Spain

Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie on vacation in Granada, Spain, with the Alhambra palace in the background. For information on visiting Spain, go to spain.info. (Baltimore Sun, Photo provided by Jeremy Guthrie / March 30, 2011)

Jeremy Guthrie spends the baseball season in Maryland and the off-season in Utah, but in between, the 31-year-old Orioles starting pitcher is a citizen of the world.

More than a decade ago, Guthrie went on a Mormon mission to Spain, staying nearly two years. Although he's added many stamps to his passport since then, the country and its people have never been far from his heart.

When he visits, he stays with friends or even in one of Spain's famed paradors — monasteries, castles, convents or other historic landmarks that have been transformed into luxury hotels.

Guthrie, who was scheduled to pitch Opening Day, took some time recently to talk about his travels, including the hits and at least one miss.

What is your favorite place for a getaway and play?

Spain. If I could chose to go anywhere, it would be Spain every time.

How did you discover it?

I was a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern Spain [1998-2000]. I spent 22 months living in Spain in five different cities. I took a couple of months to learn as much of the language as I could. I lived in San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela, Burgos, Leon and Vigo.

What inspires you most about this destination?

I love the lifestyle that they lead there. The schedule. It's very laid-back and you have family time each day. Siesta. I enjoy how you would commonly see entire families out walking around every evening. There's a lot more public transportation, too. People walk or take a bus or train or metro. I enjoy that. The people are friendly — very humble people. And then I love the food.

What's typically on the agenda when you visit?

I just like to walk around and go to new cities, whether it's visiting Barcelona or Madrid.

What are your favorite finds here?

I enjoy shopping a lot. I enjoy the clothing stores. ZARA [zara.com] is a common store there. It's almost like a Gap. I like looking at the European styles.

Where do you stay? Hotel or B&B? Private house?

I stay in different places. I stay in Valencia. I have friends there and they have allowed my wife and I to stay there in the past. They also have hotels called paradors, that are rich in tradition. They're monumental landmarks or venues that have been converted into hotels. Some of them are more unique than others. One may have been a castle converted into a hotel. They're very famous.

When you can't go there, what are some of your other favorite places?

Paris. I just visited there this past winter [for the first time]. My wife still loves Rome, but Paris is my new favorite. We were there for three days.

Favorite cities for baseball?

New York and Toronto.

New York has always been one of my favorite cities since I can remember. It's exactly like you see it in the movies. It has a kind of character and so many things to do. I love Central Park — it's probably my favorite place to go. I enjoy walking around and shopping on Fifth Avenue or down in Soho.

I love the diversity of Toronto. You know you're not in the United States. You feel almost as if you're in Europe. I love Yorkville, in the northern part of the city. They have a film festival there [Toronto International Film Festival] and lots of little restaurants that have been converted from houses. It feels European to me, which I really enjoy.

Carry-on or checked bags?

Depends. Probably more checked, especially when I take a longer trip.

When you go away, what are your must-have travel items?

An empty suitcase to bring things back.

What's your best or worst travel memory?

I don't really have one. I missed the train on the way to Paris. I had to buy another ticket. We went there from Amsterdam, and the hours are written very strangely. A friend had bought it for me before I arrived. I wasn't totally familiar with the hours. I had this hour set in my head, and it wasn't the right [time]. I missed it by three hours. … And they don't have refunds.

If you go

If you want to travel to some of Jeremy Guthrie's favorite cities, here's where to find information on hotels, sightseeing and more:

Tourist Office of Spain, One Grand Central Place, 60 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10165-0039; http://www.spain.info.

Toronto Convention & Visitors Association, P.O. Box 126, 207 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario M5J 1A7 Canada, 800-499-2514, http://www.seetorontonow.com.

New York, nycgo.com

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