, the fiestas are worth the extra charge. The autumn festival is that of the Virgin of the Pillar, patroness of Saragossa.
There are two cathedrals and a number of other churches in Saragossa, and the river Ebro, on whose banks the city lies, is picturesque.
The Antiguo de Lac, on the Calle de los Martires, is an excellent restaurant, while the hotels Oriente (Calle del Coso) and El Sol (Calle Don Alfonso Primero) can be highly recommended if you wish to spend a day or two in Saragossa.
Barcelona is a few hours’ train journey from Saragossa on the Mediterranean coast. It is the biggest city not only in Spain—bigger than the capital—but also in the whole Mediterranean basin. One of the best things about Barcelona is the fact that its climate is pleasant all the year round. That it is beautifully situated goes without saying, and its busy port is an inexhaustible delight to any visitor from a comparatively cold country. It is one of the places where I should like to stay for six months each year.
I will not mention the “ancient monuments” of Barcelona, for if you are interested in them you will find them in any case, with or without the aid of a Baedeker. Instead, I want to call attention to the Ramblas, bisecting the Old Town from the Plaza de Cataluña to the port, which form one of the most magnificent promenades in the whole of Europe. On the Ramblas you can witness the characteristically Spanish life of Barcelona, which is nevertheless very progressive. The Rondas, the boulevards which encircle the Old Town, are also interesting. Tram No. 29, which travels all along the Rondas, takes you past the university, and here again I should advise you to get a young caballero to show you what’s what.
In this connection I venture to give you a piece of advice that is based on personal experience. I have met, and made friends with, hundreds of Spaniards, and although I have no criticism to make against any of them, I have found that red-headed Spaniards are the most intelligent and possess the quickest intuition when it comes to understanding the point of view of the foreigner. I do not profess to know the reason, but this is undoubtedly true, and I invite you to test my theory. It will not be difficult to find a red-head among the students of Barcelona University.
Among the hotels, the Peninsular on Calle de San Pablo and the Ranzini on Paseo de Colon may be recommended for a longer stay, while among the restaurants Maison Doree on Plaza de Cataluña is excellent. Oro del Rhin on the Rambla de Cataluña is in the same class. However, under the guidance of a university student you may venture to visit the purely “native” restaurants.
Amusements, including theatres, cabarets and the like, are about the same as in Madrid. But the Rose Market on Easter Monday in the court of the Audiencia is something different and well worth seeing.
The Calle de las Cortes is the principal shopping centre in Barcelona, and also the place for the best hairdressers. For souvenir shopping, however, you have to go all over the town, the Plaza de la Catedral and Plaza Real being good for antiques; the Rambla de San José and Ronda San Pedro for shawls, mantillas, etc.; and the Rambla de la Cataluña for embroideries and laces.
You will find a goodish number of Englishmen in Barcelona, quite a colony in fact.
While in Barcelona you simply must make an excursion to Montserrat, of which you have no doubt heard. The best, most pleasant, and also the cheapest way to get there is by the new Funicular Aereo.
The Monastery of Montserrat is the legendary home of the Holy Grail and is visited each year by nearly 100,000 pilgrims. The monastery itself is not particularly interesting, but the 4,000 feet high Montserrat is quite remarkable. You can hire mules and guides just outside the monastery for shorter or longer trips. There is also a funicular railway to the top of the mountain, and there are one or two hotels in case you wish to stay for a day or two.
And by the way, at the end of this essay I will make an attempt to calculate your expenses and give you a few hints which I hope will be useful to you in cutting them down to a minimum without detracting from your enjoyment.
If you want to see Southern Spain it is best to start at Gibraltar. And if you are not afraid of the sea the most comfortable and enjoyable way to get there is to take a steamer at Tilbury. The voyage takes from four to five days, according to the line you travel by, and provided the Bay of Biscay behaves itself you will have a pleasant time on board. At all events you will save yourself one customs examination—on the French frontier—which you would have to suffer if you went by the overland route via Paris and Madrid.
Gibraltar, as you know, is a British Crown Colony of which you must have heard and read a great deal, but which must remain a hazy, vague image in your mind until you have actually seen it. Among other things, you have no doubt heard of the Barbary apes that are native to Gilbraltar, but lest you should think that they are genuine British monkeys and be unduly proud of them, let me inform you that they are only naturalised foreigners, having, been imported to Gibraltar by the Romans and Moors.
But the rock lion that rises sheer from the sea and appears to be barring the way from the Atlantic will impress and thrill you. Indeed, no other British possession symbolises so powerfully the majesty and might of Great Britain as Gibraltar.
You must show your passport as you land and there is a perfunctory examination of your luggage, but otherwise you will not be bothered. On the other hand you will have a great deal of bother with porters and cab and taxi drivers, with whom you must haggle for the price of their services. There is an official tariff for cabs, but it is never observed and the visitor has no remedy.
The most interesting thing you will see at Gibraltar is the Rock itself, which rises to about 1,400 feet. Being a British subject you can visit the fortified galleries of the Rock and climb to the summit for the view.
The town, which is quite small, is inhabited by a mixed race, mainly of Italian and Genoese descent, but there are also many Jews. Naturally, British soldiers are much in evidence and English is spoken everywhere. Also, English currency is accepted without question, though pesetas are more popular.
The most interesting part of the town is where you are set down on arrival, to wit the Casemates Square, which is surrounded by barracks and casemates, with the Moorish castle above you. The King’s Bastion and the cathedral and the Alameda, a lovely sub-tropical garden, are other places you may choose to visit.
Gibraltar at certain seasons of the year is crowded with visitors and efforts are now being made to turn it into a health resort. If you happen to take a fancy to the place and desire to stay for a day or two, I can recommend the Hotel Continental and the Bristol, at both of which you will receive good service at reasonable rates—about 16 pesetas for full board-residence at the former and about 30 pesetas at the latter.
Of course, there are sports, and you can temporarily join the tennis or cricket club on the introduction of a member.
