Monday, June 25, 2007
Kalimotxos and Pintxos in Spain
Go to our Spain photo album at our photo site to see more photos.
Troy and I were introduced to some fabulous things and not so fabulous things during our travels in Spain. They both involved food and drink. The best thing was Pintxos (pronounced pintchos) which are appetizers on steroids. We found about these in a small town in north Spain called San Sebastian. Around 5pm or so, all the bars lay out this glamorous buffet table (ok, it's just the bar top) with these amazing plates of pintxos. We found the best thing is to go from bar to bar to bar to try to see who had the best pitxos. The only thing we (ok, I) didn't like about this "happy hour" is that the drinks are only half pours. We couldn't understand why the bartender just couldn't put in that little bit of extra effort to pull the beer tap one more time.
There were actually two bad things we found in Spain. One was a drink called Kalimotxo (pronounced kalimotcho) which is a 50/50 mix of bad red wine (has to be bad) and cola. It was definitely as bad as it sounds. Troy said it was refreshing.... whatever, dude! What made it even worse was that the locals order it by the liter. The second bad thing was another drink called Leija which was beer and lemonade. This was just as bad as a Kalimotxo, but at least it was not drank by the liter.
Basque CountryWhen we originally planned our trip to Spain, we were going to spend several days in Madrid, visit that area then make our way to Barcelona. But on our Costa Rica dive trip, our cruise director invited us to visit him in Basque Country in north Spain. Since it sounded just as fun, we canceled our Madrid hotel and booked a train north. Our first stop was Bilbao which is home to the Guggenheim Museum. This is an amazing piece of architecture right in the heart of the city. Troy and I are not really museum goers, but we both really enjoyed this museum.
One evening our friend, Javier, picked us up and showed us around to some of his local watering holes right on the Mediterranean Sea. These were definitely out of the way places we would have never have found, especially since one was right on the edge of a nudist beach - thanks Javi!!! These are not so bad until you have to witness two guys play ping pong. "Whoops, sorry, wrong ball!"
San SebastianOur next stop in Spain was San Sebastian which I mentioned is home to the famous Pintxos. This was a beautiful city right on the beach that had some amazing churches and small back alleyways where all the bars are located.
One thing that Troy and I absolutely have to get used to in Europe is the different business hours. Places open about 9am or so, close at 1pm then open again at 4pm. They take their siestas here seriously. Most people also don't eat dinner until 10pm which does not make my belly happy at all. It has revolted on me a few times and demanded to be fed with sweets and ice cream. No one wants an angry belly, so I had to meet it's demands! Troy on the other hand is keeping his belly happy all the time by feeding it endless supplies of gelato.
TarraganoNext after San Sebastian was Tarragano which was a city built on Roman ruins from way back in the day. Around the city are old remnants of an amphitheater, arches, Roman circus, etc. This city also had great little back alleyways that we could wind our way around. We are so off schedule with the locals that most often Troy and I were the only ones in a restaurant having a drink or an early evening appetizer.
MontserratFrom Tarragano we did a day trip to Montserrat which is home to the Benedictine Monastery which is located on the side of a 3500' bulbous, stone mountain. This monastery was established when a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary was found in 1025. This place is actually quite cool because the colors of the buildings blend in with the mountain and there is nothing else around the monastery so from a distance it is difficult to see. One thing I found a little bizarre was in the cafeteria where the tourists ate, beer on tap was served. Call me silly but when I think of priests and nuns and monasteries my mind does not automatically jump to beer! Maybe I'm missing something.
BarcelonaOur last day in Spain was spent doing a whirlwind tour of Barcelona. We only had one day so we had to zip through it real fast. So of course we did the tourist thing and hopped on one of those tourist buses with no top that you can get on and off whenever you want. The most fascinating thing of Barcelona was a church called the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia designed by Antoni Gaudi. The construction of this started in 1882 and over 100 years later is still under construction. This is definitely the center piece of the city because not only is it the tallest building (I think) but there is nothing else like it in the city or even on the planet. It is only 50% completed and when done it will stand over 500 feet tall. I thought we would spend 30 minutes there, but 2 hours later, we were still exploring this monstrosity.
At the end of the day, Troy and I were looking forward to our hotel at a Marriott near the airport for our flight in the morning to Rome. Luckily we were able to use points to pay for this $275 a night hotel. Upon arrival at 9pm our evening and good mood came crashing down when we found out that the airport we were near was not the airport we needed the next day. It was over an hour away by bus. Can you say "%&%$$%?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;%$£&%&?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Lucky for us the concierge was still there so he helped us figure out how to get to the other airport. Some of you are probably reading this thinking "How could you get the wrong airport?" This is how: We are in Barcelona, we are at the airport in Barcelona, our itinerary says Barcelona airport. When we booked the hotel and airfare, how were we suppose to second guess which airport to leave from? It's kind of like leaving from the Denver International Airport, but it's located in Colorado Springs. I did get the kudos for the day since I was the one to think of asking the hotel receptionist if we were at the right airport. It would have sucked even worse if we had got to the wrong airport in the morning and couldn't find our airline.
But all is good, we are in Rome now and I am sitting next to a guy at an internet cafe surfing for porn. He is surfing for porn, not me, just so there is no misunderstanding!
Hey guys...I loved Spain as well and enjoyed a week long trip to Galicia after Barcellona. My grandparents were froma little town called Vivero on the northern coast close to where you were. I LOVED it!
By 9:43 AM, at
Hey there guys...glad to see you made it to Rome! That IS one of the things with Europe...don't ever TRY to figure things out. Just ask for directions!
By 4:52 PM, at