Archive for the 'Spain' Category

Bilbao of Medio Earth

Posted by len on 23rd June 2007

We’ve officially launched our trip through Spain with Sue’s sister Diana and brother-in-law Tim.
We spent about a day and a half in Madrid which well earns its reputation as a party capital. Tim and I got pretty loaded our first night and were stumbling around the streets at 2am. They were absolutely FULL of mostly 20-somethings, buzzing to the next bar, of which there are countless.
Today we flew 40 minutes to the northern edge of Spain, to a city called Bilbao. It’s a sort of ‘capital’ for the northern region, known here as the Euskadi area but in America as the ‘Basque’ part of Spain.
We’re drinking a bottle of hard cider (one of their specialties) right now that everyone agrees reminds us of Easter Egg dye (not very sweet).

Posted in Spain | 26 Comments »

Ramblin’ Round

Posted by sue on 20th June 2007

Len just got back from his Massachusetts business trip yesterday, and tomorrow morning we’re flying to Madrid to meet my sister Diana and her husband Tim for some travelling around Spain! We’re spending much of the first week in the north of Spain and southern France in Basque country, then the second week will be the south of Spain and Portugal.

Life in Lisbon is solidifying in time for our trip: we enrolled in Portuguese lessons starting in July and I got a job offer today to teach English in the fall, which I probably will accept.

Posted in Portugal, Spain | 20 Comments »

Funny things about Spain

Posted by sue on 1st January 2007

“Tortilla” is offered on many menus, but it is a potato frittata (potato and egg), not a corn- or flour-based flatbread which forms the basis of all Mexican food. Weird.

“Gracias” (thank you) is pronounced “grathias” and “once” (eleven) is pronounced “on-thay,” etc. Spanish in Spain sounds positively lispy compared to the Mexican Spanish we’re used to hearing.

Spanish food goes a little heavy on ham. My classmate at ALIF, Cat, is Jewish but nevertheless loves ham (and loves Spain)—she says that when the Christian Spaniards threw out all the Jews and Muslims back in 1492 they wanted to make sure they didn’t come back, so they started putting ham in all their food. Even their potato chips were ham-flavored.

Posted in Spain | 4 Comments »

Happy New Year…

Posted by len on 31st December 2006

…from a land far away (Morocco to be precise).
Today Morocco is in a festive mood being the biggest day on the Moroccan calendar.
Lots of lamb sacrificing and merriment all around town.
Speaking of partying, here’s a little something we found in Barcelona, Spain that you LA in-the-know folks may recognize (and that we miss alot).
Who knew it was an international chain?!

Posted in Spain | 8 Comments »

Things I liked about Spain, after having spent time in Morocco

Posted by sue on 31st December 2006

•Heated buildings! Hotels, cafes restaurants, museums, all with heating!
•Clean streets. The streets of Casablanca and Tangier were particularly dirty (noticeably worse than Fez or Marrakesh), so when we arrived in our first Spanish destination of Seville, we were particularly impressed with how sparkling-clean everything was. We actually saw city workers vacuuming and hosing down the streets late at night! Barcelona, being a much bigger city, wasn’t quite as clean but they still managed to keep most of the garbage under control.
•Wine, wine, and wine. Morocco makes wine, and it’s not expensive to buy in stores, but on the whole I haven’t found it to be very good. We’ve had some that is honestly undrinkable (and let’s face it, sometimes our standards are not all that high!), and the restaurants that offer wine usually mark it up pretty substantially (like in the U.S.). But in Spain the wine flows plentifully, cheaply, and deliciously! There are high-priced wines, of course, but you can easily find a decent bottle in many restaurants for 7 euros, or walk into a bar and order a glass of the house Rioja and be very happy.
•Chocolate, especially in Barcelona. Chocolate in Morocco is often pretty tasteless and of low quality, but the Spanish really know their chocolate. We had the best chocolate croissant of our lives in Barcelona—a big flaky, buttery croissant, filled with rich tasting, just-the-right-amount-of-sweet chocolate that formed a firm spine inside the croissant, that would keep it’s shape as you tore away layers of pastry, and both ends were dipped in similarly yummy chocolate. Okay, not exactly health food, but very satisfying!
•Traffic laws and emissions standards. Lots of traffic lights, with protected crosswalks where cars actually yield to pedestrians, and absence of black exhaust smoke from every car and scooter. Morocco’s streets are a bit more chaotic and hard on the lungs, to say the least.

Posted in Spain | 4 Comments »

Fez to Seville

Posted by len on 21st December 2006

Sadly, the first Hero of the Voyage ™ Sandra C. left this morning for New York and if our dehydrated hangover eyes could have teared up, they would have. It was a great time and we experienced many fascinating things together.
We’re spending our second night in Granada, Spain as of this writing.
We found a relatively affordable hotel (68 Euros/night) right in the middle of the ‘Tapas Zone’ and Granada, though not as cute as Seville, is still REALLY nice.
We plan to hit the famous Alhambra palace tomorrow.
The next day we fly to Barcelona for the finish to our Spanish travels.
Here are some photos from the last couple of whirlwind days.

Posted in Spain | 8 Comments »

Planning our next move

Posted by sue on 20th December 2006

We visited the huge cathedral in Seville today, which is one of the largest in the world. Part of it was originally built as a mosque during Muslim rule of Spain days (8th-13th century in Seville), and the bell tower definitely looks like an Islamic minaret with a baroque belfry on top, because it is just that. And the cathedral has the tomb of Christopher Columbus in it, though it turns out that they’re not altogether sure that the remains inside it are really his.

The blogging action of the last couple of days is thanks to an conveniently-located internet cafe right next to the cathedral.

Right now we’re figuring out where to go next, whether to go to Granada tonight, or to Malaga, from which Sandra flies out tomorrow at about midday. It depends on bus and/or train schedules.

No, we didn’t get a haircut from a Barber of Seville, though Len did buy a new electric razor yesterday. Does that count? We haven’t heard any flamenco guitar music, which is a bit disappointing. Cheap and tasty Rioja wine and tapas keep our spirits up, however.

English is certainly not widely spoken here, and I’m embarrassed that we know next to no Spanish, but communication happens when you really want it to.

Posted in Spain | 4 Comments »

Seville is Impossibly Cute

Posted by len on 19th December 2006

Maybe it´s 2 months of Moroccan habitation talking but we arrived in Seville, Spain last night by bus and this city is incredibly cute.  Narrow rough hewn brick streets winding every which way, twinkly christmas decorations around every corner, ornate old buildings, tapas, cheap wine, cute stores….

Another day and we´re forced to move on to Granada to escort Sandra towards her exit from Malaga.  Christmas day should be in Barcelona. 

Posted in Spain | 2 Comments »