Travel in Spain: Late Nights

October 29, 2015

“Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.”
— Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Sunset from the rooftop terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid

Sunset from the rooftop terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid

“The nights had become a disproportionately long counterpoint to days. . . . Going to bed was seen as a kind of failure, a renunciation of life.”
— Miranda Franca, Don Quixote’s Delusions: Travels in Castilian Spain

“Midnight has no significance for Spaniards and Cinderella could mean nothing to them, for the ball would hardly have begun when the clock struck twelve.”
— H. V. Morton, A Stranger in Spain

The most difficult part of traveling in Spain for me was adjusting to the late schedule.  At home, my ideal day would go something like this: rise and go running at 6:00 a.m., breakfast between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., lunch lightly around 1:00 p.m., eat dinner by 6:00 and then no more food before bed, relax and read or watch a movie until I fall asleep by 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.

I took a break from running while I was in Spain, so my mornings there started a bit later, but I was usually up by 7:00 a.m.  Breakfasts, which were included with our hotel reservations, generally started around 8:00 or 8:30.  I had a feeling that these breakfast buffets were far more opulent than the typical Spanish breakfast one might eat at home.  I always felt well fortified for the day.

The later schedule started with lunch, which happened between 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.  When we were in Ronda strolling down a major shopping street, store owners started pulling down the doors of their shops as 2:30 neared.  Dinner happened around 9:30 – 11:30 p.m.

Our days were full because there were always so many new and interesting things to see and do.  It was hard to find enough down time.  When we did have a couple of free hours in the late afternoon, I would forgo a much needed siesta and instead upload, edit, and caption my photos.  It was important to me to stay on top of this task, and doing the work in daily batches helped.  But needless to say, I was worn out each and every night.

It is a mystery to me how Spaniards can function on so little sleep!

My adjustment difficulties made me appreciate the challenges faced by immigrants and refugees who are transplanted into cultures that are so different from their own.  They must so often feel out of sync and exhausted.  Can a round peg ever become comfortable in a square hole?

Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

Sunset from the tour bus window, Linares

Sunset from the tour bus window, Linares

I was lucky to have been out and about for a couple of Spanish sunsets.  The setting sun has always meant the closing of the day to me.  However in Spain, sunsets signal the beginning of the best part of the day.

“One of the most beautiful moments in . . . Spain, is at sunset.  Twilight is briefer than in England, but it is not the sudden African swoop into darkness.  Sometimes I saw the towers of the cathedral growing black against the rose-red clouds that deepened to a fiery orange, and the whole plain, with its uplifted city on the hill, would fall into an important silence broken only be the sound of a church bell ringing out the last moments of another day.  It is a time of intense emotions, the real moment of truth, when one feels that all the Saints of Spain, Isidore, Idlefonse, Eulalia, Teresa, Ignatius, St. John of the Cross, must be gathered together in some corner of heaven looking down upon the land.”
— H. V. Morton, A Stranger in Spain






3 Responses to “Travel in Spain: Late Nights”

  1. Diana Studer Says:

    that closing bells sounds blissful. Don’t hear church bells here. We did in Porterville

  2. Maureen Cullen Says:

    Thankyou Rosemary, it is so easy to slip back into the routine of home, your blog took us back to Spain & the wonderful time we shared on Al Andalus with you & Carol

  3. Anne Timlick Says:

    Such a rich reflection from start to finish. Thanks!

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