Sevilla, tres veces [salmorejo cordobés]

When spending a night in Sevilla seems old hat, you know you’re spoiled.sevilla1salmorejo1While living in Huelva last year, going to Sevilla somehow became part of the travel “routine”, just a necessary stop to catch a plane or a train onto the next destination.
But, of course, Sevilla never gets old. Even the city’s oldest landmarks can fill you with awe, whether it’s your first or fifth time strolling by. The city is small enough that you can get around on foot all day–soak up the sun and the culture while working up an appetite to stop for tapas and cold drinks along the cobblestoned streets.sevilla4sevilla3sevilla2 Continue reading…

Hasta luego, Huelva [Muchas gracias]

20130605-172512.jpgAnd so, just like that, eight months flew by. 20130605-172831.jpgI’m having a hard time avoiding clichés to describe how much I loved this past year (“time flies/it was the experience of a lifetime/unforgettable!”); the little adventure I wanted abroad surpassed all my expectations.20130605-173127.jpgThe last week or so was filled with despedidas, farewells and parties with my students, colleagues and friends. Every time we went somewhere we were aware that it was our last time (at least for now!). (Sidenote! one of the great things about living in Huelva is that it is actually financially feasible to eat lovely tapas on lovely terraces with lovely drinks everyday for a week…) Days at the beach, cocktails at sunset, dancing til sunrise; it was crazy, sleep deprived, and a perfect series of fiestas to say goodbye (for now!).20130605-222909.jpg20130605-222600.jpgHuelva quickly became a second home, and it was sad to leave. My wonderful amigos woke up early with me to have one last café con leche together and see me off (I almost made it onto the bus without any tears!). Like anything, the people make all the difference, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have met the friends I did.20130605-223334.jpgSigh. So this year saw me grow up a whole lot (I think!), and I’m leaving Huelva a little wiser, a little more confident in my adventurer abilities, with so many great friends, memories, muchísimas ganas to come back to España, a perma-smile and a happy heart.
20130605-223845.jpg20130605-223824.jpgAnd so, eight months flew by, and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. Muchas gracias to all my guiri friends and la buena gente española in Huelva for the chulo-est time, to all my friends and family back home for the love and support I could always count on across the ocean, everyone I traveled with along the way, and to you for following along. Now, I’m taking a scenic route back to Canada…the European fun isn’t quite over!
Hasta la próxima! Un beso!20130605-230159.jpg20130605-230206.jpg

El Rocío

20130527-133736.jpg20130527-133749.jpgEmpty for most of the year, the little town of El Rocío becomes flooded with millions of people and their horses, caravans, and guitars during the romería de el Rocío.20130527-133847.jpgIt feels like you’ve gone back in time, or have somehow stumbled upon Andalucía’s Wild West. Flamenco can be heard from every porch, and you have to keep your wits about you lest you be run over by a horse.20130527-134006.jpg20130527-134041.jpg20130527-134057.jpgI was in the town in October when it was sleepy and dusty and could hardly believe the difference when we were there last Sunday. Next time I live in Spain I’ll have to get a proper dress…

May Day in the Mountains

20130501-232735.jpgWith people taking advantage of the day off (día del trabajador) in Spain to demonstrate and protest I went with a couple friends back to Aracena for the day. We left the palm trees and city streets behind in Huelva for the rolling green hills of the Sierra, spring blossoms, and the best ham in Spain.20130501-232930.jpgIt’s a short, and beautiful, drive up to la Sierra– and there’s lots to see out the window…I was mesmerized again by the landscapes at the Rio Tinto mines.20130501-233148.jpg20130501-233420.jpg20130501-233524.jpg20130501-233546.jpg

La Feria de abril

20130425-003704.jpgRainbows of skirts, flowers, and snapping fans. Horses. Fiery flamenco and fried fish. Blazing sun, frosty rebujitos. Tradición. Welcome to la Feria de Abril de Sevilla! 20130425-010212.jpg20130425-010148.jpg20130425-010219.jpg With a week of singing, dancing, drinking and showing off your finest Sevillana moves (and outfits), la Feria de abril is just one giant party. The atmosphere was contagious and for me, seeing all the amazing flouncy skirts was reason enough to go! With horses and carriages taking over the streets, and everyone dressed in their traditional finery it felt like another era. To be honest, it all seemed a little bourgeois, but the feria de Abril in Sevilla certainly dresses to impress, and I loved it. Spain does it again!20130425-082111.jpg20130425-082118.jpg20130425-082128.jpg

Granada: Ciudad Poética

20130422-164102.jpg20130422-163724.jpgLast weekend seemed to announce the beginning of summer in Andalucia with temperatures up to 30 degrees and brilliant sunshine all over the south.20130422-163824.jpg
It was the perfect weekend for walking the old streets of the Albaicín, exploring the Alhambra, and finishing off the days with tapas, tapas, and more tapas. The atmosphere in the city was just lovely with music on every street corner and colourful art everywhere you looked. I particularly liked this guy handing out free poems at his typewriter. As if Granada needed to be more poetic!20130422-164114.jpg20130422-164125.jpg20130422-164134.jpg

Alhambra Afternoon

Slightly obsessed with Spanish tiles.

Slightly obsessed with Spanish tiles.

