I took an overnight ferry to Barcelona, landing on a stormy morning that chased me into bars for wine and hot tapas. I then proceeded to San Sebastian near the French border. Here my off the cuff planning paid off, allowing me to stay for a week in Basque country rather than two nights. The city reminded me of my time living in Sinop, Turkey. Both sit beneath mountains on peninsulas, featuring compact old town centers and an emphasis on the fruits of the sea. I spent cloudy mornings traveling to nearby villages, searching for cider taverns and cod delicacies, waiting for the sun to peek through the clouds in the afternoon. I have scarcely eaten so well anywhere else. The tail end of my trip pointed me south towards Salamanca and then on to Madrid. Salamanca’s ancient university reminded me of a golden Oxford, while Madrid hearkened back to the beginning of my trip; a city where reality overrides the casual desires of tourists. From there it was back to the States and home.