Posts Tagged With: Spain

“Do you have a menu with pictures please?”

We’ve explored the beautiful world of international markets, so lets now venture into the restaurant scene. As a backpacker, I’m conscious of when and where I splurge, especially when it comes to food, drink and entertainment. With that said, when friends meet up abroad or a group of other travelers are heading out for dinner, sometimes I’ll spoil myself and join them!

Unfortunately I’m not going to post about every country, but here are some memorable meals and unique bites from around the world.

I’m going to start off with a very colorful, protein packed salad in a cafe near Nice, France. Since the extent of my French is “Parlez-vous anglais?” (Do you speak english?) and “merci” (thank you), this was ordered by pointing at a tiny picture and a huge smile.

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This accidental order in Paris came from my eagerness to try “carpaccio”, a plate of thinly sliced raw meat or fish. My innocent mistake was trusting the waiter and agreeing to a similar dish called “Tartare”. This however, is a meat dish made from finely minced raw beef or horse served with onions, caper, seasonings and sometimes a raw egg. Not the same my friends, not…the…same!

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In Spain, I usually find myself nibbling around town due to the ever so popular tapas or pinxtos. Clarification, “tapas” isn’t necessarily a particular type of food, rather a small portion of anything ranging with paella, croquettes, fish and peppers on toast, and so on. Pintxos’ are bites you pick up off the bar and bring back to your table to enjoy. Then, depending on how many sticks you have on your plate tells them how much to charge for at the end. Here are some of my favorite scrumptious snacks in Spain.

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The course pictured below describes my opinion of the country it came from, Switzerland – clean, tasteful and proper.

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Moving on to the hearty land of Germany, specifically the state of Bavaria. Even though I struggle to find lean and light meals there, I can still enjoy a plate of solid comfort food. My favorite is the warm red (or blue or purple depending on which German you ask) cabbage side dish. My not so favorites seen below are the flour and potato dumplings and pretty much anything that may have the word “wurst” in it.

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Before I move on from Germany, I’d like to dedicate a short description and a few photos to the wonderful world of Oktoberfest! Continue reading if you’re up for a story or skip to the pictures to see a few options you may get during the traditional festivities.

The day I learned that the Bavarian language differs from the rest of Germany, goes as follows. My dear friend Carina, you all should know her by now, was attempting to help me order soup. She said she’d do her best since she doesn’t fully understand Bavarian. I asked for anything with vegetables “something that grows or is green” was my request and considering we had been at the festival since sunrise with nothing but a liter of beer, I was excited to consume anything! That was until… until we realized I had ordered liver dumpling soup.

Before…

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During…

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After…

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Other appetizing dishes to coat the stomach while celebrating the largest people’s fair in the world!

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Since I’m usually visiting my friends in Holland, I rarely explore and sit down at a legit Dutch restaurant. I have however, enjoyed the best falafel wrap while in The Netherlands!

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Hungry in Hungary? (Curtesy laugh goes here) Expect meat, potatoes, salad and bread. Not to shabby!

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Sword fish, greens, garlic butter and bread was the choice in Crete, Greece. Naturally complimented by the traditional Greek dessert of Baklava, Ouzo and fruit!

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Heading southeast to Malaysia, I’m going to show you two different ways they can serve up the same meal. First we have the over portioned, grease covered greens aside fried fish.

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After being served the plate above, I mentioned my disappointment to a new local friend who then invited me to a different location to show me how it’s “supposed” to be done.

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My favorite meal in Malyasia wasn’t due to the taste, but the story that comes with it. If your remember the post of volunteering in Malaysia, then you’ll understand that this surprise dish was given and received with much gratitude. Thank you Marcel!

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Jumping over major seas, I’m now bringing you to Central and South America. With several countries, many amazing dishes and unique treats, I’m going to narrow it down to just a few.

First up, Pupusas! These light corn or rice tortilla type patties are stuffed with your filling of choice, then topped with a spicy coleslaw! We were introduced to this savory snack while being treated by a few locals in El Salvador!

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Costa Rica was easy. Just show me to the greens with a bit of fish and whatever drink comes blended, fresh and colorful. Pura vida!

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Jumping down to Ecuador presents some of the tastiest soups and flavorful ceviche I’ve ever experienced! The rich spices, fresh fish and crunchy toppings make for an amazing treat for your taste buds.

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Peru allowed me to feel joy when items like quinoa and sweet potato overruled the usual carbohydrates of pasta, corn and wheat. I love the ingredients of this country so much that I actually took a Peruvian cooking class!

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I’m going to bring Argentina into the mix due to the impressive meal we were served last year in Buenos Aires. I’m generally not a huge meat eater, so for this steak to hit my tops picks says a lot for the quality at hand. Take a look at those veggies too!

