Spain 2011, Chinchón

Chinchon Madrid Spain

Although we had stayed in Chinchón before  this didn’t help us pinpoint the location of the hotel which was hidden away in the warren of tiny back streets at the back of the town.

It took some finding and when we did, the door was locked, there was no sign of life and a line of people waiting to book in.  Eventually someone arrived and it was just coincidence that all of tonight’s guests had arrived at exactly the same time.  It had been difficult finding accommodation in Chinchón so I was rather nervous about the Casa Rural La Graja but it turned out that that had been unnecessary because we were shown to an excellent room with a balcony that looked out over the street and for the first time there was blue sky.

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4 responses to “Spain 2011, Chinchón

  1. Good morning, Andrew,

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    and we leafed through the pages of the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel guide to Spain
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

    I hope DK are paying you for the product placement.

    Seriously though, I think it incontrovertible that their series of guidebooks are the nicest on the EYE.

    However, my problem with ALL travel guidebooks, is that none of them are terribly nice on my BRAIN.

    Most of them seem to be written by computer for robots: I have almost never come across a line in a guidebook that made me gasp with admiration. They invariably leave me feeling curiously empty.

    So whilst I will always borrow a guide from the library before embarking on an overseas trip, I look online beforehand, for my real insights.

    And here – as we end your Iberian adventure – we suitably come full circle. For it was my "going online" to check out Jurmala, that meant I recently found you.

    So, don't knock my attitude to guidebooks*: were it not for the fact that I find them sleep-inducing, I would never have ventured into your literary territory!

    * as usual, I jest a little.

    Kindest,
    Dai.

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    • Thanks Dai,

      I am not going to criticise because different people travel for different reasons and for a fortnight all inclusive in Benidorm it probably isn’t terribly important to know about Pedro Zaragoza Orts or the ‘war of the bikini’ but for me it is about discovery so I couldn’t imagine visiting a country or a city without researching first. In the case of Spain I recommend ‘The Ghosts of Modern Spain’ by Giles Tremlett or ‘Modern Spain 1875-1980’ by Raymond Carr. Failing that Wikipedia always provides good background whether it is accurate or not!

      Jurmala – What a place and easily one of my favourites. I have visited it in the Winter and seen the beach and the Baltic frozen solid in twisted ice sculptures and in the summer when the golden sand fringes a perfectly blue sea – no wonder the Soviets liked it so much! I like Riga so much that I have been there four times!

      Andrew

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      • Dai Woosnam

        Good morning, Andrew,

        >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
        but for me it is about discovery so I couldn’t imagine visiting a country or a city without researching first
        <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

        I am not sure that you get my drift. Probably my fault: I should have expressed myself more clearly.

        Who is talking about "not researching a country"? I am certainly not.

        No, my beef is just with the Guidebook, per se. Not travel writing. In the days when I used to read books – alas these days I only have time to read MINDS – travel writing was just about my favourite genre. I probably read
        four such books a month over about 20 years.

        And who was it who made up my pantheon of travel writers? Let me think.

        It is easier to say who did not.

        Freya Stark, for instance, despite those considerable UK sales, just did not do it for me. Her prose arrived DOA on the printed page. To some extent, Laurens van der Post and Wilfred Thesiger, ditto.

        Michael Palin, as a travel WRITER, does not "do it" for me, either. (Clearly a lovely fellow though, and a most engaging TV presenter.)

        Bruce Chatwin is another revered name who does not float my boat. His prose always struck me as far too precious and never quite rang true.

        And there, in that last word, we have zeroed-in on what I reckon is vital in a travel writer. Truth.

        That facts BE facts. No playing fast and loose with facts. But opinions? Ah, that is different. And I don't mind a damn if they run counter to mine. I welcome it, really: “thinking” people should get a bit bored with their own mindset.

        It is at least 8 years since I last read any travel LITERATURE, so I am not au courant with the latest trends. But put a gun to my head and ask me to name my favourite dozen travel writers, I would probably come up with this list. It includes writers like Howard Jacobson and Mary Morris who are not REMOTELY travel writers, but who made the odd striking entrance into the genre. (In their cases with "In The Land Of Oz" and "Nothing To Declare" respectively). :
        1. Pico Iyer.
        2. Jonathan Raban.
        3. Colin Thubron.
        4. Paul Theroux.
        5. Bill Bryson.
        6. Howard Jacobson.
        7. Mark Twain.
        8. Jan Morris.
        9. Patrick Leigh Fermor.
        10. Mary Morris.
        11. Dervla Murphy
        12. Eric Newby.

        I am sure that looking at this list 10 minutes after I have sent it, will put a chill through me, as there are sure to be names I have forgotten to include there. No William Dairymple, Lawrence Durrell, Robert Byron, Chris Stewart, Rory MacLean, Peter Mayle, George Borrow. I am happy that they do not make the top 12. No literary greats like Greene, Waugh and Steinbeck either.

        But no Ryszard Kapuscinski? That must be a mistake surely? I have to include him in my top dozen. And maybe Quentin Crewe too.

        Of course, all this does, is go to show the absurdity of writing lists.

        Good fun though.

        And the best words I ever read on Spain? I guess that two books come to mind, both only available on Amazon as second-hand: they are long out of print.

        The poet Ted Walker who died about 7 years ago, made one venture into travel writing. His book “In Spain” (1987) was a heck of a read. And coupled with it for literary quality was a book by Patrice Chaplin (Charlie’s daughter-in-law) called “Albany Park”. This is not a travel book as such, but has a glorious section on her time in Gerona.

        Oh and I mustn’t forget Ray Gosling’s astonishing radio series circa 1984 called “The Armada Revenged”. Somewhere in the loft I have some correspondence with Ray, on this high water mark of his writing.

        Finally, you mentioned Benidorm. Gosh, I once spent a week there a quarter century ago, and loved the place. Did you know BTW that Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes honeymooned there circa 1957, long before the gargantuan quantity of sand was delivered in order to make the sunrise and sunset beaches?!

        Will sign off now. I salute you Andrew for an engaging Spanish journal.

        Kindest,
        Dai.

        Like

      • Thanks Dai,

        obviously it was I that did not make myself clear. It would never have occured to me that you wouldn’t be a researcher before a traveller! Sorry if I gave offence?

        Yours is an impressive list and with names I am not familiar with I will Google them all. As you suggest I guess your list (or any like it) is a bit like the tide – different every time it comes in! Can I dare to suggest a couple more? – Ernest Hemingway and forgive me this one – Rick Stein, it’s hardly brilliant travel writing but the pictures of the food that you might get on your travels are enough to tempt me to follow his wandering routes, although I suspect the food that Rick gets is not the food the humble traveller on a budget can realistically expect!

        I have to say that I am a big fan of Bryson.

        Thanks for your kind words about my Spanish adventure, the next one is closer to home – Cardigan in South Wales, where I visited in June.

        Regards

        Andrew
        Thanks

        Like

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