Photos, descriptions, and observations by Louis Burkhardt & guests
Photos of Gijón, Spain & Konstanz, Germany
Oct. 5, fly Denver to Miami to Madrid to Gijón, Spain.
Oct. 14, fly Gijón to Madrid to Zurich, train to Konstanz, Germany.
Oct 18, Reverse that.
Oct 29, fly Gijón to Madrid to Chicago. Lose your day-pack with your laptop, razor, rain jacket, headlamp, and favorite hair brush (or have it stolen…dunno—it will have been a very long day). Chicago to Denver. Discover Lyft wants about $125 to go to Lafayette, so bus to Boulder and take Lyft from there.
In the Madrid-Barajas airport, you cannot find out certain gate numbers until you get to Terminal 4 (T4, boasting “70 million passengers per year”). There you find T4S is set aside for countries, such as the US, that lie outside of the Schengen Area, the 26 EU countries that abolished their passport requirements. At T4S, you find, you hope, the H-J-K concourses, and only then can you learn the gate.
I found a fellow returning from Peru. Like me, he was also going to the autonomous region of Asturias. After an uncomfortable introduction that ended, “I’m lost” (in English), he could, it seemed, feel my pain and got me to the gate. After that I started using Spanish to speak to strangers.
No hablo castellano coupled with ¿Entiende inglés? got me through the Madrid airport the next 3 times. Madrid-Barajas airport is big enough to confuse a native speaker, I suppose. Soon as people know that I’m basically lost, they try to help me out.
Gijón provides my daughter Mindy and her husband Josh the opportunity to teach English. It also, somehow, provides them with an apartment that overlooks the San Lorenzo beach, which I assume is a part of the Bay of Biscay.
But, hey, let’s cut to the photos.
Zurich and Konstanz
Ich spreche Deutsch, ein bisschen. I do speak a little, but my friend, Thorsten (with a silent “h”), has, as do many Germans, immaculate English—so I spoke less than I knew—a relief to all involved, I confess.
I research places after I visit them. One small advantage is that I see them with little bias. As someone said, no one can any longer see the Grand Canyon, because they’ve seen representations of it so often that they conflate their expectations with the thing itself. One downside of my approach is that I am, as I was in the Madrid airport the first time, truly ignorant and, well, lost.
The biggest illustration of that ignorance was a question I asked Thorsten the night we arrived, before I had seen anything but lighted buildings: “This Lake Konstanz, is it big or small, is it worth a half day walk around or just a brief visit?”
At this point, a lesser German would have fainted through laughter. Thorsten simply said it was big.
The guitar would only get packed if our time was up. What a host he was, and a nice city, even though neither it, nor the rest of Germany I learned, appreciates credit cards. In the end, Thorsten had to purchase my train ticket to Zurich…I was low on Euros. Thanks, friend.
Thorsten’s videos haven’t gone viral yet, either, but they certainly deserve a listen if you like acoustic guitar, a bit of melancholy, and the chance to hear a foldable guitar:
 I was thinking down the lines of Ashley Pond in my home town (which was named after Ashley Pond, making it Ashley Pond Pond).
 According to the Wikipedia article Gijón. Since 1978, Spain has nine autonomous communities in order to guarantee limited autonomy (Autonomous communities of Spain). Many signs and markers appear in at least two languages, and I’m not sure they’re always the same two in Gijón. A linguist’s dreamland.