Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Naranjas, Bachata, Bocata

Confession: I've never actually been IN Valencia.

 This was my second trip to this seaside city of about 800,000. You'd think I would have made my way around the monuments, cathedrals, and such. Wrong.

I've only been to the big science museum, the beach (the Balearic Sea, not the Mediterranean), and various houses of friends.

Ahh, and are they some of my favorite moments within Spanish boarders.

Last year I went to a New Year's celebration with the friends I met in Malta. I met some people there and we've kept in contact ever since. Since my friends from last year were busy (or in Peru) I stayed in Burjassot, on the other side of town.

Once again, it was a long, merciless nine hours in a bus, but I arrived to a group of people I recognised. Oh, was it a good feeling.

So instead of Saul and Jessenia, I was with Vicente, Luis, Alexandra, and Ada (perrito). eek!!!

Spreading my wisdom like I do, I introduced them to Orujo. ;) They also thought I was absolutely psycho for going swimming in November. The water was really quite manageable, but Vicente didn't think so. The other two didn't even take their shoes off...

May I add that Vicente makes a stellar bocadillo? His aunt made paella for me. Between the two, I nearly died.

Oh! And Vicente made a dessert out of oranges for me. (Valencia is famous for its oranges) He boiled them with sugar and voila. Oranges a la Vicente. It's not a traditional dish of Valencia or anything, just something a native thought up.

To sum it up, I ate really well this weekend.

Saturday was spent at La Bamba, a salsa club. We had a reservation for 20 of us or so.

It. was. AWESOME.

And Vicente was the best date of my life. Even though, I fell on the dance floor, awkward. He was always trying to get me to salsa; I got him to bachata. Only once, though. jejeje I wore the dress I bought on sale in a little boutique in Split, Croatia (I feel like this is really important...). I was also wearing my woman shoes, the real high heels. Well, they're high for salsa anyway.

Entire night of dancing = angry feet. That really had to have been the best club I've been to in a long time (well, since Potes, Cantabria jajaja). Vicente ended up carrying me home on his back. All the way a Spartan.

We went to the beach again, we danced more bachata and merengue at his house, I helped him with his english homework, I missed my bus to Madrid. Less than 4 minutes...gah.

His mom sent me home with a bag full of Valencian oranges, which make fabulous snacks in between my grammer and History of Spain classes.

uff, muchisimas gracias para lo mejor finde Vicente, Luis, Loli, y Alex!! Visitame en Las Vegas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lke a Spartan...

...I took the weekend after the Feria de Orujo off. (and the crowd goes wild).

This was my first weekend in Salamanca to myself, EVER. (remember the first weekend I went to Avila and didn't get to Salamanca til Sunday).

Spain is starting to grow on me, though Switzerland is still my official European home, my official love.

Feria del Orujo!!

First things first:

Wow, I'm really going to miss Spanish coffee.

Now for another three week summary. I spent the 9th-11th of November in Cantabria. From Salamanca I bussed to Santander, but this wasn't my final destination. And I'm glad it wasn't. Santander didn't strike me as anything special (plus they were in the middle of replanning the city so construction everywhere and I didn't even make it to the beach). It didn't have the life San Sebastian had, not to mention the food... I did get lucky though. I asked a woman with a baby for directions to a decent pension and she saved me over 50 euros. But no, my goal for this particular weekend was more focused than most of my excursions. I went to Santander to ultimately go to Potes, Cantabria for, (get this), La Feria del Orujo!!! (Festival of Orujo!!!!) Have I not taken the liberty to mention this spectacular drink? Orujo is most traditional to Autonomous Communities (not provences, states, or cantons) Galicia and Cantabria. It's a licor made from zumo de mosta (juice of mosta grape). They make it in all kinds of flavors: Aguardiente, Blanco/Tostado, Cafe, Cafe con Leche, Yogur, Fresa (super delicious, super expensive), Crema de Orujo (my licor cabinet mostly contains various bottles of this type), de Hiervas, Crema de Aguardiente (I've only ever seen this in Valencia) y mucho mas...

There are so many types, most of them I've only ever seen in Cantabria. I discovered Crema de Orujo in the supermarket here in Salamanca. I wanted to try something new besides red wine or beer, but still, something Spanish. I asked a friendly-looking Spaniard what it was and she lit up when she explained it, so I took it. It continues to be my drink of choice by far...

I describe it as the best-kept secret of Spain. (We've all heard of Sangria and La Rioja, but have we heard of Orujo???)

Anyway, the next bus to Potes left at 15:30 and wouldn't come back until 11:30 the next day. As a competent human being, I was hesitant. As a youthful, naive traveler, I was ready. This trip would test me in ways I never thought possible. Just kidding. I speak enough Spanish to keep a conversation and I love Spanish clubs (no house beats!). I made some friends on the bus and we stayed together the whole night. Three of them were exchange students from Mexico and one was a master's student from Asturias (Espana).

Believe me, I had no idea what I was in for. Three shots of any kind of Orujo for 1 euro. This was not a classy Swiss wine tasting. A band played a remix of Enrique Inglesias' "Hereo" at the end of the night.

Between all the time I was there, I had tried all types of Orujo and we only went to two bars, but they were the two best bars of my existence. Not too crowded, steller music, no flashing lights, the bathrooms had toilette paper. Yes, in Spain, this is what makes a wholesome hotspot.

Not to mention, if you just stepped outside, you could enjoy the cool night air and gaze at the Picos de Europa while enjoying you're Orujo con Sabor de Fresa (four euros a glass, ouch!).

Can't forget the classics of Spanish bars: Noche de Estrellas, Hasta q Salga el Sol, Angelito sin Alas, remix de Danza Kuduro, Sube las Manos pa' Arriba, Bailando por Ahi, and the list continues.

Around 6:30, I hit my limit. The music was still bumpin and I was wearing good boots, but everyone has a limit.

The owners of the pension were concerned that I hadn't been there that night but they were quite proud of me for exploring where few foreigners dare to go.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Okay so let's catch up since the last time I wrote on 19 October.

-I streamed the Swiss movie I've been trying to watch for a year, Der Verdingbub. (I'm not usually one for films so this was big).

-A bus whisked me away to Leon, near the Picos de Mampodre, where I nearly broke my ankles and fell off the cliffs. These were two hard days of hiking, well worth it.

-Gloria, my travel buddy, visited me for three days!! After her Academic Travel through Andalucia, we explored Salamanca. It was a gorgeous few days, much needed. We were exhausted on our last day together and ended up taking a three hour siesta...

-Saturday morning, bright and early, we departed for Madrid. We had three solid hours of crowded Spanish renfe train, loud people, and lost American tourists. Our paths parted when she headed toward the airport and I took a bus to the Autonomous Community south of Madrid, Toledo.

-It was only meant to be a weekend trip, but it took so long to get to Consuegra (south of Toledo), my final destination, for the Feria de la Rosa de Azafran (Festival of Saffron).  !!! eek!! Yeah, locals made fun of me for being a tourist, but it was still my best weekend. Did I mention that I bought a baby jacket handmade? And the Peruvian guy that sold it to me gave me a head massage afterwards??  The windmills are stunning, though, and sky always sunny. It reminded me a bit of Cheyenne. That Saffron Festival was the equivalent of Cheyenne Fronteir Days...Spanish style. A little quirky, but still reminded me of home (in some twisted way I guess). Consuegra is much smaller than Cheyenne and well, maybe a lot of the people aren't so different...

-After  that, I spent that monday in Toletum, better known as Toledo. I hoofed through the city with my huge green backpack filled with all kinds of fun stuff picked up from Consuegra. I even found space to bring back some famous marzipan from Toledo and some handmade/handpainted earrings. They're dark blue painted hoops with some lighter flower embellishments. Oh! I even found a traditional Syrian restaurant! Um, highlight of the day? A good change of pace from empanadas and oatmeal.

-Because I had Gloria here and I had taken a day off, planning for my four day weekend was stressful. Really, I tried to go someplace far and wild, like Albania. I just looked at a map of europe and for some reason, Albania was calling. Well, flights were more expensive than I liked, so I found a bus to Vitoria, Pais Vasco the night before I was set to go. It wasn't that easy, though...I'm much more knowledgable about the ways of European airlines.

-In Vitoria, life moved pleasantly slowly. I bought a handmade dress. (Now I know where that Spanish style comes from!) It was  on sale, so  I had to. San Sebastian was definitely more hmm, eventful. Awesome hostal, Australians, seafood, swimming in the Bay of Biscay, bar hoping in huge group without a definite common language, Wyoming style uggs, traditional band, camera broke down. More lively than I imagined, perfect place for students. Arquitecture was a curious detail there...

My three weeks in a nutshell.

Okay, your turn.