About Spain: 5 cool regions and other things

We talked much about the different regions of this cool country...  

Overall advice from J:      Do a road trip because the cities are so close, and be sure to visit Sevilla and Barcelona.

The East is Valencia where J is from. He said that they have great paella there. It's a traditional Spanish rice with meat or seafood, mixed veggies, and different spices. Also, different places have different types of paella. You can spot it easily by the way it's cooked and served on a huge frying pan. I asked if he missed home and he told me no, Pittsburgh was better.
Sidenote: the best restaurants in Bogota (besides Andres Carne de Res) were Peruvian and Spanish, which usually had paella.

In the Northeast is Barcelona, 2nd largest city and probably the 2nd most popular tourist destination because there is tons to do and the beach and France are very close. It has an Italian influence because it used to be a Roman city so the food is probably pretty damn good. Also, the city's Champions League soccer team is one of the most popular in the world. J said this city was his #2 recommendation to visit.

Located in the South are places like Granada, Cordoba, and Sevilla, with Sevilla being the best because it has the nicest people. He recommended that city the #1 in Spain.
Background: some Muslims (or Moors at the time, Moorish Muslims?) took over this part of Spain way back and there is a some cool architecture that is different from anywhere else in the country. Churches and mosques seem quite content sitting next to each other. I can't remember if he said the food was more Arabic or not. He did mention there was a lot of health food there. Gazpacho is a cold tomato soup or drink. Some people drink it because it's usually popular in the summer when it's hot.

For the North there is a lot of grass-fed beef which I would kill to try because of its supposed health benefits and tastes, and around here (Ohio) you have to buy a half a cow from a farmer because its not that popular or mass produced yet.
Basically cows get to run around outside and eat grass like they are evolutionarily meant to instead of eating corn and antibiotics in factory farms that have other less optimal conditions. Supposedly this is why Argentinian beef is so damn delicious and why they don't eat anything else (they also stay fit, unlike us). This region is also home to Pamplona and the Running of the Bulls, EL ENCIERRO!!!!!

In the Northwest there is great seafood including but definitely not limited to octopus (pulpo). Its also close to Portugal if you get bored of people speaking Spanish.

The capital and biggest (3.4 mil) city right in the center of the country is Madrid. It is the most "touristic" city I guess because of everything there is to see and the bullfighting. Also home of another crazy popular Spanish soccer team, Real Madrid

Other Things: 

You can drive to the beach from anywhere in 2 hours or less. That's awesome. And I think you can drive across the whole country in 4 hours or so.

Other than the obvious Spanish, there are 3 other languages, all variations of Spanish. I think they are Basque, Catalan/Valencian, and Galician, with Catalan being the most used. The way some Spanish people speak is funny because they use a lisp ("grathiath" instead of "gracias"). The story is that way back there was a king who spoke with a lisp and didn't want to be a dork so he made everybody speak with a lisp. Unfortunately, I don't think that's really true, but its a funny story. How would he even enforce that?

The current king is surprisingly part french (very small part), which is strange because there were many fights between Spain and France. Napoleon for example tried to take over by promising to go to Portugal but changed his mind and stopped his trip a bit short to take Spain. Somehow, I guess a Frenchman snuck in there and now is part of the royal line. 

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