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Departing Spain with two stop overs

October 8, 2010 2 comments

Erin and I are no longer in Spain, but we’re dashing from Munich airport to it’s city center during a 5 hour layover. Fall has arrived in Southern Germany as the weather and fall foliage attests. I prefer the warmer Mediterranean desert climate of Southern Spain and Southern California.

We enjoyed walking around Munich’s city center, Marianplatz, and strolling through an outdoor market, Viktualienmarkt. We ate at a Lowebrau Restaurant and I tasted my first draft Helles beer on German soil. We enjoyed a lunch of sausages including Munich Weisswurst. Freshly made pretzels were also delicious.

We also spent the night in Reston to catch a plane back to Lis Angeles the next day. It’s helping reset our clocks.

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Nostalgia for NYC

October 7, 2010 Leave a comment

My time in Madrid has stirred nostalgia for living in New York City. The foremost similarity has been that both metropolises are walking cities. Madrid has individual neighborhoods that can be traversed and connected on foot. The fall air in Madrid may be playing a role as well. Fall signals us to slow down in preparation for the coming winter and I naturally take stock of the months (and years) that came before. Already in a reflective mood because of the season and weather I’m primed to associate Madrid with happy times spent in New York.

One great place to walk is the Retiro Park. Treasures await beyond paths, behind hedges, and around turns. Sculptures, an exquisite rose garden, fountains, and a pond-lake lay in wait to be enjoyed. Pleasantly familiar from another life spent walking through Central Park and Prospect Park.

Cultural institutions such as museums are available and densely, centrally packed. Extensive public transportation takes you where you want to go when your legs protest the distance. Restaurants, bars, and other public spaces all offer comfortable extensions of your home.

Madrid (and New York) offer up urban living on a human scale albeit amplified.

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Wow! New friends in Madrid

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

We had made plans in Barcelona with our new friends from Wisconsin, T&D, to reconnect in Madrid on the tail end of our trips. We each had committed to bringing a wine to a going away dinner. T&D had been touring Spain’s northern wine regions – Priorat, Rioja, Toro – while we had toured Southern Spain’s andalucian tourist attractions, Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla, and Madrid.

T&D brought an excellent Priorat wine and a superb Priorat wine that they had purchased from wineries in the region. Erin and I brought a La Mancha Temporanilla and a Lanzarote (Canary Islands) Malvasia.

They invited us to meet their Madrileno friend, JP, and we enjoyed our wines in his beautiful penthouse apartment near the Retiro park.

Our night unbelievably improved beyond this experience as JP took us to a local restaurant serving cider in the traditional way which is for the server to aerate the cider by holding the bottle of cider at arms length extended above the head and pouring a stream of cider into the glass held at waist height. I have a video of this that I’ll try to post from a desktop. We ordered a salad of lettuce wedges and anchovies and cooked tenderloin of tuna, red peppers stuffed with bacalao and covered in romesco sauce, mussels, and fried anchovies. The piece de la resistance was the beef tenderloin somolillo that is served raw alongside a piping hot clay plate used by the patron to cook the beef to their liking. This was served with a side of roasted potatoes and padron peppers. DELICIOUS. Afterward we concluded the night at JPs corner bar for a few drinks.

Solid night out with friends in Madrid!

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Reconnecting with Jaime and The Best Beer in Spain

October 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Brabante Cervesas is the best beer in
Spain. I’m biased because my friend and classmate at Fuqua, Jaime, helped found this company that brings premium Belgian style beers brewed for Spanish palates to market. Brabante Cervesas’ portfolio includes the ever present pilsner (but in lighter, mire refreshing and refined form), a wheat beer, a double brun, a double blonde, and a triple. Jaime took us to dinner where were able to sample the full monty of Brabante beers. The beers were all smooth & refreshing and held good flavor across the respective styles.

