What, Spain Again, just after San Sebastian? Well, not exactly, there was Australia in between, but as I write this posts 3 years later yea, another visit to Spain!
Since I learned about heat in Spain during my San Sebastian’s visit during last summer, I decided it was probably better to visit during winter this time. Just kidding, it was not up to me, again we had another project meeting this time in the middle of January 2018 in Madrid.
The weather this time was much more cooperatively, I came from freezing Slovenia to a warm and sunny Spain. The added bonus was that because of their western position the sunset was only at 18’o clock or something. Well, since I’m already speaking about it I should mention that on the other hand sunrise was at 9. Perfect for my schedule.
This visit was a bit shorter in total only 4 days, of which I spent most of the time at the project meetings. Still, I had some time to explore the city. Again the city is enormous. I visited some parks, viewed some old buildings in the city centre and of course I had had a paella. This is just a must, if you visit a Spain, no matter which part, you have to have paella, it’s so good.
Well not much more to say about it, nothing exciting happened during my visits, well nothing until our flight back.
Uff, this was so long ago I almost forgot I went. I’m not sure if I just couldn’t find it now or really didn’t even mention it anywhere. Thank god for the pictures, looking at them brings back the memories even though it is more than 3 years since I was in San Sebastian, Spain.
In middle of June of 2017 I had another project meeting, this time in San Sebastian, Spain. I was so happy to go there, not only because I have a thing for Spain, but also because Mikel, one of my best friends from Sweden, lives (or rather lived there).
I touched down in Barcelona, from where I thought it would be an interesting experience if I took the train to get from there to San Sebastian, which is on the west coast of Spain, and I was not sorry I took it, the train was fast, clean, nice and the best part was I was able to enjoy great vistas and see a bit of Spanish landscape which you otherwise just fly over. The ride took over 6 hours if I remember correctly so in the evening I just made it in time to crash at my hotel.
The city of San Sebastian is very nice and quite different compared to the rest of the Spain. It is belongs to Basque country and the natives there consider themselves Basque before Spanish, they have their language, which is actually spoken there on the streets, but everyone also knows Spanish. The city is also quite rich, not sure from what, but just by watching the houses or rather mansions you can tell.
Other than that the city lies inside a gorgeous bay surrounded by small hills. Perfect for watching sunset.
As luck would have it, I arrived as usually during the extreme and unusual heat wave. It was way over 30 C all the time I was there, which is really unusual, so ofcourse no-one has ACs. Luckily the beach was large and nearby so it was not so bad, when I was not at the meetings.
Besides travelling, these project meetings are also great because of the social aspect and dinners that accompany them in the evening. I still haven’t eaten anything like the year before in Haliklidi, Greece. Though the Spanish variant wasn’t bad either. Up for eels anyone?
In the northern (I think) part of Spain the so called tapas are very popular. When you go into a bar or hang out with friends you don’t usually go for a dinner but into a bar, where the whole groups orders various bite sized snacks called tapas. They were very very good and the idea that you can try many different ones alongside nice cold beer, huh, really fantastic.
I said that Mikel lived in San Sebastian, well that was not actually true anymore, he moved to Valencia, where he had work. But luckily he came back just in time for me to meet with him. We spend a wonderful day of chatting, remembering the Sweden and all our friends from there. We even went to a nearby town just across the French border just, so we could send Jean a postcard from France. All in all it was a great day, well worth suffering the heat for the whole week.
I usually I also wrote some postcards to send back home and to co-workers. I have slowly started abandoning this practice as it is becoming incredibly hard finding post stamps lately. But in San Sebastian I had a different problem, I couldn’t find mail box. After complaining to Mikel about it, he actually drove me to the post office in the end I was not surprised how I couldn’t find it earlier.
After the day I spent with Mikel I had to return back to Slovenia. To go back, instead of going by the train again I took a plane to Barcelona, which gave me whole day to explore the Barcelona.
The city is really amazing, I’m always overwhelmed with such big cities, since in Slovenia we have nothing like that. Since it was summer it was full of people, literary everywhere, on the buses, underground, I don’t think another person would fit on the beach and don’t get me started on the other tourists attractions. The city is also notorious for the pick-pockets so I was kind of nervous whole time there, but luckily survived without any incidents and managed to see quite a lot of it. Still, I don’t think I would want to go on vacation there.
In the evening I returned back home, back to Slovenia. Huh, again, thank god for the pictures otherwise I would completely forgot about everything. But still I should be more diligent in the future and do this thing more real time like, otherwise what’s the point. 🙂 So now I’m off to the next overdue trip from memory lane.
The last two days we spent relaxing near our hotel, swimming, reading a book on the beach. Not to waist the whole day just lying on the beach we decided to go on a short trip with a boat to try and find dolphins that usually swim nearby. Surprisingly enough after about 45 minutes of riding the waves we actually came to a group (school?) of dolphins. They were jumping out of the water and swimming around the ship. As per usual, I managed to miss all the good shots. They are surprisingly large up and close.
And the main thing … well you can’t say you’ve been in Africa if you haven’t ridden a camel – sort of.
On the last day, the sky was super clear so we again decided we should go and try to hike on the Roque Nuble. We took a different route now (with a car), it was suppose to be a bit faster. On the way there, we drove through some amazing valleys, they reminded me of Grand Canyon.
And somewhere along the way we found a big sign that sad camel safari. It didn’t take us long to decide to check it out. We found out you can actually ride the camels there for about 20€ / person. Well you don’t get this chance every day so it wasn’t long we were sited high on the camels, slowly swinging as they walked. Sadly they had these big ugly green saddles on the camels, so we weren’t sitting directly on them, but it was a fun hike anyway.
