Monthly Archives: January 2013

Seeing the Sights

Mom’s in España with our friend Margie! Here are some pics of our travels so far…

MADRID

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Vermouth (vermut) on tap, sherry (Jerez) straight from the cask

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Amazing sherry bar – big guy with the backpack kinda kills the romance of this shot!

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Mercado San Miguel at 23:00. Foodie heaven.

SEVILLA

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Amazing comida at Labulla

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A stroll through the streets of Sevilla…

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GRANADA

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Amazing bar, El Tabernaculo, our first night. COVERED in Jesus and Maria images. In Granada, when your order a round of drinks, you get a tapa with each round. The old bartender here made us so happy with his creations: Round 1. Meatballs, Round 2. “Hamburger Tostada”, Round 3. Pisto tostada topped with fried quail egg!!! And the music at this joint is indescribable “processional” music cranked up. Really puts you in the mood for some Semana Santa.
Listen to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS9pmbTd9UY and look at picture above. You kinda get the idea…

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Free tapas with 2€ wine… For real???

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More free tapas. This was exxxtreme.

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View from El Alhambra. Gorgeous.

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Sierra Nevada in the background!

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¡It’s Dumping in España!

And, unlike anywhere else in the world, no one wants to go up because you can’t see, they don’t have snow tires or 4 wheel drive, and they don’t open the good lifts. I went to the highway to hitchhike this morning and no cars passed by. The snowplow driver, Joseph, who gave me a ride a couple weeks ago down the mountain and who was smoking a joint at the time, rolled down his window and advised me against going up. I asked if the lifts were running, yes, but only two of the lower lifts. 30 seconds later another person who works there said don’t bother. Then I got a text message from a friend saying the same. Only two lifts and you can’t see shit! So here I am. I went for a fun walk down to the next town with my roommates and got some freshie turns in some funny places on the way. I ended the excursion with a sweet bottomless freshie line through the steep and narrow streets of the Romanesque town of Taüll. Happy!

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Me being sad after being advised not to go up and succumbing to the advise

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Roomies Asier and Diego

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Freshies on the trail between Pla and Taüll

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Diego is from Uruguay and before June had never seen snow in his life! Here he ensconses himself in the fluff!

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The boys and some Pyrenees cows in the background!

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Asier’s car

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Picnic tables in front if my restaurant!

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Algunas Fotos de mi Vida

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Signs in Catalán at the top of the highest lift in the Pyrenees a few weeks ago. Lacking major snow but still gorgeous!

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On the telesilla con mis amigos! I made that ugly hat I’m wearing. My first knitting project!

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On the 21st of December the Basques celebrate El Día de Santo Tomás, “where txistorra, talos and cider flow on every corner” says my roommate Asier, who’s from San Sebastian. We had a mini celebration at the house. In this photo, txistorra on baguette and sidra (cider).

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Asier pours the sidra trad style – the higher you pour the more bubbles. You have to drink it all at once to maximize the fizz – ¡On Egin! Cheers!

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Boí, a picturesque town down the valley from Taüll, which you can see up the hill in the distance. Lovely paths connect all the towns in the valley. Too quaint. Seriously!

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A couple weeks ago my friend Dani and I went for a walk up towards the national park, Aiguestortes Parque Nacional, in the next valley from Vall de Boí. To get into the park you have to take a taxi which costs €€, so we parked and walked an hour+ towards the entrance. GORGEOUS! And we never even entered the park! This is walking back out on the road.

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As I work here in exchange for free room and board I haven’t eaten out at all in this country known for it’s amazing food! My second meal out was for hamburgers. Ha ha! It was delicious. Fried egg, goat cheese, carmelized onion and bacon with a local Vall de Boí beef patty and on a fresh baked bun.

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This is the menu in Catalán. I ordered the Carnisseria burger. If you can decipher the menu, you will see it is an awesome spread. Love it!

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Graffiti everywhere these days. A gorgeous walk along the river by my house

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I went back to get another hamburger a couple days later. Here we have the Roi (roasted red peppers, bacon and goat cheese) and modified Llevei (fois gras and caramelized onions). My friend Thor and I went halvsies and it was a really good choice.

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My coworkers and I went on a fieldtrip last week to Andorra. So fun!!! This is riding up the lift at Ordino. They are lacking major snow but the possibilities with snow resort are amazing.

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To the left there is a lift that accesses a ton of steep goods. It wasn’t open due to more brown than white on the slopes, but I can dream!

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Me and The big boss man Tony!

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Last run of the day – really fun even though it was super hard packed. We got a couple soft turns in! Throughout the day we managed to find some freshies mixed in with the ice and bushes too. Great.

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Back at Boí Taüll Resort we had a good three weeks of cloudless skies. Then this odd little cloud appeared in the sky.

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This is the base of my new board with only a dozen or so days on it. It looks worse in real life, like a bear armed with volcanic rocks went to town on it.

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But it’s finally snowing! Today brought snow and high winds which closed down most of the lifts at the resort. I went for a snowy walk with my friend Dani instead. Lovely!

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Dani kicking it in the snow and rolling a cig – crazy Spaniards and their tobacco!

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First snow angel of 2013!

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Spaniards are really cool and sure know how to party

New Year’s Eve countdown after a fun dinner service at Barocco where I work: we’re all armed with stupid hats, leis, plastic vampire teeth and noisemakers, a glass of cava and twelve grapes. The countdown in Spain begins 12 seconds before midnight. With each second you have to eat a grape. So at 23:59:48 on 31.12.12 we all started stuffing our faces with a bunch of grapes and we’re all giggles trying to keep up. When the clock struck midnight we were multi-tasking bandits – still masticating our grapes, garbling “¡Feliz año!”, ching chinging glasses, taking the first sip of cava of the new year, hugging, kissing, sounding noisemakers and tossing streamers into the air and onto each other. Now the party starts to get going! Around 3:30 or 4:00 we finally got it together, left Barocco and headed to the “club” down the street (this is a tiny tiny town. The “club” is reminiscent of a highschool gymnasium or Elk’s Lodge ballroom) where we danced for an hour or so before getting kicked out at 5:00, at which point the manager of Barocco started inviting people back to our bar for the after party! Party pooper me, I headed home around 5:30 before phase four of the night began with everyone then heading to the apartment of some dinner guests we had earlier in the night who became steadfast party buddies until morning. Not so rare for a new Year’s Eve celebration, but this is not even close to a singular sequence of events here in this tranquil valley somewhere in the Pyrenees! I can’t keep up!

Beyond being late night party animals, Spaniards are just cool. They are super talkative, friendly and easy going. I meet new people every day here, hitchhiking to the ski resort, riding the chairlift, waiting tables, buying bread. Especially in Vall de Boí, that has a permanent population of less than 2000 between 5 towns, and where people come to vacation and relax, people are simply great here. They interact with such ease with friends and strangers alike, are all smiles and forgiving when I don’t understand what type of after dinner drink they want, and kindly switch from Catalan to Castellano when speaking with me. I get asked all the time where I’m from (most common guesses are France, Holland or Austria) and upon hearing that I’m from Alaska people flip! Not too many of us come to almost snowless Vall de Boí for the ski season I guess.
¡¡¡Love los Españoles!!!

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¡Feliz Año!

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Breakfast on the 1st. Las noticias, chorizo, baguette, apple and coffee

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