"Many are apt to picture Spain to their imaginations as a soft southern region, decked out with all the luxuriant charms of voluptuous Italy. On the contrary, though there are exceptions in some of the maritime provinces, yet, for the greater part, it is a stern, melancholy country with rugged mountains and long sweeping plains destitute of trees and indescribably silent and lonesome, partaking of the savage and solitary character of Africa."
-- from "Tales of the Alhambra"by Washington Irving.
While there has been some change since 1829 -- like wind farms in the countryside -- the observation by Washington Irving of Spain is a beautifully astute one. When I read the passage in the book (purchased at the Alhambra gift store, haha) I understood why I liked what I've seen of the country, though other countries may boast more spectacular sights. There is a graceful, sparse quality in some regions that seems to feed thought and imagination.