So here I sit in Sarria, Spain. Yeah, I love starting blogs like that. Traveling has been so much fun. I thought that since I had a bit of time, I´d share a little about the food here. Each area in Spain seems to have its regional specialties. Some of these are Seafood in the north west, and more Mediterranean meals in the south east. In Madrid it seems to be ham. I have had more varieties of ham than I thought were possible. The bacon first. Oh the bacon. If you’ve ever had American ¨bacon¨ you know how horrid it is. so thin and small that it´s always burnt and crunchy. English bacon is better, thicker and more meat like. Spanish bacon is best. It´s like British bacon, but it has more flavour. We also had several other types of ham, each better than the last. Most bars and restaurants have their own leg of ham that they cut up. It´s like everyone´s a butcher. The Paella is also good. Not for those with shellfish allergies, but amazingly good. If you´ve ever had Mexican Paella, well this is better. For one it´s much less spicy. I like spicy foods, but that tended to be too much. I just had stewed bull the other day, another wonderful meal. It tasted like it had been stewing all morning. Melt in your mouth good. The Spanish breakfast I had the other day was wonderful. We went down to a pub for breakfast and I had a piece of bread with ham on it with Chocolate (hot chocolate). It was small, but very good. The Chocolate is what we would consider European Drinking Chocolate, but about three times thicker. You stir in however much sugar you want, and when you take the spoon out the chocolate is sticking to it. Mmmm…. Best hot chocolate ever. Breakfasts are usually very small, a piece of bread and some ham is a fairly common one. Lunches on the other hand are at least two courses, plus a dessert. I´d tell you what dinners were, but we´ve really never been hungry for them after our huge lunches. For lunches we usually get the Menu del Dia, or menu of the day. It gives us a choice of a few things for the first course, a few for the second, a dessert, a basket of really good bread, and a glass or three of wine. All for less than 10Euros (about 15CAD). Some places let you choose the dessert, and some give you the choice of bottled water or pop to replace the Vino Tinto, but not often, since wine is cheaper than both of those. Bocadillos are another popular food here. It´s basically a smallish (16″ or so) loaf of french bread cut lengthwise with some meat and or cheese stuck in it. Also of note are Tappas. Basically a small appetizer. A few meatballs, or olives, or a piece of toast, or a bit of calamari. Nothing huge, but also very cheap. Usually served with beer. Something interesting here is that drinks are usually served with a free, or almost free, bit of food, and meals are served with a free drink. It´s kinda cool. I´d tell you all about the various odd foods I´ve tried, but that would take forever. I plan on trying the octopus later today, apparently it´s a specialty here. I haven´t had it in a few years, but I recall enjoying it. That´s all for now. Adios.
Well I tried to post part of this, but ran out of time. So I´ll finish now. Lets start with Madrid. First off we went down to the Prado. If you get the chance, go. It was awesome. Some of the best art in the world. I took a picture (bad Noah) of one of the paintings. It turned out pretty good. When I upload everything I´ll post it. One of the coolest things was seeing the 16th century art. I continue to love that time period. After the Prado we left for the Archaeological Museum just in time to dodge a few tour busses (we walked by the Prado on Saturday and it was packed. If you go, go on a weekday. So the Archaeological Museum is a must see. It charts the history of the Iberian peninsula from neolithic times to the 17th century. You´d be surprised at just how many cultures called Spain home. Some highlights were Roman Jewelry, Moorish architecture, and Celtic weaponry. After that we walked down to Plaza Mayor for lunch (eaten around 2 or 3). Lunch was wonderful, as was the wine. I´d tell you more, but if I told you all about the food I wouldn´t have time for anything else. After that we were exhausted, so after a stroll around the Plaza we went back to the hotel. Distance Traveled: 10 km The next day we went to the Royal Palace. This is another must see, but mostly for the weapons and armour. They had more 16th and 17th century pistols than even the White Tower in London. The palace proper was cool as well, but not nearly as cool as the armouries. After that we walked down to Retiro Park. It´s basically a big park around a man made lake. And statues. They really like their statues here. So we participated in two of Madrid´s most popular sports. Walking, and people watching. We also stopped by the rose garden, and the statue of the Fallen Angel. We went out and had lunch and then took a short nap. Then it was off to Reina Sofia Museum. Another must see. Not only does it have Guernica, and other Picasso´s it also has a huge collection of Salvidor Dali. If you like art at all, you must go here. Distance Traveled 15 km Toledo Day. So after a long bus ride at way too early in the morning we arrived, and were treated to the sight of a medieval walled city sitting on the hill above us. Yes, I have pictures. Again, you´ll have to wait till I´m home. First off, after climbing the hill, we went to a new Visigothic Museum. It was free, which was the first cool part, but the best part was that it was almost better than the Archeological Museum in Madrid. It is focused on the time from the end of the Romans to the beginning of the Moors. The rest of Toledo was mostly walking around and enjoying the architecture. We went into a few churches, synagogues, and mosques, but mostly we just enjoyed the city. We did get a chance to climb up onto the city wall as well. After a