But although Gibraltar is impressive and picturesque you will probably want to go on and you can get by steamer in half an hour to Algeciras, a small town lying picturesquely at the mouth of the river Miel beneath the Sierra de los Gazules. Algeciras is a fashionable winter resort, and if you are very well off you can stay there at any time between October and April, and pay extortionate prices at the hotels. In summer, however, you can stay at the Marina Victoria, not far from the pier, for 20 pesetas per day.
Algeciras, like practically every town in this part of Spain, has a history relating to Romans, Moors and others, but the place is so lovely that most visitors will fail to work up an interest in ancient stories. But if you are old enough to remember the international bother of 1906 over something the ex-Kaiser had done, you may visit the Ayuntamiento (town hall) where the pact signed over that little trouble is exhibited to the curious. It is the thing to give a tip to the attendant who shows you the document.
Of more immediate concern, however, is the fact that you have by now noticed that the Spanish have one bad habit. They expectorate too freely everywhere. I could have revealed this earlier in this essay, but, frankly, I forgot all about it, just as you will when you get used to it.
What you must not forget is that you are now in Andalusia, a province that has many strange superstitions. The most curious—and dangerous—is that they never blow out a match but throw it away while it is still burning. It is supposed to bring bad luck if you blow out a match, but the chances are that it will bring bad luck if you don’t, and thereby happen to cause a fire. It is best, on reflection, to use a petrol lighter.
On your way from Algeciras to Cadiz it will be worth your while to pause for a few hours at Tarifa—some 14 miles away—which is said to be the most Moorish town in all Spain. There is a rumour to the effect that the word “tariff,” which haunts us all our lives, is derived from the name of this little city. But that is a libel. The name commemorates a Moorish gentleman named Tarif, who commanded the advance guard of the Moorish invasion. Tarifa has Moorish walls with horseshoe gates, an Alcazar, an Alameda, and a very Moorish atmosphere.
There is a pretty story about one Alonso Perez de Guzman who defended the city against the Moors. A traitor got hold of Guzman’s young son, whom he threatened to kill unless Guzman surrendered, whereupon the latter threw down a dagger to the traitor, saying that a “son with dishonour” was worse than honour without a son.
But that is by the way. From parts of Tarifa you can have a good view of the Moroccan coast and the Atlas Mountains. It is near Tarifa, at the Torre de la Peña, that the Gibraltar Tunnel will be started—if it is ever built. The tunnel would be 14 miles long, and therefore 2 miles longer than the Simplon, so far the longest in the world.
If you happen to travel from Tarifa to Cadiz by road you will discover where the stopper of your champagne bottle came from. It is here that the cork tree grows, and you will see strings of donkeys laden with cork tree bark making for the small boats that take the cork up the Guadalquivir to Seville.
Around here you can also take a peep at Trafalgar Bay, but, of course, you know all about the great events that happened there, and I am trying to make this essay as little like a history lesson as possible.
Along the road to Cadiz you will also see “pillars of salt”—which are just that—about which I could write a few pages, but if we stop at every place that is merely intensely interesting, we shall never finish our journey.
Something to take your breath away. The easiest to see and the hardest to forget. Take a look at it from Puerto Real or Puerto de Santa Maria across the bay, then you will understand why Cadiz has been described as a “Dish of Silver.”
It is all white and you will probably find yourself wondering whether it is not a lovely mirage. Although Cadiz is probably the oldest important town on the Atlantic coast—it was a Phoenician settlement before Rome was heard of in the world—and although it is surrounded by a wall, it is not an antique city. It is well built and well paved, with tall white houses characterised by their miradors (belvederes) and roof terraces, and is to-day quite a modern city. But its whiteness and its situation at the end of a long neck of sand in the sea, gives it a glamorous, romantic beauty that will hold you spellbound.
It has no sights in the ordinary sense, apart from a few churches and a few good paintings, including one by Murillo. But Cadiz is one of the principal ports of Spain and you will see a great deal of life in the city.
As a tourist centre Cadiz is very important and you will find uniformed interpreters of the Patronato Nacional del Turismo all over the place. By the way, these interpreters now have to pass a stiff examination before they are engaged, and you need not be surprised if, during your travels in Spain, you happen to meet the waiter who served you a few months ago at a West End restaurant wearing the uniform of the P. N. T.
Cadiz is a good place to stay at for a few weeks at practically any season of the year. Your old friend the P. N. T. will see to it that you get good hotel accommodation. There are luxury hotels that are the equal of anything you will find in London, yet their charges for board-residence per day range from 100 to 25 pesetas. But the Continental and the Gran Hotel Victoria will put you up and feed you for as little as 15 pesetas per day. There are restaurants on the quay as well as in the town. The latter include the San Francisco and the Los Cisnes, while the most interesting cafés are the Cerveceria Inglesa on the Plaza de la Constitución and the Parisien on the Plaza de Loreto.
For you amusement there are a number of theatres, including a few where the language of the performace will not matter. I refer to the places where the nudist ladies exhibit themselves. But the most enjoyable thing to do at Cadiz is to hire a boat and float about in the sea. Many visitors sail across the bay to Puerto de Santa Maria and Puerto Real several times during their stay, and for no other purpose than to admire the view of Cadiz.
In addition to boat trips there is glorious bathing (after May 1st). If you happen to be at Cadiz on Shrove Tuesday you may participate in one of the most amusing carnivals in the whole of Spain. During the carnival, and also at other times, you may encounter troupes of Andalusian gipsies and you may see them perform some very strange dances. But I warn you that they are mostly obscene dances.
As to the history of Cadiz, here again you probably know it all from the history books, including about the way Drake “singed the King of Spain’s beard,” so I need not waste space on that subject.
But if you think that Cadiz sounds too good to be true, I must regretfully inform you that while in this silver city you cannot go far wrong if you abstain from drinking water. Beer, wine and mineral waters are safer. The season is that there is not a single well in the whole of Cadiz and all the drinking water is imported from other parts.
