Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 23, 2013

Madrid

This is how we start our day when staying in Barajas, near the Madrid airport. We do not eat breakfast at the hotel, but go to a local spot where they split and toast croissants….and they are so good!

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Then we take the Metro into central Madrid. This year we started at Puerta del Sol where there was a lot of activity…

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And on the way to the Plaza Mayor, we saw this poor dog that won’t be going for a walk soon. (the dog is alive.)

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We walked by the Palacio Imperial and the sun provided a perfect spotlight.

20131023-181607.jpgLuckily we did not plan on entering the Palacio….this is only part of the line to buy tickets!

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We went to the top of a big department store for a view over the city from the 9th floor.

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Lunch was at the same small place we ate last year; this was our first course…..a cold, thick tomato “soup” with pieces of jámon Iberico….it was delicious!

20131023-182008.jpg The owner came to talk to us and wanted to take our photo….

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Tomorrow we will have breakfast with the folks at Gallegos again and catch our flight at 1PM. It has been a wonderful trip, slow paced, great food and wine, met lots of nice folks…..and we want to return again to Spain. We hope you enjoyed Spain along with us!

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 22, 2013

Nature Day

Yesterday was nature day. We visited La Ciudad Encantada; Enchanted City. It is an area of strange geological formations….and they are HUGE; they were formed when this area was under the ocean…..90 million years ago!

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Yep, that is me standing by that one! There was a young couple that were on about the same pace as we were and we visited a few times…they took our picture together and we took theirs….with his very fantastic (and heavy) camera! We caught up with them when he was doing a bit of rock climbing.

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After a 2 hour walk through this area, we drove up further in the mountains….the aspens were so yellow! We hiked to the source of a river where it spills out of the rock.

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Then we had lunch…well deserved too! We started with a “salad” that was crushed tomatoes, boiled egg white, onions, and olives. The locals spooned it onto their bread, so we did too.

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And after good meat and potatoes we treated ourselves to a platter of mixed deserts…..and they were wonderful! Of course there were 2 pieces of each item and lots of whipped cream.

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We stayed at a very nice B&B in the middle of nowhere….it consists of 4 individual casitas, each with a private pool (probably nice in the summer!) It is owned/run by a woman and her daughter and they do a spectacular job! This is the only place we have ever stayed that had fresh rose bouquets in the room and the bathroom! And the breakfasts????? To say bountiful is a gross understatement! The small glasses were 4 different juices from their trees and garden….apple, grape, melon and carrot….very nice!

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This morning we returned the rental car as it began sprinkling…..then it rained…..our first rainy day. After a quick trip to the supermercado for snacks for tonight and tomorrow night, we went to our favorite little bar near the hotel where we get out croissants and coffee in the mornings and had a red wine with gaseosa and were served a tapas of potatoes and morcilla (blood sausage). We walked to scout places for lunch, found a good one with locals and had a salad and a “pizza” that is made on a flour tortilla….very good and nice to eat a bit lighter! The rain has stopped and tomorrow is to be beautiful; we will hop the metro into central Madrid for the day….our last day in Spain for this trip!

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 21, 2013

Stacked and Hanging Houses

I told you we were on the route of on Quixote…

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And here he was in a castle!

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As promised, here are the photos from Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we drove about 6 miles on very flat land full of vineyards, then we literally dove into a ravine to the town of Alcalá de Júcar. The houses go right up the ravine to the castle on top…..very dramatic!

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Sunday we stopped in Cuenca, city well know for its hanging houses…..also very dramatic. It was a busy time there with lots of people out enjoying beautiful weather.

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And this is the entrance to the Plaza Mayor.

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Tomorrow we go to Madrid to return the car and spend Tues afternoon and Wed there. Supposed to be raining tomorrow…..we had 2 hours of rain on one of our “move” days and that has been all! Amazingly wonderful weather; lucky us! So, we will show you tomorrow what we did today….totally different things to see!

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 20, 2013

Alcaraz

Friday we left the mountains Friday and needed a place to spend a few hours between Segura and Casas-Ibáñez. We chose Alcaraz just over The border into Castilla-La Mancha…..and hit yet another jackpot! Ruins of an old castle, famous twin towers and tons of neat architecture….and a darn good lunch!

