A Travellerspoint blog

Driving Day

overcast 58 °F

Didn't do too much today. It was a 4 hour drive from the coast to Salamanca. A very long and boring drive! At first we were not sure what the rage about Salamanca was, but then we walked through the old town. Charlotte would love the square although with the gale force winds (worse than being on Wisconsin avenue on a windy day) you don't want to spend much time out side. We walked to a church (they call it the new church) which was started to be built in 1512. As I looked into some of the coves and thought of Georgia and that I definitely found a creepier place than the Scottish Rite. Although a little creepy there were some beautiful parts as well. Walked back to the hotel and are hanging out until dinner (at 8:30 pm right around half time for you folks back home :-)

Tomorrow it is off to a wine tour south of Salamanca and then back here to see more old stuff :-). Hopefully the wind dies down.

Posted by dtbradley 09:04 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Last summer day

semi-overcast 88 °F

Today is a very warm day, probably the last we will see until next summer. Today took us to the city of Tolosa which promised us the largest market in Basque Country and one of the most famous chocolate and sweet shops in Spain. We found the market, but not the sweet shop. We were probably the only tourist in town. Troy took many pictures of the fish and meat shops. At one place, they got very excited about someone taking their picture. At first I thought we were getting yelled at, but instead they wanted to pose.

It was then off to San Sabastian which is a very pretty town. Since it was close to 90 degrees, many people were at the beach. Our timing was much better today (since we learned the hard way on Thursday) and found a place for lunch near the Bastilica de Santa Maria. We then spent the remainder of the day walking around the wharf.

It is amazing how set they are with the time to eat. a late lunch is eaten between 2:00 - 2:30 pm and then everyone followed with ice cream, in cluding us. Everything then shuts down around 4:00 pm and will open around 6:00 pm for coffee or vino. No dinner until after 8:30 pm. Tonight our dinner will be meats, cheese & bread from the local market / shops.

Tomorrow we leave the beautiful and hilly Basque country for Salamanca.

I am missing home a little and everywhere I turn there is a dog.

Posted by dtbradley 08:22 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Guggenheim & lunch

semi-overcast 74 °F

Today was a relatively relaxing day. We drove over to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim. The building itself is a piece of artwork.

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It was then off to a town called Axpe and a restaurant called Etxebarri (the Basque like their x's). We had a fantastic lunch of seafood (shrimp, squid & clams each separate dishes) and an apple tort with smoked vanilla ice cream & a chocolate soufflé. The baby squid (chipirones) were lovely...

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On our way back through Durango we stopped to pick up some water and Manchego for later. While today would be a break in Jamon consumption, there was a sighting in the grocery store.

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Came back to our place and took a walk near the sea. Tonight will be pretty laid back while we figure out what tomorrow may hold. A stop in Tolosa to see the largest Basque food market and renowned chocolatier before heading into San Sebastian for tapas is the likely itinerary.

Posted by dtbradley 09:11 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Sight seeing

Seeing sights all over Rioja and Basque

overcast 70 °F

Just got back from an eleven hour day... Where to start, oh yea, the car. We saw a lot of the car and a lot of Rioja villages. We started the morning traveling to Haro, the capital of Rijoa wine country. The road from the coast to wine county is stunning - amazing mountain peaks and beautiful valleys. In retrospect we will ask why Logrono also calls itself the capital, but that's for later. Rioja has many Bodegas and Haro itself has like 12 or 16 right within it's limits. Many a cellar door is open, but call in advance. The town is delightful with many market shops filled with produce and meats. There are also many vinotechas or wine stores. We were astounded by the vintages some of these stores had on hand for sale. Riojas from the 70's and 80's but also some amazing old vintage ports, the oldest we found dated back to 1937 (380 euro).

There were many good tapas bars and restaurants in Haro, including a couple we had researched to be good, unfortunately a late breakfast sabotaged the temptation (big mistake). We bought some provisions and headed on to Longrono, yes, the capital of Rijoa. In comparison to Haro, Logrono was a very large city. We did not locate the landmark where the rough guide indicated we should park, instead we parked somewhere outside the city center. After many driving mistakes and failed attempts to find the appropriate location we settled in to the city at the heart of siesta. We were getting hungry. After some gelato we took a time out in a relaxing park.

We departed Logrono and headed to the cute town of Briones. Here is where the Rioja museum of wine is located. It is a very large place situated next to an operating Bodega. We thought better of a tour and headed in to town. Still to early for tapas and no dinner in sight we took in the town's beauty. There was the smell of Chorizo in the air but no purveyor to be found. We headed back to the car and settled on Vitoria to take in the Basque food experience. We were certain that the size of Vitoria would warrant some early evening tapas. Boy were we wrong. After really bad parking karma and a whole lot of town strolling we only came across one place, an Irish pub that had some plates. Dozens of bars and cafeterias serving only drinks. How long ago did I mention hungry?

We headed back to Deba, the town near where we are staying. We were now relieved that our arrival would coincide with a lovely Basque dinner. Someone angered the parking gods, then, after a thorough canvas of the village of Deba we ran into three ladies, one who seemed to be broke down on the very top of the village road, another looking for parking and us finding ourselves backing down a narrow path of parked cars in either side of us, at least 1/8 of a mile. After making it off the top of the village area we headed back to safety near the town train station, thinking we would make the simple walk back in to town - wrong again! A traffic pile up in an area of construction that had only a single lane for passing. Both directions of cars were released at the same time and we were at a full out Deba-Spanish-Mexican standoff!

After too long the traffic gridlock ended and we parked as planned near the train station and headed to Bar-Restaurant Urgain. After negotiating a menu in English we had a bottle of wine from Toro along with Ox Carpaccio. An amazing steak with frittas and huevos as well has Hake and clams in a big garlic, parsley and pea sauce with white asparagus. A warm raspberry tart and the dinner proved to be quite the reward for a day of missed opportunities.

Off to the Guggenheim tomorrow and reservations at Astador Extebarri, so we won't go hungry!

Posted by dtbradley 14:16 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

5 days 5 sausages

sunny 78 °F

I was going to call this blog travel day, but Troy wanted to make sure Charlotte knew he was continuing the ham quest. The majority of today was a travel day. We were not sure if we should go through Spain (which would take us back to Barcelona and felt like back tracking) or if we should go through France. So we decided to let the Garmin lead the way and she took us through France. We got to see a lot of the countryside as fastest route takes you through some small towns :-)

Today was a 7 hour + drive so when we found our hotel we were tired of driving, but if we were to eat we needed to head out. So we decided to stay near and find some bread (cibattas (which has the same name in any language) (we are in Basque which has it's own language)) and our 5th jamon which was a Salchichon iberico.

Our hotel is in a beautiful place outside of the cities. They eat late here (starting at 9 pm) so I think we will have a lot of tapas at our hotel, because I wouldn't want to drive these roads at night after a few wines. They are a little curvy. The price we pay to be in the boondocks by the sea. Speaking of the sea after the sun set there where 10-20 boats out fishing.

Tomorrow we are going to hit the road and find some wine!

Posted by dtbradley 11:59 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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