If you have the chance to visit Alicante you must try the local dishes. One of my favorites is caldero which is made with fish and rice served separately. The fish is served in a large dish with potatoes and caldo (broth) and the remaining broth is used to cook the rice similar to a paella. Caldero is well-known on the island of Tabarca just off the coast of Alicante. If you aren’t able to visit the island (which really deserves a trip) in Alicante there is a restaurant named El Caldero owned by the family of one of Tabarca’s restaurants which prepare them in the same way as on the island.
Today marks my 3rd year living in Spain! Have I really been gone that long??
Well, about 8 months later here I am again! Too much has happened in between posts to explain everything. I thought I was going to be able to keep up, but that went out the window when I changed companies. Now I’m working longer hours, but getting used to the workload. I’m 100% thankful for the change, and I am no longer here under the student permit so that’s very helpful.
New job. New apartment.
For lack of anything more: I’m happy!
I hope I’ll be able to upload some info about my past trips, but at least I’ll try to make sure future trips are documented. Let’s see if I can also revive my review posts.
I know I’ve been nonexistent this summer, but hopefully I’ll be able to share some exciting info soon. Now that it’s September, it’s back to the real-life grind in Madrid. The next few posts will be about the different cities I visited this summer.
A good deal of the summer was spent in Alicante. A group of us decided to spend a weekend on Tabarca which is a tiny island a short 15 minute water taxi ride from Santa Pola. The island has an interesting history as a refuge for Barbary pirates and a prison for Genoese sailors. The island is a popular tourist spot during the summer, but in winter, most families leave the island.
Tabarca is well-known for its squid and rice dishes. Since it’s an island it isn’t surprising that most of the food involves some type of fish or seafood.
When we weren’t eating we spent a lot of time snorkeling. The water is incredibly clean and not as cold as in other parts of southern Spain. Part of the island is on a nature reserve so we were able to find many interesting things such as starfish and octopus.
I know this post is a little late, but it’s a doozy. In the beginning of May we took a “double couples” trip to visit the green landscapes of Asturias and Galicia in the north of Spain. It was my first trip to either of these regions of Spain, and I found them absolutely different from the arid landscapes I am used to seeing in Andalusia. I believe I could live in Asturias or Galicia one day if I could get past the frigid winters.
I believe we visited about 12 different towns along our way, so I’ve listed them below with some descriptions. Of course, with so many places and a short period of time, we visited several for only an hour or two.
Our first stop brought us to Burgos, which is in Castile and León instead of Asturias or Galicia, but it was the perfect halfway point. We munched on their famous morcilla (blood sausage) and patatas bravas and strolled the city to admire the buildings. I really liked the windows in the older part of town. The closest English translation I can think of would be “bay windows”, but I’m not certain they are the same.
Covadonga/Cangas de Onís
We spent the first night in Asturias at a small hotel called Casa Asprón. The hotel was wonderful and served a delicious breakfast. This area was my favorite part of the trip. We were surrounded by forests and even a waterfall.
The rural house is in Picos de Europa National Park and we could see the Basilica of Covadonga from our window. Covadonga is the patron of Asturias. In the 700s, the Christian Visigoth army made a stand against the Moorish army in the caves of Covadonga. It was reported that before the battle, the Christian commander prayed to a statue of the Virgin Mary which had been saved during the conquest. The Moorish commander died in the battle, and the rest of his army fled. After the victory, King Alonso I ordered a monastery and shrine to be built there. The shrine sits nestled in the mountain and is really a sight to see.
I’ve never seen anything like the Picos de Europa National Park. There is a trail which circles several lakes, forests, and mountains. Everything was super-green and we even found cows grazing on the hills.
At the end of our hike we had worked up an appetite, and the fog was so dense that we couldn’t see any buildings. We ended up following our ears, and the sound of a generator, to find a small restaurant. We ate cheese, fabada, goat, arroz con leche, and strawberry cake. I’d be willing to go back to that area and park many times! (hint: other anniversaries)
Soto de Luiña
We spent the next night in a small town called Soto de Luiña. We stayed at Hotel Valle las Luiñas. There didn’t seem to be very much to see in the town, but it was a short drive away from Cudillero.
Cudillero is a beautiful fishing village. It seems to get a lot of tourist traffic, but not completely overpriced. I think I found the best arroz con leche I’ve ever tried at a place called El Remo.
We stopped briefly in Luanco. The newer part of the city was not very lovely, but when you reached the water there were interesting buildings and a church on the waterfront.