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We had lunch at a tiny place that filled up after we sat down. Our main course is that traditional Manchego dish of cut up tortillas, stewed meat…this had goat and chicken and it is wonderful.

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Tomorrow I will post photos of where we spent Saturday and Sunday…..both in deep ravines with hanging houses or houses stacked on top of each other.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 19, 2013

Hola!

Well…..wee-fee, as they call it…(WIFI) does not work on our suite…..so we are in the hotel lobby/bar….and will be brief and catch up tomorrow….but here are a few photos from today.

20131019-191602.jpgThis is the world’s largest croissant … this is a dinner plate!

20131019-191711.jpgThis is what the Spanish do before lunch, we call it drinking time. Good peanuts today with our wine and Gaseosa.

20131019-191821.jpgSalad for 2 at lunch.

20131019-191859.jpgFirst courses….paella and a Manchego specialty of stewed chicken with tortilla strips.

20131019-192002.jpgMy entree of some kind of grilled bird….my dictionary does not have the translation….it was wonderful!

Hopefully we will have a good connection tomorrow!

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 17, 2013

Last Mountain Day

This morning we walked out to this point…I photographed it from the castle yesterday and thought there was no way I could walk out on the narrow walk way…..but, we were just so far away, it really is a wide path with a big circle at the end and there are fences.

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Here is the castle from the point, then Mount Yelmo (highest mountain in this group at 5935 ft) with the highest group of olive trees; how do they get those olives down????? and the jet trails….there are so many all the time here.

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After a morning with lots of sketches we earned a good lunch and the best restaurant was open (there are only 2 here).We were served a piece of toast topped with a mixture of potatoes and garlic and I do not know what else. Then we shared a big salad and topped it with the local olive oil which is a delicious oil!!! And they should have a bunch of it judging by the number of trees (75% of Spanish olive oil comes from this region)

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I had a thin slice of pork that was grilled and Larry had venison….and a ton of it!!! No deserts today!

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Geraniums love it here and they are all over….

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Tomorrow we head north and will be staying 2 nights in Don Quixote territory and spending Saturday 12 km south in another place with a castle that sits above a river, Acalá de Júcar.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 16, 2013

Segura de la Sierra

Beautiful day….77 degrees and we think about 2% humidity…very dry. First thing this morning this is what we saw out the front window. There are 2 more below the show off if you can find them. These guys walk straight down hill on rock!

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We had a coffee at this really nice bar before we started our walk up to the castle.

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Then we walked…..and walked….but it was not as hard as Sunday’s walk to the castle in Xátiva. You get an idea from the first photo and the second is from part way up.

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This is a view of the 16th century church from part way up to the castle….it is really neat.

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We walked through the castle and climbed these steep steps to the roof of the tower….there were 3 sets of these.

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Now, about the olive trees….as we were approaching this area we were awed by the number of trees we saw…..I was guessing 5 million, but decided it was not enough. I asked a woman here about it and she said the whole region of Jaén in Andalusia is nothing but olive trees. We passed many processing plants for the olives. This is the best photo we could get from here.

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The food the last 2 days has been OK, but nothing special…..we have been very spoiled! The best place here on town was closed today and we hope it will be open tomorrow.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 15, 2013

Monday and Tuesday

We have really been busy and on the move! Yesterday we made a short drive to a small town, Bocairent. The B&B owners thought we would enjoy it since there is much to sketch there…..they were so right!

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We walked all over this place, up and down hills and around the perimeter to view the caves. No one knows exactly what the caves were used for, but they were carefully dug into the rock and often look like windows in the rock.
Xátiva was the first place in Europe where paper was made; the Moors brought the craft and made paper from rice and wheat. I asked the B&B owners if there was still paper being made. While we were in Bocairent, they investigated, found out the details and arranged for a tour and ordered me some paper! They have been the most super hosts! The paper is made by handicapped citizens under supervision and they do a beautiful job. They are learning to socialize, communicate with others and to gain self confidence.