Ronda is a small place, with nothing remarkable from the traditional tourist point of view, yet it will richly repay a visit. It is only four hours by train from Cadiz and it is no less incredible, though for other reasons. Ronda is almost as white as Cadiz, but it owes its fame—and it is world famous—to its situation. It stands on a rocky shelf whose three sides have a sheer drop of nearly 500 feet, while in the middle of the town itself, separating the old Moorish Ciudad (City) from the more modern Mercadillo quarter, is the gorge of the Guadalevin, which is about 200 feet wide and 400 feet deep. It has a single span bridge, the Puente Nuevo, from which you get the finest view.
It is easy to give facts and figures, but difficult to convey a clear impression of Ronda as a whole. But if you can imagine Hell as a picturesque and not unpleasant place in sun-drenched country, then you will have a fair idea of Ronda in the spring, when the river roars through the terrible and magnificent gorge.
Ronda has the usual churches, hotels, restaurants, guides, beggars, etc. But on May 20th-22nd there is an interesting fiesta with bull-fights, and another on September 10th-12th.
Malaga is another place where I would like to spend a few months, especially in the winter. Of course, you have heard of the muscatel grapes grown in the district and also about its sub-tropical and tropical vegetation. That means that Malaga knows no frost and, in fact, the temperature never falls below 44 degrees, so that it is the warmest winter resort in Europe.
But Malaga represents still another aspect of the kaleidoscope that is Spain. About its situation I need only say that it lies on a beautiful bay and is surrounded by flat country. The town is split in twain by the seasonal torrent of Guadalmedina which, however, is now regulated to prevent floods.
But what distinguishes Malaga from all the other Spanish cities we have visited so far is the fact that here the municipality pays attention to drainage and other questions that are more or less neglected elsewhere. Also, the hotels and restaurants are even better, yet not more expensive, than in other cities. In this connection it is well to bear in mind that oranges, figs, melons, bananas, and, of course, some of the finest grapes in the world, grow in the environs of Malaga, and in view of the hot weather it is quite pleasant to indulge in a brief period of fruitarianism. Malaga can also offer you some excellent drinks.
Of the hotels, I will only mention the excellent Ingles on the Calle del Marques de Larios, and the Principe de Asturias, on the shore, in the residential suburb of Caleta, both of which are open all the year round. Some of the other hotels close in the summer.
Malaga has an industrial district with sugar factories, cotton mills, etc., and if you are interested in that aspect of Spanish life you can easily make the necessary contacts through the British Consul.
Of amusements in the ordinary sense, Malaga has nothing to offer beyond the usual things—theatres, music-halls, bull-fighting, and the like. But boating in and around the bay, particularly in the evening, when the city is illuminated, can be very enjoyable. The “local colour” is present everywhere, and if you go to the market place—the Mercado—you will get an “eyeful” of picturesqueness and rather more than an earful of noise. The fat lady who fries fish in the street will probably try to vamp you, but if you refuse to buy her oily product she will not “turn nasty.” On the contrary, she will teach you some Spanish if you ask her, though I cannot guarantee her grammar.
By the way, you will have observed by now that all Spanish women above a certain age are fat, and all those below that fatal limit are ravishingly lovely and are—in Andalusia at any rate—guarded like criminals by their more corpulent sisters. Mr. Havelock Ellis, in his Soul of Spain, gives a closely reasoned explanation of this tendency on the part of Spanish senoras to enrich the shops that specialise in out-size clothes, and if you are interested in the subject I refer you to his book.
Talking about matters feminine reminds me that while we were in Cadiz I forgot to mention that you can obtain in that city the most precious perfumes for a song. True, this is only a rumour I heard and I did not verify it, probably because I do not use the stuff.
Malaga is a favourite winter resort of the rich from all European countries, but particularly from Britain. There is a fairly large English colony and also an English church. There is also—I understand—a resident English doctor and an English cemetery, though, of course, you will require neither.
If you insist on knowing something about the sights, I will mention the Gibralfaro, which is a castle on a hill. It was rebuilt by the Moors on the site of a Phoenician fortress, and is now in the charge of the Municipality, from whom you can easily obtain permission to go through it.
Naturally, the P. N. T. has an office and interpreters in Malaga, and they will gladly advise you on all matters relating to sights, and also to excursions. They will also recommend you a café, though you can obtain lovely ices at most of these places. The Español, Peninsular, Madrid and Paris are a few of them.
This is the one place in Spain where I have no hesitation in pointing out the sights, and also talking about them. But first let me tell you something about the city as a whole, one of the three most interesting cities in Spain besides Toledo and Seville.
Granada is a city of arid heat, almost surrounded by snow-capped mountains, yet with palm trees growing in her streets. Before the city stretches the vega, a wide plain, lovely and fertile, which is still watered by the contrivance installed by the Moors. One cannot help thinking of the desert that stretches between Madrid and Toledo, which might have been made just as lovely as the vega here.
Above Granada stands the Alhambra among the woods, perhaps the most magnificent edifice in the world. Here you always hear the bubbling and splashing of living waters and, in spring, the song of the nightingales.
Granada as a whole has a voluptuous atmosphere which you would sense even if you went there with your eyes bandaged. But heaven forbid that you should do that, although if you go over it, guide-book in hand, ascertaining the dimensions of everything, that amounts to the same thing.
A characteristic feature of Granada are the Gitanas or gipsies, who are decidedly picturesque, with manners and customs of their own. The fact that they are careful to preserve all this, since being picturesque is their living, does not make them less interesting. They live in caves beyond the Albaicin, the old northern part of the city, almost like the troglodytes in Northern Africa. You will meet them everywhere in Granada, young and old, male and female, offering to tell your fortune, or to dance for your special benefit and so on. Some of the young females dance rather well, but you must agree beforehand what you are going to pay, otherwise you may be involved in a rather embarrassing scene after the performance. If you happen to carry a cine camera you may film the dance—and the Spanish customs will allow you to bring in a cine camera free of duty. Some of the gipsies, particularly the youngsters, are persistent beggars, but they do it so charmingly that it does not occur to you to compare them with the Spanish beggars elsewhere.
