2018 Grateful 26

It’s bloody hot. And instead of cooling down, it’s getting hotter as the day goes on. It’s to hit 39 by 7pm this evening. Welcome to Córdoba, the prepping ground for Seville where temps are to be even hotter. We’re on a road trip through Andalusia and today has been the first day that I’ve really felt the heat – enough to do the Spanish thing an stay inside in the afternoon: la siesta and air con – a heady mixture.

Another mixture I’ve discovered is the famed 50/50 from the Bodegas Mezquita winery. It’s a mix of their white Fino, a lovely staw-coloured dry wine made just like sherry but for DO reasons can’t be called sherry, and a very sweet Pedro Ximenez. When you mix them, half in half, you get the best of both worlds – dry and sweet.

After reading somewhere that a Japanese tourist had what he called his best meal in all Spain in their restaurant on Cruz del Rastro (they have three in the city of Córboba), we had to try it. And while the service seriously rated (the delightful Pepa was on the ball), it didn’t quite beat the experience at Antonia’s in Jerez.

But they have a great motto:

Lo mejor de la vida siempre se comparte ¬ the best of life is always shared.

And how true that is. For many years, I preferred to travel solo. And not from some super-considerate desire not to inflict my travel self on someone else but because I didn’t want to deal with someone else’s preferences, particularly if they didn’t coincide with mine. On my first ever sun holiday, my friend wanted to spend all night partying and all day recovering by the pool or at the beach. I wanted to get on a bus and see the mountains. I wanted to do stuff. But she wasn’t remotely interested. I could, of course, have simply said as much, but in my misguided youth, I was loathe to do anything that would upset anyone. I thought going on holiday meant being attached at the hip. Instead, I feigned illness, waited until she left, and then on the back of my remarkable recovery, skipped out and went rambling for the day making sure to be back in time for tea. Ridiculous in hindsight but at 18 it made all the sense in the world.

From then on, I travelled on my own. Three weeks interrailing across Europe sealed my fate. The only thing deciding my day was the train timetable. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and I loved it. I did miss being able to share the moment though. Or to relive it months or even years later. But that was the price I paid for having it my way – all the time.

Over the years, I’ve mellowed a little. I’ve gotten a little better at compromise. I have friends I can travel with – those who are happy enough to do their own thing and let me do mine and equally happy to spend time with me if both things coincide. I’ve lucked out with himself, who shows no compunction about taking off on his own, leaving me time to myself. We have similar thoughts on where to stay and what to do. I drive, he navigates. I sleep in, he goes out and gets coffee. He likes the heat, I don’t. And if I want to see something that he’s not remotely interested in, or vice versa, there’s no question of feeling obliged. Right now, he’s off out in 35 degrees sussing out somewhere for drinks later. And I’m inside, with the aircon, loving the cold. What’s not to be grateful for.


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