After the ride we finally realized we were in Africa, despite being April it was so incredibly hot on the sun, and despite using 50 sun sunscreen, you could actually see the “sleeves” later in the evening, the total camel hike lasted about an hour. The place also had some other animals there and a banana palm. Don’t think I ever saw one before, it actually had some bananas on it.
On our way to the top we stopped at a gas station. I’m mentioning this because the woman working there actually filled the car for us, I don’t remember when this last happened in Slovenia, must have been at least 20 years ago. Anyway this time we reached the top of the island and luckily there were no clouds to be seen anywhere. The views were really amazing.
In the evening we returned to Maspalomas, we had an early flight at 5 am or something, so we didn’t rent a hotel for the last night. Instead we went to a nice restaurant at the edge of the dessert to have another paella and then played about 30 games of briskula late into the night until it was time to actually go back.
All in all it was a very fun trip although a bit short. We did a lot of exploring and I will never forget the first hike to the rock in that fog and rain. Hopefully we will visit Canary Islands again soon, this time some other island. By the looks of it Tenerife island is even better.
After a rainy Sunday it was only natural to go someplace that is know for a lack of rain – the desert. It just so happens there is a small desert in the south of the island. I’m not really sure if it really is a desert, but it sure looks like it. Large sand dunes stretch couple of kilometers around at the seaside in the south.
The town of Maspalomas is the most touristic area of the island, full of bars, hotels and restaurants. After the dunes we hiked around the town before going back to our apartments. For most of the time we cooked for ourselves, I think in total we ate outside 3 times, and all three times it was paella time.
Sadly it wasn’t as good as the one Veronika and I had in Valencia couple of years ago.
On Tuesday we went to visit the main city on the island Les Palmas, the city is located on the far north of the island. It is quite large, almost 400.000 inhabitants, so larger than Ljubljana. We visited couple of stores and hiked alongside the main beach. Aside from few interesting shops there wasn’t much to do here and we were happy we picked south of the island for our vacation.
In the afternoon, instead of taking the highway and going down the same way we came up, we decided to go around the island. Again, the roads quickly became narrow, cutting into the edges of cliffs high above the sea. The views were amazing though.
We stopped at a couple of places along the way. At the most west part of the island there was a iconic traditional colored lighthouse.
It took us half a day to get back home again. Along the way, from time to time, we saw this funny traffic sign, alerting drivers about donkey-cow, sadly we did not see any live specimen of the animal depicted.
Near the end of the year (2015) we randomly found out a return plain ticket from Venice to Valencia, Spain cost only 45€, of course we had to buy it, it was almost cheaper than bus ticket from Nova Gorica to Ljubljana.
Soon after, on the 20th December, we were on the plane flying toward Spain. We landed in the evening and took metro to the city center where we had hotel. Next day we had reservation in a nearby restaurant for paella.
Early in the morning (at least early for Spain) we woke up and went for a walk through the old city center. The city is old but fairly clean, there were a lot of people but not too much, since it was out of season. Despite being December it was quite warm, almost 20 degrees during the day in the sun. City was full of trees, not just any trees, the trees were full of mandarins. After trying one we soon learned why no-one ate them – they were sour as lemons.
In the city center there was the largest closed market in Europe (if I remember correctly). They were selling all sorts of fruits, vegetables, meat and fishes. The biggest surprise was strawberries. They had really big and juicy strawberries for less than a quarter price of the ones in Slovenia. After buying 1kg of them we learned they were also much better than the ones we get here in Slovenia (during the late spring/early summer – we have no strawberries in December), they were very sweet as oppose to the ones we get in Slovenia which are watery almost without the taste. After enquiring a bit we were told that the season for greenhouse strawberries has just begun.
In the afternoon we had a chance to try paella at last. It was so good, almost worth the whole trip just to try it.
After the lunch we had a chance to explore the city some more.
The next day we had a chance to visit the famous beach in Valencia. It looked so nice, very very large full of sand, you almost wanted to go for a quick swim in the sea. We had a nice lunch at the beach-side – again paella of course, with some snagrias to have full Spanish meal.
After the lunch we went to the other side to visit City of arts and sciences.
It was really interesting inside. They had tons of experiments that you could try everything from space and stars to animals. We also saw a 360 degree movie about Jerusalem, it was quite a fun experience.
After we finished with everything it was already night and time to go to sleep. Next day we had something really special planned.
The next day we had “How to make a paella” cooking course. It lasted for about 5 hours and we did everything. In the beginning we went to local market (from previous days) to buy the ingredients. We also bought few grams of zafran alongside with snails, rabbit, chicken and other ingredients. After it we went to the restaurant where me Veronika and another two couples from USA were instructed how to do everything from cleaning to cooking ingredients.
In the end we tried our creations and while it was ok, I think I will stick to going to the restaurants there, theirs is better. 😛
After the course we went to visit the bullfighting arena near our hotel. It was closed few years ago and turned into a museum.
This was our last day in Valencia, but we couldn’t leave without trying one more thing: The black turtle burgers. We read online that it’s a must try after paella and spoiler alert, it was really worth it. Note: you really need a reservation before though, it is packed full all the time.
The interesting part is that the fries are even better than the burgers. They are dipped in the cheese and spices sauce.
After big dinner we went to hotel and took the bus next day back to Slovenia. It was a fun trip and we will definitely go again if we find another cheap flight. It’s a good trip for a few days and if you go outside of summer season it is fairly cheap.