How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 4

I'm FINALLY finishing my Spain series. After conquering Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville... and eating ALL the food, we were off to Madrid! Once again we took a very early train so that we could see as much as humanly possible. Because who needs sleep? Am I right?

First stop was The Museo Reina Sofia, the modern art counterpart to The Prado. We chose this museum because it has an exhibit housing one of Picasso's most famous murals, Guernica. The exhibit was absolutely stunning. I wasn't allowed to take pictures but it looks like this:

guernica3
Except better. Obviously, it's more magnificent in person. It also takes up the whole wall. Imagine me standing in the lower right corner only covering that one dude's foot.

We then walked through the other exhibits and got to see another personal favorite, Salvador Dali. I'm dying to make a trip to Figueres, Spain someday to see the Dali Theatre and Museum.

dali
After a great morning of art we were famished but didn't have a lot of time. So another jamon sandwich it was! I still can't get over how something so simple is so frickin' good. It must be how they dry age their prosciutto. We were ready to start our trek through Buen Retiro Park, which is Madrid's version of New York's Central Park. There were so many beautiful spots to stop at. One of my favorites was The Palacio de Cristal.

crystal-palace
This palace made of wood and glass was built in 1887 for The Exposition of the Philippines, then a Spanish colonial possession. After marveling at its beauty, we wandered past another grand pavilion, Palacio de Velazquez before making our way to Retiro Pond.

retiro
Since we had already conquered rowing in Seville, we skipped it this time. But it still looked fun! We then left the park and wandered past the Puerta de Alcala, a grand archway, on our way out of the park when I spotted them. Twinkly lights. I told you before and I will tell you again, nothing does it for me like twinkly lights. They are like fairies dancing on my soul. Oh, and pitchers of sangria never hurt, either. So of course we had to stop.

twinkly
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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 2

Barcelona was a dream. Breathtaking architecture and mind blowing food. Read about it  here. Now, on to Valencia!

The first mistake my boyfriend and I made planning this trip was over-ambition. We made it back to our hotel from our amazing fourteen course meal at Moments at 1:00am. And then we had to pack. Our reservation had been at 8:30pm, which was also the earliest possible dinner time. Spaniards do things late. My kind of people but not when I foolishly schedule a train to Valencia at 7am the next morning.

So a little loopy, we woke up at 5am and were on our way! Luckily, we got to sleep two and a half hours on the train because then we were off and running.

cathedral

Our first stop was the Valencia Cathedral. Inside, we took a tour and saw some beautiful art work. And then the piece de resistance, the Holy Grail.

holy grail.JPG

Apparently, this is the chalice Jesus drank out of at the last supper. The Moors brought it over on a ship when they conquered this area in 715 AD. But who knows for sure. There are eight different chalices around the world claimed as the Holy Grail. But I'm gonna go ahead and say this one is real. Because this is the one I saw.

We also saw this:

relic hand.JPG

This is the real human hand of Saint Augustine. It has never fully decomposed. I was unhealthily obsessed with this piece. It was gross and amazing at the same time. OK. Enough about that. I promised you food.

We rented bikes and rode through old town into the City of Arts and Sciences. We were starving at this point so we stopped at a little outside cafe for some sangria and jamon sandwiches. Jamon sandwiches are literally just prosciutto on a baguette with a little butter. But they are DELICIOUS. I also must note that in the U.S. I am not able to drink milk. (I'm an almond milk girl.) But in Spain I had all kinds of dairy products like butter and cafe con leche and I never had a stomach ache! My theory is that there are too many antibiotics or other preservatives put into our food. So thanks for that U.S. Thanks. Oh, and by the way, this was our background during lunch.

bike ride.JPG

Yes, that is real. And no, we didn't only have one bike. It was just nicer for the picture.

I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of our jamon sandwich but you can see a typical one in the photo at the top. Next, we rode all the way down to the beach and had a delicious meal of cod fritters (left) and grilled cuddlefish (right). Everything melted in your mouth and the flavors! I can tell you one thing, Spanish food is not bland.

cuttlefish

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 1

I've taken a two week hiatus. I'm not going to lie, things have been tough. Like I'm sitting here on my couch with greasy hair in my pajamas at 4:30pm tough. I just got back from a vacation, which was wonderful. I originally planned to write an article about how we need to be nicer to ourselves. How stressing about work is ruining our ability to actually enjoy life. But three days back and I'm once again feeling overwhelmed in my job search. And I just can't be the cheerleader today. So I'm going to write about something totally unrelated, my love of good FOOD.

Last April, my boyfriend and I took a trip to Spain. It was AMAZING. When I got back I excitedly called my mom to tell her all about it. After the conversation she said, "But you've only told me about what you ate." DUH. Isn't that the only thing that matters? I've always been a foodie. And when I go to new locations I like to totally immerse myself in their food culture. Today I'm going to take you on a whirlwind tour, detailing how I ate myself through Spain.

BARCELONA:

When we arrived in Barcelona, after travelling for 16 plus hours, we immediately went to the Picasso Museum. Because, you know, who needs sleep? The museum was awesome. My boyfriend and I are both big fans. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed. But me being me, I didn't read the signs. I snapped this.

picasso

I was immediately tackled by security.

Not really. But I was VERY strongly warned. I'm pretty sure I heard the curator mumbling, "Stupid American" as he walked off.

After this we wandered the beautiful winding streets around the museum, full of enchanted alleyways, twists and turns. We were looking for something to eat. After looking at multiple menus we settled on a cute, tiny tapas place and that's when it happened. I realized I was in love with Spain.

To be honest I didn't really know what Spanish food entailed. I ignorantly thought it would be similar to Mexican. I now know that Spanish food is one of my favorites on the planet. Give me tapas any day and I'm golden. At this first spot we ate veal sweetbreads, grilled octopus, and braised oxtail. Everything was out of this world. My only complaint was I didn't have a bigger stomach. I wish I could show you a picture, but at that point we were trying to play it cool and not act like tourists.

That lasted for about 3 hours. Then we took this.

salmon tar tat

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