A Wonderful Journey Back in Time

An old man dressed in 18th century clothing openedthe door and greeted us with a smile. Lining the lobby, from the front desk tothe rooms to the restaurant, was the whole staff: hale and hearty old men andwomen, smiling with surprising warmth.

The living room of the castle is preserved perfectly and isnow used as a guest lounge. The hearth fire burns bright red, and the woodenchair in front of the fireplace has been covered with modern sofa cushions tohide the wood that had rotted. The surrounding stone walls are also weatheredand peeled, giving testament to their many years. The walls are covered withpaintings of the family that owned the castle, as well as knives, swords, andsaddles. The iron rust stains hint at all the castle had experienced over thecenturies.

The living room has a small side door opening up to whatwas once the study. It was as if the living room was a time machine, and whenthe door closed with a crunch, it was as if I’d really returned to the 18thcentury. The library is not filled with chairs, tables, and dishes, buthistory.

The bookcase is still stocked with many books, althoughsome are damaged and one can see dust floating in the air. I don’t knowSpanish, but I felt very serious, almost devout, while looking at the words, soI felt like I could read them. The walls in the room and the hallways are hungwith oil paintings, and each figure is a family member of the owner. Looking atthose solemn faces, showing confidence, fortitude, and a little disdain, allowsthe presence of the painting to pierce the centuries and still allow the viewerto feel the gravitas.

After leaving the den, we came upon the castle’sabandoned cellar. Under the dim light, you can still see the imprints where oakbarrels were stored. In Chinese poetry, “Grape Wine, Magic Cup” is a touchingpoem about the pleasure in life and romantic feelings that arise when onedrinks wine and sings. In the West, the pursuit for a high quality of lifeseems even more real. Starting from the grapes’ planting through the harvest,barreling, fermentation, and processing, a barrel of good wine could stay inthe cellar for a hundred years, even centuries. I have always believed thatwine has a soul. From so many grapes to scented liquid, how could the spiritsbe extinguished? When the liquid is poured in a crystal cup and passed around,what is shared is not just the wine, but the people’s attitude toward life, andlife’s hopes.

The Parador Castle Hotel is full of surprises, and whenmy daughter brings my grandchildren it makes me remember another surprise.Because of work, we rarely have time to talk, but when we are in the CastleHotel, they pull my hand, even after I enter and refuse to leave. Fairytaleghost stories usually happen in dark, scary castles, where a sense ofinevitability strikes fear in characters’ hearts, fears that the devil will comeout of the dark corners unannounced. The little girl is always full of fantasy,however; in the face of danger, she has a pure instinct that her father willgive her a sense of security. This makes me happy, but it also moves megreatly.

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