Suckling pig in Segovia

Check out this video Kelley posted from our trip to Segovia! Who needs knives when you’re as skilled with a plate as this gentleman!

¡La vida en Sevilla!

This is the master chef/server (notice his medals) cutting up the pig with just a plate! The other servers cut it in the same way, but with much more difficulty than this man.

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Amateur Hour

Our attempt to conquer Madrid, Segovia and Toledo in 2 Days…

Disclaimer

I would not suggest attempting this in such little time.  Segovia we really did see and enjoy to the fullest, but both Toledo and Madrid had more to offer.  I think Segovia and Toledo deserve a day each and Madrid well that city seems full of things to do and see…  But if you are going to do it, here are some things that might help.

Saturday

  • 7:45am Board train at Sevilla-Santa Justa to Madrid Atocha
  • 10:05am Arrive at Madrid Atocha

Once we arrived in Madrid, Kelley and her boyfriend, Levi, met us at Atocha.  From there we walked to our hostel to grab our keys, drop off our stuff and we headed back out.  We hopped on the metro and rode it to Madrid Chamartín Station where we had tickets to Segovia.

  • 12:20 Board train to Segovia
  • 12:50 Arrive in Segovia

Segovia

The train station in Segovia is in the middle of nowhere.  There are two options to get to the old city, bus or cab.  The cab cost 8 € so between the four of us it cost 2 € each, so we went with that over waiting for the bus (I think the bus cost 1-2 €).   We took the cab to Plaza Mayor.

We had reservations at 1:30 at Restaurante Jose Maria  to try the local favorite, chochinillo, suckling pig.  The IMG_1708restaurant was less than a 5 minute walk from Plaza Mayor. It was delicious and rich and a little pricey at 25€ a plate, but totally worth it!  After lunch, we returned to plaza mayor where we visited the cathedral, the alcazar and finally the aqueducts. We still had some time before our train back to madrid so we slowly made our way back to Plaza Mayor taking our time and getting a little lost on the way.  Before leaving we tried another local favorite, Ponche Segoviana at Limon y Mente,  pastelleria off Plaza Mayor.

We took a cab back to the train station.  This ride was not as cheap, they must have a special rate to the city… tricky cabbies.

  • 6:30 Board train to Madrid
  • 7:00 Arrive in Madrid

Madrid

Once we were back in Madrid we went on a mini tour of the city.  We were so lucky that Levi has been living there so we didn’t waste any time getting from place to place, being lost or wondering where to go nex

IMG_1704We stopped at La Mallorquina, a pastelleria in La Puerta del Sol (right next to our hostel and the Metro) where we got a variety of sweets, I chose the chocolate hedgehogs… almost too cute to eat!  We continued on our walking tour to see the Palace, cathedral and Plaza Mayor.  Then we made our way to the Mercado de San Miguel.  It is a modern indoor market with endless options of delicious tapas and drinks.  After that, we headed out for tapas.  The best place, by far, was El Tigre.  Like Granada, tapas were free with every drink.  We paid 5€ per drink, a little pricey but they were huge, and were also given 4 plates overflowing with food.  We headed home early to make sure we were ready for our early morning the next day!

Kelly Sarah and I in Plaza Mayor

With Kelly, Sarah in Plaza Mayor

Tapas and Drinks at El Tirgre

Tapas and Drinks at El Tirgre

Sunday

Toledo

The morning we left for Toledo we first had to go to Levi’s apartment so we could drop off out backpacks.  We grabbed a pastry at a small shop Levi knew and headed out to El Rastro.  El Rastro is at the Plaza de Cascorro, the Calle Ribera, and the streets surrounding the area. There were stands galore selling everything from Antiques to clothing to jewlery and more.