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In the waters northeast of South America sits one of my favorite islands called Barbados. Bajan cuisine includes a vibrant blend of foods with African, Indian and British influences. Not to forget one of my favorites, the amazing Roti from Trinidad!

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Australia and New Zealand (I apologize for bulking you two together, but only for the sake of this post), brought many home cooked meals. Mostly fresh from the farms I was volunteering on or hand picked from the gardens that I helped harvest. No complaints here with the abundance of fresh vegetables and local organic meat!

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Last but not least is the large island of noodles, fish, rice and other objects I don’t really know about (simply because my Japanese is as good as my French). Considering I’m wiring this post from Japan, there’s definitely more to come soon! For now, take a look at these mouth watering dishes!

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Ill leave you with an advertisement that isn’t tempting, but certainly entertaining as it’s a bit different than the usual Big Mac add.

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

La Tomatina in Spain!

I’ve “Prost” through Oktoberfest in Germany, beaded my way through Mardi GRAS in New Orleans, danced through Kadooment in Barbados, spent Australia day in Sydeny, and dressed up at the Sevens Tournament in New Zealand… Now what?

La Tomatina Festival in Spain!

Welcome to one of the largest food fights in the world. A battle where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets at tens of thousands of participants.

At around 11 a .m., the first event begins. A ham is placed on top of a cockaigne pole (a large, greased pole), and the tomato fight can begin only when someone is able to climb up and bring it down. People struggle against the huddle while climbing on top of one another. This is necessary in order to be “the one” to pull down the chunk of pork. With this victory (that I’m sure is claimed till the following year) a loud shot is fired from a cannon and the tomato-throwing begins.

After exactly one hour of chaos, a second shot sounds and all throwing stops and turns directly into a dance party in the streets!

Just a reminder, I’m with Ian and Bevan. Ian is my long time friend from Folsom California who randomly jumps in and out of my journey around the world. Argentina is where we last met the pleasantly crazy (I mean that with love) Australian, Bevan!

To reach the small town of Buñol the beginning of the festival it was necessary to catch one of the first trains out of Valencia.

Here we are before the crack of dawn patiently waiting at our bus stop.
Banana… Check.
Beer…. Check.
Goggles… Check.

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Once you arrive you see food and drink vendors with hundreds of eager adults dressed in whatever the day calls for. In this case, clean clothes (to start with), protective goggles and shoes you plan on dumping in the garbage directly exiting the venue. Most of them have a beer in hand, a slight skip in their step and a smile that says “ooh pick me, pick me!”

Notice how clean we all are in the start of the walk towards the central of the fight.

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We’re getting closer so we figure now is the time to fuel up for the day ahead. The boys make a pit stop for some pork in buns (I’m sure they would describe this meal with much more enthusiasm). Judging from my face at their kind offer for me to try some… I went for the tuna sandwich that, to my delight, came with fresh green olives and a Spanish hot pepper! Of course all of the above is nicely complimented with the local beer.

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As we continue to march towards the center, the crowd grows to a massive sea of some of the biggest kids I’ve seen. Not one tomato will be thrown until the fire of the first cannon. This means we all mob to squish as close as we can to the road where the trucks will launch from.

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As soon as the cannon sounds with a large puff of grey smoke in the air, the people go crazy!

It made me giggle because we were so far back, that when it fired the crowd went nuts and nothing happened for awhile. It was like the lights going off for your favorite band to come on stage and you scream… then shout and jump… and wait…. and yell again… and wait. Then you all kind of look around… and wait some more until finally, show time!

This is where I would normally insert dozens of photos of the real life action. However due to the fact that we only brought Ian’s camera and it was so mashed that you literally couldn’t move your arms unless you got aggressive, we only captured the before and after.

So, here is the walk back towards the train. Imagine dance music being drowned out by the sound of voices, these of which you can barely understand because they’re either really intoxicated or from another country… or both for that matter. The smell of acidic sauce sizzling in the sun with spilt beer flooding the streets. The sweaty liquid keeps the lost articles of clothing afloat as it all drifts down the road towards the center.

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As you near the station, several of the locals bring out buckets of water and hoses to wash off all of the participants. Nice and refreshing after a day in the sun and paste everywhere. Sun dried tomatoes if you will (please snicker just a little bit here, for the jokes sake).

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So the crowds have dispersed, the tomatoes are crusting over everything in site and we are heading back to recoup. I’ll give you one guess on what we DIDN’T have for dinner…

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Siesta’s and Fiesta’s in Spain!

The culture here tends to feel like a slightly more “grown up” version of the college life. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but they all seem to live it to the fullest and love it!

