Crazy parking in Gijon
Few people around here speak English so I have been unable to learn how the locals can park their cars on streets bumper-to-bumper and still get out. Here are two photos that illustrate. The first shows how close people park. Sometimes the bumpers touch!
The second photo shows the actual distance between cars. And the one pictured here is not an isolated scene — you see the same thing all over the place!
And here are a couple more photos. The top one shows how people park right on street corners, in this case with the rear end of the vehicle extending onto the street. The photo below it is another example of a pinned car. The amount of room in front and back of the trapped car is less than two inches total. Houdini couldn't get out of that space.
People smoke here, a lot of them. All ages. The American tobacco companies must like Spain, and probably the rest of Europe, too, because as far as I can tell, smoking is still popular in most of the countries. Marlboro cigarettes seem to be the most popular from my observations. I'm not sure if you can smoke inside businesses, but at outdoor cafes people light up all around you. If you want to dine outdoors, be prepared for smoke.
Do not invest in a clothes dryer company
In most places I have visited in Europe, there's a clothes rack inside the house. I assume you would need to use it on a rainy day. I bought one of these for my own home and use it often instead of my electric dryer.
Oh, some houses in Europe have clothes dryers. But they are usually combined with a washing machine, most of which are much smaller than our behemoth machines. Clothes take forever to dry. It think it must be difficult for a family with two or three kids to keep up with the washing and drying. But maybe we are spoiled in the USA with our big ol' washers and big ol' dryers. They probably do just fine here. And they save power, too.
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Coffee. No bottomless cups here
In the USA, it's still common at coffee shops to get free coffee refills. Your waitress comes by every so often and asks "A little more, hon?" And you say yes. And she fills up your cup. This can happen over and over. It's a very good deal. But not in Europe. You pay for each cup. Luckily, here in Gijon, a cup of coffee is reasonable. Even with the crummy exchange rate, it costs me less than $2 for a "cafe con leche" (coffee with milk).
And speaking of coffee, while there are Starbucks cafes all over Madrid and Barcelona, there are none that I have seen in Gijon, a city of 275,000 people. When you do find one in Spain, it will be just like one in America except you must order in Spanish. I wonder how Starbucks missed this town. I thought Starbucks was everywhere.
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Topless women at the beach
A lot of women in Spain go topless at the beach. Women don't do that back home, which I think is good. Most women look better in clothes — the more the better. Men, too. The women who you see topless here are both young and old. I will be perfectly candid by saying that I have enjoyed keeping an eye out for the topless women, who number perhaps one in 100 to those with tops in place. It's like playing the game "Where's Waldo" except instead of looking for a weird guy in a striped shirt, you look for women with missing clothing. To me, it's a more interesting game.
One thing I quickly concluded is that topless women on the beach are not sexy. Most the time it's the opposite because few are in great shape. I have a feeling they go topless because it feels good to be free of their clothing. And, really, nobody stares at them. It's just business as usual.
Eating baby pig
This is a picture of me in Segovia a couple of weeks ago. I was eating a baby pig. It's the signature dish in this historic town. It's called suckling pig. I think that's because its mother is still breast feeding it when it is snatched away, killed and then shipped to Segovia where tourists can eat it even if, like me, they really don't want to. But you know. . . when in Rome do as the Romans do.
The second picture is the scene at the outdoor cafe. The camera is pointing the same direction as I was looking as I ate the pig. It was a gorgeous night.
All around town, souvenir shops sell pig things. Piggy banks are popular. The toy pigs are smiling and happy. If the pigs involved in the suckling pig industry — mamas whose babies got snatched and little piggies who gave their lives — knew what was going on, they would invade Segovia and destroy every restaurant and every piggy bank.
As you can see from my photo, the suckling pig arrived at my plate complete with one of its ears. It was a grotesque sight. I ate some of the pig. But it did not taste good and I will never eat suckling pig again. I'll get pizza.
Frankly, I do not eat much meat these days, but I'm not a purist. I do eat fish, as I don't think they know what's going on anyway. I think God put them on Earth for you and me to eat.
Businesses close in Spain from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Siesta time. It seems crazy to me to lose all that business. But I guess it's working out. Spaniards have been doing it for a long, long time. I'm not sure what the business owners and employees do during this time off, whether they play or snooze. But at 6 p.m., they come back and keep their doors open until at least 9. Most anyway. Personally, I would not like such a schedule. Once I left for the day, I would want to be gone. No coming back. No siree Bob!
The van with this advertising on its side was blocking the sidewalk in Barcelona. So, it got my attention. While I was waiting for the walk sign to change, I decided to take a photo of the happy couple. They are about as happy a couple as I've ever seen. I am hardly ever that happy.
Dinner plus tapas
In Gijon and other Spanish cities, when you order drinks, a bonus will arrive, tapas. The snacks differ from eatery to eatery. If you order a second drink, more tapas will arrive. If you are just a little bit hungry, not famished, you could make a meal of these tasty treats. The photos here are tapas that were served at my table along with two drinks at two different restaurants.
According to Wikipedia, tapas are designed to encourage conversation because people will not be distracted by the large meals set before them.
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I will add to this posting as I get time.