 

La AlhambraThe reason for many (if not most) people’s visits to Granada, the Alhambra is a jewel atop the hills of the city.  After basking in the sunshine around the fortress we wandered through the palace as the sun set.  alhambra2alhambra boys
The tiles, the arches, the marble,  the carvings…I was in awe of every part of the decadent Moorish architecture.  Water features reflect the Alhambra’s beauty, and its gentle flow is the perfect soundtrack to accompany a visit through this magical place.  (Trust me, anyone could wax poetic about La Alhambra, I’m not just being corny!)sierra  nevadaalhambra ceilingalhambra gangalhambra gangalhambra arch

Fresas en Febrero [Strawberry Mint Salad]

20130227-010601.jpgStrawberry season in Andalucía seems to have started in January and the friendly vendor at the market told me that the season lasts until May/June– I am a happy Canuck.

20130227-011257.jpgYesterday I went to the market for just a few things, and ended up coming back with two kilograms of strawberries (it was only €1/kg, I couldn’t help myself!).

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Strawberry Mint Salad

A Slice of Serendipity [Andalucian Orange Almond Torte]

SONY DSCNestled among the peaks and valleys of Spain’s mountain regions lie beautiful “pueblos blancos”, white towns. With steep and narrow cobble stoned streets, these towns are persuasive arguments for packing light — you don’t want to roll a heavy suitcase up these parts.

Hiking in Grazalema

Hiking in Grazalema

During my parents’ visit to Spain we drove out to the mountains for part of our long weekend. Our first stop was la Sierra de Grazalema, where we hiked, ate, relaxed, and wandered the old white washed streets.

Grazalema on a moonlit night

Grazalema on a moonlit night

Ronda, just a short drive away, is known for having the oldest bullring in Spain (Hemingway and Orwell were frequent visitors), as well as a jaw dropping bridge connecting the centre of the beautiful city.SONY DSC SONY DSC

Our last last stop that weekend was supposed to be Cadiz on the way back to Huelva. But my Dad, who did all the legwork and planning for our trip, made a little mistake (don’t worry, he said it was alright if I shared his little mix up!). Not realizing that there was both a Cadiz city and a Cadiz province, Dad booked for us online “the number one bed and breakfast in Cadiz”. This ended up meaning the number one B&B in the province, and not the city like Dad thought. Luckily he double checked the address the morning we were heading to our B&B and discovered that it was actually in the tiny town of Vejer de la Frontera. Oops!

Knockers in Vejer.

Knockers in Vejer.

I went online to see what kind of stuff there was going on in Vejer and came across ‘Annie B’s Spanish Kitchen’, a cooking, eating, and Andalucian food workshop. I figured there wasn’t much chance that we’d be able to participate in any of her classes since we were going to be arriving that same day and were only staying one night, but just in case I left a phone message for Annie seeing if there was anything we could join on to.

That evening while we were sipping our mint tea as the sun set, Annie called me back apologizing that she hadn’t been able to fit us in to something that day, but if we liked, we were welcome to come see her kitchen that evening. Of course I wanted to check it out! It turned out that she was only two doors down from our B&B ( the best one in Cadiz, remember?) and so we popped by before dinner that night. Annie was very kind and gave us a tour of her kitchen and home as we chatted and sipped on regional sherry. She had just finished a three day workshop on Andalucian and Moroccan cuisine, and gave me the recipes from the weekend. It was so lovely to meet Annie and if I am ever back in Vejer I know what I will be looking to do!SONY DSC

Of course, I couldn’t wait to try one of my newly acquired recipes and this Andalucian torte jumped out a me. Boiling a whole orange? Then blending the whole thing?? It seemed really weird to me at first, but it definitely worked. The torte is dense and moist, and when you taste it it becomes clear why throwing a whole orange in there is a great idea. My roommate has declared that this is her favourite dessert that I have made (so far!) — we have a date this weekend so that she can learn to make it for her boyfriend’s family for Christmas. It’s that tasty!

(Also, in case you were wondering, the B&B was very nice and we had a great day in Vejer! A happy accident, for sure.)SONY DSC Annie B’s Andalucian Orange & Almond Torte

Overwhelmed Under the Arches: La Mezquita, Cordoban Highlights, and a Clementine Cake

Looking up at the iconic arches in the mosque.

During my second year of university I took a little break from a full science course load and took some artsy electives.  One of my favourite classes was ‘Intro to Spanish Culture’ — our teacher, an enthusiastic academic from Andalucia, had me captivated after the first class.  Shortly thereafter I heard about this language assistant program in Spain, I applied the following year, and now here I am! Crazy.
One of the images I remembered the most from that class was that of the great mosque in Cordoba.  TShap and I ended up going back there twice, we were so amazed by the structure and the history of the building (plus, tourist tip! the entry is free from 8:30-10am!).  Although the mosque really is fantastic to see, many tours make it the only stop, and I would recommend staying to see the rest of this beautiful town.  From the Jewish quarter, to the Alcazar, to the gorgeous patios at Palacio de Viana, there is a lot to see. Catch a flamenco show, try some bull’s tail stew, and enjoy!

Craftsman at work at the Zocco Market

Looking into one of the patios at the Palacio de Viana.

This cake showcases two of the most abundant ingredients in Andalucia: citrus and olive oil.  This was my first weekend without traveling;  I enjoyed some downtime (and partying) at ‘home’ in Huelva and baked for the first time since I’ve been in Spain — it felt nice!  I was a little nervous with how using our new oven for the first time would go but this cake worked out so well! I was very pleased.  

Flamenco concert in Cordoba

Trying Rabo del Torro…I was wary but it was delicious.

Great travel buddy and photographer, twin:)

Clementine Olive Oil Cake with Dark Chocolate Chunks