A taste of Spain

Despite having spent one month in Spain, it feels like I’ve only scratched the surface of this country. So many places are still left to explore, but for now I want to share my experience of my time in north-western Spain.

Covid-19

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic getting into the country was a little more stressful than it used to be. I arrived in the first days of May and at that time Spain was still considered to be in a state of emergency which included a curfew at night and other restrictions like wearing the mask everywhere. My plane to Madrid was pretty much empty and I almost felt like on a privat jet. Nonetheless once I’ve arrived I immediately felt more like back to normal life than in Germany, since restaurants and shops were open and the streets filled with people.

Valladolid

I took the train up north to the beautiful lesser known city Valladolid, which was my home for three weeks. Valladolid is known for its medieval churches, beautiful architecture and famous Plaza Mayor, which was used as an inspiration for the Plaza Mayor of cities like Madrid and Salamanca.

On weekends we took little trips throughout the region and our first was a little roadtrip with friends. We visited their family, they showed us their little village and we drove to another small city, where we enjoyed a traditional Spanish lunch.

Salamanca

Another day we explored the famous University City Salamanca. It’s located about one hour train ride southwest of Valladolid and perfect for a day trip. All buildings are made out of brown sandstones which gives the city a very uniform look. Salamanca is known for its two cathedrals and university with more than 40.000 students as well as its famous Plaza Mayor. Another interesting building is la Casa de las Conchas which is decorated with many similar looking seashells made out of the same sandstone as the entire city.

Bilbao

Later in May we decided to take the train up north to Bilbao to explore the Basque County and the Atlantic Ocean. The architecture was very different compared to other parts in Spain and since they speak Basque additional to Spanish, many buildings and signs were incomprehensible for me. The most famous building with an remarkable architecture is the Guggenheim Museum which is located right next to the river. Inside you can find modern and contemporary art as well as different temporary exhibitions. The Old Town of Bilbao, called Vasco Viejo, with the Siete Calles and medieval cathedral Santiago is filled with little restaurants and shops. From there you can take the funicular up the mountain to the Artxanda viewpoint for an incredible view.
Since Bilbao is located close to the ocean you can take the metro and within 30 minutes you reach the beach. We went to Larrabasterra and watched paragliders practicing on the cliffs in front of the ocean.
Read my blogpost about Bilbao here.

Madrid

Our last trip in the end of May and beginning of June was Spains capital Madrid. We stayed at a little guest house called “Hostal La Vera”, which had the perfect location close to the center and the perfect name aswell. I already fell in love with the city on our very first evening, because the city has such a different and vibrant energy and felt like full of life. We watched sunset in the Retiro Park which seemed like New Yorks Central Park of Madrid. The following days we spent exploring the city and places like Palacio Royal, different cathedrals, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, the Reina Sofía Museum and the Egyptian temple Debod, which was rebuilt in Madrid.

Toledo

On our last day in Spain we did another half day trip to the small city of Toledo located a 30 minutes train ride south of Madrid. For getting the best view, you can cross one of the bridges just before sunset and you won’t get disappointed.

Traditional Food

Being a vegetarian, it was incredibly hard to find some Spanish traditional food to try because most included meat or fish. In the following I listed some vegetarian options:

Tapas

You can find them at every Cafe or bar and they can be literally every kind of food which you can snack as a side to your drink. Common are small pieces of bread with meat, tomatoes or cheese.

Gazpacho

This dish is a vegetable soup which is served cold with common ingredients such as tomatoes, pepper and garlic. Many tourists are surprised when they taste it and it’s a cold soup, so they sent it back to the kitchen. However that’s how this soup is eaten in Spain especially during summer.

Tortilla de Patata

This potatoe, egg and onion omlette is for sure one of my favorites. You can find it in different varieties with additional ingredients like Zuccini or red pepper. Tortillas can be served as tapas in bars as well and sometimes we enjoyed it on a bocadillo (spanish sandwich)

Churros

Churros are well known as a traditional Spanish breakfast or in the afternoon and are served with hot chocolate. You can find many stalls on the street or even some restaurants that only serve churros.

Empanadas

These little filled tartes exist in many varieties as well and could be filled with so many different ingredients that you’ll never get tired of trying another empanada.

After spending one month in Spain, it felt super stange coming back to Germany and even though it were only four weeks, the covid-19 situation in Germany was completely changed and a lot better than when I left. I hope you enjoyed this little story and feel free to check out some photos of Spain here.

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