Dachau: A somber day trip

Travel, for us, is almost always a joyous occasion. New cultures, new flavors – a window into the beauty of our world. However, not everything in the world is beautiful, and we feel it would be irresponsible and even dangerous to pretend otherwise. This is why, in the middle of our exuberant visit to Munich to celebrate Oktoberfest, we found ourselves making a short journey that somehow felt interminably long. It is difficult to live and travel in Europe without some sense of a dark cloud hanging over all this at times. World War II was not that many years

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Guernica: It’s not so horriffic any more (and bonus: Vitoria!)

We took the Euskotren to Guernica (or Gernika in Euskara) during our stay in Bilbao. The small town became known to the outside world during the Spanish Civil War when Nazi Germany’s Luftwaffe dropped bombs on innocent civilians on market day. Picasso later cemented Guernica’s tragic place in history with his iconic masterpiece named after the town. The painting can be viewed at the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid; it’s a very powerful and sobering experience. One can’t help but think about the war in Guernica. General Franco, who would go on to become dictator of Spain for nearly 40 years, ordered the bombardment

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The best bao in Bilbao

Bilbao: that most modern of metropolises (metropoli?), home to the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, a contemporary city that embraces its ancient roots… We’d heard it all and decided to experience this place for ourselves during our Basque Country road trip. It’s not for nothing that the Guggenheim is one of the main attractions. One of the strangest moments of the trip came when two women approached us outside the museum and started speaking in Valenciano. We’d lived in the Valencian Community almost a year, so we recognized the language, even if we didn’t understand everything they were saying. It’s strange,

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Learning the art of pintxos in San Sebastián

Back from visiting family in the U.S. and with a month until Dreamer started teaching again, we rented a car and headed to Basque Country in northern Spain. A quick stop for lunch was in order at a hotel/restaurant in Burgos specializing in this sort of thing. The menú del dia is a phenomenon here: started by Franco as a way to ensure workers could get a good lunch at a reasonable price, the tradition has hung on post-dictatorship in such strong fashion that nearly every place that’s open for lunch here offers it, even though technically they don’t have to

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Segovia: Princess castle, aqueduct, and baby pig

Madrid is well-positioned for interesting day trips: just hop on a train and an hour or so later you can immerse yourself in history. In early August, we headed to Segovia, north of the capital in the province of Castile and León, where some of the history dates back to Roman times. The city is famous for its well-preserved aqueduct, which dominates the center. The aqueduct is a part of normal everyday life for Segovianos, with some roads even passing through it. The city’s mascot – meant to echo this famous aqueduct – was just a bit creepy, though… Speaking of

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Partying until dawn in Aranjuez

One of the best parts of living in Spain is getting to know Spanish people, and last July – shortly after our move – our Madrid family invited us to the wedding of Doer’s host sister, Ruth, and her marido-to-be, Julian (Juli). Host sister, you say? Well, Doer first met Ruth and her family in the year 2000 on his first trip to Spain, a high school Spanish class trip where they hosted this young American boy. And they have stayed in touch ever since. So we hopped on a train to the Aranjuez, a city in the southern part of

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