Stan Wescott

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I stopped collecting physical souvenirs decades ago. This book is the treasure chest of souvenirs gathered since—memories of a lifetime spent enjoying my favorite continent.
I share them in hopes that the experiences that carbonated my travels will inspire a few extra bubbles in yours, too. And I share them . . . for the love of Europe.
Toledo, the spiritual, artistic, and historic capital of SpainIberia—the peninsula that hosts Spain and Portugal—is cut off from the rest of Europe by the Pyrenees Mountains. In fact, I remember a time when you had to change trains at the Spanish-French border, because the Iberian rail gauge was different than the European standard.
In the 20th century, that geographical isolation was amped up by fascist dictators (Franco in Spain, Salazar in Portugal) who stayed in power for decades, preaching a nationalism that preferred a closed door to the rest of the world. The result was a sluggish economy and a sense of isolation.
Today, while Iberia is racing toward the future as if to make up for lost time, those historical differences have resulted in a time warp for travelers.
With their glory days long gone and their once-mighty empires a distant memory, both the Spanish and the Portuguese are understandably nostalgic.



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