So what is this lifestyle I speak of? Let’s run through a typical 24 hours in Spain. Of course I realize that being in tourist cities can bring out the party people, but even when I’m with the locals, they claim that they do it bigger than the travelers!

7a – 10a
If you were to stroll the streets at this time, you would mostly find a few locals bringing in the fresh ingredients to prep their shop for the day or an eager tourist family patiently pacing the streets waiting for one of the vendors to put down their coffee and open the front door.
Me? I’m an early bird and thoroughly love strolling the empty beaches and quiet streets while watching the city wake up. Smelling the buttery batch of croissants and homemade bread from the corner bakery, watching the birds search for the first crumb, while listening to the family in the back of the restaurant argue about what should go on the “Menu del día”. (Momma always wins).

Here are some random shots of the beaches, cities and cafes at this time of day,
Awh… Buenos Dias.

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Here is the view from the balcony at 8am followed by a shot taken around noon.

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This is another duo picture with the first being around 9am and the second photo was in the afternoon.

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10 – 14:00 (10a-2p)
The streets are coming alive… barely. It’s comical to look around and see the difference between who had a restful night compared to the ones who crawled out of bed to try and recover over coffee and toast at the local cafe. Let’s not forget the hooligans that are still going strong from the previous evening. The vendors are now open, the tourist are happy and the fresh sand now has little toe prints from the early birds.

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I stumbled upon this little antique street fair and caught myself wondering why things are so much more “adorable” or “cute” when you’re on the road, verses just at home.

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I passed by this venue that had chairs with little fish swimming around in the foot tanks. What? Sure I’ll give it a go! It felt like tiny little taps of dull needles all over as the hungry fellas nibbled off any old skin cells. Once in awhile you could see (and feel) a determined one get a little aggressive… And I thought pedicures tickled!

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As the heat peaks, you can see the beaches that were once made of sand now home to a number of umbrellas, towels and sun craving people.

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14:00 – 18:00 (2p – 6p)
Although not every shop closes for this length of time, most break for the typical siesta. No, this doesn’t mean the entire country goes home for a nap. After chatting with several different locals, I found that this time is used wisely depending on their personal life. Many spend these hours prepping their business for the busy night to come, others go home to take care of errands and chores while the kids are still in school. If you wander the streets, you may get lucky and catch a group of locals sitting outside appreciating this time with multiple generations of family.
If you’re a new tourist to this culture, you’ll find yourself lost in empty streets… hungry, confused and wondering if there was a bomb threat in which you didn’t get the memo to hide and cover.

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Here’s a main indoor market during “Siesta”. Only just an hour prior to this photo there were hundreds of shoulders squeezing their way through the crowds. The sounds of casual conversation mingled with the shouting of product prices and sales… Kids with chocolate covered faces playing hide and seek while their parents (with stress on their faces) reach for the last item before the doors close.

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18:00 – 22:30 (6p – 10:30)
For most around here, the earliest dinner isn't until 7p and the usual time to sit and eat is 8p – 9:30p. If you're not prepping dinner or finishing up your sight seeing, you might be out roaming the streets shopping again or in my case, having a cold beverage with a friend. Either way this is the down time before the fiestas kick into full swing!

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22:30 – Daybreak (10:30 – Sunrise)
Depending on how late your dinner or when the celebrations begin… once the sun goes down, the energy goes up!

Some evening pictures of the “calming before the storm”.

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The last night in Alicante, a group of us gathered for appetizers and drinks for a relaxing start. Pretty tricky to top tasty food, adult beverages and a variety of nationalities lounging to the relaxing sound of your friend on the guitar. Did I mention it was on the beach that sits below a castle? Kind of forces a deep breath, right?

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Here is a mess of photos that should give you a solid idea of the “party” scene in Spain (or at least the one shown to me!)

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To truly understand the excitement of my buddy Ian celebrating his 30th birthday at a show in Ibiza, you must first know TIESTO (funny that my auto correct puts his name in all caps). This DJ is award winning, Grammy nominated, and recently titled a “Universal phenomenon” after he performed at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles before an audience of 26,000 fans. That’s the largest single headline DJ show in United States history.
So here’s a glimpse of the Ibiza birthday night that started with a bus ride to a concert, traveled to the VIP section (notice that we’re standing slightly above the crowd) and ended to the sun coming up… Happy birthday pal!

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All thumbs up and a sunrise to hug us good night…

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Feed me Spain!

The number one most typical Spanish dish is Paella. For those of you who love it, you’d be bright eyed and tempted all of the time. To the ones who could do without would probably get sick of the menus, promotions and pictures advertising this local cuisine.The portions of paella served at restaurants are generally for 2-3 people or a teenage boy, so you can imagine my hesitation to order it. Instead, I cheated and took some photos of the menu pictures and a few from my friends plate. Judging from their responses and the people scraping every last crusted piece of rice from the edges, it’s a tasty choice!