But let us go to the Alhambra, the glory of Granada and of all Spain. You can best get to it from the lower town through the Cuesta de Gomerez, a twenty-minute walk. Do not take a taxi, unless you must, though taxis in Granada are not bad. The view of the city from the Alhambra Gardens is magnificent. From that angle Granada looks as if it were made of ivory. If you want rest or refreshment before you go to the Alhambra Palace, the Alhambra Palace Hotel and the English Pension are just outside the gardens, and you will find equally good establishments within the walls.
Now the Palace of the Alhambra, like Granada as a whole, has a long history, some knowledge of which decidedly enhances your appreciation of the wonders you see in it. But I will assume that you possess that knowledge, and I will give you no more of it than is inevitable in the context. However, it is perhaps an advantage to enter the Palace of the Alhambra without too much knowledge of its history, for the Palace itself will tell you a great deal, and that is much better.
The exterior will disappoint you, mainly because there is a great deal of modern work on it. But the exterior does not count. The interior will get you from the word go.
If you happen to visit the Palace on July 9th, you will see a great many Jews there, particularly in the Hall of Ambassadors. Some of these Jews come from Morocco and are picturesquely bearded and turbaned. Others come from Venice, Constantinople, Belgrade, Salonica and other places. These Jews are not ordinary tourists and I am frankly amazed that no travel guide should contain an explanation of their presence in the Hall of Ambassadors on July 9th each year.
Briefly, it was in this hall that, in 1492, Queen Isabel of Spain signed the decree that banished 600,000 Jews from their native land. It was here that Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel, a Minister of the Queen, pleaded with her to withdraw the decree.
And the descendants of the Jews who were exiled from Spain have been making an annual pilgrimage to the “Old Country” for more than four hundred years! Their love and loyalty has been such that even to-day the Jews of Jugoslavia and a number of other countries speak Spanish in their homes. The Jewish pilgrims go over the Palace, read the Hebrew inscriptions on the walls and pillars, inspect the magnificent water jar of green jade that Rabbi Abarbanel presented to the Queen, then they pray and return to their various countries.
The Hall of Ambassadors is the largest in the Palace, and every inch of it is decorated, from the floor right up to the dome, 75 feet above it. I do not think I can give you the least idea of the splendour of this Hall, both architecturally and as regards the decorations. No doubt you will visit it again and again during your stay in Granada. If you engage a guide to show you round, I hope it will be Señor Flores, who knows the Alhambra as he knows his own hand, and who will enthuse with you—and genuinely—though he has already seen everything hundreds of times.
The Tocador de la Reina (Queen’s Dressing Room) was originally used by the sultanas of the harem. It has a little pavilion that is decorated with precious paintings. If I were a millionaire I would never dare to take my wife to this dressing-room. The Baths, the Court of the Myrtles, the Court of the Lions with its scores of marble pillars and fountain jets, the Sala de los Abencerrajes with its wonderful stalactite roof, and the Sala de las Dos Hermanas, will all delight and enchant you. Señor Flores will, no doubt, tell you in great detail the story of the queen who betrayed her husband with the chief of a powerful tribe, whose leaders were lured to the Sala de los Abencerrajes and there butchered. He could tell you hundreds of stories about every nook and corner of the Palace, and I am sure you would listen to him with eager interest.
Some highbrows have been quarrelling about the artistic merits or otherwise of the Alhambra Palace and all it contains, and the con half have proved to their own satisfaction that—isn’t it too bad!—it possesses no artistic merit. The answer is that a brick consists of atoms, electrons, neutrons—that is to say, ultimately of nothing; but it is nevertheless a brick, and if it falls on your hand you will be struck not by intangible atoms, etc., but by a solid brick. It is the same with the Alhambra. Whether it is or is not artistic in its details it inevitably “gets” you, and you come again and again and enjoy it more each time.
Next to the Alhambra Palace comes the Generalife, the summer palace of the sultans, which stands on another spur of the Alhambra Hill. The gardens with their orange trees and fountains, their cypresses and pools, will charm you. The buildings are not in the same class as the Palace, but no doubt you will go over them, and you will also have a look at the Moorish Palace to the west of the Generalife.
Granada, too, has a university, and, as I have said, students are always ready to oblige.
The city has scores of good hostelries, and if you have any special requirements in regard to accommodation the P. N. T. office will advise you. Remember, though, that during the festival of Corpus Christi, usually in June, prices are increased by 50 per cent. This festival lasts from Wednesday until Sunday, and in addition to impressive ceremonies in the cathedral there are bull-fights, processions, concerts, street dances, and all the fun of the fair.
However, it is incumbent upon me to mention a few hotels that can be specially recommended. Here they are: English Pension and Pension Villa Carmona on Alhambra Hill, and the Inglaterra and La Granadina in the lower town. Among the restaurants the Suizo at Puerta Real is excellent, while the good cafés include the Colon on Calle de los Reyes Catolicos and the Cerveceria Inglesa on Puerta Real.
There are many exciting excursions from Granada, but I will only mention one—to the Sierra Nevada. You can hire mules and guides at a low cost plus the keep of the muleteer, and you can make all your expeditions, including the ascents, on muleback. However, this excursion is only possible in the summer. Nor is it a simple matter and you will have to consult the P. N. T. or the Club Penibetico before you start. On no account must you set out on the advice of stray acquaintances.
You will probably wish to do a little shopping in Granada, so I will recommend—or at any rate suggest—a few shops: Ricardo Torres, on Cuesta de Gomerez, Manuel Arrufat on Plaza Nueva, and Linares in the Alhambra enclosure for antiques, shawls, etc.; and Casa Oriol on Calle Zacatin for miniature figures of peasants in costume.
If you are a brave man and prepared to depart from the conventional itineraries you may give Cordova a miss. Now that you have seen Granada this ancient city of Spanish Islam has little to offer you in the way of atmosphere, and it will not add to your knowledge of the Spanish people.
However, Cordova has one thing that may repay a visit, and that is the Mezquita, as the cathedral is still called. This is a mosque transformed into a Christian church and, in its way, as great as the Alhambra. It is a magnificent example of Mohammedan art and, incidentally, the second largest church in the world. The Patio de los Naranjos, the orange grove through which you pass to reach the Mezquita, is very lovely.
