On February 22, 1923, Albert Einstein and his wife got off a train in Barcelona, coming from France. The German physicist forgot to notify their arrival time so there was no one to receive them. They walked through the city of Barcelona to a humble pension, before the matter was clarified and they were transferred to the Ritz.
Thus began the 20 days that Einstein spent in Spain at the invitation of the Spanish scientists Esteve Terradas and Julio Rey Pastor. He visited Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Madrid to give lectures for which he would earn 3,500 pesetas, a considerable salary for the time, and more for a university professor.
The press received the father of relativity with excessive attention that is more reminiscent of seeing the Beatles, 22 years later, than of a man of science. The newspapers gave an account of the day-to-day of the popular German scientist, although very few really understood his work.
Famous is the anecdote collected by Thomas Glick in his book Einstein and the Spaniards when, in Madrid, a chestnut seller yelled at him "Long live the inventor of the automobile!".
Albert, or Alberto as the journalists Spanishized his name, gave several lectures at Spanish universities. His talks were always packed with audiences, despite the fact that many had no idea what he was explaining.
King Alfonso XIII awarded him the academic title of the Royal Academy of Sciences and he was invested Doctor Honoris Causa by the Central University of Madrid. In an evening having tea with personalities such as Blas Cabrera, Ortega y Gasset, or Gregorio Marañón, he delighted the audience by playing the violin.
He also traveled to Toledo incognito, "camouflaged and with many lies", as he admits in his diary. He also had time to visit the Prado Museum and to receive a rondalla in Zaragoza who, according to the press, moved him enough to kiss a young jotera. There is no record that the scientist began to dance in the baturro mode.
On March 11, he left Spain, leaving behind more society chronicles than scientific news. And it is that the best definition of the passage of the German through Spain is summed up by a comic cartoon that said something like "Father, is there anyone smarter than Einstein?", to which the father replied: "Yes son, the one who understands him ”.