Cabo de Peñas
“Cabo” means “cape” in Spanish. We enjoyed the views and lighthouse, but we struggled to get there. First, we parked the car in a tiny village called Viodo and asked one of the locals if it was possible to walk to the lighthouse. We should have known by her laugh and response not to try, but we finally found it after getting lost in the field a few times. It turned out fine in the end. Who doesn’t like a little adventure!?
Another short stop in Candás allowed us to stretch our legs. We took a quick stroll to see the beach. While walking on the beach I saw many small, raised mud tunnels in the sand. When I tried to dig one that was moving up to discover the creature underneath I found nothing.
Luarca is yet another seaside town. We stayed less than an hour, but drove around a bit of the town and saw the port. Maybe one day we’ll go back with more time.
Puerto de Vega
Puerto de Vega was another stop with marvelous views of the ocean.
Our next stop took us to Ribadeo in Galicia. This town is on the border of Galicia and Asturias. The next “Salimos el Sabado” will be about a great restaurant we visited called Casa Villaronta so I will make this section brief. There were some beautiful spots to see close to the city, such as, the Pancha Island lighthouse.
On the way back from our whirlwind trip, we stopped in Lugo to see its Roman walls, the Cathedral, and other sights of the city.
We needed to eat eventually so we stopped at Restaurante Serrano in Astorga for a delicious lunch. This small town had some surprising things like the Palacio Espiscopal which was designed by Gaudí.
Today I’m going to let you know about a place which specializes in one of my favorite foods EVER. (That would be cheese, in case you were wondering).
Last weekend I enjoyed lunch in a “surprise” destination. It wasn´t my first time there, but it was my first time in the dining room area instead of the bar.
In Poncelet Cheese Bar I was surrounded by all things CHEESE. I believe it is the only cheese bar in Madrid. The decor is contemporary, pleasant, and a bit different. One wall is completely covered in a vertical garden. There is also a huge cheese case on the opposite side. Two workers were there the entire lunch-time cutting and wrapping cheeses. More than 140 cheeses are offered on their menu, but it is also possible to order many dishes without cheese. I´m not sure who would do that, but I´m sure someone is out there.
I consider myself a cheese-lover, but I had never tried burrata. It is one of the most amazing cheeses I´ve ever tasted. This cheese is made from fresh, solid mozzerella with an inside made of cream and more mozzerella. When you cut into the cheese, the cream and mozzerella runs out a bit like an egg. Maybe that’s not the most appetizing description, but it´s delicious. They have a Starter at Poncelet with burrata, tomato, and tuna. It was perfect.
The entrée I ordered was a delicious sirloin steak (solomillo). Sadly, I forgot to snap a photo to show you.
For dessert, I tried their New York-style cheesecake. It really did taste like the real thing. The cheesecake was inside a hard shell, and sitting on top of graham cracker crumbs.
Before you go, check eltenedor.es for discounts. They currently have 40% off if you reserve your table through their site. The prices are a bit high, but with the discount it came to 70 euros for two people.
Welcome to the first entry of “Salimos el Sabado”. None of my reviews are due to incentives from staff or owners unless stated in my posts. I hope you will let me know what you think about the places I review or tell me about new places I should try!
I’m a sushi girl. Back in the US, “sushi night” was an almost weekly ritual. I have been to Kintaro several times in Madrid. They have an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet for 16 euros. If you go for lunch during the week I have heard the price is 9 euros. I’ve never ordered anything from the menu so I can’t speak to the price or quality if you don’t choose the all-you-can-eat option. It’s not phenomenal, but the sushi is decent and relatively inexpensive. A plus is the conveyor belt style service.
The sushi parades in front of you in such a way that it’s nearly impossible not to feel completely stuffed afterwards. There are also foods to pick off the conveyor such as: soup, chicken, meat, and desserts.
“Salimos el Sabado”
I’m happy to announce two new things: the beginning of a new bi-monthly review of eateries and this website’s update and new look.
The purpose of “Salimos el Sabado” is to showcase and review different places I’ve found. Most spots will be in Madrid, but I may also review places I’ve visited in other cities – or even countries. I haven’t been given any incentive to select these places by the staff or managers unless I mention it in the post. If you have been to any of these places I’d love if you commented to let me know how your experience was in comparison or recommend other places.
I’ll be sending out the first installment shortly, so, stay tuned!
I decided to move my website to a personally hosted account to have more control over my site and to save money. I’ll be testing out some new things in the days to come, but hopefully the site won’t be down for long amounts of time. I will be experimenting with the layouts and adding a few personal touches.