  • 10:50 am Board Train to Toledo
  • 11:23am Arrive in Toledo
Museo Santa Cruz

Museo Santa Cruz

The train station in toledo is in the city but with the little amount of time we had there we decided to take a cab to the center.  The cab cost 5€ , we are not sure if it was a special sunday deal but who cares!  We took the cab to Plaza Zocodover.  FIrst we visited the Museo de Santa Cruz.  It was free admission and had a reasonable collection of art(including works by El Greco), mosaics and glazed tiles.  Per Rick Steve’s Travel book- When you get to the second floor stop at the second window.  You will see the Alcazar, you will also see  gunshot in the metal bars protecting the outside.  Unlike Rick Steve’s directions, do not open the window to look closer or touch it, the guards don’t like that… After the museum, we went to the Sefardic Museum at the Sinagoga del Tránsito. Then to the Cathedral where Kelley and Levi went inside and Sarah and I found a magic museum and decided to see what it had to offer!  Before our time was completely up, we also tasted the local specialty of marzipan toasted and filled with sweetened and cooked egg yolk- YUM and bought assorted cookies made by nuns in a local convent.

  • 3:25pm Board Train to Madrid
  • 3:58 Arrive in Madrid (we would have taken a later train if possible, but the next one would have arrive in Madrid after our train the left for Sevilla)

Madrid and Home

We had just enough time to grab lunch and our things before heading back to Atocha to catch our train home.  We stopped at El Brillante to try their famous Bocadillos de Calamari.

  • 6:00pm Boarded train to Sevilla
  • 10:30pm Arrived in Sevilla

IMG_1809

Our Hostel

We stayed at Hostel 360.  It had decent reviews on Hostel World and I would say they were definitely accurate.  It was perfect location, right in the city center and only a couple minutes from the Plaza del Sol where the metro station is.  As the reviews said, it was really noisy at night(Had we not had such an early morning on Sunday the noise would not have been an issue).  There were tons of people our age all of whom were really friendly.  Every morning they order churros for breakfast so that’s pretty sweet too.   Bathrooms were fine, internet was good in the lobby and iffy in the rooms and the communal kitchen was clean.

 

La Tortilla Española

Last night I was so lucky to walk into the kitchen at just the right time!  I have asked Fina, in the past, to teach me how to prepare a tortilla, spanish omelette, but have never been around to catch her before dinner is served and it is too late to learn.  But today, after my run, I popped my head into the kitchen to find her just beginning to cook.  IMG_1566

It was so much fun to spend time cooking with Fina.  Food really does bring people together.  Cooking with her made me really feel like I was at home.  At first she was hesitant to let me do anything, but I think my persistent “quieres ayuda” and “yo puedo” annoyed or convinced her enough of my eagerness and ability.  We talked about the current scandal about the Spanish Infanta who was on trial this weekend, divorce, my family and the problem with not cooking food from scratch.  And as per usual, Fina fed me, while we cooked!  Not that I was turning her down by any means.  The strawberries were delicious, they are getting sweeter everyday, and I ate a potato out of the raw egg mixture, under Fina’s guidance (demand). I guess that just reminds me of how crazy we are in the U.S…. always worrying about contamination and bacteria, since Fina didn’t even think twice.  So hopefully next week’s post has no news about E. Coli…

Here is the recipe and pictures for those interested!

Ingredients (Yield: 3 Tortillas)

  • 3 medium potatoes, dicedIMG_1576
  • 1/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Medium onion, sliced thin
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Salt

Procedure

  1. Dice the potatoes.
  2. Salt the potatoes and set aside.
  3. Fill a small frying pan with Olive oil. Let it get hot.
  4. Add salted, diced potatoes.  The oil should just about cover the potatoes.  Turn the  heat to medium and cover.  Cook this way for about 10 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so.
  5. Thinly slice onion and add to the potatoes.
  6. Cook potatoes and onions for another 8-10 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
  7. Drain extra oil from potatoes and onions.
  8. Separate yolk from the white.
  9. Beat whites until frothy.
  10. Add yolks beat until frothy.
  11. Add potatoes and onions to eggs.  Mix well.
  12. Coat a small frying pan with olive oil.
  13. Add 1/3 of the egg and potato mixture to pan and cover.