Although, being a discerning tourist, you, will probably spend most of your time while in Cordova at the Mezquita, I may mention that the city has theatres and a bull-ring and a Feria in the last week of May.
Cordova, as you know, was once the seat of the Moorish caliphs, and the city, particularly the older part, bears many traces of this, mainly in the form of ruins. But if you want to see something really interesting, ask the P. N. T., on Paseo del Gran Capitan, where you can see a good example of the Moorish private houses in the old town. If you are lucky you will be directed to a house with no fewer than seventeen courts, and as you enter it you will be transported seven centuries back into a strange, glamorous, romantic world that will give you, in retrospect, a better understanding of Eastern fables.
If you have ever heard of Moses Maimonides, the rationalistic Jewish philosopher, you may be interested to know that he was born in Cordova in the year 1135; and if you have ever read a Spanish commercial letter of 2,000 words, but consisting of a single sentence with many twists and turns, you will not be surprised to learn that Luis de Gongora, the originator of “Gongorism,” first saw the light of day in this Spanish city.
But if you are after a bit of Cordovan leather you will be disappointed, because it is made no longer in Cordova itself, though the name of the city has crept into practically every language in the world in connection with that product.
The hotels Regina and Simon are excellent for meals, while the La Perla café serves excellent thick chocolate—and, no doubt, you are expert by now in sucking sticks of sugar. As to the spitting that goes on, I will not criticise it further, but I have known foreign visitors to admire the way in which, for instance, a youngster can spit again an again at the same point some ten or twelve feet away.
Instead of going from Granada to Cordova you can go to Alicante, which has been called the “Nice of Spain”—and that is a tremendous compliment to the other Nice in so far as its winter climate is concerned.
Alicante has nothing to offer but its pretty bay and its sunshine and a magnificent palm-lined seaside promenade, so that it is not a place that should be included in a sightseeing tour. On the other hand, as a winter resort, it has few equals. In the summer it is far too hot, though it is spared the depressing wind that visits other parts in this region.
Alicante, as you know, exports a great deal of wine and the visitor may do worse than observe the technique of this intoxicating trade round the harbour.
Among the good hotels the Samper, Palace and Reina Victoria overlook the Pasco de los Martires, the seaside promenade, and you can stay at any of them at less than 10s. per day, all found. A brief calculation will tell you that you can stay at Alicante for a whole month on £25, allowing £2 per week for all extras, including short excursions.
Let me digress here for a moment to deal with the question of “extras.” It is, of course, impossible to generalise on the subject, for the amount of pocket money one spends is a purely individual matter. But it is safe to say that, on the whole, you will not spend more on extras while on holiday in Spain than you do at home in your everyday life. You must remember that every peseta in Spain purchases the equivalent of 1s, at home, and—at the present rate of exchange—there are 37 pesetas to £1. Smokes, including the very good Spanish cigars, are quite cheap. Fares within the towns do not amount to much, as, apart from Madrid, Barcelona and a very few other cities, the distances are small and the visitor generally prefers to walk. Shoe polishing—which is done in the street—is a daily item, but accounts only for 3d. or 4d. per day. At cafés you can sit for hours for the price of a cup of chocolate or coffee, while theatres, cinemas, bull-fights, etc., will cost you as much or as little as you choose. Ices and cold drinks are a biggish item on account of frequency rather than the price of these items. Wines, of course, are cheap everywhere in Spain and you can get a quart bottle of fairly good wine for the equivalent of a shilling.
Guides you can obtain for 5 pesetas, or about 3s. a time, but you will not need them except in a very few places, such as Granada, Madrid and, perhaps, Barcelona. There remain the beggars, but here you must be firm. If you learn the technique of shaking them off they will cost you nothing.
In the matter of tips you will find that the Spanish are not so greedy as serving staffs in some other countries, and beyond the 10 per cent. or so clapped on to your hotel bill you are free to give as many or as few tips as you like.
To return to Alicante, you can make many short trips from here, by motor-bus as well as by train and steamer, and the P. N. T., in the Ayuntamiento, will advise you according to the season. If you happen to be there in the middle of August—which is really too hot for Alicante—you may take a trip to Elche on the 15th by one of the four daily buses to and fro. On that day the famous “Mystery of Elche” is performed in the church of Santa Maria. The mystery is a musical drama on the Assumption of the Virgin, and the whole is performed exactly as it was in the sixteenth century.
By the way, Elche itself can be one of the most thrilling experiences in your visit to Spain. It is a small town surrounded on three sides by a forest of palms and looks for all the world like a bit of Africa transplanted across the Mediterranean.
But Alicante is one of those places that you may omit from your itinerary. Seville, on the other hand, is a city that you must on no account miss, for it is more Spanish than practically all the rest of Spain. It is not the place “where the best barbers come from,” as an old schoolboy howler has it. The Spanish say Quien no ha visto Sevilla no ha visto maravilla (He who has not seen Seville has not seen a miracle). In my humble opinion the less you look in Seville the more you see, or rather feel.
It is here that you first begin to wonder whether you ought not, after all, to invest in a sombrero and a guitar. In other big cities in Spain the mantilla and the tall comb are, alas, giving way to more modern wear; but in Seville they are still quite common, and so are the grace and dignity associated with them. The whole atmosphere is essentially Spanish, lazy, romantic, light-hearted, with little trace of the “progress” of the last few years. This is the city of bull-fights and carnivals. The Feria, which takes place on April 18th and 20th, is a riot of colour and gay abandon. Dancing all day and all night, rivers of red wine (but no drunks!), bloody bull-fights, a mushroom town on the Prado de San Sebastian, and romance, romance, romance. It will carry you away, and when you look into the sparkling eyes of the Sevillan señoritas you will surely regret that you did not swot up a little more Spanish when you had the chance.