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Tapas and Pinchos. Another typical Spanish treat that is absolutely a delight for me! Small portions, sometimes for sharing and always the perfect snack to compliment a cold beer or glass of Sangría. To clarify: a tapa is a small plate ranging from fish, veggies and meats to olives, omlettes and anything you can fry. Pinchos are those adroarble little temptations in the windows that include a creative combination of flavors placed on a piece of fresh toasted bread.

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This is Ted, a traveler we met at a hostel. I plan on reconnecting with him in Amsterdam and that’s when I’ll share his incredible story with you. For now, check out the plate in front of him. That’s Patatas bravas, roasted potatoes with an Aoli cream and hot sauce drizzles over top. An item on almost every menu.

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Im not a huge fan of pig, unless I’m playing with them on a farm or reading about them talking to spiders in children’s books. This was a challenge for me due to the popularity of specialty pork products. Sometimes the judgement I felt from the locals after declining the ham was as if I had kidnapped their first born or sent a personal insult to their family. They would just kind of stare, as if to wait for me to realize what they were offering and then change my mind. “Oh BACON… Im sorry, Of course I’ll indulge!”
So for you pork lovers, here are the few pics I snagged for your delight.

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Really…Next to the ice cream?

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They love their desserts! Cakes, cookies, marshmallow, candy, Gelato, ice cream, pastries, pop cycles, and now growing in polarity… Drum roll please… plain frozen yogurt! (I type this while secretly jumping up and down in my head).

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Ooh, just my size! (And it comes with a tourist on top!)

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Now for my indulgence, Las frutas y Venduras!
It was around every corner in every city. Sometimes more than others, some with larger varieties and many offering nuts and seeds as well. They were everywhere and it made me happy!

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Did I mention the fresh fish?

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To sum up eating in Spain here are just some random pics that will give you an idea of the scrumptious sights that are so inviting in this beautiful country!

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The boys tried to offer me their meat… Clearly I declined. Instead I got a tuna sandwich that came with hot sauce and green olives. (Side note, these were taken at a tomato festival that I'll show in detail later).

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I dedicate these to my mom. This is the bar she occupied during her visit to Spain almost 20 years ago! She sent me with the printed photo to find the exact street… success! Love you

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Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Color me Spain!

As stated in my last post, the applications I was using to design with decided to challenge me a bit which put my blog on the back burner. If you can bare with the trial and error stage, I’m going to “give it a go” with a new system. I apologize ahead of time if there are any quirky details I still have to iron out. All righty, here we go!

Do to the lack of posts throughout my journey in Spain, I’m going to lump together some categories to catch you up to my present moment.

I think “Color me Spain” is necessary to start with due to the impression it’s made in my mind and the expectations it has set for my future home. Woh woh woh, no I’m not thinking of “settling down” anytime soon, just saying I want to live in a world of color!
Ive been amazed at the vibrancy throughout each city with the buildings to the local art work… Color is everywhere! Without further explanation, welcome to the rainbow of Spain!

The following photos include: Madrid, Barcelona, Ibiza, Granada, Valencia, Alicante and Tossa De Mar.

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Next post… Feed me Spain!

Categories: Art, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Scratching the surface of Madrid

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my photo uploads (good ol’ technology) so once I get it sorted I’ll be flooding the blog with striking shots and info of what Spain so far. Here is just a taste…

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I loved the color contrast between the flowers and buildings.
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I wasn’t surprised to see Mickey and Minnie wandering the streets, by all means they rank in popularity up there with Coca Cola and Oprah. I did however do a double take at his choice of costume… an American Flag? 
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This group of people have been out here in the same spot all day, everyday since I’ve arrived. Surrounded by suitcases and umbrellas, they sit and speak amongst themselves.
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If you were to close your eyes and walk past this book store, you’d hear an enthusiastic elderly man explaining something (that I couldn’t understand) to a young fellow who you wouldn’t be able to hear due to his intent on grasping every word being shared with him. It was lovely.
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Random shots:
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

These statues are placed around the city, I think they’re kind of comforting in a way.
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

“Yes son, that’s what Bam Bam carries around.”
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

I actually think I’m going to have an entire post dedicated to the food that has left a special place in my heart(and gut). These are just the a few pics that I was able to load… Dozens more to come!
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

This is “Plaza Mayor”, the view from the first hostel room Madrid. I’ll be describing the different hostels I’ve experienced in Spain in the future as they range quite a bit and deserve their own post, (as well as the people I met during my stay).
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Categories: Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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