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We had a long drive today into the northern part of Andalucía….about a 4 hour drive, but cutting across the land of Don Quixote (Castilla-La Mancha now) there was almost no traffic. We are back in serious mountains and staying in the town of Segura de la Sierra….we could see it as we approached from many miles away and thought we must be mad to have decided to come here! This is from some distance.

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And this is from part way up….we were lucky and did not meet any cars on the winding road up.

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But here are 2 views at sunset tonight from our terrace…we will climb to the castle in the morning, spend Thursday in the old center and not get in the car until we leave Friday!

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Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 13, 2013

Into the Valencia Area

Saturday after a 4 hour drive on mostly 4 lane toll roads, we arrived in a small town, Novetlé, which is 1 km from Xátiva. It is pronounced, SHAtiva. There are only bars here for lunch, so we went to the one where we saw a lot of folks. Only tapas, so we chose several different things. They were delicious! We know tapas can be quite expensive, so wondered what our bill would be. First, here are the dishes.

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That is right…..sections of a pig’s tail! Wrapped in pork skin and fried…..salty, and you really have to work to get the meat off. So, the total bill, including a big beer and a half bottle of wine was….€ 17!!! about $22.50 USD. And we were full and did not need anything later in the day to eat.

Today we drove to Xátiva early, somehow managed to find the parking lot below the castle and walked up and up for about a half hour to the entrance…..then walked up and up some more. It is a huge place with 2 castles….one Iberian and one Moorish. lot of history here. Here are a few photos….

20131013-183959.jpg This was when we had been walking up for a while and still had a long way to go!

20131013-184057.jpgThis is the Moorish castle at one end of the “spine.”

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This is the Iberian castle whose foundations go back to 200 bc.

After a morning of all this excitement, we needed lunch! The owners of the B&B where we are staying told us where to go and that we must order the paella with rabbit since paella originally came from Valencia. It took us 25 minutes of being lost….with a map!!!…but no street signs on the buildings. BUT, find it we did! Very young chef who,explained that he had 3 menus today. We chose the one that was a Tapa, a salad, Paella and desert….we had no idea of the cost….but we were the oldest diners, so should be able to afford it.
Before the salad we were served potato chips and olives….then an amuse of a small pepper, stuffed with cheese and a bit of grated egg and fried carrot strips.

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The salad was good, but here is the Tapa….a pepper stuffed with cheese and served warm with potato sticks and a slice of Jamon…

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Then the paella…..we were supposed to just eat it right from the pan, but she brought us each a small plate as she did with other diners.

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Then desert…..I only had room for fresh pineapple, but Larry went for the creamy pudding topped with chocolate and a thin slice of cake in the bottom of the glass.

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Again….no idea what the bill would be. We guessed that with the menu and 2 glasses of a nice white wine, and water…..€ 30 to 40 each…..the bill arrived….total: €43. WOW! The menu was only € 18 each for delicious, fresh, local, organic food and presented beautifully. Really a treat.

Posted by: 2 Travelers | October 11, 2013

Food in the Priorat

Oh my goodness!!!!! The food here in Porrera has been fantastic…..no menus of the day, everything a la carte, but that is OK. We have each ordered a first course and then shared a second course and the restaurants are OK with that. We are trying hard to make sure we do not outgrow our jeans! Here are the 2 meals we have had here; First courses:

20131011-162707.jpg Meat filled canneloni and another goat cheese salad (each one is different from the previous one)

20131011-162840.jpgAnother goat cheese salad with figs! and grated cheese instead of the toasted round cheese and Larry chose lentils with guacamole…..that is right, guacamole!

Now the second courses we shared…..

20131011-163041.jpgOsso Bucco…..very tender and delicious!

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Chicken with eggplant…very tender and tasty. Both meals enjoyed with local wines. We asked about why they are so expensive. The plants do not produce so many grapes…..takes many plants to make a bottle of wine compared to the wines/plants in the Rioja region, for example. Makes sense and also explains why it is so difficult to find much Priorat wine in Texas! It is a fairly small region. Tomorrow is another moving day and a long one; about 4 hours to get south of Valencia.

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