Seville is a biggish city with more than 200,000 inhabitants, but not too big to spend your time strolling round with your hands in your pockets—a mannerism that you will have acquired by now. However, there is life and movement in Seville, so much so that the policeman directing the traffic sometimes forgets to light his cigarette. If you prepare a programme for seeing Seville you are past redemption and I will not worry about you. And if you engage a guide…!
But so long as you are content to stroll I am with you. I will accompany you to the Rag Fair on the Calle de la Feria on a Thursday morning. We will meet very few foreign tourists there, probably none, and we can observe a phase of Sevillan life that is romantic even in its shabbiness. The heap of old mantillas on this or that stall, battered sombreros on a piece of sacking on the ground, the fat lady who offers her fried fish in a shrill voice, somehow fail to give the impression of poverty. And by the way, you will find that even here the young women are beautiful. Seville is a city of women. There are probably as many men as women, but you do not seem to notice the male portion of the population. Sevillan women are well made, mysteriously beautiful, calm, restful, the very opposite of what you expect to find in the south.
And there is a charming lack of reticence in Seville. As you pass in the residential districts you can look in through the open doors and windows and you can see every phase of the life of a Sevillan family. During the summer months Seville is quiet between about 11 o’clock in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon, when it is too hot for anyone to work. In the evening everybody goes to the Plaza Nueva, Las Delicias or to the river, listening to music, talking and walking. You, a visitor, may choose to follow their example, or if you want to look deeper into the intimate life of Seville you can stroll through the streets during the evening hours. You will then find that most of the houses are deserted, but here and there you will see a young caballero standing in the street outside a barred window and talking to a lovely señorita standing behind the bars.
You see, although the windows are open, there is an unspoken and unwritten law in Seville, as elsewhere in Andalusia, that might be interpreted in the form of the injunction you see at many exhibitions in England: “Please do not touch the exhibits.”
But in some streets you will see the ladies lying on couches in front of the houses, “taking the air,” though to you it may seem that there is no air in Seville even when the stars are out.
If you want to see Sevillan women otherwise than in their usual somewhat statuesque calm, go to one of the cafés, say the Royal on the Calle de las Sierpes, and see them perform the famous Andalusian dances to the clapping of hands and the clatter of castanets. They are dances in which everything moves—the body, the arms, the fingers, the head—but the feet take almost no active part.
I have already mentioned that the Spanish year is composed of holidays that are sometimes relieved by working days. That applies even more to Seville than to any other city in Spain, and Seville celebrates all her holidays with greater brilliance than the rest of the country. During Holy Week the ceremonies, processions and rites are even more gorgeous and impressive than those of Rome.
The dance of seises (dance of the six) takes place several times a year in the cathedral. What is never mentioned in ordinary guide-books is the celebration of the anniversary of San Fernando, who liberated Seville from the Moors. This takes place on November 23rd, and is really a military affair. I can only describe it as tremendous.
If you want to see the industrial side of Seville, visit the Fabrica de Tobacos, where thousands of Madonnas are busy with tobacco leaves.
Naturally, Seville has a long history and a few sights, some of which you cannot possibly miss as soon as you enter the city. You are bound to see the Giralda wherever you are in Seville, and that will lead you to the cathedral. The Casa Lonja, south of the cathedral, contains the Archivo de Indias, which comprises all the reports concerning the discovery of America. Here, if you are interested, you can see autographs of Amerigo Vespucci, Magellan, Pizarro, Balboa, Cortez, etc.
Another worth-while sight is the Alcazar, a Moorish palace, some parts of which will make you gasp.
The old Jewish quarter is also interesting. It is overgrown with weeds and ramblers, but it has a definite “atmosphere.”
A few really great paintings by Murillo can be seen at the Hospital de la Caridad, which is a home for the aged and poor. The existence of this establishment is due to the many sins of one Don Miguel de Mañara, an hidalgo who is alleged to be the original of Byron’s Don Juan. If Don Miguel had been a good man there might be no home for the aged poor in Seville.
If you are tempted to visit the Museo Provincial de Pinturas, take my advice and don’t. But Casa de Pilato (Pilate’s House) may give you a thrill when you learn that it is only a private residence.
As a relief from the sights you may visit the environs of Seville, which are surrounded by vineyards, olive and orange groves and wheatfields. A veritable paradise, so long as you are able to forget the many commissions that growers have to pay and the whole sordid process by which the grapes and oranges reach you at home. However, if you come across a grower he is sure to give you an earful about Covent Garden.
Seville has one hotel that is as luxurious as any in the whole world. They charge the visitor nothing at all for looking at it. The minimum charge for a room without board is 25 pesetas, while the maximum for board-residence is somewhere among the clouds. However, the hotels Gran Via, Lion d’Or and San Sebastian will “keep” you at around 20 pesetas per day, while if you prefer to feed outside there is the Las Delicias and the Suizo Chico on the Calle de las Sierpas. There is an American bar on Plaza de San Fernando, in addition to “native” cafés, which you will find everywhere.
But do not take my lady to the ordinary cafés, where Andalusian songs and dances are performed for the especial benefit of tourists. Whether you ought to go yourself—well, you have been warned!
There are many excursions from Seville, most of which can be made by bus. Carmona is a very picturesque little Moorish town. Huelva is a picturesque place at the confluence of the Odiel and the Rio Tinto, and from here you can make pleasant excursions to Rabida and Palos.
However, the omnipresent Patronato Nacional de Turismo in Seville will tell you all about excursions and, if required, plan for you a whole series of them.
We came to Seville from Granada, but, of course, you can reach it more easily from Algeciras if you enter the country via Gibraltar.
Before we leave Andalusia let me warn you not to pronounce the word “snake” in the presence of an Andalusian—male or female—who understands English. For some reason that no one seems to know Andalusians have a horror of snakes, even of harmless ones, though Andalusia is not particularly infested with snakes. If you do happen to say the word your companion or companions will look horror-struck and will make strange exclamations in chorus.