long bus ride home we slept very soundly. Distance Traveled 20+ km Segovia next. Again a long bus ride. Segovia is another wonderful Medieval city. We spent a lot of time walking around, got to see a kick ass cathedral, and some amazing architecture. But the best parts were the Fortress (can´t remember the proper name right now) and the Templar Church. The fortress looks like Sleeping Beauty´s. Mostly because it is what Disney based that castle on. It wasn´t the most amazing thing in the world, but it was very cool. Also it has the best view ever. Then we went to the only remaining 12 sided Templar church. It´s being slowly restored by the Knights of Malta, and is now a functional church again. It´s fairly small, but impressive none the least. We also got to walk around a beautiful garden at the Cathedral. It was awesome. Another long bus ride home. Distance Traveled: 20 km Next was our day to leave Madrid. But we wanted to see a few things first. So we went down to the Anthropological Museum, but it was mostly closed. We were allowed to wander the few open areas, but it isn´t really worth mentioning. Other than seeing an early Mate straw. We then went to see the Tyson (sic) museum. Again amazing artwork. This time spanning from the 16th to the 20th century. I think I can now say I´ve seen more Picasso´s than most people. Also Dali´s, Monet´s, and Degas´. We then got our gear, and walked up to the train station (8 km), and waited longer than expected for our train. Got on the train 1/2 an hour late and waited 20 min before we left. We then got to the transfer station at 3:30 am, and had to grab our gear and run to the next train. We made it, and that one was more comfy. I slept about 6 hours total last night. But we pulled in to Lugo. Distance Traveled: 15 km Lugo is an amazing city. It has the worlds only fully surviving roman wall. 2.2km of wall around the inner city. It also has a pretty cool, free, museum. The wall is the coolest part. Oh yeah, and each time they dig for a new building, they find more Roman buildings and objects. I got to see part of a roman road when I looked down into an excavation pit from the top of the wall. Now we´re in Sarria. Gotta go. bye
So I´m sitting in my hotel lobby in the middle of Madrid. That was a cool sentence to write. Madrid is beautiful; with statues, fountains, and beautiful walks everywhere. We arrived late last night and were exhausted. The first plane ride (from Vancouver to Amsterdam) was about 9 hours. The food was relatively good for a plane. But they really should not serve the breakfast just before doing an extended and bumpy landing. I got about three hours of sleep on the plane. Four hours in Amsterdam airport were pretty boring. There was nothing to do beyond the security check point other than drink at the pubs. Though before we passed that we did go into a few stores. You´d think that a “gadget store” which sold mainly mp3 players wouldn´t have sex toys, but then you´d be wrong. Weird. Anyway, I fell asleep in the airport for about an hour. The flight to Madrid was blessedly short. I slept again on the plane. We got to Madrid and after a wild taxi ride through the town we got to our hotel, checked in, and went for a walk. Apparently everyone here walks in the evenings. All of the cafes and such are open late. We stopped and had a tortilla which was way too big and a nice glass of wine. All in all a good evening. Could have slept better last night, but ahh well. After a wonderful breakfast this morning I´m sitting here writing this, and in just a few minutes I´ll be off to the Prado. Enjoy.
As some may have noticed, I’ve been reading books which I’ve read before. Yep. Most of the books in my “just read” list are ones that I’ve read before. Why? Well I decided that I’d read the same books with new eyes. And it’s great. I’m picking up things I completely missed. It’s given me a greater appreciation for many authors. It has also let me know which aren’t as good as I remember. Why am I saying this? Well, I’d like to challenge everyone to pick up a book you remember liking in high school. I promise you you’ll learn something new. Now I’m going to sleep. -Noah
Had an interesting discussion the other day at school. We were talking about someones iPod Nano, which is awesome, and we got onto the topic of the iPhone. I want one. I really really want one. It won’t be available in Canada for at least two years, but I want one. I sounded like such a fan-boy when I was talking about it. But they’re cool. Commercially viable multi-touch screens, a smart-phone without the crappy mini keyboard, an iPod that I can claim is almost practical, it’s just sweet. Of course it was at this point that someone brought up the term iSellout to describe myself and one of the other people (Megan, if you wanted a name). Megan replied that she wouldn’t mind walking down the street with her iPhone and her Starbucks while wearing a (insert trendyish designer that I can’t remember here) scarf. Have I become an iSellout? I don’t know. I had Starbucks the other day. I tend to wear either a plain solid colour t-shirt or a black button up shirt (coloured if it’s an important day), I carry a cell phone on my hip, a laptop in my bag, and sometimes a PDA in my pocket Though I prefer local coffee shops, I don’t actually plan my clothing in an attempt to look casual-business (business-casual is now the new business attire, so people have to be a bit more casual and a bit less business hence casual-business), and I don’t own an mp3 player let alone an iPod. But if I had the chance to, I would buy an iPhone in a second. Starbucks jokes be damned. For 30sec of apple based humor go here. It’s a one page spoof of apple. Was just thinking, they have so many moods to choose from, but I keep thinking of weird and totally not PC ones to add. Hmmm… maybe I’ll save those for another day. Enjoy. Now go to sleep.