‘Macho’ is the one word that symbolizes my recent trip to Spain. (‘Macho’ in Spanish literally means ‘Male’ but metaphorically it connotes ‘something that is very masculine.’)The main reason is that I saw the country through the eyes of my 11-year-old son who LOVES SOCCER as much as the Spanish LOVE SOCCER! As we landed in Spain, the frenzy of national excitement still reigned as the Spanish Soccer Team had just won the EUFA 2012 Championship.
First stops in Madrid and Barcelona – soccer stadiums joining thousands of enthusiastic fans visiting empty locker rooms; climbing endless stairwells to peer from the highest seats, sitting in the players’ chairs; walking through galleries displaying photos, balls, uniforms, players’ bios and trophies behind glass, and large screens video featuring highlights from games. These tours are more crowded than Disney Land in the height of summer!
The country of Spain is facing great economic crisis, but the soccer economy is very profitable! NIKE Stores in the stadiums are packed! Soccer jerseys ridiculously expensive!
Television programs feature soccer and basketball as the Spanish teams prepare for the Olympics. I serve as a translator for my Macho son and the Macho cab drivers who talk about Spanish NBA basketball players: the Gasol brothers (Pau from the Lakers) and Ricky Rubio who plays with the Timberwolves. On my elliptic machine in the hotel gym, I am awed by the Running of the Bulls – thousands of men mostly dressed in white run from the outskirts of the city through narrow ancient streets to the bull ring in the center of town along with 6 stampeding bulls – I learn that this is the best way to get the bulls to the ring for bull fights. OKAY – I have to say it – there is no way that thousands of women would engage in this crazy Macho sport – these men are running, tripping and some are being trampled by the charging bulls and they LOVE IT!
Even the food in the Spanish market places is Macho!
The featured Spanish architects and artists are all Macho – Antoni Gaudi, Picasso, Miro and Dali!
The balance to Mucho Macho is my MN teenage daughter who looks at travel as an exciting shopping experience. She has highly developed ‘RETAIL-DAR’ – she can sense that there is a Top Shop or Zara nearby without a map; her excitement within 100 yards of a choice retail establishment is palpable. On the other hand, my Macho son has less developed ‘RETAIL-DAR’. The last day in Spain he told us that he saw a lot of stores called ’Rebaixes’. We laughed – ‘Rabaixes’ is Spanish for ‘Sales’!
I admit – I am not a huge fan of Spanish Ham, Running of Bulls, Top Shop or Soccer (90 minutes of men running on a field that can actually end with no winner?) But admiring the beautiful soccer players is a sport I could get used to!
First entry in the Summer Travel Series.