My first trip to Spain

I had the opportunity at the end of January to travel to Spain for a series of meetings and site visits related to a wind project I am working on. The business parts of the trip went well but are not terribly interesting to write about. But it wasn’t all business, and I did get walking tours of central Madrid and Pamplona while we were there.

I admit that I was fairly nervous before traveling. I hadn’t been to Europe in years and years, and I was worried about the language barrier and having trouble getting around. I should have known better. There certainly is a language barrier in Spain, but it’s more of a low fence than a wall. People in general are very friendly and willing to help out. I didn’t get any sense of the “stupid American should have learned Spanish” feeling I dreaded.

I wish I did know Spanish, because it would have made things more fun, but at least I didn’t feel like an outcast.

So most of my worries were unfounded, and what the trip really taught me is that I should travel more. Worries about language and finding my way around are excuses rather than reasons. Spain is a modern Western country and it generally makes sense. I’m fairly smart and can find my way around. People are mostly friendly and helpful. Just go and you can work through it. I sometimes get worked up about travel even when I’m just going to Canada (what if they speak French?) and it is never an actual problem.

We spent most of our time between Madrid and Pamplona, with a brief visit to Lleida to see a wind project near Almatret. Work kept us busy, with long days, so I didn’t get nearly as much time as I would have liked to explore.

The first day was in Madrid for a few meetings. I had a decent view from my hotel room.


We rode the Renfe AVE high speed train from Madrid to Lleida. It was very nice, riding at 300 km/hr (185 mph) across the countryside.

Renfe trains

Roof of a train station

When we got to Lleida we drove up towards Almatret to visit a relatively new wind farm.

Near Almatret

Els Escambrons wind farm

After that we headed to Pamplona for a couple days of meetings, some factory visits, and a visit to another wind farm.

Pamplona city center

Pamplona side street

An old wind farm above pamplona

We flew back to Madrid for one last day of meetings before heading back to the US. We got a walking tour of downtown Madrid on our last night in town.

Statue in central Madrid

I got enough that I very much want to go back, and travel around on my own time with a camera and tripod and days to get lost and have no set schedule. A proper vacation. Northern Spain has some fantastic views, most of which I didn’t have a chance to photograph.

— Steve

Posted on 25 February 2013