Drinking with Don Quixote by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

Have mercy on me, dear readers.

Because I cannot do justice to the topic this week. I have a wonderful trip to tell you about but there was so much in it that cannot be captured and it all comes out of me in a bit of a tumble. Nevertheless…

A few years ago I received a phenomenal gift: a trip to Spain. A decadent, beautiful, month long trip with my aunt and my grandmother, Fast Eddy, who was then 87. Fast Eddy is sharp, funny and full of energy and my aunt is equally fab and a dear friend. We ate beautifully, drank copiously and stayed in sumptuous, historic hotels with excellent bedding and delicious breakfasts.

Our first meal was lunch across from the palace in Madrid. We took the train, stopped in Cordoba on the way to Sevilla. We sweated in the heat and glared at our suitcases as we dragged them through the train stations–why had we brought such beasts?!

We stayed in a palace in Sevilla, ate churros e chocolate, saw museums, cathedrals, statues of saints, wild architecture and many fabulous pairs of shoes. On to Jerez to drink sherry and then to Granada where everything in me screeched to a halt at the beauty, history and majesty of The Alhambra.

And there were gypsy caves with Flamenco dancers, Arabic baths where we floated in shallow water under tiled, cave-like ceilings and planned on massages afterward but changed our minds when we saw the massage-ees laying stark naked on the tables. (The murky, co-ed change room had been enough of a surprise.)

We stayed in a Parador on a hill across from Toledo. Our guide was Carlos who arrived on a moped and gave such vivid descriptions that wherever we went other tourists would sidle up to listen to him. A dead pigeon on the street and Carlos spat and said, “one less politician” making us choke with laughter. A bottle of wine on the hilltop at night with a view of the city and its umpteen cathedrals, all of us at risk of rolling down the steep hill, the sprinkler system coming on as we tried to pick our way back across the grounds with straw-like grass stuck to our clothes. Fast Eddy game for anything, day after day.

Salamanca, where we took the advice of my old friend Mike and ate calamari and drank sangria at Cervantes pub on Plaza Mayor two debauched nights in a row. I may have balanced buns on my head that second night (so much talent) and practiced my newfound Spanish by hollering at passers by from my hotel window later on.

Leon was next, then Santiago where we discovered we were not on quite the same pilgrimage as the rest of the tourists. A run-in with the eyeball of a fish which we could not get Fast Eddy to eat no matter how much persuasion (wine & offers of cash) we applied. Bilbao for the Guggenheim, San Sebastian for Basque food and clear ocean and a certain kind of sparkling wine poured in a special way, served fresh. Tartes and espadrilles from France, where we went for the day.

Menorca where we could not find Spanish food for all the British.

And finally Barcelona. All Gaudi, all the time. A fort on the mountaintop. Rabbits and chickens sold live from street vendors. (“Isn’t that cute you can buy a pet on the– Wait a sec…!”) A lunch by the sea. One last night of tapas and wine and pouring rain when there were supposed to be firecrackers. One last dash through the airport when we realized we were in the wrong terminal, past a famous mural by Miro, not that we had time to care. Fast Eddy leading the pack even (and especially) after I accidentally nipped at her heals with my cart. One final gift: at the duty free we find the gorgeous wine we’d just had at our lunch by the sea the day before.

And, beastly suitcases bursting with sherry, vinegar and olive oil, a stainless steel Don Quixote, soaps from each hotel and multiple pairs of shoes, we go home.

May everyone have a trip like that some day.

Deb Danielle

12 Replies to “Drinking with Don Quixote by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman”

  1. Most of us will live our entire lives without a trip like that! I hope to try & replicate it with you in about 20 years and I will be the ‘fast eddy’ of the trip and Tessa can play your role. Shelley and Daniel will have to come too.

  2. Thanks Joanne. I did quite a bit of sighing myself, just writing about it!

    Cindy (aka Danielle bc this is my mom who hasn’t changed her login name since I was last at her house–very cute) I look forward to the trip! Start working on your alcohol tolerance now! And your navigation skills…

  3. Danielle, you could probably write a year of posts on this month long vacation that even in its one telling proved a whirlwind adventure. Best of all you were able to share it with Fast Eddy and your aunt…such memories!

  4. Eileen: let’s go!

    Larramie, you’re absolutely right, I could write numerous blogs about the trip. In fact, I did send a bunch of group emails from internet cafes all across Spain while we were there. It was very blog-like, actually and I wish I’d had a read blog at the time. I’ve still got all the writing and hope to do something with it someday. And it was unbelievable on a personal level, of course because I’ve always been so close with my aunt and Fast Eddy–who is now 92, btw.

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