Jaime remarked that it seems as though little time has passed since our 2006 graduation each time he connects with a fellow classmate. I agree with him. We had pleasant dinner conversation where Jaime indulged us by answering our questions about Spain. We further were treated to some exquisite mixed gin and tonics that were careful balances between specific gins paired with specific tonic and accompanying accoutrements (pomelo rind, rose bloom, and cinnamon stick) at L’exquis

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Lazy Day in Toledo

October 5, 2010 1 comment

Erin and I woke up in Sevilla, had breakfast at ‘Trifon’ where we had eaten Tapas 3 nights before and then caught the AVE to Toledo. We checked into the Parador Toledo that is perched higher than the city itself on a hill opposite the river and has a fantastic view of the medieval city.

We didn’t rush ourselves but still made it to tour the cathedral, the main plaza, and a temporary exhibit in the Templar Knights. I’ll probably remember the El Greco paintings most vividly, especially his portrait of Jesus.

We grabbed chic tapas at Adolfo and finally caught up on Spanish cheeses with a sample of 6 varieties. We retreated to the Parador to watch the sunset from our room’s terrace. We ate our earliest dinner yet (8:30) due to their dining policy and had an early night.

We woke up this morning to complete our diurnal cycle by witnessing the sub rise over Toledo.

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Travelling not quite as far as Christopher Columbus foe a meeting

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Final full day in Sevilla was a lazy one with a late start. Somehow though I managed to put in second furthest day of walking only surpassed by our day of two guided tours in Granada.

The late start was due to going to bed after 5am the ‘night’ before. We had delicious jamon iberico with quail egg on toast, toast with sweet Roquefort and blackberry jam, and somorejo for breakfast. I walked out to the Museo del Bellas Artes unaware it would close 15 minutes after my arrival. I reached the museum and walked an equal distance along a new path to take in Sevilla’s cathedral the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World and the third largest cathedral of any type after St. Peter’s in the Vatican and London’s cathedral.

I was mainly going to climb the 34 ramps to the top if the Giralda tower a minaret from the mosque that stood before the cathedral replaced it that the christian’s could not bring themselves to destroy. It is beautiful unto itself, but also affords a 360o panoramic view of Sevilla. Well worth the 5 minute climb. Reward yourself by staying on top a while once you get up there.

I was surprised to find I found the interior of the cathedral before ascending Giralda tour. If I had known going in that is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, perhaps I would have been less taken aback by it’s grandeur. I audibly sighed at it’s grandeur.

Christpopher Colombus’s body is held within a magnificent mausoleum capped by four life sized bronze pall bearers with sculpted alabaster faces representing Spain’s four original kingdoms. Watch the video with prerecorded audio tour.

We also walked quite far after the conclusion of our futbol match to check out the Triana neighborhood across the river from the centro. On our friend Jaine’s recommendation we sat down for the best ensaladilla immune city. Unknowingly 30 minutes before the bar specializing in seafood opened at 815pm. We had thought they were closing up.

We also enjoyed a riverside stroll in this part if town as you take in the major sites on the other side of the river.

Lots if walking.

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Oh the people you’ll meet

October 2, 2010 1 comment

Erin and I have met several travelling buddies on our trip to Spain. I trust they are enjoying my blog!

In Barcelona we met a couple from Milwaukee touring Spain’s wine regions. We met by sharing a table (and several liters of wine) in a Born plaza in Barcelona. We later met for drinks on the poolside terrace bar on top of Hotel 1898 and enjoyed delicious local food (especially an aubergine dish) at Patoxca. We will overlap again in Madrid where we are each supposed to bring a bottle of wine to share.

We met star crossed Aussie travelers in Granada. It wasn’t until our second time running into them that we met and we did not have a proper conversation with them until the third time we bumped into them in Sevilla. Our first sighting of each other had been at near adjacent tables during the best lunch of my life. We met accidentally the next day when were scheduled on the same Granada walking tour led by Cicerone and mutually introduced ourselves. One day later, now in Sevilla, Erin and I went to the courtyard of the Alfonso XIII hotel decorated as a mujedar palace for a pitcher if sangria and snacks. As we were finishing the Sangria our Aussies strolled in and we invited to join us. As a result Melbourne us now on our short list of international destinations and we are looking forward to recruiting them as local guides.

The third connection was with an English couple we shared facing seats with on the train between Granada and Sevilla. This couple had gone on a weeklong walkabout through the Sierra Nevada with stops each night in village guest houses. Interesting holiday. Their conversation made the train ride pass by quickly.

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