Here, in Spain, we have a ridiculous amount of holidays and long-weekends (puentes). This is especially true for people who work in schools, but still, it’s extremely different from my old schedule in the US – in a good way! For our last one from February 28th – March 2nd we decided to take advantage of the free time to jump over to Prague.
It turned out to be a very economical trip. We purchased the flights and hotel several months ago in November. It only cost about 300 euros per person for a direct flight and two nights in a 4-star hotel with an awesome breakfast included. The food in Prague was surprisingly cheap. During the trip, 1 euro equaled 27.35 Czech Korunas. It did make things a bit interesting if the dinner bill was 600 Korunas. It felt like we were spending a lot of money.
From the airport you can choose to take either bus 100 to Zličín at the end of the yellow line or bus 119 to Dejvická at the end of the green line. Our hotel was on the yellow line, but it was faster to go to the green line (Dejvická) and then switch over to the yellow line at Můstek.
Don’t make the mistake I made of trying to pay for tickets with a 500CZK bill. If you buy the ticket from the bus drivers it will be about 40CZK per ticket. You use the same ticket from the bus on the metro. The tickets are timed. You can buy a ticket for 30 mins, 90 mins, 24 hours, 72 hours, or a full month. We did a lot of walking during the trip and only bought a ticket to travel to and from the airport.
To be honest, I can’t imagine riding the metro very often during a trip to Prague unless you are visiting areas far from the center. There is so much to see!
Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square)
This square is, not surprisingly, full of tourists and tourist shops. Some of the most spectacular buildings are here, such as, the Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem (The Church of Our Lady Before Tyn). I had never seen anything like this huge, gothic church in real-life before.
You can find an astronomical clock in the same area which is supposed to be one of the oldest astronomical clocks in the world. I won’t give it away, but you should watch it chime on the hour. If you go to the top of the tower you can see some good views of the city and important buildings are labeled.
You can find many food stalls in this square, but we found an outdoor market on the other side of Karlův most (Charles Bridge) which we liked more. When you cross, just go down the stairs on the left side of the bridge. There was a row of about 20 tents with greater variety of food and we were in luck because a band was performing live music. Some of the best food we found was white sausages and dumplings with pork and saurkraut. I was freezing so I drank mostly sickeningly-sweet hot wine instead of beer. We saw everyone in line for some type of cinnamon and sugar bread so, of course, we followed suit.
The Charles Bridge is the creepiest bridge I have ever seen (read: I thought it was awesome). There are many baroque statues lining the span of the bridge and gives it an eerie vibe. Crossing the bridge was worth it for the food and sights like these:
Now that we were on the other side of the bridge, we made our way to Pražský hrad (Prague castle). It’s absolutely huge and the surrounding area is made of multiple palaces, cathedrals, and gardens. You can find some great views from the top of the hill.
The John Lennon wall is a short walk away. There was a crowd of younger people adding to the existing layers of graffitti.
Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
I loved the architecture in the Jewish Quarter and it was interesting to see all of the places about Frank Kafka.
We had seen an episode of “Madrileños por el Mundo” in Prague where they visited a restuarant, Výtopna, where the beer is brought to you by model trains. We ate there the first night. The food was decent, but the service was very slow. It was amusing to see the trains in action.
Slivovitz was probably the most difficult thing I tried in Prague. I don’t know how or why, but my dad drank this clear, plum brandy as a special treat certain times of the year. For me, it was very difficult to down, but at least it warmed me up…including my entire esophagus.
Happy Monday everyone!
This is going to be a short and random post, but I thought maybe some of you are looking for Valentine’s Day activities for your kids or students which don’t involve making cards.
Normally I’m not one for making a big deal out of February 14th. Everyone knows that being single on this day isn’t the greatest. Sometimes it was even awkward if I was dating someone because I felt a strange mix of wanting my SO to do something nice along with not wanting them to go through the trouble just because it’s expected by most females. Anyway, back to fun with paper…
This is my second year making origami hearts in my 1º ESO (students around 12 years old) classes. If you search “heart origami” on YouTube you will find plenty of results. I chose the first one because the video and sound are good. A young boy(?) goes over everything step-by-step. First, I let them watch the whole video one time without touching their paper. Then, I play the video again and let them follow along. I paused immediately after the more tricky sections to make sure everyone was caught up.
The origami paper I’m using is from Tiger and only cost 2 euros. You can use different paper, but make sure it’s square! Sometimes a couple boys in the class groan a bit about having to make hearts, but I tell them to surprise their mom or grandmother with them, which normally works.
I’m using the leftover paper to make hearts for my younger students from private classes.
Are you doing anything to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?