    Fotor0210235758

    Steps 14-17

  14. After about a minute and a half, flip omelette onto a lid or plate and put uncooked side down into pan.
  15. After another minute, flip again.  Push down onto omelet using spatula.
  16. After another minute or so flip again and cover.
  17. Continue flipping every minute or so until omelette is cooked through. 9-10 minutes total.IMG_1606

You are Alive.

You are the stuff life is made of. You are the essence of life. You are the cause and the reason of everything you see. You are one with the Source. You are alive. What else could possibly matter?

Free Tapas, Homemade Wine and Beautiful Views

photo 1

We spent the past weekend in Granada.  Despite the rain and cool weather it was a great trip.  Granada is a beautiful city in the same region, Andalusia, as Sevilla.  The city is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, making for gorgeous views wherever you look.

 

The Alhambra is probably the best know attraction in the city.  It is a beautiful Islamic palace,photo (3) surrounded by many gardens.  After the Muslims were forced out, the Alhambra was taken by the christians which makes for an interesting mix of architecture.  Throughout the palace you can see things like holy water fonts affixed to walls covered in Islamic style plaster work.  The most memorable sites of the Alhambra are the fountains and reflecting pools throughout the complex.  All of the water flows to the Alhambra from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Alhambra is built upon a hill which also makes for amazing views of the city and the mountains.  From a plaza across from the Alhambra, in the Albaicin, there was a gorgeous view of the palace in it’s entirety and the mountains in the background.  I apologize, the picture is not the best due to the clouds… but if you want a better one there’s always google.

photo (5)The night life in Granada was great as well.  With every drink come a free tapa. This made going out pretty cheap, and awesome!  Friday night, we went tapa hopping around our hotel. On Saturday, I met up with a Spaniard I had met the night before.  His family owns a vineyard so he brought me a delicious bottle of homemade wine.  After drinking some wine, we headed off into the city.  It was really fun to be with a local and get a real tour.  We wandered around though the city center and then walked up to the Alhambra where he showed me Carmen de los Mártires.  It was a beautiful compound filled with gardens and views just as beautiful as those from the Alhambra itself.  On saturday night, I was exhausted.  Some of the girls and I decided to have a wine and cheese night.  We bought a cheap bottle of wine, cheese and crackers and were set for the night.  While shopping for wine we saw something very strange, a wine taste tester. It allowed you to self dispense wine from preselected bottles, for free.

Wine Taste Tester!

Wine Taste Tester!

And on Sunday, our weekend in Granada was over.

View of the Alhambra from el Mirador de San Nicolas

View of the Alhambra from el Mirador de San Nicolas

¡Bienvenido!

The first two weeks in Spain have been amazing.  I am so happy to be back!

Image

What a cute bunch of students

When I first arrived in Sevilla, I wasn’t feeling so hot.  Student teaching in Texas left me very sick but also prepared me for Spain as I was teaching all day in Spanish.  I suppose it was only a matter of time before my cute but unhygienic pre-kers spread their germs.  Anyways, the cold I had made take off and landing pretty awful, but thankfully I survived.  I arrived a couple of days later than the other students because of my student teaching.  Thus, there was no group to greet me so I hopped on a bus to Fina’s house.  I was so excited to get there.  On the way, I spoke with a woman, from South America, visiting Sevilla for an interview.  She was surprised when I told her I was from the US, because according to her my Spanish sounded so good.  I don’t know if she was just being nice but I’ll take it!

When I arrived at Fina’s, I was greeted with a huge hug and besitos.  It felt like I was walking into my grandma’s house.  Fina was such a crucial part of my experience before and I am so happy the SAIIE paired me with her again!!

I cannot accurately express how it feels to be back.  At the start of the third week, I feel like I have my bearings and know my way around again. Similar to last time and my student teaching, I feel such a sense of accomplishment to put my spanish to use.  So often the study of a foreign language goes to waste.  We don’t have the opportunity to practice or the real life chance to use it and it disappears.  Being here gives me the opportunity for my language goals to come to fruition.

I cannot wait for what this semester holds.  This summer was amazing and I know this semester will be even better.