From Seville to Valencia is a long jump, but we are not proceeding according to a predetermined plan and you may travel to the province where the almonds flourish either from Alicante or from Madrid and, of course, by sea. If you are romantically inclined you can leave the train at some wayside station and enter the capital of the province, Valencia or—to call it by its official name—Valencia del Cid—by a tartana or covered cart, which you can easily hire hereabouts.
In fact, it is best to see the immediate environs of Valencia first—an endless garden watered by the Turia and the Guadalaviar. The irrigation of the whole huerta is in the hands of a few elected farmers and peasants, who gather every Thursday morning in the gateway of the Apostles in Valencia to hold a Tribunal de las Aguas. This tribunal was founded by the Moors, and it has met every Thursday for nearly a thousand years.
Valencia has a university, so chum up with some young caballero and let him show you round.
The principal characteristic of Valencia is fruit and flowers. It lies in the most fertile country in Spain, and although there are flowers all the year round, if you want to see the almost incredible beauty that nature can create out of huge masses of these fairy plants, go to Valencia in May. That, by the way, is a month of fiestas in Valencia, which is remarkably gay and picturesque even for Spain.
The climate of Valencia is delightful for nine months in the year, but in summer it is too hot for the northerner, and during that season it is also said to be malarial. That reminds me of another thing that ordinary guides never mention. It is not natural for anyone on holiday in Spain to fall ill, but it has been known to happen. What is the tourist thus afflicted to do in a foreign country whose language he does not speak at all, or only imperfectly? The answer is—consult the nearest British Consul. Spanish medical men are, of course, as good as any, but their standard is somewhat different from what you are used to, and a doctor recommended by the British Consul—and where there is no Consul, by a British resident—will inspire greater confidence than a medico chosen at random from a directory or recommended by the waiter at the hotel. In urgent cases the traveller has no choice, and then he must be satisfied with the services of the first medical man who can be reached.
To return to Valencia, one of the fiestas, held on March 18th and 19th, will remind the English visitor of Guy Fawkes. This is the Fallade San José, when elaborate structures are set up in the streets, with life-size figures, which are burned at midnight on March 19th. This fiesta is sometimes used to satirise political personages.
To digress for a moment to the subject of politics, Spain is at the moment a Republic under a regime of the Left, and there are naturally many signs of this in the form of flags and the like. Also, nowadays, you hardly ever see a priest or a monk in clerical garb, the priesthood having been driven underground. But it may safely be said that the internal politics of the country do not in any way interfere with the foreign tourist, who will be well advised to express no opinions about them. As a guest in a hospitable country there is really no call to criticise the Spaniard as a political entity merely because he is different from ourselves.
To come back to the fiestas, we have already mentioned that the month of May is one long fiesta in Valencia. To describe all this in detail would require more space than is available here, and I will only say that practically the whole month is occupied by religious and civil processions, floral festivities, concerts, bullfights, etc.
Another long “do” lasts from December 24th till January 22nd. This is of ancient origin, but no less gay than the May fiestas. Then, of course, there are the ceremonies, processions and entertainments of Holy Week. If you are any good at arithmetic, you can easily confirm that Valencia has more holidays than working days.
Valencia is, in aspect at any rate, not an ancient city. It has modern buildings that challenge the sky and all the other up-to-date things you expect to find in a modern city. The Old Town, however, will satisfy your desire for picturesqueness and the cathedral your interest in fine architecture and sacred objects. The Museo Provincial de Pinturas, near the old gateway of the Torres de Serranos, contains a number of fine pictures by Velazquez, Goya, etc.
This reminds me of a true story illustrating the Spanish peasant’s love of art. In the church of an obscure Spanish village a painting by an old master was discovered and the director of the Prado sent down an emissary to bring it away. The villagers gathered round the church, and they were so hostile that the Madrid expert had to beat a hasty retreat. The director of the Prado was both surprised and gratified to learn about the peasants’ love of great painting, unfortunately, later he found that the villagers did not really mind being deprived of the masterpiece, provided every one of them was paid a certain number of pesetas.
However, while you are in Valencia you ought to see the Lonja de la Seda or silk exchange, and you may also witness in the environs of the city how the busy worm toils for the benefit of my lady.
Of course, Valencia has trams, buses, motor-coaches for excursions, air services to various parts, and boats and steamers for sea excursions, the port being about 2 miles from the city. There are also English church services on Calle Ciscar and the Seamen’s Institute, from which facts you will conclude that there is an English colony in Valencia. By the way, do not be surprised if in the course of your peregrinations through Spain you encounter more than once—generally as managers of this or that—English-speaking gentlemen whose names begin with “Mac.”
Among the hotels the Reina Victoria, Palace and Ingles are excellent, though the España and a number of other similar hotels are also satisfactory. Among the restaurants, La Habaña on Calle Pintor Sorolla and Ideal Room on the Calle de la Paz are very good, and you may safely order Valencia’s famous rice dish at either, not to forget a dish of horchata.
There are many open-air cafés, of which I will only mention the Siglo of Plaza de la Reina and the Continental on Calle de la Paz.
As to ordinary amusements, there are four or five theatres and a number of good cinemas where you can enjoy the latest from Hollywood, accent and all.
Needless to say, ladies with a mania for undressing are not lacking in Valencia, but perhaps by now you find this too monotonous.
I find I have said very little about the sights, but then we are not concentrating on the sights in this essay. However, before we leave Valencia we ought to visit the beach, unless you are staying there, say, at the Termas Victoria.
As to excursions from Valencia consult, as always, the P. N. T., but you may go to Sagunta on your own account if you wish to walk in the footsteps of Hannibal, who conquered this once important city. Sagunta has a Roman theatre, a bit of its Roman circus, and a citadel on top of a hill.
But if you enjoy getting the “creeps” go to Jativa, a picturesque old town that once housed the gentle Borgias. The town is sprawled over a hill, with a castle above. It was here that the Borgias plotted, and executed, their little murders.
The freshwater lagoon of La Albufera is also worth a visit. Here you can indulge in boating, fishing and—between November and March—in wildfowl shooting, for which, however, you have to pay. At Manises you can see how they make majolica, while at Carcagente you can see rice fields and the worms at work.
You probably have an aunt or an uncle or a cousin staying on the Island of Majorca, so I had better concentrate on this island in the Balearic group. But in case you happen to go to Minorca at any time, let me point out the one thing that makes this small island unique. It is that doors and windows close from the outside on Minorca and policemen grow fat with idleness. The prisons are naturally empty, and malicious people allege that the last occupant was bribed by someone in authority to commit some petty crime. But even that was very, very long ago. As to Majorca, where so many Aunt Matildas live, in common with the rest of the group it has an excellent all-round climate, except for an occasional cold wind between November and May and a little snow in winter.
The most important town on Majorca is the capital, Palma de Mallorca. The approach to Palma is very beautiful, and as you step ashore you will see before you a whole collection of beautiful historical buildings, including the cathedral, the sandstone Lonja and the Consulado del Mar.
Now it is my humble opinion that Palma is not a place to be visited in the course of a tour, unless, of course, you are calling on Aunt Matilda. But for a few weeks’ holiday at any time of the year it is ideal, except that you must be careful about the water or milk you drink. Apparently, successive Spanish governments, of whatever colour, have deliberately left the water supply of Spain in an unsatisfactory state in order to force travel writers to make propaganda for Spanish wines.
If you go to Palma in summer you must have a tropical outfit, and if in winter you must have warm clothes.
The hotels are good and inexpensive—even more so than elsewhere in Spain—and there are one or two English boarding houses. In fact, at Palma you feel at home in more senses than one. There is a British vice-consul, English church services, an English teashop, an English circulating library, and a social club. There is also tennis, football, horse racing, though if you are a strict Sabbatarian you will have your doubts about this.
Adventures are scarce on Majorca, as the island is guaranteed to be free from brigands, perhaps because it is too small for a brigand to hide in. But there are one or two worth—while and many tame excursions. One of the former is to the Cuevas del Drach or Caves of the Dragon, where you will see the most wonderful and fantastic patterns in stalactite reflected in the waters of lovely lagoons.
Of course, you can do a bit of mountain climbing on Majorca, but the P. N. T. office will advise you on, that.
Space is getting short, and we must say “Au revoir!” to Spain proper. But before we return home we must take a trip to Tangier, which was quite a well-known place even before Mr. Hannen Swaffer visited it.
While in Spain you have seen many new worlds, but Tangier is different from them all. Although this North African city is within a stone’s throw of Europe, so to speak, when you enter it you will find yourself transported to an atmosphere that is subconsciously familiar to you from your reading of the Bible. Of course, if you have been to the East, Tangier will be nothing to you, but if you have not you will carry away an impression that you are never likely to forget.
The street life of Tangier will get you from the word go. Moors in flowing robes and turbans, strings of camels driven by negroes, Jews in black caftans, Spaniards, Frenchmen, a gorgeous modern hotel and the minarets of the mosques shimmering in the blazing sun—all these things impinge on your vision at once. The sights and sounds of Tangier waft you into a world that is different from anything you have known before. There is beauty, but there is also hideousness, like the incredibly ugly old women you see on the Great Soko on Thursday and Sunday mornings and the diseased beggars you meet here and there, but it all merges into something uniquely picturesque and impressive. The snake charmers, jugglers and story-tellers give their respective performances in exactly the same way as they and their ancestors have been doing for centuries.
I wish I could advise you to explore Tangier for yourself, but I am afraid that if you happen to stray off the beaten path you may encounter trouble. Thus you will do well to engage a guide, but never one who offers his services in the street. The hotel where you are staying should always be consulted in the matter of guides, and guide-beggars who importune you in the street must be ignored.
You will be made comfortable at the Cecil or the Continental, but there are a good half dozen other satisfactory hotels. You will probably learn at your hotel that you must be careful about drinking water, though with the excellent iced drinks you can get anywhere at the reliable hotels and cafés this will be no hardship.
As to amusements, Tangier is nowadays visited by large numbers of well-to-do Europeans and amusement catering, is therefore improving. You may be interested to visit an Arab café, but you are strongly advised to take a reliable guide. If you are interested in sports you will do well to apply to the Secretary of the British Sports Club, which has tennis and hockey grounds.
If you stay in Tangier for any length of time you will probably establish contact with a member of the fairly extensive British colony, who will give you all the hints that only a local resident can give.
I cannot tell at what point on this long journey homesickness will overtake you—or your pocket. A home-sick pocket can be very annoying and it is therefore advisable to calculate probable expenditure in advance.
In the case of Spain this is not too difficult, thanks to the Patronato Nacional del Turismo, who list the prices of practically all the hotels you are likely to stay at in Spain. Railway fares in Spain need not be ascertained in accordance with a predetermined itinerary, unless you are bound to one in any case.
I give the following budget for a 30-days tour on the assumption that you are a person of moderate means, yet do not wish to spoil your holiday by petty economies.
|London to Irun via Paris (second class)||£6 13s. od.|
|Total fares in Spain (second class)||£10 os. od.|
With regard to the latter item, I must explain that the Spanish railways issue mileage tickets, which you can obtain upon your entering the country. You receive an identity card (for which you must supply a photograph of yourself) and a book of coupons, one or more of which you can exchange at any railway station in Spain for a ticket to any chosen destination. The £10 estimated as the cost of your fares in Spain represents a total distance of 2,500 miles, and although this budget is calculated for one person only, it will be useful for you to know that two persons are allowed to travel with the same mileage ticket if the mileage is not less than 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles).
|Total railway fares amount to 30 days (approximately) at medium-class||£16||13s.||od.|
|hotels at maximum rate (£4 per week)||£16||os.||od.|
|Tips and miscellaneous expenses (£2 per week)||£8||os.||od.|
Thus approximately £40 will see you through comfortably on a 30-day tour, but even this can be reduced in various ways. If you travel to Irun third class the fare is only £4 10s., a saving of £2 3s., while if you take a room without board at the hotels and feed outside you can save another £3 without stinting yourself.
On £50 you can travel and live in Spain for 30 days “like a lord.”