Viva España!

It’s the question, the question you always get asked after a trip and aren’t sure where to start: “How was your trip?”

For starters, Phillip and I made it safely to and from Spain with a brief trip (5 days) to Morocco. We spent some good quality time with Philip’s sister Amy and her new husband Gabriel. Gabriel is from Spain and they were recently married last August. They put us up in their swanky Europad (I’m not kidding, it look like an IKEA catalog! Amy you’ve done a wonderful job!). Phillip and I started our trip off on the right foot, circling Madrid in our rental car a few times before figuring out which freeway to take to go south. In Spain, the freeways don’t use cardinal directions, instead they use major cities, e.g. if Barcelona is on the same road that your destination is on, then you look for Barcelona on the signs. The problem is that you have to know that vital information before setting off on your road trip or have your trusty co-pilot tell you. Unless of course your trusty co-pilot a) can’t pronounce Spanish towns so you can understand or b) you have to look at the map to help her find the cities so much that you might as well not have a co-pilot. That pretty much sums up the driving portion of our trip, which was quite a bit.

One of our first stops. The Windmills of Don Quixote!

We spent the first couple of days with his sister and her husband, enjoying traditional Spanish dishes prepared daily by Gabriel’s mother. At 2 every day we were served a multi-course meal, always with bread. We tried everything from Paella to lentil soup. It was amazing! In Spain, the main meal of the day is lunch, Comida. Everyone stops what they are doing and heads home to eat or heads to a local restaurant to enjoy the Menu del Dia. The Menu del Dia is set menu at a discounted price. Then it’s siesta time, which mostly consists of hanging out at home for a bit, then slipping off to work again. Then it’s a snack and dinner is at 9 or 10 PM. Nothing much, just a light meal. Tapas, wine and beer are often enjoyed in the evening with friends. We gathered with Phillip’s friends around several tapas and glasses of wine. In fact, I’m not sure if I could count how many glasses of wine or beer we drank.

Tapas y churro con chocolate!

Another thing we did a lot of was drink coffee. 3 times a day was our goal. Yes, we had a goal of how much coffee we wanted to drink. Not just any coffee… cafe con leche and cortados. We even visited a small local coffee roaster, which is not very common in Spain. Most of the coffee industry is dominated by larger roasters. Not many people drink drip coffee, mostly just espresso.

Cafe on Leche, Cortado (espresso ‘cut’ with milk), and Cafe Solo (no milk), the top three coffee bevs in Spain.

ValdCafe coffee roaster! Viva cafe!

Completely unmarked. Just a guy who loves roasting coffee and doing his thing.

After hanging out in Valdepenas, we headed south to Granada and Sevilla.  The southern state of Spain, Andalusia, is the home of heavy lisps and Flamenco. Rather than catch a dinner show for tourists, though I’m sure they are great too, we walked the streets late at night hoping to get invited into a gypsy cave for a show. We had no such luck, but were invited by some climbing friends to a local bar outside of Granada for a small show being put on by one of their friends. It was amazing! Flamenco is such an emotional dance and song, originally from the gypsies of Spain. The Mezquita of Cordoba and the Alhambra of Granada, both remnants of the Moors who dominated Spain for almost 1,000 years, wet our appetites for our Moroccan leg of the journey.

All of the colors and textures of these buildings were amazing! Granada was a beautiful old city and was by far my favorite! Picturesque and bustling with food and dance! I’ll post a video and pictures of the Flamenco show later.

Next post: Moroccan adventures! Get your mint tea ready! Need a tutorial? I’ll post one of those too!