The trains in Spain speed mainly on the plain……  Spain’s Renfe train system is one of the best in Europe.  While we could only travel 2nd class, it trumped first class in most other countries.  Buying a ticket is another issue–we waited in three lines to purchase a ticket (reservation actually as we had Eurail passes) in the Barcelona Station.

314 kph

The Eurail Pass is also in disarray–we purchased two first class tickets on the US side of the ocean and found that France, Spain and Italy charged a surcharge up to $60E ($90USD) per reservation.  We spent nearly $600 more for this $2600 ticket so that’s why I went to Norway–I’ll get my money’s worth.  Between Paris and Barcelona runs the new Renfe high speed which clips along at 315kph.  Fasten your seatbelts!


Ham is a big item here and the whole shank is cured and sold whole for $225E.  It is served thinly sliced.

Cow Maw

The Spaniards waist nothing.  Here a Cow-Maw smiles back at me at the market–with a good set of dentures, this cow would be back in the running.  Maw soup anyone?


An alternative is to succumb to Americanization which is everywhere.  I’ve never eaten at McDonalds, drunk a Coke nor owned a TV….just sayin’.

Cuban Campers  

In the center of Madrid, Cubans camped out refusing to move until they were provided with free housing.  They had been there for over one year.  And I thought the US held the trophy for entitlements.


I promised you street mimes and here is a guy walking around without a head.   Hmmmm


I must interject here I stumbled upon this bookstore in the back alleys of Madrid–one of the best collections of mountaineering literature I’ve ever seen in one–actually several–rooms.

Libraria interior 

On the back wall was a montage mural with each portrait signed by the climber him/herself.  If you are in Madrid and love the mountains like I do, don’t miss this store.

Mime 1

Another mime balanced on a broomstick……


A Spanish marketplace.  We shopped at local markets when we could cook.  Juices in Spain were very fresh and very cheap–usually $1E.

Mime 2

Not sure what’s going on here but the donation box is right up front.  Who can hold still for this long anyway?

Mime 3

This mime had this German Shepard totally freaked out, but then again, he freaked me out when I first walked by.

Mime 4

Balance a ball on your head while talking to pretty girls?  This guy could do it.  Velcro?

Mime 5

Then there was the tennis player.  Look at his feet and imagine holding this position for any length of time.   He did.

Mime 6

This act featured gulag-y music and lots of chain rattling.   Interesting. 


This “mime” was also perfectly still.  Since the Euro-ization of Europe, eastern Europeans have flooded every street corner in western Europe from Trondheim to southern Spain (Norway is a #1 begging country because of their high standards of social services).  They carry their kids, crutches, and various disguises, put on a visage of pathos, and beg for pennies.  Frankly, I get tired of this when I see them walk together to “work” each morning carrying their props.  Some became very aggressive when I attempted to photograph them.  Add to this graffiti on virtually every building in Europe, glass cutter marks on virtually every subway and you have the beginning of the end of the age western enlightenment.


Next is Portugal–and the Algarve where we set up another basecamp.  Stay tuned!

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