The last time I was in Spain, I was a brand-new teacher in NYC, 40 or so years ago. I taught high school French, Spanish and Italian, so going to Europe was always essential for my professional development.
And I’m European/American — all my grandparents emigrated from Poland — so going to Europe always fills a void in my life. The first time I ever glimpsed Europe from an airplane, at 19, I felt as if I were going home. Hard to explain, even to myself, but I’ll never forget that moment: as I looked down and saw Paris, I suddenly felt as if something deep inside me had finally been completed. I was home.
This time was a bit different. I was invited to speak at several locations around Spain — but I hadn’t used Spanish in day-to-day conversation for decades. I needed practice! — so my first week in Spain got me acclimated, linguistically, and here are some of the beautiful places we got to visit:
And of course, some climbing here & there…
… followed by my first speaking gig, at a climbing gym in Madrid. I spoke to a whole gym-ful of motivated young women, all striving to be better, at climbing and a host of other endeavors:
Then my friend & I headed north, towards the Bay of Biscay (northern coast of Spain), for my 2d speaking gig. This is the lovely city of Burgos, site of a Spanish Gothic cathedral (very different from the Gothic style in the rest of Europe), which is a Unesco World Heritage site.
And of course, en route, some climbing….
So much more!… Stay tuned here for Spain 3, coming soon….
The last time I was in Spain, I was in my 20s (almost 50 years ago!). There was no World Wide Web, no one had personal computers, cell phones hadn’t been invented yet…. Only spies or very important people had passwords. And to plan a trip like mine, you had to go to a travel agency.
This time, I did it all myself, with lots of help from friends and technology.
I was invited to speak in Madrid and various regions around Spain, and my friend who lives near Madrid offered to take me climbing. The perfect trip — I got to talk to enthusiastic audiences all around the country (sometimes in Spanish, sometimes in English), sign lots of books, and experience lots of different climbing areas. (Rocks are different everywhere you go.)
But first, I got to spend a few days re-charging my batteries in the city that never sleeps. Walking around NYC is fascinating! When I was in school, I really loved being able to see so many different jobs happening all around me as I walked down the street! (How can a kid decide what to be in life without ever having seen what people do at their different jobs?) People everywhere, doing so any different kinds of jobs behind plate glass windows, on the sidewalk, at counters, behind wooden construction fences, in cellars beneath the sidewalk whose big metal doors become part of the sidewalk when they’re closed.
Manhattan is so full of life! That’s what I always loved about living there. Just walking down the street, or taking the subway, offers glimpses of an infinite number of kinds of people, foods, cultures, languages, music, jobs — of life!
Of course, Manhattan is only a tiny part of NYC, the smallest of the 5 boroughs — but on this trip, I didn’t have enough time to get out into the other boroughs. I started life, so many years ago, in Manhattan, just down 43rd Street from Times Square. My brother went to this school for a couple years…
…but by the time I was almost 6 and big enough for school (no pre-school or kindergarten for most of us, back then), we had moved to Queens.
While I was a student, sometimes I worked summer jobs in the city (Manhattan), and on my lunch hour I’d go into Central Park with my lunch, walk miles, or occasionally sit and listen to some of the ubiquitous impromptu music. That’s where I came to love the sound of the Caribbean steel drums…which I got to enjoy this trip in the subway (I love the unexpected subway concerts!):
Some subway shenanigans — steel drums, & some unexpected break-dancing. Riding the subway is an adventure; you never know what to expect! )
My favorite boat ride of all time – the Staten Island Ferry, which takes you past Lady Liberty, Ellis Island…
…and out into one of the busiest ports in the world, with unequaled views of Lower Manhattan: