Semana Santa means no school or private classes, so Arianna and I packed our bags and headed to Basque Country for their famous Basque cuisine and architecture.
Our trip began in Bilbao – I was excited to see the Guggenheim Museum and other famous buildings/sculptures the city has to offer.
Exploring the city with Arianna
Processions of Bilbao
I went to Andalusia for my first Semana Santa in Spain and was shocked by the huge processions that take place in the south. I now have a tendency to compare the processions to those of the South, and find myself thinking that they are so tiny in comparison – yet beautiful nonetheless.
Those who take part in the processions wear hats called capuces which cover their faces to ensure that only God sees them.
The last part of our trip took place in San Sebastián. We didn’t do much other than eat and drink txakoli. Our favorite bars were:
Bar Borda Berri – their risotto de idiazabal and carrillera de ternera were absolutely amazing
La Viña – Famous for their cheesecake! It was so good we went back one more time before leaving San Sebastián (and this comes from two girls that don’t typically like cheesecake)
Bar Sport – Great pintxo’s, nice waiters 🙂
We woke up early our last day to walk around the city and see the breathtaking view from Monte Igueldo. We walked nearly an hour along Playa de la Concha and then took the trolley car up to the top.
A few friends and I spent this past weekend in one of my favorite cities – Valencia. We had a wonderful time filling our bellies with paella, horchata and fartones, biking to the beach and seeing all the beautiful sights the city has to offer.
Contrary to belief, paella is not Spain’s national dish. Each autonomous community has their own typical dishes and paella just so happens to be Valencia’s. Paella Valenciana consists of rice, chicken, rabbit, flat green beans, and alubias or garrofó.
One of my favorite ways to see and learn about a city is by going on (free) walking tours. Our hostel had daily walking tours – which was perfect! Our guide Eduardo was hilarious and extremely informative. Some sights we saw while on the tour included: Centro Arqueológico de la Almoina, the cathedral, Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, the beautiful Torres de Serranos that was used to protect the city, the Merat Central de València. We learned about the history of Spain (information ranged from why Spain is called Spain… It means The Land of Rabbits to an explanation of Las Fallas that take place in March).
Plaza de la Virgen
La Llonja de la Seda
During our tour, we stopped inside a small chocolate/sweet shop in Plaza de Santa Catalina to purchase some horchata and fartones. Although horchata can be found in the states, it is quite different from Valencian horchata. It is consumed with a farton – a sweet glazed bread. Eduardo informed us that the best way to consume a farton and horchata was to soak up the liquid by dipping the farton. It was marvelous.
Horchata & a farton! Was SO happy it was lactose free 🙂
Museum of Ceramics. The facade is incredible
Plaza de la Virgen
Saturday was spent biking to the beach along the Túria River (which is actually dried up). The path along the river is so awesome! There were so many runners and bikers enjoying the beautiful Valencian sun. We also biked right past Parque Gulliver and La Ciudad de Ciencias y Artes; a truly breathtaking sight.
Felices fiestas! Last week I had the opportunity of celebrating Christmas with my Galician family. As much as I love living in Spain, I have come to realize that being away from family during the holidays, birthdays/big celebrations, etc. will never get easier. To combat the homesickness, I took the advice of my dear friend, Lindsay and baked up a storm all the while listening to Christmas playlists on Spotify. As cheesy as it may seem, it was literally the best way to handle the homesickness.
Christmas in Spain
Christmas here isn’t as popular as it is in the United States. Spaniards typically celebrate Los Reyes Magos which falls on January 6th. Before going to bed, children leave their shoes out for the Reyes, and wake up to find gifts left behind.
During the holidays, La Loteria de Navidad is HUGE. I didn’t participate in it, however, Fernando did. I was extremely amused watching Fer as they called out the winning numbers on TV. To his disappointment, we did not win el gordo.
Christmas in Santiago
The weeks prior to Christmas, I admired the beautiful decorations and lights set around the city.
On Christmas, we made our way over to Fernando’s aunt house for an amazing Christmas dinner. Although I missed my typical Mexican tamales, rice, and beans with my family, I absolutely loved all the marisco (necoras, percebes and mejillones) and Albariño!
Galicia is famous for its gastronomy. For instance, we have Padrón peppers doused in olive oil and sprinkled with salt, caldo gallego, and my personal favorite; pulpo á la feira. Galicia is particularly famous for its excellent quality marisco, or seafood.
Percebes, or goose barnacles are filter-feeding crustaceans that live attached to the hard surfaces of rocks and flotsam along the coast. They have a strange appearance, slightly resembling a foot and toe, but that is exactly how they got their name. Percebe derives from the Latin words: pollicis (thumb) and pedis (foot).
Due to a small production and the risk percebeiros take to harvest them, percebes are quite expensive. This video has been beautifully put together to capture how much hard work goes into a harvest.