I just returned from a trip to Spain so I am writing a blog entry on Spain while I am still in the mood.
Spain is a beautiful, fascinating country in Southern Europe.

Spain is traditional and not as influenced by United States of America as other countries in Europe. For, most people speak Spanish rather than English. It has a lot of Arabic influence, something which I like very much. Spain is also known for its gypsies. I learned that the Spanish gypsies actually migrated from Rajastan, India!

Don Quixote is a huge part of Spanish pride and a trademark. I saw in the places that I visited many signs saying "Ruta de Don Quijote"! I did a Don Quixote Route of Spain since my dissertation is on enchantment and magic in Don Quixote in the fairy tale realm.

I discovered through the Don Quixote Route the magnitude of influence of Don Quixote on Spain. I am still trying to assess the influence of Don Quixote to Spanish personality. It is amazing that a literary character could have so much influence! 

I also discovered that magic, as pertaining to my dissertation, is influential in particularly Spain.
I did a Don Quixote Route of Spain.
I just realized today that my Don Quixote Route started in the flight to Madrid, itself, in my conversation with a very warm and friendly Spanish family about Don Quixote. The Spanish family is from Seville and asked me where I was travelling to in Spain. When I mentioned Toboso as one of the cities, the father immediately made the connection to Don Quixote! The father, a professor, suggested some good scholarship on Don Quixote, such as:
1.       El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, Miguel de Cervantes. "Edición científica reciente la de Francisco Rico (ed. Real Academia; de bolsillo)
2.       La de Martín de Riquer (ed. Planeta)
3.       Útil para un lector no especializado, Andrés Amoros: "El Quijote cultural" (ed. S.M.).
I was thrilled to come across already someone that was familiar with Don Quixote!
The places that I visited were Madrid, Toledo, Toboso, Lagunas de Ruidera National Park, and Barcelona.
In Madrid, I stayed with my very warm and loving relatives, Anu Chechi, Anoop Chetten, and their toddler, Meghna. They were very hospitable and helpful. I particularly enjoyed spending time with the precious bundle of joy, Meghna! I miss her so much now! In Madrid, I visited Cervantes's birthplace--where there was a house with all of the materials of the Renaissance Period, the Royal Palace, Plaza España--where there were statues of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

The Royal Palace is so beautiful! I was told that the current Spanish king does not reside in the palace, but goes there to conduct royal affairs. One important ceremony that takes place in the palace is this literary awards ceremony, which is conducted on Cervantes's birthday, April 23rd! The award is granted to a high achiever that has written in the Spanish language, and there is a huge gathering! It is amazing that Cervantes is given royal importance.

I loved going to the Egyptian temple and experiencing some of the combination of Arabic and Spanish culture, both which I love!

Right before my trip to Toledo, I saw on Facebook that my dear friend, Leslie was also going to be in Spain at the same time! What a happy coincidence! It has always been my dream to travel with her so I was ecstatic at the prospect of meeting up with her. Unfortunately, after communicating with her, I realized that we would not be in any close cities in Spain.
I visited Toledo since it is the medieval city of Spain! It is thus also the major part of the Don Quixote Route! Toledo is also a meeting point for three religions/cultures: the Jewish, the Christian, and the Arabic! I paid tribute by first visiting two synagogues. Then I visited the famous Cathedral. Then I visited an Islamic cave in the location of El Museo de la España Magica.

I wanted to visit the Arabic and Roman baths, but ran out of time. I also walked along the River Tagus, a part of the Don Quixote Route and got good photos.

I bought a Don Quixote and Sancho Panza figurine. I noticed that there were Don Quixote figurines in every shop in Toledo. I also enjoyed going to El Museo de la España Magica, which made me realize that magic is a big part of Spain! On the train ride from Toledo back to Madrid, I conversed with a very nice Spanish lady who told me that in Spain, every child has been educated on Don Quixote since primary school, that at least an abridged version of Don Quixote is part of the curriculum.
The next day, I visited Toboso, town of Don Quixote's lady love, Dulcinea and Lagunas de Ruidera National Park, part of where Don Quixote travelled. I visited a house constructed to be the house where the fictional character, Dulcinea lived. The house was beautiful and really old-fashioned! 

I then ate in Mesón La Noria de Dulcinea. It is a wonderful restaurant where the employees are very friendly. The waiter serving me even went out of his way to turn the watermill on to take a photo of me! It was completely his idea!

Then I went to Museo Cervantino, a library of many celebrated editions of Don Quixote! After that, I went to Museo del Humor Grafico Dulcinea, which showcases satirical paintings of Don Quixote and Dulcinea.
After my trip to Toboso, I had time to fit in a trip to the Lagunas de Ruidera National Park, a big tourist destination and vacation spot. The park has fifteen lakes. Deep within the park, there is also the Cave of Montesinos, where Don Quixote had a magical dream. I was able to go to Laguna del Rey (Lake of the King) and get in beautiful photos, including a selfie, which hardly appears like a selfie. Unfortunately, however, I was unable to visit the Cave of Montesinos, the reason for my whole trip to Lagunas de Ruidera. For, the only tour of the day took place at 6 PM, and my return bus ride was at 6 PM. I could not walk there on my own since it was too far away. Oh, well. I guess that I made the most of my situation. I hope to come to Lagunas de Ruidera again and then visit the Cave of Montesinos.

Then I spent three days in Barcelona. I first visited Les Bosc de Les Fades, a beautiful fairy bar that my close friend, Kerry, knowing that I love fairies, recommended to me!

I then visited the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, which had amazing light and music shows. Some of the songs were songs from The Lion King translated into Spanish.

The next day, I visited Plaza Catalunya, did a free walking tour of Barcelona, and then visited Casa Batllo and Parc Guell, both Gaudi masterpieces. Gaudi's house looks like a magical gingerbread house!

The third day, I went on a cruise of the city. We passed by Barceloneta beach where Don Quixote challenged Sanson Carrasco.

Then I went to the Barcelona City History Museum. It was amazing to learn about Barcelona from the Roman conquest to the Middle Ages! I love that Barcelona has Roman influence. Then I went to Parc del Laberint Horta, a beautiful park with a labyrinth, fountains, and Greek mythological sculptures. Unfortunately, I did not make it in time to enter the main park. I hope to visit it next time.
If I visit Spain another time, I hope to then visit Salamanca, Sevilla, Granada, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, etc. Salamanca is a city renowned for scholarship on magic. There is even a cave that is celebrated for magic. I would like to visit Sevilla since it has a lot of Arabic influence. I would like to visit the famous Spanish gypsies in Granada. I have always wanted to visit the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands. I particularly like the Canary Islands since that is where canaries originate from. My former dream was to get an authentic canary from the Canary Islands! Now I understand that is not a good idea since the canary would not be likely to survive in a different climate in America.
One of my souvenirs was an authentic Spanish doll. My goal is to collect a traditional doll from every country that I visit. Although I bought this Spanish doll from Madrid, it was based on the Canary Islands. That is okay since I love the Canary Islands!
I have studied Spanish so the trip was not as hard for me to communicate. I hope to be fluent in Spanish if I visit Spain again.
I returned from the Don Quixote Route feeling quixotic and am trying to now shake the feeling since I need to get back into the real world.

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